The Decline of Moral Principle
“Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!” (Isaiah 5:20, scripture quotations from RVIC).
We are seeing significant changes in moral standards as new political forces emerge, the reach of social media widens, and special interest groups become more powerful. The Cato Institute observes: “The growth of government has politicized life and weakened the nation’s moral fabric. Government intervention — in the economy, in the community, and in society — has increased the payoff from political action and reduced the scope of private action. People have become more dependent on the state and have sacrificed freedom for a false sense of security … One cannot blame government for all of society’s ills, but there is no doubt that economic and social legislation over the past 50 years has had a negative impact on virtue.”1
Consider the following.
● Ideologies have been adopted in public schools which change curricula to include ideas such as The Gender Unicorn and Critical Race Theory. Teachers in the UK report a rise in extremist views and conspiracy theories among pupils. In late 2021, the Guardian reported a rise in the number of children being radicalized, with youths under 18 comprising 13% of terrorist incidents last year compared to just 5% in the prior year. In the UK, adults under the age of 24 accounted for nearly 60% of terror arrests.
● The Wall Street Journal reported that 2020 might have experienced the largest percentage increase in homicides in American history. Murder increased nearly 37% in a sample of 57 large and medium-sized cities.” (“Taking stock of a most violent year,” WSJ, 1/24/2021)
(1) One of the editors prefers the following: “Mass shootings, racial hatred, social injustice, incivility, fraud, and white supremacy are just a few of the examples of the moral decay in America. These extreme forms of behavior have occurred because of a decline in morality and ethical behavior” says Professor Steven Mintz, who writes The Ethics Sage.
● A National Retail Federation survey revealed that the average cost of crime to retail operators rose in 2020 for the fifth year in a row and was up close to 60% since 2015. Laws in some large cities such as San Francisco changed to discourage prosecution of minor, non-violent crimes such as shoplifting, resulting in the closure of stores in some of the poorest areas where retail theft was especially costly.
● Rapid expansion of gambling has resulted in online sports betting now available in 21 states, providing some $59 billion of revenue in 2021. This has been a boon to some local television stations as advertising revenue promoting gambling rose from $10.7 million at the start of 2019 to $154 million in 2021. Grandview Research projects the global market for online gambling will grow to over $127 billion by 2027, a growth rate of 11.5% annually. More than 750,000 young people under the age of 21 are registered as probable gambling addicts (addictions.com).
● Portugal became the first country in the world to decriminalize the acquisition, possession, and use of small quantities of all illicit drugs. Since 2001 when decriminalization took place, there has been a 41 percent spike in homicides related to drugs.
● The top ten corporate fraud exposures in the last 20 years resulted in almost $900 billion losses to investors and the public. Deceptive conduct by companies such as Enron, Volkswagen, and Theranos resulted in public losses of billions.
As the Gospel Age harvest nears completion, religious organizations also fall short in moral behavior.
● In August 2018, over 300 “predator priests” were “credibly accused” of harming more than 1,000 child victims, a grand jury reported, with behavior going back to 1947. Nearly 1,700 priests and other clergy members that the Catholic Church considers “credibly accused” of child sexual abuse are operating with little to no oversight from religious authorities or law enforcement, an AP investigation found.
● The Awkward Moment Children’s Bible organization tracked over 24 stories in 2014 of Protestant pastors molesting children or the disabled
● Wikipedia lists some 35 leaders of Christian churches convicted of crimes, ranging from tax evasion to first-degree murder.
True Christian Standards
A true Christian is to live contrary to worldly standards, maintaining a lifestyle in harmony with the highest of scriptural standards codified in the Ten Commandments and exemplified in the lives and teachings of our Lord and the apostles.
Righteous Christian conduct is to be a beacon in these last days: “But know this, that in the last days grievous seasons shall come. For men shall be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, haughty, railers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, implacable, slanderers, without self-control, fierce, no lovers of good, traitors, headstrong, puffed up, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God; holding a form of godliness, but having denied the power thereof: from these also turn away” (2 Timothy 3:1-5).
Paul continued: “But thou didst follow my teaching, conduct, purpose, faith, longsuffering, love, patience” (verse 10). What an example we have! What a task is ours to follow that example!
We start by being holy in the little things, day by day, and then build up to holiness in all aspects of our life. The results will be praise to God and a defeat of one of our enemies–the world. Jesus said that during the last days, we would witness the exposure of evil practices, so what we see today should not surprise us, but it should keep us alert to our responsibilities as followers of his. (Ecclesiastes 12:14, Matthew 10:26). We must be cautious not to be taken in by the “Laodicean spirit,” an attitude of indifference to the standards laid before us in scripture. The pressures are great for us as we walk amongst men to compromise our commitment to the mark of the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus (Revelation 3:14-19, Colossians 3:1-4).
“Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:21). In this closing passage to Romans 12, Paul addresses those living the consecrated, sanctified life. His words are especially pertinent given the time in which we live. Whether at work, in school, or in our interaction with our neighbors, we must never let the lax standards we are witnessing today cause us to betray the high standards of God’s holy word. Yet we must not display the attitude of the Pharisees, who saw themselves as the standard by which to measure all others (Matthew 9:13).
We are further admonished by Paul to “Follow after peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no one shall see the Lord: looking carefully lest there be any man that falleth back from the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby the many be defiled “ (Hebrews 12:14,15).
Jesus’ death on the cross as a ransom will give an opportunity for all the resurrected billions, no matter what their moral philosophy now, to come to the knowledge and understanding of God’s laws and precepts. “For the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of Jehovah, as the waters cover the sea” (Habakkuk 2:14). Satan will be bound, restricting his ability to tempt mankind (Revelation 20:3). Proper behavior will be clearly defined by earth’s rulers, the Ancient Worthies, so that none will be allowed to deviate without correction (Psalms 2:9). Those that obey will be given the opportunity to live eternally on the earth and those who do not give up evil for good will be destroyed in the second death (Revelation 21:8). “And I will make justice the line, and righteousness the plummet; and the hail shall sweep away the refuge of lies, and the waters shall overflow the hiding-place” (Isaiah 28:17).