Are Things Worse?

I had written quite a lengthy post about this, but decided rather than blabber on about my opinions I would be interested to hear what others thought (a novel idea, I know!)

So the question is: Are things any worse today than they ever have been?

What I’m asking here is about what many view as the moral decline of modern society. They talk about violence and sex and all the bad things that they see all over the news and internet today, and they believe that, morally speaking, things are sliding downhill rapidly. Is this true? Is our society so much worse than America 50 years ago? Or 100 years ago? Or the civilizations before us like Rome or Greece or Babylon? Is 21st century America (or Western Civilization in general) really the most morally bankrupt society to ever have existed on this planet?

I would like to know what you think? Is our society worse than the generations before us? How? In which ways? Why? Why not?

I am interested in this for several reasons: it’s impact on our view of the return of Christ, it’s impact on our view of the church and her responsibilities, it’s impact on our view of God and the devil and humanity. I think that our opinion on this subject has far reaching impacts on many important topics so I want to know: what do you think?????

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About Dan Allen

Just some guy trying to figure stuff out... View all posts by Dan Allen

15 responses to “Are Things Worse?

  • Fred

    I’m not convinced that things are worse now. I’ve read first person accounts from different periods of history and they sound like they could be written today. I think we simply know more about what’s going on because of media, the internet, etc.

  • Arthur Sido

    I don’t think are worse, after all I am amillenial! When you examine human nature, we have maybe covered it up better than we do know but the core of mankind is still rotten. If you look at the horrors of Nazi Germany or Stalin or the Inquisition or the Roman Empire, are things worse now? Not really, just different.

  • Dan Allen

    Fred and Arthur

    I am pretty sure that I agree with you both (and, Arthur, I also am amillenial!) and I think you both have explained why it may appear worse: as Arthur explained it in the past “we may have covered it up better” and as Fred explains “we simply know more about what’s going on because of media, the internet, etc.”

    Thanks for the comments and thoughts!

    Dan

  • Ben Plummer

    I read an booklet recently entitled something like Puritan Economic Experiments in the 1600’s. People way back then were complaining about immigrants leaching off the government and stuff. The funny part was that they also had a problem with women walking around topless. They fined them like 50 pounds for that while the fine for being a Quaker was like 10,000 pounds. Kinda funny.

  • Bob

    Overall I think we are about as corrupt as we have ever been. There are just more of us and we have more sophisticated tools to work with. Now we can spread our corruption on a global scale. Humanity on the whole has been going down hill since the fall. As for the implications of this kind of view…
    I don’t think the return of Christ is dependent on how wicked the world is (it’s under the power of the evil one) rather his return is a prerogative of the Father.
    Our commission is not to bring moral reform to the world but to announce repentance and faith in Jesus through the gospel.
    John 16:8-11 “And He, when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment; concerning sin, because they do not believe in Me; and concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father and you no longer see Me; and concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world has been judged.

  • Dan Allen

    Ben

    Interesting piece of history. I’m glad you commented, I have been looking for your puritan history expertise in some of these topics! Thanks!

    Bob

    Do you think we have been going down hill or that the fall dropped us to the bottom of the hill where we sit until Christ works in us? (Dead in sin as opposed to alive in Christ) I like what you said about the end being the Father’s prerogative. I think we need to focus more on that and less on trying to figure out when it will be, and what events need to or have happened that will bring it about.

    Hopefully we will all focus more on our commission to make disciples and less on bringing moral reform into society.

    Thanks for your thoughts!

    Dan

    Dan

  • Ben Wilson

    Hey Dan,

    I think the idea of trying to reform society through the government is way off. Here is a quote from a blog post I did earlier this summer:

    We are living in a fallen world. The people who we are trying to control are fallen (just like you and me). They are not able to stop sinning, no matter how much we want to pass laws, or repeal Supreme Court decisions the only thing that will bring about change is Jesus working in their hearts. How stupid of us to try to bring about change in any other way. How arrogant! As if we can change hearts by changing outward actions. It is God who changes Hearts. Not Man. (http://godadoptedyou.blogspot.com/2010/06/what-are-we-for.html)

    The church’s responsibilities to our society are to care for the needy, and preach the gospel in word and deed. We may need to change laws to stop injustice, but laws around morality dont fix the problem.

  • Dan Allen

    Ben

    Thanks for the comment and I read your post, which was great by the way!

    I think you are right on about trying to reform society through government. The major flaw in this thinking is that the government is a body of force, it makes people conform at the threat of violence and harm. It exerts power over its citizens. Christianity is the complete opposite of that. It is about love and sacrifice, leading means serving, not overpowering. It seems that when Christians try to use the government to enforce morality they are substituting violence for love and that is clearly against the very core of our faith.

    I appreciate the thoughts! Thanks for sharing.

    Dan

  • Bob

    Dan,
    Humanity is dead at the core and has been since the fall. “In the day you eat thereof..” so in that sense we haven’t changed. That being said, there does seem to be ebbs and flows of fleshly corruption. We see how the thoughts of man became only evil continually in the days of Noah.

    Ben,
    I think you are spot on in regard to human government. Human laws are based on the current social perception of morality. I don’t hold to the idea that we can “save America” by getting her to return to a Government based on biblical principles. It sounds nice to the ears but the reality is no matter how good the government may be, it is still human. Anything human is by definition fallen.

    Peace,
    Bob

  • Dan Allen

    Bob

    Interesting reference to Noah. I hadn’t thought about that passage. Thanks for sharing!

    Dan

  • norma hill

    As a mom and nonnie (Haida for grandma), I have thought about this a lot… after all, I’ve brought 5 kids of my own (and now there are 7 grandkids) into this messed up world…

    I agree that probably the world today really isn’t terribly different than it was in the past, but that with global media and less censorship (either imposed or simply through less societal disapproval), and the simple fact of increasingly large numbers of people packed closely together, the amount and variety of sin is more “in our face.”

    One thing that concerns me is that even if the level of “things being worse” is not actually greater, we are certainly more exposed to it… and often become desensitized/less concerned about it (which might be a reason for the decreasing societal disapproval). So our kids (and the rest of us) aren’t “protected” from it in the same way that many of us have been in the past: the temptations are everywhere, are loud and clear, and are not seen as shameful.

    I think probably this is also a reason that the church really needs to truly be the church today!

  • Dan Allen

    Norma

    I definitely agree that the increasing ability to communicate faster and to more people has opened up exposure to both the good and bad, and I also agree that the shame that may have been related to certain activities has been largely reduced to the most closed-minded and traditional. One thing I would say though is that this reflects a difference between now and the last couple hundred years. I think several civilizations throughout world history have accepted things that until recently America has considered taboo (like homosexuality). The Greeks openly embraced extra-marital homosexual behavior as the purest form of love. I think that this also applies to the idea of desensitization. Many civilizations throughout history accepted violence and murder as an everyday part of life with gladiatorial battles and public executions. I think I agree with Bob’s earlier comment where he said “there does seem to be ebbs and flows of fleshly corruption.”

    Thanks for the comment!

    Dan

  • Reiterate: 08.21.10 | The Ekklesia in Southern Maine

    […] Are Things Worse? – “Is our society worse than the generations before us?” […]

  • Steve Scott

    Greetings Dan!

    My first comment here. I agree with the ebb and flow idea. As a baseball fan I can see how fan rowdiness, etc., has changed back and forth over history. Many people make an issue out of fan behavior, but rowdiness peaked in the late 80’s/early 90’s, far from the Leave It To Beaver “ideal” of the 50’s. But 50 years before the 50’s, it was rowdy, and people would throw rotten food at Babe Ruth, etc. Things go in cycles. But as a post-mil, I see the kingdom growing as time goes along, but that will probably be over greater periods of time.

  • Dan Allen

    Steve

    Thanks for the comment! I love the example from baseball, that makes a lot of sense and puts a “face” on what I was trying to express. Thanks!

    Dan

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