It doesn’t take much reflection to realize a lot has changed in the past 50 years besides iPhones and the Internet. If you are older, have you noted the extensive changes in American culture?
Hi, I’m Rex Rogers and this is episode #78 of Discerning What Is Best, a podcast applying unchanging biblical principles in a rapidly changing world, and a Christian worldview to current issues and everyday life.
Recently, I’ve been trying to get my arms around the moral freefall so widely apparent in American culture. At the risk of sounding like an old fogy, I must say that the American culture in which I grew up, indeed lived into my middle adult years, is either in serious trouble or gone, depending upon how you want to assess certain measures. The point is, it’s really different now and I’m not sure younger people realize or recognize it.
I’m not suggesting that in days gone by, things were all as they should be, that we experienced no problems and no failures “back when.” Indeed, we had plenty of personal and cultural sins, among them racism, or men treating women in inappropriate ways the MeToo Movement finally and rightly pointed out. What I’m saying now is that moral shifts have taken place in American culture during my lifetime that are as wide, deep, and threatening as a 9.0 earthquake.
When I was in grade school, teachers read a few verses of Scripture each morning before we said the “Pledge of Allegiance” together and started our day. I was in 8th Grade before I learned what homosexuality is and that was from a “Birds and the Bees” conversation with my Dad, not via the street, public school, or television. In high school, I did come to understand racism and civil rights, because I heard Martin Luther King. Jr’s incredible “I Have a Dream” speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial (1963), and I watched the social protests of the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s. When I was in high school, I never saw or barely heard of drugs.
Throughout my public school elementary, middle school, and high school experience, I was blessed with teachers who knew their subjects and who taught, teachers who were, with the exception of a couple I could name, moral, decent, caring, professional people, teachers who were permitted and who wanted to teach “reading, ‘riting, and ‘rithmetic,” history, biology, language, and critical thinking.
They did not spend – I should say waste – time on sex education or promote LGBTQ special rights, look upon every occurrence as evidence of failed diversity, equity, or inclusion. They did not re-vision American history as a dark and desperate story of white privilege, cultural relativism or systemic racism. While we learned about conservation and environmental stewardship, teachers did not instill students with fears about climate change or promote socialist, anti-free enterprise, anti-humanity ideologies about saving the world.
Consequently, I was educated, not indoctrinated.
I was taught to respect the fact that men and women from this country in which I was born had on several occasions given the last full measure of sacrifice so that I could enjoy life and liberty. I was taught that patriotism focused on a set of ideals, of aspirations about human freedom, not just blind loyalty to a country or ideology.
I was taught to think, not shrink in fear of micro-aggressions or perceived oppressions. I was not taught “tolerance” in the current sense of the term, meaning a promotion of one demography at the expense of others. Rather, I was taught to “love your neighbor,” to understand that each person a free citizen of his/her country, equal before the law, innocent until proven guilty, free to pursue opportunities without class consciousness and to succeed or fail based upon our own work ethic, commitment, and the merit of our ideas.
I was never taught by parents, preachers, or teachers that there is no such thing as truth, something that is now the prevailing acceptable idea across American culture, and this false idea is reaping devastating effects.
I was taught that boys should become men, and that one aspect of this maturity was a recognition that men should respect and protect girls and women. I was taught that real men were respectable, responsible, and reliable, that real women were capable, considerate, and caring. I had role models of both sexes who were honest, hard-working, and courageous.
Honestly, I did not understand abortion until I got into college, and while I was in college the Supreme Court of the United States handed down Roe v. Wade (1973).
Though I had watched male comedians dress as women for the sake of comedy when I was young, I did not know what a transvestite is, much less what transgenderism is.
And when I say I did not know what these things were, I mean well into and college age, because these things were not part of or morally endorsed by everyday culture. Trans ideology was not taught in school, as it is today, not available on the Internet, as it is today, not presented in acceptable forms on television, as it is today, and not “accepted and affirmed,” as the recommended wording goes, by preachers or churches or Christian families.
Getting hammered, when I was in high school, meant some kids drank too many beers Friday night. We were just beginning to hear about marijuana, and later uppers and downers, LSD, and other spinoffs of the “Sex, Drugs, and Rock n Roll” of the 60s Counterculture. But when I was in high school, this was all “out there” somewhere, not commonly available in our town. let alone hard drugs like heroin or cocaine, and later—actually now---opioids and fentanyl.
When I was in high school, as I recall, two classmates got pregnant. Both girls attended for a time, then dropped out to have their babies. These new mothers eventually returned to finish their educations. The issue—unexpected and unwanted pregnancy—has been around since the dawn of time, but moral codes and expectations limited the prevalence of the problem. At least this was the case when I was in high school, 1966-1970.
Although the FDA approved the first oral contraceptive in 1960, contraceptives were not available to married women in all states until Griswold v. Connecticut (1965) and were not available to unmarried women in all states until Eisenstadt v. Baird (1972).
The pill, as it was called, helped propel the Sexual Liberation Movement of the 1960s toward breaking new boundaries in the 1970s. This movement continues today with LGBTQ demands for normalization. When I was a youth, while this movement was well underway, it had not reached our small town in any identifiable public way. The pill, and other contraceptives developed later, represented the technical or medical side, so to speak, of sexual liberation, but the real rocket fuel to the movement was a significant change in the nation’s public moral consensus – what culture thinks is right and wrong, OK, or up to you and no one else’s business.
American culture’s moral tectonic plates are shifting away from the Judeo-Christian moral consensus that once provided what sociologists of religion called the “sacred canopy” integrating society.
We’re moving from There is a God, He is the source of our liberty and laws, and We are accountable to him to There is no God, liberty and laws are about libertinism, and we are not accountable to anyone.
In Romans 1 (18), Scripture warns about those “who suppress the truth by their wickedness.” Our culture has long-since begun "suppressing the truth," so it is becoming irrational, unrealistic, and dysfunctional. Unfortunately, it can get worse; there's more sophisticated insanity yet to come.
During the April 2, 2023, Country Music Awards, co-host Kelsea Ballerini sang while joined on stage by a group of drag queens. She later tweeted, “Thank you to these iconic queens and... CMT for celebrating love, self-expression, and performance." Clearly, she did not invite the drag queens because they enhanced her music. She was making a statement.
Celebrity leftist radicalism is nothing new, but Blue State officials, like Gov. Gavin Newsome, California, intentionally positioning their states in opposition to the rule of law, federal courts, and the legislatures of Red States is new. California bills itself as a sanctuary state for transgender kids or those wanting abortion access. Not just California, but a number of Blue States have adopted laws directly contrary to laws in Red States. This includes laws regarding abortion on demand, transgender youth policy, transgender athlete access to athletic events based on gender identity rather than biological birth sex, classroom discussion of race or sexuality, and more.
This division, this civil-war-like antipathy, was unknown when I was young, but it exists now and is being described as “the great divergence.” Given that the bedrock of all this is not politics but moral worldview, the 2020s are likely to be a time of increased challenges to American social cohesion. American culture is coming apart at the seams.
Pray for E Pluribus Unum.
Well, we’ll see you again soon. This podcast is about Discerning What Is Best. If you find this thought-provoking and helpful, follow us on your favorite podcast platform. Download an episode for your friends. For more Christian commentary, check my website, r-e-x-m as in Martin, that’s rexmrogers.com.
And remember, it is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm.
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