Healing the Land
The so-called fiscal cliff in the United States has been averted. The march toward the soft-despotic state continues unabated.
The sad reality is that a majority of the population in that country want government to look after them; they, therefore demand and require that the government be big; they also insist that someone else pays for it. Since the US is borrowing 40 cents for every dollar it now spends, the real cost will be born by those not yet alive. Our parents used to call this having one’s cake and eating it too.
The United States is not alone in this, of course. It is now the ordinary characteristic, the new normal of all countries in the West. Having rejected God they require an idol to perform the works of a god; that idol is the all beneficent state. Chuck Colson summarises the chaotic irrationality and madness of the US electorate:
Polls consistently show that American worry most about social and moral decay–crime, family breakdown, drug abuse, sex and violence in the entertainment media–all results of moral choices made ultimately by individuals.
Given these facts, one might expect the nation’s bully pulpits would be devoted to encouraging poeple to take responsibility for their own lives, to exert the self-discipline needed to change their behaviour. Instead, for the past few decades, the dominant cultural voices have argued that individuals have a right to live in any way they choose and that society has a responsibility to pick up the tab for any negative consequences that result. (Chuck Colson and Nancy Pearcey, How Now Shall We Live (Wheaton, Illinois: Tyndale House Publishers, 1999), p. 308.)
Where did all this come from? It is the outcome of deifying free will and personal autonomy. For the vast majority of the American population the celebration and invocation of freedom is relentless. Americans boast in freedom and in living free more than any other nation in today’s world. But the conception of freedom has changed radically from the time of the nation’s founding. Today, freedom means libertinism. It is a perversity of freedom which leads to slavery.
This attitude began back in the 1960’s, when a new concept of public morality took hold, stated baldly in the words of sociologist Christopher Jencks. Speaking of fatherless families, Jencks argued that if people “truly prefer a family consisting of a mother, children, and a series of transient males, then it is hardly the federal government’s proper business to try to alter this choice.” What is the government’s business then? It “ought to invent ways of providing such [single-parent] families with the same physical and psychic necessities of life available to other kinds of families.”
Note carefully what Jencks is saying: the government must not seek to help shape the nation’s moral climate or discourage irresponsible behavior. Instead, its job is to “invent ways” to compensate for any disadvantages created by the bad choices people make. As psychiatrist David Larson puts it, the government is supposed to make sure people have their cake and eat it, too! (Ibid., p. 309).
Personal autonomy (“I wanna do what I wanna do”) produces a libertine culture; a libertine culture is unable to take self-responsibility for one’s actions. It insists that the state exercise due care and wrap its citizens in swaddling clothes throughout life, protecting them from bad choice and the consequences of a libertine lifestyle. Ergo: big government that someone else has to pay for.
It’s amazing how many ordinary Americans have fallen into the trap of expecting someone else to pick up the costs of their own irresponsibility. The American Medial Association says the growth in health-care expenses today can be traced largely to “lifestyle and social problems.” Some studies indicate that up to 70 percent of all diseases result from lifestyle choices. People know they should stop smoking, cut out junk food, and get regular exercise. But how many take these basic steps in preventative care? And when their unhealthy habits give them heart disease or lung cancer, they expect the health-care system to protect them from the consequences of their own bad habits. (Ibid.)
Behold the mighty works of divine judgment upon a pagan culture. Douglas Wilson is quite right when he points out that the US (and the West in general) will not be judged for this: what we see unfolding now before our eyes is the judgment. Its end will be an ever increasing spiral of disaster and devastation. The only way out is the preaching and hearing of the Gospel of repentance and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. “. . . If my people who are called by my name humble themselves and seek My face and pray and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin, and heal their land.” (II Chronicles 7:13-14)
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