James-Michael Smith has a great guest post up today at Kurt Willems’ always-thought-provoking Pangea Blog titled Hell-in-a-Handbasket? Why Things Aren’t Getting Worse:
“Don’t you think our culture so depraved and rushing toward total moral decay? Wasn’t it better off when we were growing up in a God-fearing society?”
My answer, whenever I’m asked this by a student or church member is always “No, things are not getting worse. This world is no more Fallen now than it’s ever been in the past.”
Usually the “our-culture-is-heading-headlong-into-hell-in-a-handbasket” (alliteration is fun!) line of argument is made by those who long for “the good ol’ days”. . . when there was ALSO a Great Depression, World Wars, Nuclear proliferation…and let’s not forget about good ol’ Jim Crowe (sic) segregation!
No, today’s culture is not any worse now that it’s ever been.
And in some ways it’s better, as pointed out by Sarah Moon in the comments thread:
As a woman, I am EXTREMELY glad I didn’t grow up during the “good old days.”
Yes, I have hope for this world. I see awful things (famines, war, consumerism), but there is also progress and technology that aids that progress. I am proud of my generation and have high hopes for us.
I’m a man—so I would have had it easier than Sarah in the “good old days”—but I’m also the father of a daughter who would have had it much worse than most women. Chances are, she wouldn’t have survived past infancy. Not only was my daughter born a girl, she was born a girl with a cleft lip. As I wrote in Chapter 3 of A Smile for Anna:
My fear was coupled with anger. Not anger over what had happened to my baby—I never got angry over the diagnosis—but anger at the thought of the fate that awaited so many children born with clefts. I had seen appeals from groups like Smile Train, and the children they operated on in China, India, and other countries in the “developing world,” but I never thought before then how those children were ostracized in many cases by their villages and even by their families. I remembered stories about ancient and not-so ancient cultures where babies with birth defects were left out to die because they were seen as worthless.
I had these thoughts when Anna was still in-utero, before we knew she was a girl, back when she was still “Peanut.” After she was born, it hit me even harder: this was a baby—not just a girl but a “defective” girl—who in most times and most places would have never stood a chance. And yet she is a beautiful, creative, and brilliant child who will grow up to be a beautiful, creative, and brilliant woman.
Only in this time and in this place is her future possible. And for that reason I can say the world is better. It’s still fallen, still dependent on God’s boundless love incarnate in Jesus Christ for its salvation, but it’s better.