There are those who rebel against the light, who do not know its ways or stay in its paths– Job 24:13 NIV
Humans lucky enough to live in Western countries exist in a time when all people— regardless of race, gender or socio-economic status have more rights, more comforts, more freedoms and more opportunities than those at any other time in history. Our ancient ancestors likely lacked the mental framework and practical experience to even dream of a time like ours, where both men and women of any station in life have the right to live freely, pursue their dreams and follow their desires anywhere they lead. Life in the twenty-first century is not perfect. There is always room for improvement in a fallen world. That being said, life is, in most respects better than it’s ever been.
All that being provably true. It is also true that those who live in Western countries are becoming meaner and more personally miserable with each passing day.
Crime and acts of violence have become bizarrely commonplace in many cities. Random citizens minding their own business have been physically attacked by complete strangers for no apparent reason. Attempting to ruin the reputation and careers of those with opposing viewpoints (canceling people) has become a routine reaction to opinions and beliefs that make some uncomfortable.
The 2019 World Happiness Report reports that people everywhere are feeling far less happy and personally content than in previous times. This is true for all Western countries, all age groups and for those from every socio-economic situation. This almost universal sense of despondency has led to more depression, more anxiety, more substance abuse and more self-harm. Depression, anxiety, substance abuse and self-harm create a cycle of loneliness, isolation and hopelessness which leads to even more depression, anxiety, substance abuse and self-harm. Sigh.
The question is why?
Truth-be-told not many in our culture are truly oppressed, abused or burdened by life. Neither are the majority hungry, without shelter or lacking in basic human needs. Most in Western countries have an almost unlimited access to education, entertainment and creature comforts previous generations would have found unimaginable. In spite of these blessings many fight a sense of hopelessness and unhappiness. For some this leads to a desire to hurt or punish anyone who is different from themselves.
So, why, have we as a culture become so mean and miserable?
The answer is not all that complicated. We are collectively living out of step with our design. Our culture concluded decades ago that the whole notion there is a God who has a right to tell us what to do and how to live is silly, foolish, antiquated and possibly even evil. Most people in our culture believe deep down in their heart-of-hearts that they are the ultimate authority of what is right and wrong, good and evil. Humanity has effectively kicked God to the curb. Individuals operate as their own God.
It’s not working out super well.
Society has rejected the obvious and previously unquestioned reality of male and female. Instead we have embraced the utter madness that gender is a choice we get to make (Genesis 1:26). Humans have also concluded God’s design for the family is irrelevant and unnecessary. Instead the culture has embraced single-parent families as a norm to be celebrated rather than a sometimes necessary but always unfortunate reality of living in a fallen world. These choices have had devastating consequences. The epidemic of single parenting has resulted in many Moms and Dads being far less focused on raising their offspring than on finding the “love of their life”. This has left millions of children to more or less raise themselves. Teenagers look for answers to life’s biggest questions from gangs, sexual relationships and the drug culture. Our cultures insistence on going our own way in the arena of sexuality has guaranteed that both boys and girls lack proper role models for marriage and family. This ensures that the cycle of sexual and family dysfunction will continue for generations to come. The masses have chosen to reject God. The choice to hate or even simply to ignore God always causes pride and self-sufficiency to take root in the hearts of those who make that choice. Pride inevitably leads to hostility and fear of “the other”. Fear of people who are not like us (tribalism) has historically led to vicious power struggles between people groups.
What we are experiencing in our culture is not strange or unusual. It is simply the natural consequence of rejecting God and ignoring the mission He gave mankind (Genesis 1:27-28).
The church cannot tell the culture what to do.
Christians can choose to be the salt and light this world so obviously needs right now (Matthew 5:13-16). This will bring us personal happiness and give the world a model for successful living. Being the change we want to see begins with making a routine habit of examining ourselves to see if we are really living our day-to-day lives as if we believe God is real (2nd Corinthians 13:5). If some part of our lives does not align with the Bible we need to make immediate changes. Then we need to do what God tells us to do. We need to accept our gender, get married, stay married, commit to a local church, have kids and enjoy the life God gave us to the fullest (Jeremiah 29:4-8). The world will see that God’s design for sex and family works and that human beings are the most joyful, most fulfilled and least hateful when they are living out God’s design and mission for humanity (Deuteronomy 6:5, Micah 6:8, 1st Peter 2:17)