I was not surprised this week by the findings of a Wall Street Journal poll of American values, summarized as pointing to: ‘Less Patriotism’, ‘Less God’ and ‘Fewer Babies’ today.
Under the headline, “Old and young diverged on values”, the new study in a nutshell revealed that younger Americans value patriotism, religion, and having children considerably less than previous generations.
When one considers that most younger adults, say between the ages of 18-34 have been found to be traditionally more idealistic, autonomous and morally relativistic than their more mature or aged peers anyway, the results of the WSJ poll simply affirm the more natural and sociological instincts or leanings of younger and more liberal generations.
One reason being, that youth and/or younger adults tend to be more influenced if not motivated by the opinions and moral messaging of the greater culture at large, which is more radically liberal than perhaps any other in American history, as evidenced by the sexual revolution (LGTBQ+) we have been in the midst of for these last two decades.
When the Journal/NBC News survey asked Americans 21 years ago to say which values were most important to them, strong majorities picked the principles of hard work, patriotism, commitment to religion, and the goal of having children.” Notice the word, “strong majorities.” Remarkably those attitudes have changed significantly since.
According to the report’s findings, “Today, hard work remains atop of the list, but the shares of Americans listing the other three values have fallen substantially driven by changing priorities of people under age 50.” The value of patriotism as being “very important to them”, declined by nine percentage points while religious value dropped 12 points, which has come in the wake of the growth of secularism, which has mushroomed in America since its mainstream birth of the early 20th century.
Indeed, the rise of secular humanism has led to the college-backed philosophical movement known as post (after) -Christianity, referring to a society, shaped by a culture that no longer holds to the prevailing and historic Judeo-Christian attitudes and moral values that once shaped and pervaded this nation’s collective psyche for nearly two centuries.
Moreover, the survey said that placement of a high value on having children, plummeted 16 points from 1998. That’s not a shocker either, when you consider that today’s entertainment celebrities and other mainstream cultural elites believe abortion to be not only a right, but a privilege and badge of honor. Therefore, why would we think they and those that fanatically follow them, would place much value on the institution of children and families?
In God We Trust or America?
What are Christians, particularly of the fifty-years old plus era (“Baby Boomers” etc.) to make of the fact that the United States of their youth is less recognizable and in greater moral free-fall than ever before?
Perhaps the answer to that question may be found in the answer to another, being, “How patriotic if at all, should Christians be about a city and kingdom not really their own?”
Patriotism as defined, is about a devoted love and loyalty to a nation. Such a devotion could conceivably clash with the greater love that disciples of Jesus Christ are to have for their King, his kingdom and cause, rather than a particular President and agenda.
This is and has always been a difficult question and issue for believers to wrestle with, as those of who have an awareness of American history understand that the original settlers of this country looked to create a “City on a hill”, referring to Matthew 5 and famously quoted by President Ronald Regan when seeking to reestablish American dominance in the midst of the Cold War of the 1980’s.
The national motto engraved on currency for nearly a century, “In God we Trust” speaks to a state that historically had not ever been very ‘separate’ from the Protestant church until perhaps a generation ago. Consider:
- The Federal Government of the United States at one time funded evangelistic missionary expansion to the Indians in the 19th century. That’s right, missions funded by American taxpayers.
- Prayer and Bible reading was a part of everyday life in the public school system up until the time I was born (I won’t give you that date).
The Supreme Court, yes the highest court in the land declared in a unanimous 1892 decision, (Church of the Holy Trinity v. United States), “Our laws and institutions necessarily are based upon and embody the teachings of the Redeemer of mankind. . . . [I]n this sense and to this extent our civilization and our institutions are empathically Christian. . . . (wait for it)… [T]his is a Christian nation.”
Could such a notion be even suggested or mentioned today in public?
This kind of Christian inspired history injected patriotism of the highest order into many a follower of Christ in this nation over the years but, at what cost to the kingdom?
While on the one hand I am exceedingly grateful to God for having been born and raised in arguably the greatest country and ‘empire’ if you will, ever ordained by providence on earth, to the point that I can say that I am unashamedly proud to be an American, we must never lose sight of our biblical perspective of this country.
We must wonder in the interests of Christianizing the nation via politics and policy persuasion, how often have we overlooked the gospel corruption perpetuated by both social gospel and justice warriors on the left in America and even “moral majority” activists on the right, who have co-opted scriptures like the 2 Chronicles 7:14 promise to Israel for the U.S.
In the words of biographer and historian George Marsden, “America might deserve the wrath of God for its sins, but let an American protester desecrate the flag or criticize the military and such outbursts would be treated as though they were blasphemy.” America has been interestingly enough, “simultaneously Babylon and God’s chosen nation.”
The proper view for Christians living by a biblical worldview, is to remember that we are a “citizen of two kingdoms” as the reformer Martin Luther put it, and the greatest allegiance or loyalty we are to display is for that city on a hill known as the New Jerusalem or Mt. Zion.
The apostle Paul made it quite clear where the ultimate loyalty or patriotism of a Christian in America should lie in Philippians 3:20, when he wrote that our “citizenship”, literally our ‘politics’ coming from a word meaning the civil affairs of a state or government, are “in heaven,” not earth, including the U.S.A.
Christians as per Peter’s first epistle are essentially strangers on earth or aliens, foreigners on mission for God. As C.S. Lewis, that anointed author and apologist said when confronting the apathy of his nation in late 1939 at a lecture just prior to the Nazi invasion of Poland:
This impending war has taught us some important things. Life is short. The world is fragile. All of us are vulnerable, but we are here because this is our calling. Our lives are rooted not only in time, but also in eternity, and the life of learning, humbly offered to God, is its own reward. It is one of the appointed approaches to the divine reality and the divine beauty, which we shall hereafter enjoy in heaven and which we are called to display even now amidst the brokenness all around us.
That call is ours as well, amidst the brokenness of sin so prevalent in our society today. We are to do all we can to bring gospel flavored salt and shine Spirit empowered light here, while we’re here.
Again, though I was unsurprised by the recent poll findings on American attitudes of patriotism, religion and children, cultural, Christian analysts like Al Mohler were alarmed and dismayed by the results, lamenting, “The social elites are winning. It’s telling us that those who had been in the driver’s seat of this society, who have basically been seeking to subvert patriotism and seeking to subvert religion and seeking even to subvert parenting, they’re winning in this society. They’re winning on the college campuses. They are winning in the academic conversation. They are winning in the production of culture. They are in control of Hollywood… they are winning.”
I prefer to think the game is far from over, we have the Bible, the playbook that tells us we, God’s born-again children, will win and win big when the clock runs out. Real Christians will be vindicated and we will truly be on the right side of history.