Sunday, January 16, 2011

The Falling Star of Morality

I generally write on forums, as there I get feedback - the trouble with a blog, for me, is the lack of dialog.
I've only gotten a few comments, even from family and friends, so why write, even if I have things worth saying?
Still, once or twice a year I come up with something that I want to say to those I care about.

I recently downloaded a 5-minute sample of what is apparently a popular TV show: "Greek". Maybe someone will correct me on its general popularity, but it appears to be a mainstream show aimed at young adults (and so watched by teens and children). What I experienced in watching this sampling of scenes is something I have experienced once before - in 1999.

At that time, I had returned from Russia to the States after 15 years of mostly TV-free life. (The Navy, followed by university followed by my Russian adventures had insulated me from most of pop culture. Well, I graduated in a moment from "Laverne and Shirley" and "Welcome Back, Kotter" to "The Jerry Springer Show". It was a shock. The main reason I experienced anything at all was because I had not been gradually acclimated, like everyone else. If you put a frog in a pot of hot water, it'll sense the heat and jump out. If you put it in a pot of cold water, and gradually raise the temperature, it'll keep adjusting until it boils to death. And that's what I saw happening to everyone back home. Not that TV is the only influence - although it IS a major one, but it was clear to me that our moral perception has changed - in the way that a person slowly losing their sight or senses is having their perception changed.

After watching this "Greek" excerpt, I experienced it again - only this time it was worse. Jerry Springer moved from being sensational to being casual. "he's sleeping with her, but she's screwing this other guy, these two guys are "getting their gay on" (an unthinkable expression two decades ago!), etc etc. So now I can compare the rate of the fall of public morality - and it is falling, like a shooting star. Rapid changes now register in only one decade where before it took at least a generation.

So where to next? It appears that the creep of poisons like public approval of homosexuality are creeping everywhere; NY now has a governor that has promised to push "gay marriage" (a first-class oxymoron that is only a dismal parody) through in that state.

So why doesn't the traditional Christianity of our country oppose this? It is no longer able to. Being founded on the authority of the individual to decide what is right, and having made it impossible to appeal to any authority that can say, "This is wrong", people are left to treating it as if it were a "matter of taste", and tolerating it, just as the frog "tolerates" the hot water (hardly a virtue for the frog). And so, nothing can stop it.

Nothing? Well, I think one thing really can stop it. but it requires a return - not even to the faith of our fathers, but to the original tradition of Christianity (as opposed to "traditions of men"), that does not acknowledge that truth is determined by the individual (even one reading the Bible on its own - a tactic that has only resulted in endless divisions of people disagreeing with each other on what is right and what is not). A faith that says "we do NOT get to decide what morality is for ourselves )even by appealing to and arguing over a text)" can really stand against all of these relentless changes and not change. Attempts at "relevance" have only resulted in being irrelevant. Early Christians didn't try to be relevant at all - and so were found so relevant that by the 4th century had come to dominate the Roman Empire. Even the Baptists I grew up with would not have been terribly recognizable to John Smythe or Roger Williams - and Catholics of today embrace serious changes that their ancestors would also not recognize (although I have a great deal of respect for Catholics, my grandmother having been one, and a an example of a rather good one, to my mind). So where is a Christianity that doesn't change its tune every decade, or even every century? One that really does (strange as it may seem to the Protestant-raised mind) maintain the faith as handed down from the apostles without compromise or change? The Protestant churches have failed. With 3 centuries of predominance, they have achieved only a reverse of what the early Christians achieved. And yet what they teach IS true - Christ IS risen and He IS Lord. So where is a resolution of the paradox?

I believe I have found it.