Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Is the world getting worse?

A week or two ago, I posted a question about whether, in your opinion the world was getting better or worse morally speaking. Here's a couple of my thoughts that led to the question:
  • If you listen to Christian organizations, it's always getting worse. But I tend to distrust such organizations (e.g. Focus on the Family) because ultimately, those organizations are about fear -- keeping people afraid so that they'll get fired up and donate money to the cause, thereby perpetuating the life of the organizations. Now before you get fired up and send me lots of hate mail, I don't disagree with everything these organizations stand for and in fact, I may agree on many issues. All I'm saying is that I don't allow these organizations to become my only lens through which I view & understand the world around me.
  • I think that in the broader view, there are some moral issues that have gotten much, much better. Here are some examples: while racism is not dead, its role in the American psyche has been greatly reduced, a couple hundred years ago women were treated as property and today the gap between men & women is closing, the amount of murder as a percentage of the overall populations has steadily decreased over the last several centuries (this doesn't account for wars). Here's my thing -- I think that when I'm asked questions about morality, I immediately think of sexual mores but there is more to morality than simply who is sleeping with whom.
  • The fundamentalist doctrine of the rapture leads people to expect that the world will get worse and worse until finally Jesus will just have to come back. But, when I read Jesus talking about the kingdom of God or kingdom of heaven, he seems to be talking like the kingdom will be growing in influence and power (see particuarly the parable of the leaven and others like it).
  • I agree with several of my commentators that the media makes us more knowledgeable about more of the bad stuff in the world than ever before, which taints our understanding.

Wow -- if you've read this far, I thank you. I don't really have a great conclusion, except to say that I grew up in a tradition that has taught me that the world is getting worse and worse and yet, I'm struggling with the realities of the kingdom of God -- and what it means for our world today, because in the tradition I grew up in, we hardly ever stressed the present realities of the kingdom, and yet I believe that the kingdom is here -- it's among us -- it's in our world today -- and while it may not be fully realized, I believe it is making inroads.


Josh R said...

I think that we are riding a moral pendulem.

If you look at the history of Isreal for example, you see repentance, followed by blessing, Once the blessings where abundant, the nation would rebel until there was punishment, then they would repent and start the cycle again.

I don't think we are much different. right now, at least in this part of the world, We are incredibly blessed. In response, we are prideful and arrogant, and become more and more rebelous. We have faith in the Blessing, but do not display a lot of faith in the God who is blessing us.

Our rebellion has consequences, and the blessings will run out or be cut off. We will no longer be able to place faith in our wealth, and will be driven closer to God. The Church thrives under persecution and misery, and stagnates under freedom and wealth.

So in some ways, when things get worse, things get better and when things get better then things get worse. The worldly health is often inversely related to the spiritual health.

swishthedish said...

man charlie, there may be things we can disagree with Focus on the Family over, but to make the statement that they operate through fear just to perpetuate their organization, that's going too far, especially since you threw that out there without giving any evidence for such a claim. i thought they were our brothers and sisters in Christ, we need to be careful about how we criticize other Christians

david rudd said...

i'll counter the last post by saying i'm with you. i think dobson has gone over to the dark side of right-wing politics...
(and i voted for boooooosh twice)

i come out of the same background as you, but wonder if we were taught the world is getting worse because of our view of end times or because of our view of sin?

probably a mix of both, but if it was more the second, i think i can still identify with that.

shieldwolf said...

it's an interesting question... and you're right that it's probably unanswerable. so... maybe consider taking it down a notch.

is peoria getting better or worse?
is my church reflecting more, less or about the same of the image of GOD?
is my neighborhood changing?
how about my family?
does what is in my heart today and my actions of late reflect that i'm living in the presence of the KING more than it did 5 years ago?

you got me thinking

Anonymous said...

It is normal for youth to question what they are taught. I did it, you are doing it, and your kids will do it. But, as maturity blossoms in your life you will see wisdom from parents and church background that was not evident earlier in life. Keep asking questions. ---- My answer to your question: "Is the world getting worse?" I think it is. It is a slow but steady worsening. Like watching kids is hard to realize the change that is taking place because they are with you all the time. But, take time to look back at snapshots of times past and you will see the difference. Our world is like that. Man is enlightened in some areas, but overall I would say it is worsening. I John 2:16-17 says, "For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. And the world is passing away, ..."
(I am a 52 year old guy that still has questions.)