Decline and Fall of the American Family

By Chuck Missler

America is engaged in a civil war. The battle lines are drawn, the strategies are in place, the casualties are mounting. And the winner takes all.

From the shattering of families to a staggering rate of crime and lawlessness, the secular assault on the moral fabric of this country is unraveling every facet of life as we have known it. Even our most basic liberties, including our freedom to worship God without government interference and censorship, are now threatened.

It almost seems redundant to consider once again the statistics that, by now, have become familiar to most of us. On every side, in almost every place, we are beset with child abuse, rape, abortion that occurs at the rate of one per minute, drug abuse, senseless violence, sexual perversion, pornography, divorce, gang warfare, and finally, teenagers who are committing suicide at the rate of one every 90 minutes. No wonder.

It is not so much a situation in which Americans are merely breaking the law; it is more grave than that. It is a situation where people have actually overturned the law. God issued a severe warning to Israel in Isaiah 5:20: "Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!"

Boards of education across America sanction the teaching of homosexuality as an acceptable lifestyle, but the Supreme Court has banned them from using any reference to the word "God" in their official writings. We seem to have lost the standard, and there is no longer any consensus of what is true and what is honorable.

Ten years ago, we were shocked at revelations of declining moral values in America. Today, the shocking thing is that nothing shocks us anymore. We have seen it and heard it so many times that we have almost become desensitized. But as Christians accountable to God, we must wrestle with serious questions: How did this happen to our once great nation? What do we do and where do we go from here?

Facing Reality

For those of us engaged in the study of end-time prophecies, there is a subtle danger in all of this. We read 2 Timothy 3:1-5, and we know that, in the latter days, men are destined to become selfish, proud, disobedient to parents, without natural affection, despisers of those that are good, and lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God.

We debate the conspicuous absence of the United States in the final biblical scenario, and we somehow conclude that maybe America's decay is just a predestined prelude to the return of our Saviour. And so we become passive.

But if our Lord did return today, what would we have left to give Him from the wreckage of our rich spiritual heritage and the incredible blessings that He has bestowed on this country? We know from the parable of the talents that God expects a return on the truth that He has invested in us. How many talents would we have to offer?

When Jesus pronounced sentence against Judas, He made an interesting point. Personal responsibility for sin is never excused on the basis of the inevitability of events. "For the Son of Man is going as it has been determined, but woe to that one by whom he is betrayed!" (Luke 22:22;NRSV).

Whatever God chooses to do with the United States, we as Christians are still responsible for our stewardship of the liberties and the freedoms that He has given us. Jesus will not return in order to rescue us from a corrupt situation. He will return when His work on earth, through His church, is completed. The hope of His imminent return should compel us all the more to strive toward restoring the character of our country and the honor of His name.

That is where the going gets tough. Christian leaders everywhere are sounding the call to arms. We're challenged to fill the voting booths, call our congressmen, boycott the offenders, change the school systems, impeach our leaders. Frustrated Americans are proposing everything from a military takeover in Washington to secession from the union.

We are told to pray for revival and to stand up for God's Word. But it is on this last point that we come face to face with a very tough reality. We are trying to hold a nation of people accountable to God's Word when, in fact, a significant number of them no longer believe that God even exists.

Saving the Next Generation

It's plausible that the cause of our moral and spiritual dilemma, and the solution to it, may be something more simple and more profound than we have considered. Throughout Scripture, there seems to be a plan, ordered by God, that is designed to keep us corporately in God's blessing. It isn't just the type of government we set up or the people we elect or even the laws we institute. It is the simple commandment that we teach our children to keep the way of the Lord.

The concept goes back as far as Genesis 18:19 when God said of Abraham, "For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the Lord, to do justice and judgment. . . ." In Deuteronomy 4: 10, He states again ". . . and I will make them hear my words, that they may learn to fear me all the days that they shall live upon the earth, and that they may teach their children."

'Me powerful impact of teaching children should not surprise us. Our enemies have understood it well. Communist countries made it policy to remove children from their homes at an early age in order to educate and indoctrinate them. Adolf Hitler pronounced that "who controls the youth, controls the future."

Liberal engineers of social change have made the claim that, given just one generation, they can radically alter a society. And they have proven their point.

Psalm 78:5-7 states:

For he established a testimony in Jacob, and pointed a law in Israel, which he commanded our fathers, that they should make them known to their children: That the generation to come might know them, even the children which should be born who should arise and declare them to their children: That they might set their hope in God, and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments.

Perhaps we need to consider that God doesn't hold us as accountable for governments and policies and social orders as much as He does for the spiritual inheritance that we give to our own children. Perhaps, in His providential plan, it would be enough if only we would master the task of safeguarding God's truth from father to child, one generation at a time.

For many Christians, teaching our children God's truth may seem routine. But therein lies the danger. It doesn't mean that we passively sit back and tell our children what we believe. It doesn't mean that if they see us going to church and to Bible studies that they will somehow get the message.

Teaching is not just exhibiting faith but laboring to implant everything that we know and understand about our God into the hearts and minds of the next generation. It is teaching God's Word and using every possible opportunity to demonstrate its validity. It is a labor of love.

Of His Word, God says: "And ye shall teach them to your children, speaking of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.... That your days may be multiplied, and the days of your children, in the land which the Lord sware unto your fathers to give them. . ." (Deut. 11:19-21).

However close our relationship with God, no matter how strong our own convictions, we need to understand this principle of teaching the next generation. Otherwise our faith dies with us, and our children are left to fashion a world of their own choosing.

Where Did America Get Off Track?

The fallout from the takeover of secular humanism in America has been staggering, and nowhere is it more evident than in the lives of our youth. When we examine the course of the last couple of decades in this country, we see a chronicle of what happens to a nation that turns its back on God.

The first chapter of Romans details a progression of sin and rebellion against God that is stunningly like the progression of life in America. It begins: "Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened" (Rom. 1:21).

There is no lack of historical evidence that this country was founded on Christian principles. Document after document confirms an original commitment to God and to His laws.

Patrick Henry stated, "It cannot be emphasized too strongly or too often that this great nation was founded not by religionists but by Christians, not on religions but on the gospel of Jesus Christ."

If we assume that 200 years ago the majority of people in America were followers of God, then what happened in the intervening years to bring us to where we are today? The answer may be that we lost something crucial. We lost the foundation, the reference point, of our Christian faith. And without the foundation of God's authoritative Word, we no longer had anything substantial to pass on to the next generation. So we substituted relativity for truth, and "values clarification" for God's moral absolutes.

After the Great Depression and the powerful impact of World War 111, a generation of Americans suddenly found itself in a time of peace and prosperity. Life was easier, families were stable, and there was a general sense of order and rule. People trusted each other. Furthermore, they trusted the government and those in authority, and that proved to be a fatal mistake.

Instead of obeying God's command to teach our children diligently, we delegated that responsibility to Sunday school teachers and public schools - to authorities outside the home. At that time, there was no reason to assume that anything would be lost in the process. But we didn't see that the foundation was beginning to crumble.

Altering the World View of Life

Ken Ham, a scientist with the Institute for Creation Research, wrote that "the meaning of anything is related to its origin." Many who agree with that premise believe that the domination of evolutionary thought in America probably delivered the first and most extensive blow to the foundation of Christianity.

Of Genesis, Ham states that "all biblical doctrines are, in one way or another, founded in this first book of the Bible."' Thus, the evolutionary thought that undermined the creation of man, effectively undermined the whole authority of biblical teaching.

Many Christians still do not realize the enormous impact of the teachings of one man, Charles Darwin, and how he has forever altered the world view of life.

Public educators took the theory of evolution, which from the beginning was riddled with unanswered questions and inconsistencies, and presented it to an entire generation as the factual account of man's origin. With one broad stroke, they took out the Creator, which eliminated man's personal accountability, stripped away the value of a human life as having been created in the image of God, and erased the natural division between man and animal.

In his book, The Long War Against God, Dr. Henry Morris states that: "Evolutionism and its corollary teachings in the schools have so undermined the Bible by discrediting its record of creation and divine purpose that the whole 'Christian experience' has likewise been completely discredited in the minds of young people. . . ."

It would be impossible to fully assess the amount of damage that the teaching of evolution has left in its wake. Since man is just a random accident in the universe, then life itself is of no real value beyond the existential seeking of momentary pleasure. No life is any more significant than any other, so there is really nothing and no one worth sacrificing for, and man has no more right to the earth's resources than the lowest animals.

In the words of Dr. David Jeremiah, "Abortion, infanticide, and euthanasia are logical behaviors for those who have so easily disposed of the image of God in the eternal soul of man."' Evolution effectively takes God out of the picture and allows man to justify anything and everything that he deems is a means to his own.

We could hardly have sent a more devastating message to our children. Instead of teaching them that they were uniquely designed by a loving and compassionate Creator, in His image, with value and purpose, we set them adrift into a world of futility and meaninglessness.

One of the intriguing things about the theory of evolution is that we embraced it so fully in the academic world when it was still suspect in the scientific world. In the book, Origin of Species Revisited, the author quotes a noted biochemist, that 100 years ago, ".. . even Darwin himself had increasing doubts as to the validity of his views.... His general theory, that all life on earth had originated and evolved by a gradual successive accumulation of fortuitous mutations, is still, as it was in Darwin's time, a highly speculative hypothesis entirely without direct factual support. . . ."

Yet the theory of evolution was brought full-scale into the classrooms of America, even to the exclusion of the theory of creation. Evolution was introduced not so much as a scientific doctrine, but as a social doctrine that would completely redesign our view of life.

Dr. Morris goes so far as to state that "evolutionary thought is basically responsible for the lethally ominous political developments and the chaotic moral and social disintegration that has been accelerating everywhere in recent decades."

Again, we find in Romans a reference to these engineers of social change: "Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen" (Rom. 1:25).

Abandoning the Places of the Heart

The progression of rebellion against God as outlined in Romans I denotes three areas where God "gave them up," or gave men over, to suffer the logical consequences of their own sin. First, He gave over their hearts to uncleanness (verse 24), then He gave over their bodies to "vile affections" (verse 26), and finally He gave them over to a reprobate mind (verse 28). We see around us today the same consequences in the lives of those who reject God, and in the life of our nation as a whole.

When we began to reject God, we first felt the damage in the "places of the heart." After the foundation was sufficiently weakened, the first major casualty of the war against God was the family. Every weapon that could be used to break down family structure was employed.

Once Americans achieved a high standard of living and the money supply was tightened, the pressure was on to reconcile the two. Many researchers report that financial pressure within a marriage is the number one cause of divorce. Many women were forced to enter the workplace in order to provide a second income, and at the same time, the new left began to denigrate the role of full-time mothers and homemakers.

Neil Postman, a professor at New York University and a secular author, discusses this shift in his book, The Disappearance of Childhood. Although he basically commends the women's liberation movement as one that "deserves the full support of enlightened people," he nevertheless sees it as "devastating to the power of the family."

Postman concludes: ". . . it cannot be denied that as women find their place in business, in the arts, in industry, and in the professions, there must be a serious decline in the strength and meaning of traditional patterns of child care.... Thus, as parents of both sexes make their way in the world, children become something of a burden, and, increasingly, it is deemed best that their childhood end as early as possible .

Marie Winn, who writes for the New York Times magazine, continues this same line of thought, also from a secular perspective, in her book, Children Without Childhood. Her indictment states: "Instead of being willing as a society to sacrifice for children, to consider their care a primary duty, adults have transformed the very image of childhood from one that deserves protection and nurture to one that justifies their own sometimes monstrous abandonment of children .

The sexual revolution also left its scars on the family in terms of infidelity. Therapists, however, reassured us that, no matter what we did, it was most likely someone else's fault. The concepts of sin and personal accountability became more or less obsolete. Increased selfesteem became the new goal, and it didn't matter what it took to achieve it.

The ideas of sacrifice and commitment, to anyone or anything, were quickly set aside if they interfered with the ultimate fulfillment of individual potential. As we mastered the art of putting "self' first, the divorce rate skyrocketed. And millions of pregnancies ended in abortion because we were unwilling to make a place in our world for the children we conceived. And all the time, our children were watching us.

Since 1960, the teenage suicide rate has tripled. A recent interview on CNN "Headline News" featured a counselor who works with children affected by divorce. He described the impact on the child as being something similar to a drive-by shooting. "He is sitting there, minding his own business, when suddenly, out of nowhere, he takes a direct hit."

Josiah Gilbert Holland once wrote, "No nation can be destroyed while it possesses a good home life." With the disintegration of the family, we do not yet know where America's youth will end up in the final analysis. But we know a lot.

Give Kids a Benchmark

While the hearts of the children were at risk on the home front, their minds were being attacked on a different front. "And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind. . ." (Rom. 1:28).

Behavioral psychologists and secular forces began to infiltrate the public education system. Their influence gradually extended beyond academics and into the moral and philosophical realm.

Along with evolution, secularists brought with them the philosophy of humanism as set forth in two humanist manifestos, signed in 1933 and 1973. They introduced naturalism and supported it through the teaching of evolution. They replaced moral absolutes with relative values and situational ethics. And in 1962 they succeeded in persuading the Supreme Court to outlaw prayer and later, Bible reading, in the classroom. Quite an agenda for change.

Since that pivotal Supreme Court decision, teenage pregnancies have risen 556 percent, venereal disease is up 226 percent, divorce, which had declined for 15 years, has tripled every year since, and S.A.T. scores, which had previously been stable, began their remarkable decline, which continues today.

It stands to reason, however, that the real problem came not because of what children were being taught in school. The real problem may have been what they weren't being taught at home.

As a result of entrusting our children to outsiders, Postman notes that: "Psychologists, social workers, guidance counselors, teachers, and others representing an institutional point of view invade large areas of parental authority, mostly by invitation. What this means is that there is a loss in the intimacy, dependence, and loyalty that traditionally characterize the parent- child relationship."'

Secular teaching succeeded, in large part, because it went unchecked at home. Over and over, God charges the parents, specifically the father, to teach children His truth. ". . . the father to the children shall make known thy truth" (Isa. 38:19). "And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord" (Eph. 6:4).

God makes no provision for the delegation of that responsibility, even to Sunday school teachers. It may be part of God's plan that, for children, truth is intrinsically validated when it comes through the life of the parents.

A poll conducted by U. S. News and World Report in the summer of 1994 found that 60 percent of respondents "say they hold their current religious beliefs because of their parents' example." Children who are taught foundational biblical truth will have a benchmark against which to measure every other doctrine and philosophy, and their minds will not be such easy prey for the enemies of God.

"Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it" (Prov. 22:6).

Rebellion and the Sexual Revolution

God gives men authority over in a third area - the physical realm. Nothing so graphically illustrates rebellion against God as the so-called sexual revolution.

The vast majority of teenagers today are presumed to be sexually active and are encouraged through school-sponsored programs to practice "safe sex." This assumption is so predominate that a curriculum teaching abstinence was ruled to be unconstitutional because the concept of abstinence was deemed to be "religious" in nature.

As a result of secular sex education, however, teenage pregnancies have skyrocketed, and 35,000 new cases of venereal disease are reported every day. Many of the pregnancies end in abortion, and there is continuing debate over the right of a minor to obtain an abortion without parental knowledge or consent. In addition to sexual promiscuity, the market for pornography, including child pornography, is widespread.

Before his execution, confessed murderer Ted Bundy stated, in an interview with Dr. James Dobson, that one of the most powerful influences in his life of perversion was that of pornography. There is an end result of this progression in Romans - unclean hearts, vile affections, and reprobate minds - and it is a portrait of a people who have rebelled against God.

Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful (Rom. 1:29-31).

Verses 26 and 27 deal with homosexuality, and the consequence of men ". . . receiving in themselves that recompense of their error which was meet."

The homosexual lobby is one of the strongest forces in American politics today and is openly advanced by the current President and his administration, despite the fact that homosexuals reportedly represent only one percent of the entire population. At the same time, AIDS continues to defy any vaccines or cures, all the while claiming thousands and thousands of lives every year. In the last year alone, the number of estimated AIDS cases has risen 60 percent, to almost 4 million people worldwide.

On August 6, 1994, Dr. George Lundberg, editor of the Journal of the American Medical Association, addressed the 10th International Conference on AIDS with a particularly somber prediction: that by the end of the next century "no successful method of treatment or prevention will have been fully implemented ... and AIDS will still be a serious endemic disease throughout the world."

What happens when a group of people rejects the God of the universe and finds itself in this category? And what happens to the children of the generation that turns away?

The Journey from Light into Darkness

Frank Peretti, a well-known Christian author, once made a presentation in which he related the transition of life in America to a somewhat obscure verse in the Bible: "For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft . . ." (I Sam. 15:23). His premise is that there is a progression of sin beginning with rebellion against God that, when it runs its course, ends up in the realm of the occult.

There may be some interesting parallels to what we see around us today. One of the intriguing recurrent themes in Scripture is the contrast between light and darkness. Writing of Jesus, the Gospel of John proclaims, "In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in the darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not" (John 1:4-5).

Jesus marks His own identity with references to the light:

I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life" (John 8:12). "Then Jesus said unto them, Yet a little while is the light with you. Walk while ye have the light, lest darkness come upon you: for he that walketh in darkness knoweth not whither he goeth" (John 12:35).

According to Scripture, light represents the kingdom of God and His revealed truth, and darkness represents the realm of Satan. It is logical, then, that when we traverse outside the boundaries of God's truth, we run the risk of crossing over a type of spiritual boundary into the domain of darkness, or the occult.

Jesus said He came: "To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me" (Acts 26:18).

Man was created with an inherently spiritual nature. When twentieth-century scientists and behavioral psychologists tried to strip away the basic foundation of Judeo-Christian thought, what they left in its place was a spiritual vacuum. And into that vacuum, we are seeing the rush of New Age religions, the occult, eastern philosophies, and a wide range of teaching that seeks to replace the light with the dark.

When we took away from future generations the underpinnings of Judeo- Christian faith, they turned to find a faith of their own, and there was no shortage of leadership to help guide them in their search for spiritual fulfillment.

Old Enticements for a New Age

While it is true that Christianity is no longer allowed in the public school system, we would be very wrong to assume that religion has been removed from our schools. Secular humanism, once defined by the courts as a religion, is now giving way to more aggressive New Age precepts and doctrines. In almost every school subject, children are taught holistic education, values clarification, and transpersonal psychology. No longer is the major emphasis on academics as much as it is on behavioral and social strategies that will prepare the coming generation to be good global citizens.

But the New Age isn't really new at all. A blending of religions and doctrines that are rooted in Hinduism, including hedonism, pantheism, and humanism, it is as ancient as time itself.

In the garden, Satan tempted Eve with two enticements. First, he said that it was possible to be like God. Then he reassured her that "ye shall not surely die." These two concepts are the basic tenets of New Age thought, and the reason why it is so attractive to a nation without God. The idea that man can achieve "godhood" is to be found everywhere in New Age thought.

Stephanie Herzog wrote a book titled, Joy in the Classroom, claiming that every student can achieve personal inner fulfillment and strength through consciousness-raising exercise that put him in touch with "his true God- Self.""

In a December 1987 article in Time magazine, Robert J. L. Burrows stated: "You can see the rise of the New Age as a barometer of the disintegration of American culture. Dostoyevsky said that anything is permissible if there is no God. But anything is also permissible if everything (or everyone) is God."

Synonymous with the idea of godhood is the availability of power. The media is saturated with this idea of supernatural power, from "the Force" of Star Wars to Field of Dreams to Dungeons and Dragons, and beyond.

The latest example of this quest is the card game, "Magic: The Gathering," that has sold more than 10 million cards and continues to sell out before the game even hits the shelves. The game, created by Wizards of the Coast, deals with building up property, which is your manna," and accumulating cards in order to acquire "the power" that each card carries.

The other facet of New Age comes from Satan's promise that "ye shall not surely die." The biblical understanding of death is that it is an integral part of man's redemption. God prevented Adam and Eve from eating of the tree of life so that they should not "eat, and live forever," which would have left them in their sinful, separated state of existence.

Jesus Christ triumphed over death when He rose from the grave, and in so doing, He robbed Satan of his most powerful weapon. It is no wonder then that Satan should try to negate the power of Christ's victory by convincing man that there is no death. Reincarnation allows New Age followers to live forever, and it takes out the uncomfortable specter of "accountability to a righteous God."

The Beautiful Face of Evil

Why is New Age teaching so easily pervading the American mainstream? And what does it have to do with the fall of the American culture? Isaiah 2:6 states, "Thou hast forsaken thy people the house of Jacob, because they be replenished from the East, and are soothsayers like the Philistines..." (NASB).

We know from I Samuel 6:2 that the Philistines practiced the art of divination. That practice, which is forbidden by God's Word, seeks to achieve power, control, and a knowledge of the future through the intercession of spirit beings or demons. What God denounced in Israel more than 2,500 years ago is no different from the trends that are sweeping through American culture today.

The eastern mystical religions have always been antithetical to God and to His revealed plan for mankind. Their influence has been called the beautiful face of evil. "And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light" (2 Cor. 11: 14).

Many scholars believe that, as we draw near to the return of Jesus Christ, it is only natural that those within the dominion of Satan will become more and more aggressive as they approach the final battlefield. New Age thinking is in perfect harmony with the end-time prophecies of a one-world global society under the leadership of one man, and the concurrent one-world religion that accompanies his rise to power.

That is why, when we decided we would no longer impose our system of spiritual values on our children, Satan was more than happy to impose his.

How to Change the World

It appears that as a nation we have traveled the full spectrum from the loss of our Christian foundation to open rebellion against God's moral truth, which had led many into the realm of occultic beliefs and practices.

How do we begin to turn an entire nation around and to reclaim the godly heritage that once was ours? We begin one person at a time.

One of the enigmas of Christianity is that ever since Jesus chose a handful of men to change the course of history, God has carried on His master plan for the ages through the transformation of one life at a time. We are not asked to perform supernatural feats or to overthrow principalities. We change America the same way we change our families. Lives are turned around, when one on one, we are willing to be used by God to make known the gospel of Jesus Christ.

The real challenge to us as Christians is to run the hard race. We need to measure our lives against the standard of God's Word and be willing to make changes where there are discrepancies. We need to alter our priorities, take a stand, teach our children, make the tough choices, and seek God's face.

We need to give our children a sure foundation, a certain knowledge of absolute truth that will transcend governments and philosophies and powers of darkness.

The greatest thing that we can do for America is to fight the good fight, finish the course, and keep the faith. Then possibly God will be able to use us in the way that He used John the Baptist 2,000 years ago: ". . . to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord" (Luke 1: 17).