Every year here in SoCal we hear about houses, once safely perched high above Pacific Coast Highway, slip-sliding away down the slope due to incremental erosion.
When they were built, they were on sure footing. But time and nature were at work undermining the integrity of the foundation, and these beautiful homes end up on the evening news in shambles.
Sadly, the same phenomenon can be seen happening in the moral values of a nation.
In the latest poll on moral values in America, Gallup reports “Of the 19 issues included in this year’s poll, 13 show meaningful change in a liberal direction over time, regardless of whether they are currently at their high point in Gallup’s trend. No issues show meaningful change toward more traditionally conservative positions compared with when Gallup first measured them.”
Here are some of the poll’s findings. Sixty-nine percent of Americans believe sex between an unmarried man and woman is morally acceptable; 63 percent approve of gay or lesbian relations; 62 percent consider having a baby outside of marriage morally acceptable.
Doctor-assisted suicide came in with a morally acceptable rating of 57 percent, while abortion – perhaps the most famous social issue of our day – came in with 43 percent considering it morally acceptable.
When it comes to pornography and sex between teens, more than 1/3 considered both morally acceptable, while those who found suicide morally acceptable rose 6 percent to 18 percent since the last survey. Only slightly behind suicide’s approval rating is polygamy, with 17 percent now considering it morally acceptable.
The analysts at Gallup have determined, if the current trends continue, in 10 years more than one in four Americans will also consider polygamy and suicide to be morally acceptable.
The survey also found 70 percent of Americans continue to identify with some branch of the Christian faith. As a pastor and theologian, this brings two terrible truths very close to home.
First, there is no doubt moral erosion is happening in our day, in our neighborhoods, in our nation. We are slowly descending down the slope of moral erosion, heading to moral anarchy.
Secondly, too many churches and Christian leaders have capitulated to culture and are no longer heralding the dangers of throwing off the very moral constructs that allow for the pursuit of life, liberty, and happiness.
They are no longer standing strong, with both courage and compassion, for the moral truths arising from natural law that have been the guardrails of society throughout human history.
They have stopped holding those who claim to be Christ-followers accountable to the teaching of Jesus and his apostles. In the case of my fellow pastors and theologians, we have seen the enemy … and it is us.
The facts are clear if we are willing to read the research. Where moral degradation occurs, families disintegrate, children suffer, poverty increases, disease multiplies, crime rises, and societies find themselves facing problems without solutions.
Without a commitment to the sanctity of life, the importance of marriage, and the necessity of absolute moral standards, we will soon find ourselves dying the slow but tragic death of moral relativism.
It starts with you and me. We simply must recover our moral compass, guided by the two authoritative sources that have held humanity’s basest instincts in check. By this I mean biblical morality and human history.
Together they testify to the truth that true freedom comes only within the boundaries of moral restraint as that restraint is laced with both courage and love. Let’s stop the erosion before we find ourselves at the bottom of the cliff in shambles.
David Hegg is senior pastor of Grace Baptist Church and a Santa Clarita resident. Ethically Speaking runs Saturdays in The Signal.