There has been much discussion in recent months regarding the decline of America. Some deny it. Some seem to actually revel in the decline of America. Still others will explain it away as an illusion. It only appears we are declining because other countries like China and Brazil are experiencing an incline. But these facts remain: we are plagued by the fear of terrorism, we are rocked by corruption in our government and our economy teeters on the brink of total collapse.
There seems to be a natural law at work in all societies. It is the law of atrophy. It is truly phenomenal the structures men have built over the centuries. But they all reach their peak and then began to decay. We wage a constant battle to fight decay in our historical structures like the Golden Gate Bridge, the Empire State Building and the Statue of Liberty. Other men have been builders of empires and institutions. All of them, without exception, have decayed and eventually died. Multiple billions of people have lived productive lives throughout the ages and all have degenerated and finally died.
Ezra Pound once said, “Music begins to atrophy when it departs too far from the dance…poetry begins to atrophy when it gets too far from the music.” Mothers keep their young near for fear of their getting lost and dying of hunger or being consumed by a predator. If America is in decline it’s because she is getting further and further away from the truths and principles upon which she was founded. We can expect a progressive atrophy of freedom and independence when we allow ourselves to float so far downstream from the original intent of our founding fathers. When we twist the U.S. Constitution in such a way as to sanction the murder of the unborn, when we use the sacred scriptures to condone the sinful actions of mankind rather than condemn them we are in serious decline.
We have replaced the absolute truths of God’s word (the Ten Commandments) with our own relativism (the ten suggestions). We have asked God to change himself to suit our own nature and desires. We don’t want to be accountable to a holy and just God. When the unchanging, eternal God ignored our suggestions to change, we chiseled out our own God. Our new god was proportionally distorted. The god we created was filled so full of love there was no room for justice. The god we created would never separate himself from those who hate and despise him. The new god we worship has renounced his righteousness and purity in the name of inclusiveness. Repentance and holiness are no longer requirements to enter the presence of a holy God. He has opened up the doors of eternity to the impure and the impenitent. It will be a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God (Hebrews 10:31) because he will be nothing like the god we envisioned.
Life is a constant battle against this natural law of decay. We fight to protect our marriages from the numbing effects of living in the grind of routine. We are constantly introducing new programs and agendas into our churches and institutions to stir new life. Aging is like a slow descent into a miry quicksand. We diet, we get surgeries, we frantically exercise to fight off this universal enemy. We fight on valiantly even though no one ever wins this battle. The life of America parallels the life of any person. It arrived as an infant. It struggled through its teen-age years. It gloried in the strength of its youth and prime. It then feels the atrophy of age and it will eventually find its rest under a tombstone in a graveyard of empires.
The decline we are witnessing is simply the depravity of man bursting through the decaying dams we have built to contain it. We are experiencing the consequences of our own choices. We began to think badly about the time of the cultural revolution of the 1960’s. Not only did we turn our face from God, we lifted our fist to him and declared ourselves wiser than he. We replaced the “God of the Copyright Headings with the gods of the Market Place.”(Rudyard Kipling) Divine truth and wisdom was replaced by humanism and materialism. “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter.” (Isa. 5:20) We boldly declared the validity of our own truth and proclaimed that there were many ways to God and surely there was no hell and all were bound for heaven. We attempted to tie ropes around the arms of God and live unaccountable lives.
Now we find our society in decline and in our foolishness we cry out, “Why, oh why!” It is because he “lets all nations go their own way.” (Acts 14:16) Lee Greenwood said, “I believe there is a decay that is eroding America, and as a result, God begins to disappear from our society.” Our own depravity is constrained by the presence of the Spirit of God. When he withdraws his presence from a “rebellious and a stiff necked people” (Deut. 31:27) the harness that holds back the beast is released.
So, what must be done to stave this rush to destruction? Americans still are not thinking well, even when it comes to devising a solution. We think the solution is to find a Priest in Chief who will lead us to the moral high ground. We ignore God’s laws and obsess over the laws of men. We want a law against abortion, a law against sexual perversion, a law for this and a law for that. The solution will not be found in adding laws to the books of men. There is no dam built with the laws of men that can contain the depravity of man. The real solution is to go to the source of the river. The waters will not recede until we return to a genuine faith in God and embrace the truth of his word.
I heard an older teacher once ask his students this question: “How do you eat an elephant?” A classroom of math students waited eagerly to hear his reply, “One bite at a time.” How do we rebuild a Christian nation? How does the Kingdom of God grow? We allow ourselves to be used of God. It will be done the same way Christ demonstrated two thousand years ago when he met the woman at the well, when he conversed with Nicodemus, when he confronted Saul: one convert at a time.
Kevin Probst - Teaches History, Government and Apologetics at the high school level in Columbus Georgia.