Nations and cultures in North American and western Europe have been on a moral decline since the enlightenment period, even though there have been periods of ups and downs. Nevertheless, there has been a gradual secularization of the Christian civilization, especially in the late 20th century. Today, a secularized North America and Western Europe lacks strong moral values. As a results, this has weakened the moral authority of Christian America and British Commonwealth countries like the U.K., Canada, and Australia. The western world no longer hold the respect of nations in the southern hemisphere like they once did. Western nations once recognized and classified themselves as Christian nations.
Today, liberal secular humanism is behaving as if our Christian roots had no bearing on its past, and will have no bearing on its future. Some people will deny that moral values is interdependently related to political stability, economic prosperity, and social advancement; but to do so is like denying that fruits have grown from its own branches. They may deny the true merits of moral values and reject society’s need for religious instruction. This attitude can lead to a corrosion and decline of an entire society and a nation. Any strong culture, society, and nations that rose to prominence throughout history, had some sort of basis in strong moral values. A great example of this is the rise, and eventual, decline and fall of the Roman Empire (Edward Gibbon’s work).
In our western democracies, we have applied political and theological principles that are biblically-based; and a lot of it actually stems from John Calvin’s theology. However, we have forgotten about this because it is a neglected part of our secular public education system. Out of the Reformation’s theological reforms flowed a sense of morality and law-abiding citizenry. As a result Calvin’s political theology, much of Geneva was politically reformed. The city of Geneva became a biblically-centered state under Calvin’s spiritual leadership. Hundreds of years later, this political and theological reform provided a basis for the development of representative democracy in England, and later, a democratic republic in America, which became a model that spread throughout the world. Our free and democratic society has its roots in a biblically-centered political theology—namely Hebrew-Jewish political theology. It is not rooted in Greek or Roman culture as some would like to believe and teach in university.
When a strong sense of morality is able to permeate an entire culture, it will have the potential to effect positive changes within an entire nation. What was permeated within a culture, and even an entire nation, was actually a sense of strong moral values in its people and its leaders. Morality and religion are critical determinants of a culture’s and nation’s significant worth. If there is a lack of good strong values, a culture is weakened by them rather than helped. These values, whatever they may be, usually have roots in religious faith.
We can follow a logical path that moves from moral values to economic prosperity and social advancement. In the western world, the Christian faith and heritage, which was formed by the people’s spiritual-religious experience, has greatly shaped traditional western culture. It has led to many blessings including political stability of democracy, great economic prosperity, and countless social advancements. It is only out of this sense of morality, that people make covenantal laws with God their creator. As society decides to make covenantal laws with God as individuals and as a nation, the people will eventually establish civil laws to provide the public with instructions from which to live by (Deut. 16:18-29:1; 33:1-5). This gives protection to the people. These public laws are, and should, always be for the common good of all people—great and small, rich and poor, male and female. The great benefit of civil laws is that it brings political stability to a nation. As political stability of a nation is established, a natural outflow will be economic prosperity (Deut. 30:15-20). Economic prosperity can only arise if there is political stability; this is a pre-condition. In countries where there is continuous political unrest, there can only be poverty. Without political stability, economic prosperity will never come about. This is the reason western civilizations like America and Great Britain have been able to prosper economically in the recent modern history. Economic prosperity is a fruit that results from strong moral values. Finally, when a society or nation is economically prosperous, its people will be self-empowered to advance socially. Examples of social advancement might be higher education for children, solid health care for the young and elderly, a cultivation of greater skills in the fine arts, and opportunities to greater enjoyment of recreational sports, and enjoyment of gracious living.
Without a sense of strong moral values, a society loses its moral integrity and authority to direct public policy domestically and abroad. When this happens, a nation’s immorally corrupt leaders can no longer lead; and a nation’s immorally corrupt people can no longer follow their corrupt leaders. The United States, Europe and Commonwealth nations must once again return to their Christian roots and learn to live by moral values.
(photo: John Calvin; Neighborhood Clinics. Health Dept. East Side Baby Health Station, New York, NY)