Moral turpitude on all levels, once thought common only to Hollywood celebrities, has seeped into every area of our culture. It is now frequent in Christian circles to see people cast their eyes heavenward, as though searching for an answer in the wind, saying, "I can't understand how the American people can accept Clinton as President of the United States!"
It is customary for clergymen to attribute this cultural rot to pornography, booze, movies, gambling, tobacco, and evil influences. My Christian university professors often attributed the fall of youth to such factors. They would stride across the campus saying, "Look at the well-groomed, well-scrubbed students at our school. You don't hear any rock music here, no drinking and smoking here, no sir! No Hollywood movies, either. We don't have unchaperoned dates. We don't even have boy-girl hand-holding or boys and girls walking too closely together. This is a great Christian environment, and that's the way, God willing, we must keep it or else lose our testimony."
In this way we are led to believe that a bad cultural environment creates a nation that accepts a fifty-year-old President who practices perverted sex with a student intern. If we believe this, we, the good guys, are called to rescue the weak from cigarettes, whiskey, and wild women.
Love Elvis But Hate Christ
The problem with this view is that Scripture does not place the blame on the environment, but on our inborn love of sin. This is named by theologians the Doctrine of Original Sin. We read, "There is nothing from without a man, that entering into him can defile him: but the things which come out of him, those are they that defile the man" (Mk. 7:15). The Bible's explanation is most unwelcome, because the Lord warns us that we are not helpless victims of the cultural environment, but sinners who love and crave sin as pigs crave mud. Tobacco, booze, and whores are bad, but blaming them for our failures is a greater and more deadly error. We should not be surprised, when, in this environment, Bill Clinton, Princess Diana, Marilyn Monroe, Elvis, Elizabeth Taylor, and their set are revered, while the name of Christ is cursed and defamed.
Why should mankind prefer moral weaklings, whores, and lying thieves above the Lord Jesus Christ? The answer for this is not found in the evils of the social or cultural environment. After all, the Garden of Eden was a wonderful setting. I am certain that it was morally superior to my Christian university. Yet, our first parents chose to follow Satan rather than God. In the words of Richard Brookhiser:
Celebrities promise to be with us always, as a collective cast of companions, if not individually. But we all intuit, at some level, that they are never with us and that we have been diddled. The result is resentment.
That is why we like our celebrities wasted, addicted, or dead. Elizabeth Taylor is on the covers of supermarket tabloids because she has weight and alcohol problems, not in spite of them. Elvis impersonators overwhelmingly mimic the white-fringed bloated druggie. Marilyn Monroe moved to another level when she killed herself. Each of these celebrities had some genuine talent or quality — Taylor was beautiful, Elvis could sing, Marilyn could walk — but they entered celebrity heaven because of their woes, which simultaneously gratify us and relieve us of the burden of revenge."(American Heritage, "Celebrity Conquers America, July/August 1998, 37)
Crucify Our Betters
Brookhiser's explanation is as close as a secular writer can come to admitting that unregenerate mankind hates perfection and loves celebrities in whom it can see weaknesses that reflect its wicked egos. When the great reveal to all others their faults, shortcomings, and debaucheries, the world says, "See how human they are . . . just like us!" The mediocre are relieved of the urge to bite, devour and crucify their superiors.
The world loves its own. It prefers Barabbas to Christ. Unless they repent, my foolish university teachers will have their dull wits sharpened by the Headmaster, the Lord Jesus Christ. They should not be puzzled and depressed because the President remains popular. They should instead smile and admit that this is a reflection of Original Sin. They should admit that, "The world loves Clinton, because he is one of its own." The answer they seek is not blowing in the wind; it beats in our hearts. The way to a better heart, however, is not as easy as cleansing a sinful social environment.
Responsibility vs. Wild Women
The way to a new heart is not to ignore the social environment and to allow filth to invade the Christian school. That would be irresponsible. The cure is to refuse to allow a student to excuse himself by claiming he is a victim of his social/cultural environment. We must always teach personal responsibility for sin, because, "There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way of escape, that ye may be able to bear it" (1 Cor. 10:13).
Faculty and parents must practice godly responsibility to protect the young. We must not allow the young to make excuses. We must never stand before students and say that alcohol caused us to sin, because this lame doctrine will tempt children to remain in sin. Our doctrine should force students to call on the Lord for mercy and strength to overcome the evils of their social/cultural environment.
Christians Teaching Paganism
Otto Scott attributes the decline of the British Empire to Arminian Christians, who took control of education. Scott observes that students, when free to police themselves, and able to visit taverns and other temptations of the world, produced leaders who conquered the globe. But under limits imposed by churchmen, they failed to develop the strength to withstand their social/cultural environment, grew soft, and the Empire declined.
This does not mean, however, that you should send future leaders to taverns to become masters of the world. It means that Arminian churchmen failed to teach Calvinist responsibility for sin, and produced soft excuse-makers. They taught the young to blame the world for their failures. Scott's observation is accurate, but cannot be immediately proven. Why? Because it takes about three generations to perceive the full effects of inferior theology: ". . . for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me" (Ex. 20:5). Using Scripture as our guide, we know that the Doctrine of Personal Responsibility provides the key to overcome a bad environment.
Examples of this abound. Moses was educated in all the witchcraft of his time (Ac. 7:22) and still emerged a godly man. The great evangelist George Whitefield was reared in a saloon, but overcame all obstacles. Parents should take note and never permit their preacher or teacher to allow their children to became weaklings by blaming their failures on the world. Rushdoony wrote, "Every weakening of the biblical doctrine of salvation, from a belief in restoration into responsibility under God into a doctrine of escape from responsibility is paganism and a perversion of Scripture" (Thy Kingdom Come, 164).
We call ourselves Christian reconstructionists. Therefore, we should point the finger at the enemy occupying the church and school. "The problem, from the modern perspective, is too often seen as subversion, when it is more commonly a moral failure, inability to grow and become mature" (Rushdoony, Institutes of Biblical Law, 631).
Every churchman who blames demon rum, tobacco, wild women or anything in the environment instead of Original Sin should be removed from the pulpit. They all rob our children of moral maturity. Unless such immature teachers repent, we should throw the rascals out!
- Ellsworth McIntyre