These are the words of Jesus recorded in Luke 11:29. We find God making a similar assertion in Deuteronomy 1:35-36,
Not one of these men of this evil generation shall see the good land that I swore to give to your fathers except Caleb the son of Jephunneh. He shall see it, and to him and to his children I will give the land on which he has trodden, because he has wholly followed the LORD!
How would we assess our current generation? A quote by Bert M. Farias will help us with our analysis. Though this quote is slightly outdated, and trends have become even worse, he summarizes succinctly the moral decay in our society since the 1960s as follows:
The divorce rate has doubled, teen suicide has tripled, reported violent crime has quadrupled, the prison population has quintupled, the percentage of babies born out of wedlock has risen sixfold, couples living together out of wedlock have increased sevenfold, and gay marriage is now a legalized reality in a number of states, with many believing the end is not in sight….
There has never been a society in the history of mankind whose moral values have deteriorated so dramatically, in such a short period of time, as those of Americans in the last 50 years.[i]
These trends and Farias’ summarizing statement make the conclusion inescapable that ours also constitutes an evil generation.
We can also derive the same conclusion from the speech by Gen. John Kelly last week in which he observed:
You know, when I was a kid growing up, a lot of things were sacred in our country. Women were sacred, looked upon with great honor. That’s obviously not the case anymore as we see from recent cases. Life — the dignity of life — is sacred. That’s gone. Religion, that seems to be gone as well.
Nor should we mistake this moral degeneracy as mere human inclinations toward waywardness. This societal debauchery has been intentional—the product of the post-Christian worldview our nation has adopted. From its inception in our society in the sixties, it has flaunted licentious living as its defining characteristic—sexual promiscuity and drug use constituting its hallmarks, with abortion as a byproduct. And though the hippie movement lasted only about five years, it has managed to pass this immoral culture along to our society in general as its lasting legacy.
So what can be gained by such a negative and inflammatory observation?
First, everything worthwhile must begin with truth. Knowing how to live in and respond to this generation requires facing head-on what we’re dealing with. It is too easy to think of America in terms of what we used to be, the noble society that we once were, instead of the moral cesspool that we have become. Therefore, it is healthy for us to reassess our perspective on the United States. We have become the divorce capital of the world and the primary global propagator of abortion, homosexuality, and illicit sexual entertainment. In short, currently our nation is a moral disgrace. That truth needs to provide the starting point for our response.
And what should our response be? We find some surprising guidelines in Scripture, ones shocking to the contemporary evangelical.
- Psalms 97:10 ESV O you who love the LORD, hate evil! He preserves the lives of his saints; he delivers them from the hand of the wicked.
- Proverbs 8:13 ESV The fear of the LORD is hatred of evil. Pride and arrogance and the way of evil and perverted speech I hate.
- Amos 5:15 ESV Hate evil, and love good, and establish justice in the gate; it may be that the LORD, the God of hosts, will be gracious to the remnant of Joseph.
Recently in a message exchange, an evangelical pastor who was struggling with my reference to a culture war asserted, “I am not at war with the culture.” I have been perplexed with his position ever since. Can he peacefully coexist with a culture that is murdering innocent, unborn babies? Is he really okay with a culture that has taken over our public schools and universities and using taxpayer money to successfully brainwash our young people with an ungodly worldview? Does it not bother him when he sees degeneracy being normalized: homosexuality viewed as a diversity to be celebrated, cohabitation accepted as a legitimate arrangement even among many Christians, biological men in women’s bathrooms, etc. My concern is not so much that pastor as with the significant contingent of evangelical leadership and lay people that he represents.
If God hates evil, one wonders why so many of his children, especially those in leadership positions, are not stirred to action by it, but instead accommodating it—living in a state of detente, even as it closes in on us on all sides.
But there is good news. Though the culture described above is the prevailing one, our presidential election just passed shows that there is an awakening contingent of Americans who are rejecting our dominant post-Christian, anti-Christian culture. The question is whether the Left will succeed in aborting this movement or whether it will give birth to the restoration of America’s Christian culture.
In large measure that depends on whether evangelicals effectively engage in the culture war. Doing so will require that evangelicals implement three initiatives, which I described in the book, Counterattack: Why Evangelicals Are Losing the Culture War and How They Can Win: 1) ridding their worldview of secular concepts and recommitting themselves to Scripture; 2) uniting in their efforts to engage in the culture war; 3) developing and employing an effective strategy for winning.
The evil generation addressed by Jesus at around 30 A.D. continued in their evil practices until in 70 A.D., about 40 years later, they suffered horrible destruction. If the evangelical church does not engage effectively in the culture war against this evil generation, we can expect the same outcome, perhaps also after about four decades of decadence. I wonder how many of those decades we have already used up.