Rediscovering Our Moral Foundations

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This month marks the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 tragedy. For a brief time in our history the trivia of our entertainment-saturated culture was overshadowed by an event of apocalyptic proportions. The horror and the heroism of that day were truly remarkable.

The national response seemed to indicate a resolve to stand together as one nation under God against the attack of an evil enemy determined to destroy our culture. Suddenly, our lagging economy, global warming, and other such politically driven issues paled in the light of our need for unity. American flags sprouted up everywhere in a patriotic display unrivaled since WW II.

For the moment it seemed that we had remembered who we were and appreciated the fact that our country was established by the sovereign grace of God, that we were indeed an exceptional nation.

America had been confronted with the stark reality of her vulnerability. Never again could we feel safe and secure in the power of prosperity we had long taken for granted. Church attendance spiked briefly as even nominal believers began to take stock of their priorities and to realize that life is much shorter and a lot less predictable than one might assume. At the time, it seemed that 9/11 was God’s wake-up call to the Church in the USA.

I had hoped that maybe it would trigger a great revival for which many Christians had been hoping and praying. Now, two decades later, it’s back to business as usual. Politically correct nitpicking and factional acrimony are again rampant. Blame-shifting and finger pointing seem to be the only answers we get from our current leadership. The unity we celebrated following that dreadful day has slowly, but steadily frayed into even deeper heated division.

Unfortunately, the Church in America once again appears to be either indifferent or hopelessly impotent to make any significant difference in the “real” world. Yes, there will be memorial services, many fine-sounding speeches, and prayers, while several dignitaries will exhort us to remember what happened on 9/11.

I don’t see how we could ever forget. Thousands of innocent people died at the hands of hateful terrorists, but that sort of tragedy is a common occurrence in other less fortunate countries of the world.

Yes, we will rightly honor our dead, but I’m not sure I understand anymore what I’m supposed to remember about 9/11. However, I will never forget how we came together in that special moment in our nation’s history. That continues to give me high hopes for our future.

Every civilization in history has evolved in accordance with some sort of common moral imperative, an unofficial authority based on transcendent values and shared truths that shaped the mores and laws that governed the population.

Our Founding Fathers were overtly guided by Holy Scripture and a Judeo-Christian worldview when they shaped the Constitution that has served us well, not perfectly, over several generations.

Today, we face the consequences of a gradual paradigm shift away from our traditional value system. The Progressives’ quest to “fundamentally transform” America, however, comes with a high price and many risks. That especially applies to our individual freedoms that will need to be sacrificed for the good of the greater public interest… as defined by unelected bureaucrats.

Freedom has been redefined to the point that a person risks being disqualified from enjoying basic First Amendment rights if he or she dares to disagree with the “official” group-think positions on current issues.

Furthermore, a new imperative requires individuals to curb their discourse to exclude anything and everything that might offend anyone, other than an older white conservative Christian male, of course. Compliance to government-imposed mandates, many of which are patently unconstitutional, now determines new boundaries on our old freedoms.

John Adams aptly noted that, “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people; it is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” The moral authority for our nation’s government from its very beginning rested solidly upon the Bible. That fact was indisputable until various socio-political institutions in recent history set out to replace the Bible with some sort of new enlightened philosophy that was, somehow, more diverse and inclusive than traditional religion.

Francis Schaeffer best expressed this process back in 1984. Quoting from “The Great Evangelical Disaster”: “Something happened during the last sixty years [now ninety] — something which cut the moral foundation out from under our culture. Devastating things have come in every area of culture, whether it be law or government, whether it is in the schools, our local communities or in the family. And these things have happened within the lifetime of many who are reading this book.

“Our culture has been squandered and lost, and largely thrown away. Indeed, to call it a moral breakdown puts it mildly. Morality itself has been turned on its head with every form of moral perversion being praised and glorified in the media and the world of entertainment.”

Wow! Does that prove to be ever more evident in this present generation?

Unfortunately, even people of faith have been seriously affected by a worldview that rejects objective moral authority. Relativism, a philosophy that espouses the conviction that every theory or ideal has equal validity to any others has eroded our national moral consensus. The resulting fragmentation of our culture is both sad and dangerous. If anything goes, everything eventually will.

We are already witnessing the greatest breakdown of public law and order throughout our country in modern history. Law enforcement has become much more of a political tool than a means to protect the life and property of this nation’s residents. Chaos reigns.

As it is refrained in the Book of Judges, “Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.” That fact gives excuse for our government to take extraordinary measures to impose a new order based on arbitrary edicts, rather than on democratic legislation. Of course, it is all for our own national good. Or so we are told.

Yet, we see our governmental leaders continue to enrich and empower themselves to the demise of our national socio-economic well-being. We desperately need new morally fit leadership. Even more than that, we need a national revival that will return our hearts and minds to the Lord and His Word which is the solid truth upon which we can securely place our trust, collectively and individually. Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD (Psalm 33:12).

On a more personal note, let me extend thanks and appreciation for all the prayers for me this past month. While teaching at a newly established Bible institute in Tuxtepec, Mexico, I experienced a scary four-day attack of tachycardia (pulse rate of 130+). 

hrough prayers and God’s mercy I was able to finish the session and return home, very tired, but with faith that God would heal me. I was able to get medical treatment that enabled me to get my heart back in normal rhythm. The doctor gave his approval for me to travel and to resume my normal activities. I am blessed in so many ways.

God bless you.

LeRoy

[LeRoy Curtis is a graduate of the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and Asbury Theological Seminary. He served four years as a U.S. Naval Officer after which he became a pastor, Bible professor, educator, author, and missionary living in East Africa for eight years where he and his wife developed a curriculum of biblical studies for untrained pastors in rural Kenya. His passion for training young church leaders takes him to various parts of the U.S., Latin America, and Africa. He and Judy are currently residing in Carrollton, Georgia. His email is leroy.judy@gmail.com.]