Thursday, May 30, 2013

Americans Believe Religion And Morality Linked

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There are two different Gallup polls out this week that show Americans believe religion and morality are linked.

These polls also show that a strong majority of Americans believe that the country's moral values are "getting worse" and that they believe religion in America is losing its influence, but they also believe the country would be better off if more Americans were religious.

So why are we, as a culture, running from God and His eternal Truth, embracing relative values and relative "truth" while 75% of us are telling Gallup that even though religion is losing influence, we think the culture would be better off if more people were religious?

We are also saying, in a separate poll this past week, that we believe America's moral values are "getting worse."

In spite of secular progressive influence in our government run schools that demands a so called "moral neutral zone" which is most often an indoctrination zone in the name of multiculturalism, people in large numbers are linking the two.

Here's a look at the Gallup poll results and some thoughts on what this means to the faith community.

Gallup has found that 72% of us believe that the country's moral values are "getting worse."

In a separate Gallup poll they found that most Americans say religion is losing influence in the US, but 75% say American society would be better off if more Americans were religious.

So a majority of us see that our country is getting worse morally and while we see religion having less influence, we wish more people were religious because we see the linkage between religion and morality.

This is not a new concept.

John Quincy Adams, our 6th president and considered by many to have been our greatest diplomat ever said, "The highest glory of the American Revolution was this: it connected in one indissoluble bond the principles of civil government with the principles of Christianity."

Gallup also discovered that this sense is not only found among the religious right and Republicans. They say while those who are Republican, attend church weekly and are married had high negatives on the direction of America's morality, "even Democrats, people who attend church infrequently, and the unmarried, had high negative outlooks about the nation's moral values" as well.

America seems to know there is a problem, we also seem to recognize the root cause of it, wish it was different--in fact wish more people would go to church, but are not personally becoming pro-active about it.

Gallup concludes that "the view most Americans hold regarding religion losing its influence does not appear to reflect personal religiousness, but rather reflects widely shared judgements on factors relating to the course of events in the US."

They say that during the Vietnam War and the cultural and sexual revolution that happened in the 1960's and 70's, Americans held negative views similar to those he is finding today.

"However," they say, "the degree to which these views changed during the Reagan years and after 9-11, suggest that they could change again in the years ahead."

Gallup found that there is no demographic group that evaluates moral values as getting better.

We have reached "bi-partisan agreement," both on the problem and on the solution. It is clear to Americans today, as it was to President Adams, that there is indeed a linkage between morality and religion.

Our first president, President George Washington, understood that as well. He said, "Let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion. Reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle."

If Americans, from our Founders to present day, understand the linkage between religion and morality, why are we so restrained-- so conflicted, about practicing our faith publicly and speaking truth to the culture?

In one respect, people of faith are bullied by the elite who teach them in public schools and by celebrities who, for the most part, express disdain toward biblical Christians.

These Gallup findings identify a great opportunity for the church.

Some thoughts.

1 . Has the Christian church become so obsessed with "relating" to the culture in order to "win them" that those who need the message of the gospel make no distinction between themselves and the church? Do they find no identifiable difference?

While they feel welcomed and wanted, is the message of the church so "inclusive" and "seeker friendly" and relational that church is just another nice place to go, but has no direct impact on one's life and how they live it? Or worse yet, it is a place that seems void of healing and restoration, because there is no apparent need for either?

A person does not understand the need of redemption until he or she understands the condition from which he is being redeemed.

In a world where nothing much is morally right or wrong, but all actions are equally valued and all truth is personal and relative, and one where an individual needs to merely "stand in their own truth," how would they recognize a personal spiritual need?

Wouldn't that individual see church as merely another activity, rather than a transforming experience?

The whole gospel spoken of in the book of Acts explains sin and its consequences and presents a Savior who loved us so much He gave his life for us taking upon Himself the penalty of our sin.

Perhaps there is a lingering sense among many people in America that churches preach that kind of message.

Fortunately many still do. However, too many do not.

2. There is enormous peer pressure in our culture today. Not only for kids, but adults as well. There is a prevailing notion that it is not acceptable to hold strong convictions. This again is based on relativism. Your truth is no more valid true than my truth. All truths are equal. And evolving. Values are evolving.

Relativism is dispensed every day in the classrooms of our government schools and on the screens---big and small of our entertainment devices.

In an environment where there are no absolutes, no right and wrong and no values, there is moral confusion and moral conflict.

Without a consistent moral compass, how can anyone have any sense of direction or meaning in their life?

They don't, and that's why a majority of Americans feel our morality is "getting worse" and somehow the solution is related to religion.

This is a time to present the gospel in a clear and understandable way. This is not a time to redefine Scripture as the religious left often does, to accommodate sin or affirm a deviant life style, and hide the wonder working power of the gospel from a world that desperately needs it.

Nor is it a time to spend our energy and resources defining an "emerging church". The Emerging Church movement identifies with Christianity, but feels in order to reach the Post Modern culture, we must re-shape the church's beliefs and practices to conform to the modern culture.

Nothing is more biblically clear than the fact that God has given us universally true doctrinal revelation that can be understood, shared and defended.

Jude 3 says, "The Faith has been once for all delivered to the saints." The gospel must not be reshaped to the culture. The culture must be re-shaped by the gospel.

3. Our personal and collective conscience has been seared.

President Washington also spoke to this nation about the importance of our conscience. He said, "Labor to keep alive in your breast that little spark of celestial fire, called conscience."

God and his Truth was welcome in Washington's America. In recent generations we have expelled God and the morality that He and His Word brings to any culture.

Secular progressivism and cultural Marxism has reshaped the culture and all but extinguished that spark of celestial fire Washington spoke of.

Many have retreated to silence about their beliefs, looking for social safety.

And our consciences have also been seared by the constant diet of violence on television and video games and movies. Kids act out what they see on the entertainment screen, sometimes unable to know reality from fiction.

And finally our conscience has been seared by the continuous presentation of perversion in the culture. Our children have become accustomed to seeing men with men and women with women, same sex marriage and the brutality of abortion.

The prophet Jeremiah defined our culture. "Are they ashamed of their conduct? No, they have no shame at all; they do not even know how to blush" (6:15).

There is at least an awakening to the moral decay in our culture and there is at least a lingering remembrance of the solution.

This is a time to speak, not be silent; be bold, not fearful; and act to advance the message of God's love and redemption to a culture that is prepared to receive it.

Be Vigilant. Be Discerning. Be Bold. Be Active. Be Prayerful. Be Blessed.