Editor's Note: Pastor Roger Barrier's "Ask Roger" column regularly appears at Preach It, Teach It. Every week at Crosswalk, Dr. Barrier puts nearly 40 years of experience in the pastorate to work answering questions of doctrine or practice for laypeople, or giving advice on church leadership issues. Email him your questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I am concerned about the degeneration of values and morals in America. It makes me afraid for the future of our country. What factors cause a society to crumble?
Your question reminds me of the haunting refrain in the book of Judges: “Once again the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the Lord.”
From the beginning of Judges to the end of the book, a three generational cycle plays out again and again.
Our United States is a reflection of the threefold cycle of Judges.
The first generation fights the battles (the builder generation).
The second generation enjoys the rewards (the boomer generation).
The third generation gives it all back (the Gen X and millennial generations).
The one difference between the United States and the cycles of the book of Judges is that at the end of each three-fold cycle the last generation repents and returns to God. He forgives the nation and once again a new cycle commences.
As the United States reaches the end of cycle three, we will wait and see whether the nation returns to God in a way that once again establishes us as a godly nation.
“The people served the Lord throughout the lifetime of Joshua and of the elders who outlived him and who had seen all the great things the Lord had done for Israel… After that whole generation had died, another generation grew up, who knew nothing of the Lord nor what he had done for Israel… Then the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the Lord and served the Baals… In his anger against Israel the Lord handed them over to raiders who plundered them” (Judges: 2:7-14).
“Again the Israelites cried out to the Lord, and he delivered them” (Judges 3:5).
There is a startling parallel between the reasons for the fall of the Roman Empire and the corresponding issues in our country today.
The fall was not precipitated by one or two problems. There were multiple causes over 500 years.
Why Rome Fell and the Parallel Issues Simmering Now in the United States
1. Fighting between the Senate and the Emperor
Think about the gridlock between the Republican Congress and president Obama regarding budgets and healthcare.
2. Over Expansion
Think about illegal aliens; Nicaraguan and Middle-Eastern refugees.
3. Weak Leadership
Think about our president drawing a line in the sand of US intervention if the Syrian government used chemical weapons on Syrian rebels; the Syrian government crossed the line used the chemicals and we backed down and did nothing.
4. Declining Morals
Think about the proliferation of unethical business activity on Wall Street, the rejection of the Judeo-Christian ethic, and violence in the film industry.
Think about how 49% of the population works to support the rest of the people in our country.
6. Political Corruption
Think about campaign finance laws and gerrymandering both of which are all designed to keep the current officials in office; consider the lobbying organizations.
7. Constant Wars and Declining Military Power
Think about Korea, Vietnam, Nicaragua, Granada, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Lebanon; decry the artificial “rules of engagement” that unilaterally send our soldiers into battle with one hand tied behind their backs.
Think about the thousands and thousands of people who would work if they could but can’t find a job; many end up on welfare.
9. Failing Economy
Think trade agreements with foreign nations guaranteed to increase our deficit; think of stagnant and shrinking wages.
10. Crime and Violence
Think about racial unrest, gang violence, and rioting in the streets.
11. Public Health Decline
Think about Three Mile Island and Flint Michigan water pollution; think about no health care for the poor.
Some have suggested that Christianity made many Roman citizens into pacifists, thus making it more difficult to recruit soldiers in order to defend against the barbarian attackers.
What can we do to arrest the decline and help restore out nation to health?
1. We can pray.
“If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”
Please note that God never asks the unbelievers in our country to pray. This is the responsibility of us Christians.
2. We can get involved in politics.
We must actively involve ourselves in the political process since this is how we best change the direction of our country.
We must not be shy from stepping into the political fray. We must lead the way in using the political process to make the changes necessary to heal our country and to restore it to good health.
We must be known as the people who love God and love others once again. Our love for each other is the springboard for reaching out in love to our world. Love changes people. Love changes things.
4. We can support and encourage the leaders of our country.
Our political leaders are in the best position to make the changes and rearrangements needed to redirect and restore our country.
I hope that I have both put some light on the subject and given you a few suggestions as to what you can do to help save our nation.
Dr. Roger Barrier retired as senior teaching pastor from Casas Church in Tucson, Arizona. In addition to being an author and sought-after conference speaker, Roger has mentored or taught thousands of pastors, missionaries, and Christian leaders worldwide. Casas Church, where Roger served throughout his thirty-five-year career, is a megachurch known for a well-integrated, multi-generational ministry. The value of including new generations is deeply ingrained throughout Casas to help the church move strongly right through the twenty-first century and beyond. Dr. Barrier holds degrees from Baylor University, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, and Golden Gate Seminary in Greek, religion, theology, and pastoral care. His popular book, Listening to the Voice of God, published by Bethany House, is in its second printing and is available in Thai and Portuguese.His latest work is, Got Guts? Get Godly! Pray the Prayer God Guarantees to Answer, from Xulon Press. Roger can be found blogging at Preach It, Teach It, the pastoral teaching site founded with his wife, Dr. Julie Barrier.