Darrow Miller and Friends

The Death of Morality

  1. Bill Barr, Freedom Fighter
  2. Freedom: Where Does It Come From?
  3. Self-Control: Will Just Any Religion Achieve It?
  4. Self-government: The Legacy of Christianity
  5. The Death of Morality

Is biblical morality dead?

When airliners flew into the twin towers in September 2001, it was immediately apparent that the US was under attack. And people reacted. Those in the immediate vicinity literally ran for their lives, but all America sat up and took notice. In a moment of national unity, President George W. Bush attack on morality no less serious than 911 attacklaunched an effort to find and eliminate the perpetrators, no matter how long it might take or how much money it might cost, to address the damage and minimize its effects by whatever means.

Another assault, however, much more subtle but no less dangerous, has been underway for a couple of generations. Too few seem to notice or care, too many seem oblivious. And a society spirals downward as a result.

In an October address to the Notre Dame Law school, US Attorney General Bill Barr spoke[1] about this second, hidden offensive when he noted that biblical morality is under attack in the West.

I think we all recognize that over the past 50 years religion has been under increasing attack. On the one hand, we have seen the steady erosion of our traditional Judeo-Christian moral system and a comprehensive effort to drive it from the public square. On the other hand, we see the growing ascendancy of secularism and the doctrine of moral relativism. By any honest assessment, the consequences of this moral upheaval have been grim.

Organized destruction

The New York City towers did not fall by chance. They were targeted. In the same way, the effort to destroy Judeo-Christian morality as a system is organized, powerful and intense. Barr called it a “campaign.” And great is its destructiveness.

Suffice it to say that the campaign to destroy the traditional moral order has brought with it immense suffering, wreckage, and misery. And yet, the forces of secularism, ignoring these tragic results, press on with even greater militancy.

Darwin attacked biblical moralityThis is the natural development of several generations of Darwinism. A society baptized in evolutionism has no room for God, no interest in God. In fact, God is not merely neglected as irrelevant, but resisted as unwelcome. Today’s God-deniers are the 21st century equivalent of the Gadarenes, who “pleaded with [Jesus] to leave their region” (Mat 8:34 NIV). One difference: their request had a sense of earnest propriety, while many of today’s secularists have abandoned civility. Evolutionist materialism is not new, but its postmodern iteration has morphed into a much more virulent strain. Today, passive disinterest is insufficient; only militant resistance toward God, and any vestige of His authority over human life, will suffice. Since God is the author of biblical morality, the same must be rejected out of hand.

Unwitting slavery

Those who snub the Judeo-Christian ethic seek to be free, but find themselves enslaved to vice and its bitter fruits. As Barr notes, the harvest of this attack on morality is everywhere evident: out-of-wedlock birth rates, drug addiction, suicide rates, mental health issues, and more.

Virtually every measure of social pathology continues to gain ground.

In 1965, the illegitimacy rate was eight percent. … Today it is over 40 percent, and that’s the national average. In many of our large urban areas, it is around 70 percent.

Along with the wreckage of the family, we are seeing record levels of depression and mental illness, dispirited young people, soaring suicide rates, increasing numbers of angry and alienated young males, an increase in senseless violence, and a deadly drug epidemic.

As you all know, over 70,000 people die a year from drug overdoses. That is more casualties in a year than we experienced during the entire Vietnam War.

A new religionthe traditional family has been a bulwark of biblical morality in the West

The 9-11 attacks were planned and executed by Islamists; the new attack is being carried out by secularists. They call themselves “progressives,” indict the opposition for “being on the wrong side of history.” Aspects of a society foundational to a thriving nation—traditional family, individual responsibility, free markets, private property, binary sexuality—are “oppressive” and chucked in favor of the prince’s new clothes: gender delusion, identity politics, same-sex “marriage,” socialism. Shame and folly are overwhelming individuals, communities and nations, and this is considered advancement.

Among these militant secularists are many so-called “progressives.” But where is the progress?

We are told we are living in a post-Christian era. But what has replaced the Judeo-Christian moral system? What is it that can fill the spiritual void in the hearts of the individual person? And what is a system of values that can sustain human social life?

Here’s another irony about today’s moral morass. A broad swath of anti-religion has narrowed to a new, secular religion, replete with dogmas and practices, aggressive and intense. It’s a religion full of shaming but empty of redemption, loaded with censure but devoid of grace. Until now, religion has mostly been developmental, an attempt to improve the lives of adherents. Not this toxic new creed.

We hear much today about our humane values. But, in the final analysis, what undergirds these values? What commands our adherence to them? What we call “values” today are really nothing more than mere sentimentality, still drawing on the vapor trails of Christianity.

The good news: there is a remedy.

  • Gary Brumbelow

[1] All the quoted material in this post comes from Barr’s address.

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Gary is the Disciple Nations Alliance editorial manager. He manages Darrow Miller and Friends and serves as editor and co-writer on various book projects. For eight years Gary served as a cross-cultural church planting missionary among First Nations people of Canada. His career also includes 14 years as executive director of InterAct Ministries, an Oregon-based church-planting organization in Canada, Alaska, and Siberia. Gary is a graduate of Grace University, earned an MA from Wheaton College and a Graduate Studies Diploma from Western Seminary. He lives near Portland, Oregon with his wife, Valerie. They have two married sons and twelve grandchildren. In addition to his work with the DNA, Gary serves as the pastor of Troutdale Community Church.