“Put out the spotlights, one and all
Then let the feelin’ get down to your soul
The music’s so loud, you can hear the sound
Reaching for the sky, churnin’ up the ground
It’s all part of my rock and roll fantasy
It’s all part of my rock and roll dream”
As a teenager I was in a rock band. Short lived though it was, I still have that rock and roll fantasy. The music and the culture influenced me and I’m sure, from my parents perspective, quite negatively. These lyrics from the 1970’s British group Bad Company tell it all. That period of the 60″s and 70’s greatly influenced young people in the western world to break out of the cultural and moral restraints which they perceived to be in place. Little did the hippie generation know, they were really a product not of social change but rather a social norm. Institutions gauged the moral compass and determined there to be a spiraling decline of future mores and values.
Paul Rodgers, the front man for Bad Company, had quite the ironic reason for the name of the band. While browsing through a 19th century book on morals and etiquette he saw a picture of a young boy looking up at a man leaning against a light post. The man was portraying what today we might refer to as a thug. The caption read, “Beware of Bad Company.” The idea was that you shouldn’t hang out with a bad crowd because they might cause you to behave the same way, BAD. By naming his band Bad Company Rodgers was basically saying that he new their influence was going to be amoral. Was he, though, part of the degradation of society? Were the times an indication of a coming apocalypse of moral decay?
From a perspective removed by some 100 years, what was popular in 1970, morally, compared to 1870, makes for an interesting sociological discussion. During the Victorian era Christian values were promoted and accepted as the norms of society. Being “good” was popular. Literature, art, even science promoted the moral improvement of man’s evolution. Government, both civil and ecclesiastical, declared that high moral standards were the necessary means to a happy end. The question is, did the people agree? Was this era of a higher moral standard than that of the free love, dope smoking, rock and rolling era of the 1970’s and beyond? Are we today, both youth and baby boomers alike, more corrupt than those of the Victorian age or any other age, for that matter?
Being that we have no crystal ball or time machine, we have to trust the recorded history we have available to get any idea of how things were before our own time. The other problem to consider is the accuracy of the history and how the opinion and perception of the writer of history effects the accounting. Even I have slanted opinions. I can be eisegetical. Today we call it spin. We can spin any history to fit our position.
Well, I guess you could say that I am putting my own spin own this article. Okay, I am, but it’s my blog. Here’s the challenge that I give you. Test the facts. Start with the scriptures. If you read the account of man’s history in the bible you see a pretty bleak picture. From the creation account to the gospels and epistles what is the picture you get of the moral condition of man? I realize the bible only gives you a history of certain cultures and nations, not the whole world, but just from what you read, isn’t it obvious that most people were rather immoral. Now look at secular history from early AD to present. What is the trend? Even if you are not a history buff. Even if your only experience of history is in the movies and TV. The trend is a general overall improvement in the moral fiber of people as a whole. I dare anyone to dispute this interpretation.
Let us just look at the Victorian Age in North America. Remember, we have a relatively short history so it is easy to pick out the trend in our momentary existence. Right smack dab in the middle of the reign of Queen Victoria, we have the War between the States. The atrocities committed in the years before, during and after this war are unimaginable. There had to be some general moral fault that could make the majority of some of the most advanced people group on the planet behave in such a way. If you wish to compare the riots, murders, theft, abortion, drug addiction, divorce or what ever other debauchery of today, they will not hold a candle to what occurred during this period proclaimed to be the ‘good ole days.’ This was a time when prayer and the bible were in schools, the major universities were church affiliated, and almost all political offices were held by “church going” men. With all of these attributes in place, which the Christian conservative right rally for today, people were enslaved for economic advantage both in the North through unlivable wages as well as in the south through bondage. Men slaughtered one another both through military battle and civilian property devastation. Afterward, a period called reconstruction was actually legalized theft and economic oppression. The spoils going to the victor.
What I am driving at is that we cannot assume that things are worse today than in the past. In fact, I would contend that as far as morality goes, as a whole, things are getting better. There are more followers of Christ alive on earth today than ever before. The word of God is spreading to every tongue, tribe and nation and the Spirit is making it effectual. Don’t sit around watching Fox news and drowning in the swell of doom and gloom. If you do, you are falling for Satan’s scheme to make you doubt the sovereignty of God. The Lord Jesus Christ is King, not the POTUS. He is gathering a people for himself and does not need the government of any nation to assist him. Certainly it may be more comfortable to live as a Christian in a Christian theocracy. Comfort, however, is not necessarily one of the prescribed benefits of Christian society here on earth.
As followers of Christ we must not focus on what we see before our eyes but rather what God tells us in his word. Don’t be near sighted in the sense that what we see is what is important. Have faith that God in time past has foreordained everything that has and will come to pass. I confess that for many years I thought it “Christian like” to fall into the sign of the times camp. End times theories of war and immorality seemed to always be talking points and motivation for change. Our motivation for change should be the internal work of the Spirit which only God himself can impart. God did not set the world in motion by winding it up and setting it down to watch it spin out of control and self destruct. He carefully works to engineer this world in order to make a more perfect world.