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UCGia Bible Insights Thursday, January 28 2021

Can you counter a degenerating culture?

Many are unaware that the Bible contains a disturbing glimpse of the culture, or way of life, during the last days of human civilization just before the return of Christ.

by Ralph Levy

The apostle Paul described the last days as "perilous times" (2 Timothy 3:1), when "men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God" (verses 2-4).

As early as 1947 sociologist and historian Carle Zimmerman, in his book ‘Family and Civilization’, recorded his observations as he compared the disintegration of various cultures with their parallel decline of family life: "Marriage lost its sacredness [and] is frequently broken by divorce;...feminist movements abound; there is increased public disrespect for parents and authority in general; an acceleration of juvenile delinquency, promiscuity and rebellion occur; ... there is increasing interest in, and spread of, sexual perversions and sex-related crimes" (quoted in Confident Living, November 1987, p. 34).

A major change over recent decades is that Western culture has become what sociologists call values-neutral. Advocates of this approach argue we should not adopt any system defining right and wrong and expect all to adhere to it, because no one has a right to impose values on others.

Columnist Georgie Anne Geyer disagrees and wrote: "I have come to the conclusion that it is impossible to have a moral community or nation without faith in God, because without it everything rapidly comes down to 'me,' and 'me' alone is meaningless…(Bits & Pieces, Sept. 17, 1992, pp. 23-24).

The Example of Corinth

In New Testament times, the effect of a permissive, popular culture was illustrated by the story of the congregation in the Greek city of Corinth.

Tragically, like the ancient city of Sodom (Genesis 13:13; Ezekiel 16:49-50), many of its inhabitants were lured into immorality. The debauched lifestyle in this city is so legendary it even gave its name to the term ‘corinthianize’ --- meaning to act in an immoral way. The example of Corinth also teaches us Christians are not immune to the influence of their cultural surroundings.

The biblical description of the congregation in Corinth tells of a man who was cohabiting with his stepmother (1 Corinthians 5:1), a sin that was tolerated--or perhaps even condoned--by many in the church (verse 2). You can also read of their tendency to allow their contentions to boil over in lawsuits (1 Corinthians 6) and their failure to remain faithful to their marriage vows (chapter 7). A sectarian, individualistic spirit (chapter 3), and drunkenness at the solemn occasion of the Passover (1 Corinthians 11:17-22), were among their many spiritual weaknesses.

Countering the Culture

Like the ancient Corinthians, 20th century Christians should acknowledge the influence of popular culture on all aspects of their lives and concentrate on developing the moral and ethical convictions to counter the effect. Clear definitions of sin and righteousness can be found in the Bible, and daily prayer and study is the most effective strategy to educate your conscience and learn God's definition of right and wrong.

Often those who accept a moral code derived from the Holy Scriptures will find themselves opposed and even ridiculed, but our concern needs to be not what people think, but what our Creator thinks. The courage to stand up for what's right may carry a price tag in the short term, but it will reap valuable returns in your character over the course of this life and into eternity.