OVER 50 YEARS OF THE NEW MORALITY - Where has it brought us?
Donald D Schroeder
WORLD WAR I (1914-1918) completely altered the course of the world's political order. But few living then would have predicted the revolution in moral attitudes and social values. Six decades of social revolution have not brought the freedom and happiness promised. Instead, we have a great moral-spiritual crisis!
The Great Disillusionment
The widespread carnage, chaos and suffering of World War I was a shock to many. It destroyed the youth and the economic vitality of Europe. The Great War, as it came to be called, compounded by following years of deep economic hardship and the rise of new dictatorships, shattered an illusion held particularly in the developing West. That illusion led to the belief that rapidly industrializing and more scientifically oriented 20th-century mankind was destined for peace and greater and greater prosperity and happiness. Many became disillusioned. Old cherished beliefs and values, including religious ones based on Christian ethics, crumbled. They began to experiment with new codes of behavior. At this same time, the ideas of psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud grew in popularity in education and psychology. Freud promoted the idea that at the root of many human neuroses and fears were sexual conflicts and repression. Freud's thinking was a consequence of the sexual ignorance of the Victorian era that had, indeed, produced much suffering. Many Freudian disciples preached that inhibition of sexual desires was to be avoided. Authoritarian discipline, said many of these believers, might produce unfortunate sexual — neurotic feelings.
Such "scientific," political and social ideas set the stage for the Roaring Twenties. The war was over. The mood of the times was: "Throw out the old, bring in the new. Let's live it up!" The Jazz Age with its lack of inhibitions came into vogue. The emancipated "flapper" of the 1920s became a model for many young women. She was a woman considered bold and unconventional in actions and dress. Not all followed looser life-styles, of course. But the battering rams for greater permissiveness were busily at work knocking away at and trying to discredit the virtues of honesty, thrift, faithfulness and virginity. The United States experimented with Prohibition. It was an utter failure. Again humanity tried to treat an evil effect (drunkenness caused by abuse of alcohol) without eliminating the true causes of alcohol abuse. Prohibition ushered in its own evils: bootlegging, speakeasies and gangsters who promoted more vice and prostitution. Through the 1920s and 1930s, sensationalist newspapers featured stories of clandestine love affairs, crime and vice. Magazines and the increasingly popular movies provided evermore thrilling and risqué romance and love stories (though many would be considered tame by modern standards). But the looser life-styles adopted by growing numbers were not without grave social consequences. A startling full-page advertisement in extra large type in a leading U.S. magazine in 1930 by the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company warned: "Mankind's most dangerous enemy is syphilis.... It is estimated... one out of ten... in the United States and Canada have or at some time have had syphilis" (Collier's, June 28, 1930, page 5). Many were ignorant that syphilis was "the great imitator." The killer disease mimicked many other diseases of the skin, heart, eyes, lungs and nervous system. In certain general hospitals, said the Collier's ad, as high as 30 percent of all patients were found to be suffering directly or indirectly from syphilis. But this plague was only an introduction to greater social disease epidemics to come in following decades.
The Missing Morality Link
In the 1930s economic depression descended on the world. The Great Depression was caused by human greed for profits at the expense of others, for gain beyond that which was honestly produced and earned. World War II intervened and temporarily lifted some nations from economic depression. But the curse of war ripped men from their families, and wives for the first time in great numbers flocked to work outside the home to aid the war effort. A post World War II pattern was set for unprecedented numbers of mothers to leave their homes and children for jobs and careers, leaving more and more children lacking in proper maternal instruction and discipline. In 1948 and 1953, Alfred Kinsey created a wide stir when he revealed his studies of the sexual behavior of American males and females. These studies, based on thousands of personal interviews, showed wide variation existed in human sexual behavior. But what many took it to mean was since so many are doing traditionally for bidden sexual acts, one need not feel abnormal if engaging in them. By the 1940s, leaders of public education in many schools in the West were highly influenced by the teachings of John Dewey. Dewey, himself influenced by evolutionary biology and psychological thought, rejected the idea of "ethical absolutes." He taught modern man could find meaning and goals in life through scientific experimentation and human experience, that we did not need to look to past experience. In addition, Sigmund Freud's ideas that physical or corporal punishment may result in damaging sexual or neurotic feelings had much influence in child rearing theory. The writings of Benjamin Spock encouraged millions of parents to allow more permissive behavior in their children (which writings Mr. Spock recently has been reconsidering).
Alarming Moral Vacuum
Is it any wonder that by the late 1950s juvenile crime, family breakdown, desertion, illegitimacy, venereal disease, disrespect for authority and lack of sense of responsibility for one's actions mounted? In 1959, Rufus B. von Klein Smid, University of Southern California chancellor, said before a gathering in Pasadena, California, "Today we are paying for support of schools which act... as if there were no God." In the September 24, 1963 issue of the mass-circulation American magazine Look, the editors published the results of their extensive research on American morality. They concluded: "Rarely wilI two Americans agree on who is immoral or what is the moral thing to do. We are adrift without answers.... No single authority rules our conduct.... We are free to be prejudiced or promiscuous, to cheat or chisel." The Look editors said the United States was in the midst of a moral crisis because many no longer were certain of what is right and what is wrong. Churchmen of that decade also confessed that religion in general had been overcome with permissiveness. "We churchmen are gifted at turning wine into water — watering down religion," said Yale's Chaplain Henry Sloan Coffin. The mid-1960s saw the birth of situation ethics, where various liberal churchmen and psychologists suggested that no action is good or bad based on the act itself or on any law, but on whether an act would "help others" in the context of the situation. While there was a certain faddism in popularizing such permissive views, breakdown of moral standards in education, the family, business and religion was becoming prevalent in virtually all nations of the Western world. Parents were enjoying growing incomes and prosperity. They decided to indulge in a pleasure binge. Family breakup and divorce spiraled. Youth, with more cars and money than ever before, joined in the permissive fling. "There is more illicit sex today than ever before," said the Minister of Health in Johannesburg, South Africa, in 1968. Venereal disease among adults had doubled over the previous dozen years, he said. "English college students are more promiscuous than their counterparts in Canada, the United States, West Germany and Norway," said a survey organized by American author Vance Packard. Two thirds of Swedish women were pregnant by their wedding day, reported a social historian in Sweden in the late I 960s.
Out of the Closet
From the decade of the 1960s onward, homosexuality, the "love that [once] dare not speak its name," began to be more and more open and tolerated. Today, sizable sections of many large cities are given over to this life-style. Homosexual activists by the thousands boldly march in streets and pressure legislatures for full legalization of homosexuality as a valid alternative life-style without any discrimination. Politicians often vie for their vote. In 1968, the strict movie code of past decades was dropped for a subjective warning code. Quickly films descended into portrayals of the depths of human perversion and violence. Businesses arose that blatantly catered to base attractions. Topless and bottomless bars blossomed. Live sex performances appeared on stage. On television, too, advertisements became more suggestive. "If TV is more permissive, it is because the audience — indeed the whole society — is going along," said one vice-president of a major television network. Today pornographic films are leading sellers for U.S. cable TV and home videotape viewers. In the 1960s, the "free speech movement" of U.S. colleges and universities quickly descended into the "dirty speech movement." College dormitories commonly became coed. Then in the late 1960s and 1970s the hippie movement blossomed in Western nations. This was a movement of mostly young people who by the scores of thousands were totally turned off to adult values and lifestyles. Instead they turned on to natural foods, natural childbirth, nursing at the mother's breast and, tragically, to illicit drugs, free sex and communal living. But the "love" of the flower children (flowers represented peace) often turned into violent behavior. Unisex fashions came into vogue (see the prohibitions of such fashions in Deuteronomy 22:5). Men's hairstyles became like women's; and women's became more like men's (in ignorance of the instructions revealed in Scripture — I Corinthians 11:14). Music and lyrics progressively took on louder, more raucous, sensual moods of indulgence and rebellion. From the wife-swapping of the 1960s, scores of thousands in the 1970s and 1980s simply turned to living together without benefit of marriage. Some sociologists suggested extramarital affairs could be beneficial. Not long ago in Britain, a college official stated, "The young must work out their own code of morality — we can only advise them." Said a noted U.S. psychiatrist, "Unless a girl comes to college with a strong, religiously backed moral code, she may find it increasingly difficult to remain chaste in the permissive atmosphere on today's campuses." Today, not losing one's virginity early is looked upon by many as foolish. The women's liberation movement encouraged women to demand the freedom to do whatever they wanted with their minds and bodies. Many were influenced to scorn the traditional mother — homemaker role. The impact on family life and life itself was deeply felt.
New Social Plagues Erupt
Today, abortion (killing) of innocent babies mounts up to a silent holocaust of multiple millions every year. Illegitimate babies account for more and more births; in sections of some cities up to to percent or more of births occur out of wedlock. New social disease terrors have been unloosed on society through loose sexual living. Incurable genital herpes and antibiotic-resistant gonorrhea have joined around two dozen other sexually transmissible diseases rampaging out of control. Now AIDS — acquired immune deficiency syndrome — terrorizes the homosexual community where more than 75 percent of cases occur. Health officials express fears this disease may spread more widely in society through bisexuals, or through drug addicts passing around infected needles. Or through infected blood transfusions. Our new decade of the 1980s is plagued with rapidly growing alcohol addiction. Every year new millions slide down the slippery slope into abuse, illness , crime and death. William Pollin, director of the United States Institute on Drug Abuse, told Plain Truth writers: "We've gone through a period of approximately 20 years during which there was a dramatic increase in the use of drugs in this country.... If you get a 100 percent increase, that's epidemic. In the area of drug abuse, we had a 3,000 percent increase." Virtually every area of life is touched by the impact of these frightening social developments.
Pinpointing Causes, Solution
Mankind long ago rejected knowledge from its Creator that would have prevented all these curses. We break God's laws, they break us. Scriptures are full of the consequences that automatically come on nations that reject God's laws. Read especially the cause and effect relationship in Deuteronomy, chapter 28, and Leviticus, chapter 26. The apostle Paul was inspired to prophesy our end-time moral crisis: "But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: for 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... lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power..." (II Tim. 3:1-5, RAV). Isaiah warned those who would try to turn right values upside down: "Woe to those who 'call evil good, and good evil; who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes..." (Isa. 5:20-21, RAV). We are all witnessing those woes today! Isaiah also foretold our upside down family crisis: "... children are their oppressors, and women rule over them.... Those who lead you cause you to err" (Isa. 3:12, RAV). For 50 years, the Plain Truth magazine has explained the real causes of humanity's problems and warned of earthshaking punishments from God to wake up nations to the need for God's supreme rule and authority over their lives. Only this magazine and those behind it will tell you how God's wonderful plan to restore his government over the earth will soon put mankind back on the right moral/spiritual track!