I just wrote this email to a good friend of mine and Biblical genius, James-Michael Smith. It seemed well thought out enough (and I rarely have these moments) that I figured I would repost this as a blog to open discussion for everyone.
This is an idea for a really conceptual, in-depth blog piece. If anyone can pull it together, you could.
I went to Forest Hill yesterday and David Chadwick recited several statistics about marriage and divorce, and morality. Some of it sounded right, and the audience was mostly amazed and nodded. But, some of the stats were hard to believe for me.
• 53% of Promise Keepers visit porn sites weekly
• 33% of Promise Keeper pastors visit porn sites monthly
• 1/3 of committed Christians don’t believe Satan exists
• 1/3 of Christians believe Jesus sinned while on Earth
• 40% believe they have no responsibility to share their faith
• 41% believe that the Koran and the Book of Mormon are all different expressions of the same God
• Committed Christians give away 2% of their income.
It reminded me of the below page of charts (Divine Law Rejected) I received in Sunday school while in high school. As I have always been a numbers guy, these charts always stayed with me, and I’ve kept this piece of paper for now nearly 20 years. The charts basically try to depict how horrible the world has gotten since abortion was legalized in the US.
A few weeks ago I watched “Freakonomics, the movie”. In the movie there was a section on how abortion is a key factor in the reduction of crime in the last decade. This made me think of my chart again. Ok, crime is down, but at what cost? Where are we today? Where are we in respect to the rest of the world? Where are we morally in respect to our ancestors?
Are we getting dumber? Has divorce increased? Are we a less religious society?
I’m not doubting the rise/fall of these moral indicators. I just wonder where we as a society in 2010 stack up against world history morally. I recall your stories of the pagan worshipers having to have sex in the temples to appease the rain gods, or something to that affect. That seemed really bad to me.
If we give an arbitrary weight to moral corruption (sleeping with prostitutes to appease the rain gods would probably be a 6.5), would it be possible to take these graphs and extrapolate backwards of where we stand against the sexual deviants of 1000 BC? Would the graph show that we are much more morally sound as a society today? Or would it show that we really haven’t changed much?
Are there any indicators in history that we can say “Ah, see after Moses/David/Jonah/Jesus/Paul/Martin Luther/Billy Graham there was a severe drop in crime, sexual immorality, etc.” ?? I understand it would be completely arbitrary, but I think it’s a good exercise to stake claim of where we stand in society.
It seems painting the world in a dark light is a very good way for pastors to make a point, and give the congregation a reason why they should repent. But, I’m curious if in the grand scheme of all time, is the world all that bad?
More importantly, are we (humans) becoming more righteous? Or less righteous? I think this is a very important question to ask. …Did God’s plan of sending Christ to Earth work?
To me, it seems that politics and old habits of fire-and-brimstone styled sermons skew the goodness of what God has done. I mean, aren’t there millions more of faithful believers today than there were in the time of Noah, Moses, Paul? Since the death of Christ, hasn’t the population of “heaven” (or those awaiting the new Jerusalem) exponentially grown? Has not Earth become more righteous?
A bunch of questions, I know. But, was wondering if you thought it would be a worthwhile exercise to quantify.