Immorality & Cultural Decline
This article originally appeared in the February-March issue of Eternal Perspectives, EPM's quarterly newsletter.
The twentieth century is not the first to see society riddled with immorality. The ancient Greeks elevated loose women, homosexual relations, and pedophilia. The Romans gradually surrendered the strong families and morals that once made them great, replacing them with laxity and weakness. The often-made comparisons between the final years of Rome and modern day America are striking—self-indulgence, political corruption, adultery, homosexuality, sexual orgies, live sex acts in the theater, brutal sports in the arena, and a creeping family deterioration and moral laziness that led to self-destruction.
When the ruling group and the society as a whole relax their code (of sexual morality), within three generations there is usually a cultural decline, as was the case in the later stages of the Babylonian, the Persian, the Macedonian, the Mongol, the Greek, and the Roman civilizations...We find that among civilized societies those which have remained strict in their sexual codes for the longest period have reached the highest levels.
Historian Arnold Toynbee likewise concluded that a society’s creative energy is tied to the control of sexual drives. Sexual self-control is linked directly to national strength and accomplishment; lack of self-control with national weakness and deterioration. Toynbee’s research indicated that of history’s twenty-one greatest civilizations, nineteen perished from internal moral corruption, not external enemies.
After ten years of relentless research of more than eighty civilizations, J. D. Unwin concluded. “Any human society is free to choose either to display great energy or to enjoy sexual freedom: the evidence is that it cannot do both for more than one generation.” C. S. Lewis came to a similar conclusion in his essay “We Have No ‘Right to Happiness’“:
Though the “right of happiness” is chiefly claimed for the sexual impulse, it seems to me impossible that the matter should stay there. The fatal principle, once allowed in that department, must sooner or later seep through our whole lives. We thus advance toward a state of society in which not only each man but every impulse in each man claims carte blanche. And then, though our technological skill may help us survive a little longer, our civilization will have died at heart, and will—one dare not even add “unfortunately”—be swept away.
Unless there is spiritual repentance and a massive reversal of moral values in this country—unless Christians take the role outlined in our final three chapters—Ruth Graham is right: “If God doesn’t judge American, He’ll owe Sodom and Gomorrah an apology.”
We should not forget that in Sodom’s sexual revolution, God fired the last round.
Excerpted from Christians In the Wake of the Sexual Revolution (Out of Print), by Randy Alcorn