Why Have So Many Turned Away From God?
“According as it is written, God hath given them the spirit of stupor, eyes that they should not see, and ears that they should not hear; unto this day." (Rom. 11:8)
During WWII, church buildings were full of worshippers, religion was a part of American life and faith was expressed openly and regularly. It was during this world war that fear gripped the United States as it fought the Axis of Germany and Japan who were attempting world domination. The very existence of America was threatened and hundreds of thousands of military men and women fought bravely to maintain our freedoms, with many making the ultimate sacrifice. But fear was a palpable emotion as Pearl Harbor was attacked and when many European nations fell to the enemy. Was America to survive? Would the Japanese invade the homeland? These, and many more questions, made people realize that we needed help from God to survive. Consequently, people turned to their faith in God to face the disquieting news of war, death and the unknown future.
But then America and her allies won the war. Great joy swept the nation as the whistles blew announcing that World War II was ended and the troops were coming home. A great sigh of relief exemplified the spirit that was universal across the land. We remained free and unconquered and prosperity was just around the corner as men and women came home to resume their careers and occupations. In fact, America did prosper as the great factories and businesses resumed production and the fear that had gripped the nation subsided. But “Tilly the Toiler” (representing women in the work force) never returned home from her jobs: she wanted to keep the income and enjoyed the liberation it gave to women everywhere. Children had to learn what it meant to be a “latch key” child and fend for themselves while their parents were away at work. The new fad of television swept across the globe and became a baby sitter for absentee moms, exposing children to adult language and uncensored entertainment. Indeed, the world changed tremendously after the war years and significant changes affected family life. People became to busy and too prosperous for God. How swiftly luxury, peace, prosperity and economic success nudged out the need for God. America was in the process of becoming secular and enamored of the “good life.” God was consciously and unceremoniously set aside. Church attendance languished, sports replaced religion and, so it is, to this day.
History Repeats Itself
The best illustration of the secularism of a nation is ancient Israel. From slavery in Egypt to nationalism in the Land of Promise, the history of the Jewish nation laid the foundation for our study as we echo their tendency to forget God in times of prosperity.
We can scarcely imagine their joy as they crossed over the Jordan River, surviving 400 years in Egypt and 40 years of wilderness wandering. The Lord led them with Moses and Joshua, providing for their food with manna from heaven and water from dry rocks. Individual Israelites witnessed the mighty works of Jehovah and knew for a certainty that the Lord God was a reality and that He was worthy of worship and adoration. They literally saw His glory and manifestations. As Jehovah made His covenant with Israel, they agreed to receive it and abide by it. As they entered the Land of Promise, the Lord reminded them:
10“Then it shall come about when the LORD your God brings you into the land which He swore to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, to give you, great and splendid cities which you did not build, 11and houses full of all good things which you did not fill, and hewn cisterns which you did not dig, vineyards and olive trees which you did not plant, and you eat and are satisfied, 12then watch yourself, that you do not forget the LORD who brought you from the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery” Deut. 6:10-12).
Israel served the LORD during the entire lifetime of Joshua, and of those elders who outlived Joshua and who knew all the work the LORD had done for Israel. Their history tells us that they remained faithful only as long as they had righteous leadership. But as they went to their tribal homes, they quickly reverted to idolatry and immorality, embracing a spiritual stupor. As Isaiah received God’s message: “Go, and say to this people: “‘Keep on hearing, but do not understand; keep on seeing, but do not perceive.’ Make the heart of this people dull, and their ears heavy, and blind their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their hearts, and turn and be healed” (Isaiah 6:10-15) Secularism, with all its attendant irreverence for religion swept over the tribes and they left God out of their lives. As promised, the Lord punished them with captivity, but the effect of secularism had done its work. Jehovah, who had blessed them so richly, devastated the land and destroyed the Temple, sending them into exile. Such is the history of forsaking God by any nation. “Righteous exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people” (Proverbs 14:34).
Is It Too Late For America?
Obviously, America has never been a “Christian” nation. But just as obviously, the nation was founded by men who recognized the need for “Deity” in their deliberations. For example, note the breakdown of their religious affiliation (Adherents.com):
Religious Affiliation of U.S. Founding Fathers/Number of Founding Fathers/% of Founding Fathers
Episcopalian/Anglican: 88 54.7%
Presbyterian: 30 18.6%
Congregationalist: 27 16.8%
Quaker: 7 4.3%
Dutch Reformed/German Reformed: 6 3.7%
Lutheran: 5 3.1%
Catholic: 3 1.9%
Huguenot: 3 1.9%
Unitarian: 3 1.9%
Methodist: 2 1.2%
Calvinist: 1 0.6%
Through the ensuing years, freedom of religion was guaranteed by the constitution and public participation. However, in latter years, the “freedom of religion” clause has been interpreted as “freedom from religion” by a liberal supreme court and it has had devastating effect on American religious life. Effectively, the Bible has been quarantined from public mention and public schools, colleges and universities have increasingly followed suit. Even an athlete who publicly kneels in prayer before games has been booed by those in attendance. The national anthem, when performed, has been met with athletes who kneel rather than put their hands over their hearts as previously done by one and all. These visible signs of religious discontent have led to a decrease in church attendance as well as an increase in public immorality. There as been an assault on marriage and the home as being obsolete and abortions are soaring into the millions. Numerically, as many (or more) of young people are living together without matrimony as much as those united in marriage. Newspaper editors have lost the confidence of their readers as they endorse LGBT people, socialistic and communistic principles and politicians rather than democratic platforms. Leaders of political parties have been exposed as continual liars, with hidden agendas to enrich themselves. Even as Europe, America is decidedly embracing secularism.
To refer to our question: “Is it too late for America,” the answer seems to be that we, as a nation, are at a crossroads. Before us lies two alternatives: return to God or continue along the path of secularism. Lest there be confusion about the definition of this word, Merriam-Webster states: “Indifference to or rejection or exclusion of religion and religious considerations.” And who could argue with secularism defining America today? A godless society has no moral foundation upon which to build. Hence, the crossroads. Confronted with these choices, the true Christian will choose to serve God (Joshua 24:15). Ultimately, the decision will have to be made by individuals who represent the nation. But one citizen cannot speak for the nation. There is no assurance that America will return to its roots. Ancient Christians lived in a Roman world antithetical to their faith. If our present condition results in totalitarianism, America as we have known it for the past two hundred years will be gone. The United States will not be unique as it falls to evil and impiety. Many nations have followed this pathway. However, Christians have lived through comparable trials and will continue to serve God.
Our conclusion is that America, as a nation, may still choose the right path. We pray that this will be so. Regardless, the Lord is still in control and true saints will be vindicated. Our part in this dramatic time is to remain “salt of the earth,” and “light of the world” (Matthew 5:10-16), suffering persecution if need by. In this role, we not only leave an example to those around us, but we honor God as only Christians can. - - Tom M. Roberts