Rarely do I agree with Joe Biden. But he’s right on one thing: A battle for the soul of our nation is underway.
And recent research indicates there are problems in that battle stemming from what people think is right and what is wrong.
The battle the president described pitted “the most extraordinary experiment of self-government the world has ever known” against the evil Make America Great Again Republicans.
But the battle has nothing to do with the half of America Biden called his enemies.
In fact, the battle is not about politics. It’s spiritual. And it is about, to cite Biden, the soul of the nation.
It’s a battle over the nation’s allegiance to God. But characteristics of that allegiance are fuzzy, according to recent work by George Barna, director of research at the Cultural Research Center of Arizona Christian University.
Even though 70 percent believe in traditional moral values, there’s a question of what such values even mean. That’s because Americans, according to Barna, are taking their ideas of morality from the government rather than churches.
A bit less than half of the adults surveyed who believe in traditional moral values get their direction from the Bible. But 42 percent believe “what you feel in your heart” is the best way to make moral decisions, the study found.
“The research indicates that people are now more likely to take their moral cues from government laws and policies than from church teachings about biblical principles,” Barna said.
“If you consider the list of factors that are gaining acceptance as ‘traditional moral values,’ with the public unlikely to turn to churches or the Bible to define values such as integrity and justice, that responsibility is likely to fall on the shoulders of government,” he said.
“Given how government leaders have been aggressively redefining other terms and concepts in recent years, recasting previously unthinkable behaviors as normative, one can barely imagine what our future moral code will look like with the government leading that redefinition process,” Barna said.
So people like Joe Biden are defining our morality? The answer is obvious — take a look around.
Of supporters of traditional moral values, according to Barna’s research, 74 percent get their moral guidance from society, 71 percent from family and 67 percent from their own selves.
“Lowest on the list of advocates are those who turn to science to determine what to do morally, but even half of that group (50 percent) admits to supporting traditional moral values,” Barna’s report said.
Survey results remained the same across most demographics, including age, education, income, geography and race and ethnicity. The lowest proponents of traditional moral values were 18-to-29-year-olds at 56 percent, although after age 30 the amount rose to 76 percent.
Only 49 percent of advocates of traditional moral values cited the Bible as their main guide.
“In a nod to the dramatic moral and spiritual reformation that has happened in the United States over the past quarter-century, millions of Americans now deem the idea of ‘traditional moral values’ to suggest notions of right and wrong that transcend guidance provided solely — or perhaps, even in part — by the Bible,” Barna’s report said.
In addition to the 42 percent of respondents who said they lean on what they feel in their heart as a guide, the report said 29 percent looked to majority rule for moral direction. An identical percentage looked to the Bible.
“Stated differently,” the report said, “seven out of 10 adults now contend that human beings rather than God should be the judge of right and wrong.”
Barna’s report is based on a pair of online surveys in July commissioned by AmericasOne. The first featured a nationally representative sample of 2,275 adults, while the second had 1,500 respondents.
Reflecting on Biden’s reference to a battle for the soul of the nation while knowing it’s a spiritual battle and examining Barna’s research is enough to give one pause.
Consider Psalm 33:12: “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, the people whom he has chosen as his heritage!”
With freedom of worship enshrined in the Constitution and more Christians today than any other country, America has been blessed. That blessing goes back to the founding principles of the nation 246 years ago and to the Plymouth Rock settlers before that.
Despite efforts to retroactively secularize the Founders and impose today’s values on them, their worldview was saturated with Scripture. Whether or not they individually were orthodox as Christians, they set up this nation on biblical legal and moral principles.
And the country was blessed because there was an acknowledgment of the God of the Bible.
Today, much of that blessing remains, but, sadly, our country is much like a giant ship whose engines gave out long ago. The sheer mass of its biblical traditions has provided inertia to keep the ship plodding along its route through the water, but it is slowing and its directions are becoming increasingly unsure.
Barna’s research shows that.
The ship of state is bogged down in the battle for its soul. In that battle, who will sound the alarm, who will raise the trumpet, who will lead the fight to get America back to the directions on which it was founded?
Especially if feelings replace God’s Word?
Because, as described by Barna, the faith of most Americans is not in God or the Judeo-Christian ethic that underpinned the nation. Rather, the situation is similar to what the Old Testament described as every man doing what is right in his own eyes (Judges 17:6, 21:25).
So there is a battle for the soul of the nation. And will there be the true moral force needed to return it to God?
What do you need to do to make that happen?
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.
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