In an article entitled “On Decadence” published in American Interest Magazine, Charles Hill cites example after example of how America’s “national self-indulgence” and moral decay are precursors to the demise of our great country. Knowing that history has shown that losing the battle against decadence ultimately leads to the destruction of great civilizations, Hill describes how the Puritans and our founding fathers feared decadence and did what they could to root out the seeds of this destructive force.
In summarizing the theme of George Washington’s Farewell Address, Hill states that Washington was keenly aware that a free society must be made up of virtuous, self-disciplined citizens. Although the speech is, “commonly interpreted as a warning to avoid foreign entanglements, [Washington] was more concerned with maintaining the character of the nation amid the temptations of freedom. As the world’s first-ever free people, the individual virtue vital to successful popular government could only be upheld, Washington believed, by respect for religion.”
Sadly, it seems that America has become lost in her material progress and has disregarded the warnings of history and the admonition of moral voices among society. Hill describes a societal transformation that he calls “The Great Virtue Shift” that has caused Americans to abandon their morals and value systems in favor of entertainment, self-absorption and vulgar behavior. The things that were once considered among the majority of Americans to be unacceptable are now the norm. What is more frightening however is his assertion that this tendency to gravitate toward decadence is not just a battle that individual Americans have lost in their heart, but one that has been deceptively marketed to them in order to entice them into behaviors that lead to social decay, ultimately causing dependence upon ever increasing government programs. People who are dependent are more easily controlled. “Throughout most of American history people were preoccupied with how to prevent government from becoming corrupt. In our time, governments have discovered how to corrupt the people. It then follows that the more corrupted the people become, the more numerous the laws must be, thus further aggrandizing government’s indispensability.”
This past decade we have witnessed Apostolic watchmen taking positions on the wall. They have done their part to warn the next generation that decadence will destroy our true liberty in Christ. Yet, the enemy continues his work on the heart of the church. If he can manipulate Apostolics into decadence, self-reliance, dependency and worldly behavior – if he can keep us focused on indulging fleshly lusts, desires and habits – if he can minimize the value of sound doctrine and holiness living – if he can dull our sensitivity to the Spirit and lull us into a state of apathy – then he has us in his control and we too become casualties of decadence.