Tumultuous debates about important bills have stirred passions within our legislative body recently. The measures, known by their nicknames as the Heartbeat Bill (LB626), Let Them Grow (LB 574) and School Choice (LB753) have been debated and passed with minimum votes to stop debate and allow an up and down vote. Activists both for and against those bills have visited the capitol. The supporters of these bills have mostly been polite and cordial, however, some of the opponents have been noisy and somewhat threatening, doing such things as blocking walkways within the capitol. Their actions have remained within the law, however, one woman who supports the Heartbeat Bill spit on one of the senators who opposed the bill. I agree with this particular lady senator on what time the sun sets and rises but that's about it. However, she and her husband are friends of mine and when she told me this story I was upset!
This incident caused me to reflect on the current state of our culture. I heard a political observer say, "A society's spiritual temperature can be measured by observing its manners. Manners are simply thinking of others ahead of self." So true! What is happening to "Nebraska Nice?"
A recent poll by the Barna Group showed the failings of the centerpoint of a community's morality—the church. The pollster called 384,000 pastors, contacting 500 per day. They were asked six non-negotiable questions: did Jesus live a sinless life; does God rule in the world today; is the Bible accurate in its teaching; are there absolute truths; is Satan a real being; can heaven be earned? Only 28 percent of the pastors answered according to a Biblical view, while nearly three-fourths did not.
Especially revealing were the answers to two followup questions. When asked whether they believed the Bible addresses social issues such as finances, taxes, welfare, military, government and so on, 97 percent said yes. However, when asked if they addressed those same real-world biblical issues from the pulpit, 91 percent said they did not. See the problem?
I was surprised recently to learn that the Bible mentions faith and prayer 500 times each, but money is mentioned 2,300 times. The Bible certainly is practical in what it has to say on that issue in our day!
A separate study showed only 37 percent of pastors, and 12 percent of youth and children's pastors in America today have a Biblical worldview, and 20 percent of those who consider themselves to be conservative Christians are not even registered to vote. When surveyed in 2020, 15 percent of Evangelical Christians did not believe the Bible to be entirely true. In 2023 that number jumped to 23 percent. Meanwhile, consider the trend of church membership which has declined from 76 percent of the population in 1947 to 70 percent in 2000. By 2020 the percentage of Americans who were members of a church was down to just 47 percent.
America was built on the Christian religion, but the contrast between where we have been and where we are today could not be more stark. It was our second president, John Adams who said in the 18th Century, "The destiny of America is to carry the gospel of Jesus Christ to all men everywhere." By the middle of the 20th Century, pastor and author A W Tozer would write, "The church in America has been so watered down, if it were poison it would not harm anyone and if it were medicine it would not cure anyone."
Because generations before us lived out a faith that was God-honoring, our country reaped the benefits of their piety in freedom, civility, safety within our borders, peace at home and unprecedented prosperity, but we know from biblical history what happens to a nation that rejects the God of the Bible. For a sobering look at how a nation goes from being blessed by God by following Him to being the subject of curses due to disobedience, read Deuteronomy chapter 28. See how it foreshadows the current situation of the United States?
I often ask people why they think America has been the land of the plenty for so many years? (I ask it because only a few years ago I had to stop and think through this question myself!) I believe it is because the Spirit of the Lord has historically resided within a vast number of American citizens. Today that number is sadly shrinking and, as we have seen, even the church pulpit is being compromised. Society is influencing the church much more than the church is influencing society.
Today only 4 percent of millennials have a Biblical worldview. Meanwhile, 80 percent of this generation say there is no moral truth; 69 percent prefer socialism and, once they graduate from college, 75 percent prefer socialism over capitalism. Fully 53 percent of millennials also say they believe the First Amendment should be changed to restrict speech. Overall, with the absence of a Biblical foundation, the next generation identifies no truth, no certainty and no intrinsic meaning to life. The absence of hope has brought about great despair, discouragement and discontent. It is little wonder why we have upheaval and unrest within our society.
Laws are vital to a civilized society but the heart of mankind is not legislated into lawful behavior nor peace within. John Adams said it best; "It is religion and morality alone that establish the principles upon which freedom securely stands."