It really may not matter if it was easier to be good in 1950 than in 2020. I’m not even sure how we could make the comparison.
What I can say is that it sure feels or seems as if it is harder than ever to be good. And we know there are very powerful forces that work against our being good. Today, I’ll just explain the context in which goodness (or badness) grows. Our culture is the first reason why it seems becoming good is harder than ever, and the reason is simple: What used to work is not working so well.
The systems or structures in our culture that ONCE were the context where moral behavior was shaped are no longer working very well or in collaboration to foster traditional Christian morality.
- The family system is often stressed, parents are exhausted, and many marriages and families are fragmented, broken, or blended. That doesn’t make character formation impossible, just harder.
- The school system is now generally co-opted by the larger cultural views on morality. There may be some generic morality that is encouraged, but the school system is stretched and stressed to provide education, much less character formation. A school system needs moral standards on things like bullying and violence, but schools and teachers are not easily positioned to foster interior moral formation.
- Civic groups like the boy and girl scouts, Kiwanis Club, Rotary, and many more (also including after-school sports programs) have all experienced some deterioration when it comes to moral norms and what they can legitimately promote without facing a lawsuit. And, perhaps, in a decade long, long ago and far, far away, sports emphasized character, not winning at any cost, which is the highest value for many teams today.
- Media, and especially, social media. The litany of evils that are easily accessible with a few clicks is astonishing. The messages coming from social media are all over the moral map and many of them hang around the bad places on the map. The Internet and its many branches is an incredible resource and a serious bane.
And then there is the CHURCH.
I personally do not think the church has done nearly as good on this as we should. All sorts of mistakes and missteps are frequent in the church. Our current series is a serious endeavor to present solid, Christ-centered, biblically based, God-honoring moral formation.
There is very little I/we can do to change the larger cultural climate that impacts the school system, civic groups, and the world of media, but there is a great deal we can do in the church and EVEN MORE in the HOME.
Tomorrow we’ll look at several more things that make character formation seem harder than ever.