Three Reasons Why The Moral Life is in Crisis Today.
I think the West is in a crisis now as far as the moral life goes. Young men and women are growing up with the idea that one can do whatever one wants, and whenever one wants to do it without any consequences. Indeed, our society has done a very good job of painting the moral life as something backward, repressed, and ultimately unhappy. In actuality, the opposite is the case.
Yet, in today’s culture, I would argue that there are some basic reasons for why my generation has seemed to have lost its moral sensibility. First, I think we have lost God because we have become prideful. We can do many things today that were impossible only 100 years ago.
We can communicate with each other faster than a breath. We can travel to the most distant parts of the globe. There are innumerable sicknesses and diseases which no longer plague us. But with this “power” over nature and ourselves, we have also lost the sense that we are vulnerable.
We forget that disaster can hit us at any point in time, and really there is nothing we can do about it. We have lost, I think, the sense that God ultimately is in control of our lives, and part of the task of life is to submit to His will in all things. The moral life is suffering because in our pride we have strayed from the One who holds it all up.
A second challenge to our moral sense is that we want to do our own wills. It is no secret that if I want to steal something, it is my conscience (and eventually society) which holds me back. My conscience tells me not to follow certain desires and to feed other ones. It tells me to pray when I don’t feel like it. It tells me to be kind when I want to be mean.
It moves me to sacrifice when I would rather hold back for myself. In all these instances we can see that the conscience and ethics in general can move me to do things that I really don’t want to do. It takes much strength of character to say “I really want to do X, but I am going to follow my conscience and do Y instead.” Hence, morality is in crisis today because “I want” has taken the place of “I ought.”
The final challenge to why we have lost our moral sense today I think is that we are acutely aware of the fact that we cannot fulfill the requirements of the moral life. It is strange to speak so much about morality only to end with the point that humanly speaking we cannot do it.
Can you imagine a teacher introducing math to the class only to admit at the end that no one in the class can really ever get an A or B?
But the truth of the moral life is that on our own strength we cannot fulfil the requirements of living a truly just life. Our lust, our anger, our pride simply goes too deep and cuts into our desires and passions.
We need the Holy Spirit to reach down into the depths of our hearts and give us clean new hearts. We need a Saviour who can rescue us from the deep seated sin that truly makes up our inner lives.
As far as the solution to the moral crisis we are facing today, there can be only one: we need Christianity once again now more than ever.