The Inversion of Virtue

Why We’re Out of Time

 

2 Timothy 3:1-5

[3:1] But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. [2] For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, [3] heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, [4] treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, [5] having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.

Introduction

The West, I argue, has turned a corner from which it will be impossible, short of a miracle, to un-turn.  We’ve become addicts of narcissism, ignorant judgements, and feigned righteousness.  We’re continuously fed their messages of “just a little more” so that our impending overdose is all but assured.  But, perhaps most depressing is the fact that we don’t even realize it.  We think we’re “good” – perfecting ourselves and our society, helping (intellectually at least) the oppressed and disadvantaged.  Sadly, we’re just ignorant puppets dancing on strings orchestrated by deeply malevolent masters who long for the day Western Civilization collapses, and their civilization, characterized by authoritarianism, takes its place.

The Death of Virtue

Overstatement?  When’s the last time you even entertained a thought centered on one of what we in the West have held throughout the centuries as the virtues?  You know; contentment, honesty, courage, forgiveness, sincerity, generosity, trustworthiness, loyalty, humility, etc., etc., to inform your next action?  What has become of the endowment of our predecessors of these timeless virtues in our everyday lives?  Well, apart from a tiny fraction of people today, they’re gone.  They’ve “left the building” of our society, mostly out of society’s (by which I mainly mean the elite’s) encouraged neglect, through our teachers and their public education system, our religious leaders and their desire to not offend people, and certainly our politicians most of whom, since birth, have never really been drawn to rocking the boat over anything.

Today’s generations have not been taught the virtues – or that they even exist, and the philosophy that has developed that values them[i],[ii],[iii],[iv],[v].  So, they are naively gullible.  More than that, they haven’t been taught about God, for many of the same reasons.  After all, there’s a real tension that arises in striving for secular goals by secular means if there really is a God.  That idea has a way of cramping the secularist’s “style”.

Virtue Inverted

So what we have created instead is a morally inverted society.  Good is bad and bad is good.  You think Mr. Rogers (of Neighborhood fame) was good and taught us valid principles for sound, respectful living?  Too bad.  He was a white man and therefore a racist.  You think Martin Luther King was good?  No, actually he was an Uncle Tom who stopped way too short of calling out the endemic racism of all white Americans.  You think having a job to go to because somebody risked his own treasure, labor and perseverance to build a business that created that job is good?  Hardly.  You’re owed that job, and your happiness in it, by the society that lets such entrepreneurs prosper at the expense of “workers”. 

You think sexual morality is good?  No, it’s discriminatory against individual freedom.  Much better that “drag queens”, porn stars, and other kindred spirits and texts inform your elementary school children so that they don’t grow up to suffer the same prejudices you have.  You think monogamy – i.e. faithfulness – is good?  What planet are you from?  Faithful monogamy is a stifling product of an unenlightened ignorance of your intrinsic freedom.  You think humans come in boys and girls?  How discriminatory of you!  Of course it is the right of every individual, whether they’re six or ten or fifteen to say exactly what flavor of human sexuality they have decided they are, and go through all the physical mutilation, hormonal treatments and psychological trauma such decisions routinely produce.  (And, by the way, who cares what you think, even if you are a parent?)

A society without moral moorings is a society careening into history with a death wish, particularly in a burgeoning population of amoral people who get to vote every couple of years for what they want next.  John Adams forewarned us 250 years ago: “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people.  It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”  If anyone thinks things are bad now, just stay tuned.

Time’s Up

I must admit that until very recently I thought we had more time.  There’s something anesthetizing about life’s routine.  Yes, you see decline happening around you, but it feels gradual, and not of the magnitude that couldn’t be reformed by some future edicts at some point.

But then 2020 happened, and the US election, and in their aftermath we now see the anti-virtuous, immoral forces literally emboldened and unleashed.  Public schools have, we now see, been totally corrupted.  They don’t even try to hide it anymore, hanging terrorist organization banners on their walls; teaching racism, refusing to return to work from the pandemic.  The government is a rabble of “organizers” and zealots determined to reshape the country into their warped vision, leading, ultimately, to its annihilation.

Suburban lawns are thick with signs promoting terrorist organizations.  Inner city neighborhoods and property are destroyed and stolen as you read this not because of a particular incident (like summer 2020), but simply due to an epidemic of hate, fueled by today’s media and officials incessantly stoking it[vi].

On reflection, I’ve been stunned by the speed and seeming abruptness of these recent changes. My sense is that this isn’t natural, even allowing for the festering hatred being fomented by media and our “leaders”.  It seems that peoples’ spirits have been hollowed out.    Why now?

My theory is that God has said “enough!”, and what we’re seeing are His judgements on this society that abandoned Him gradually over the past 50-100 years.   In the Bible, God’s judgements are typically long in coming relative to the incipience of majority apostasy, but when they come they are devastating, and they last a long time.  Babylon invaded and destroyed Judah, killed thousands, and exiled the Israelites for 70 years.

If this is, in fact, God’s judgement, He may not use a national adversary (China, Iran, Russia) to discipline us.  But what He could well do is simply let us suffer in what we’ve made, and continue to make, of things.  What could that look like?  How about your grandchildren involved in pedophilia rings; euthanizing seniors and the sick who place huge financial burdens on the younger generations; the elimination, by government edict, of the worship of God; the hiring of increasingly disturbed and incompetent teachers by the public schools system based on their ideology, not ability, the bond market sniffing out that the US will never pay back its debts (and the subsequent financial catastrophe), etc.  And, of course, there are always the natural disasters that could be used: wildfires, hurricanes, devastating earthquakes, Yellowstone blowing up.  The possibilities are endless.  Cheery stuff.

Conclusion

Some, perhaps most of you, will recoil at the notion that God doesn’t see our issues the way we see them.  Some, perhaps most, don’t even acknowledge the existence of God, and so you could care less what people that do think.

But for those of you who dismiss the existence or efficacy of a God, I wonder if you’ve ever run through the thought experiment that considers the possibility of Him being real – being reality.  What would your conclusions be regarding your behaviors, your kid’s behaviors, your society’s behaviors if it turned out that God actually did exist and said the things He is recorded as having said?  Of course, we’re not going to get into arguments here for the existence or non-existence of God.  Neither can be produced to the satisfaction of their antagonists.

But, just as a thought experiment, what does allowing for the existence of a Creator of reality mean to these seemingly unrelated questions of “right” and “wrong”?  Well, everything.  If there is no absolute “Good”, then there is no reason to waste your breath describing good or bad or right or wrong, or charging others with their violation, because the concept has no basis.  All bets are off.  If you can’t articulate some cogent basis for your judgement of right and wrong, then your opinion is irrelevant.

But, if there is “Good”, then it is reasonable to ask: “Where is this attitude or opinion of mine compared to Good?”

Asking such a question requires a virtue: humility, or, at the very least, intellectual curiosity.

The question one should ask is: “Do I have any concern that elements of my life are not virtuous — are not ‘Good’?”

Traditional understandings of the word “virtue” are passé today.  But that assumption requires a huge leap of faith, and a huge dose of hubris by its antagonist to assume that the end result of our agnosticism can actually lead to something “good” or even “better” (whatever they are).  The chances of making something “Good” if you can’t define what “Good” is, or even that it is, are quite small.

Proverbs 1:7 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.

[i] “But what is liberty without wisdom and without virtue? It is the greatest of all possible evils; for it is folly, vice, and madness, without tuition or restraint. Those who know what virtuous liberty is, cannot bear to see it disgraced by incapable heads, on account of their having high-sounding words in their mouths.” – Edmund Burke

[ii] “Know you not that a good man does nothing for appearance sake, but for the sake of having done right?” – Epictetus

[iii] “It is my wish that you may have a better and freer life than I have had. Recommend virtue to your children; it alone, not money, can make them happy. I speak from experience; this was what upheld me in time of misery.” – Ludwig van Beethoven

[iv] “It is easy to be conspicuously ‘compassionate’ if others are being forced to pay the cost.” – Murray Rothbard

[v] “The weakest of all weak things is a virtue which has not been tested in the fire.” – Mark Twain

[vi] The Bible has a phrase for this kind of behavior: “the Spirit of AntiChrist” (1 John 2:18 “Children, it is the last hour, and as you have heard that antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come. Therefore we know that it is the last hour.”