by Bill Nugent
Who’s turning the clock back? Is it conservatives who long for the 1950s or is it the secular progressives who want to turn the clock back all the way to the pagan societies of ancient Greece and Rome?
America has always been a liberal progressive society. (I use the word “liberal” in the classic sense of its meaning.) Americans have a moral impulse to improve society and be the shining city set on a hill. From its earliest days America has been host to a variety of social movements. Early American church people campaigned to abolish dueling and to reform prisons. They also worked to end lotteries (several states raised funds through lotteries) and to outlaw abortion. Abortion was an issue in early America. Abortion was only allowed because medical technology was not advanced enough to discern that a preborn child was a genetically distinct human being. Abortion was outlawed in all the states by the mid 1800s.
Early American Christians lobbied most famously for the abolition of slavery. All of the social reform movements were driven by Bible believing Christians. Christians were the political liberals of the time. Over in England the evangelical Christian Prime Minister William Gladstone (1809 – 1898) was head of the Liberal Party and as Prime Minister worked to free Ireland and other lands from colonialism’s grip. All of these social progressive movements were led by Christians. Few secularists were involved. In those days secularism, as a faith, was professed by very few people. Christianity reigned supreme in the hearts and minds of the social reformers.
The early church had also engaged in social reform. In ancient Rome after the conversion of Constantine, Christians lobbied for prison reform, abolition of the gladiator battles and they adopted babies that were left exposed to die. In the medieval period Christians formed the first universities in the modern sense and Christian Europe was the first continent to abolish slavery.
Modern thinkers tend to take the moral reforms of the last 2,000 years for granted as if such sweeping changes happened by accident. People alive today don’t have much of an idea of what it was like to live in ancient pagan Rome or Greece. The unbridled brutality of pagan life was recorded by the ancient historians such as Tacitus and Herodotus. Even the writings of Plato and Aristotle depict ancient Greek society’s leaving babies exposed to die and many other such atrocities. Ancient Greece and Rome were more than half slave. They obtained slaves by conquering surrounding nations and taking people captive. Wars of aggression were the order of the day.
The Romans forced the Slavic peoples of eastern Europe into slavery to such an extent that even their name “Slavic” became the word for slave. The pagan tribes of Europe were similarly barbaric and practiced not only slavery but also human sacrifice. A chapter in Arthur Koestler’s book The Thirteenth Tribe describes life among the pagan tribes of northeastern Europe. The brutality was mind boggling. Things began to change for the better when the peoples of northeastern Europe converted to Christianity in the tenth century.
This brings us to the social progressives of our own 21st century. Secularists who work for social change appeal to a vaguepolitical correctness as moral guide. Secularists work for “progress” which largely runs counter to Bible based morality. For instance they consider it “progress” to allow a woman, up to the ninth month of pregnancy to have her baby partially delivered and killed by a doctor using a sharp instrument to penetrate the baby’s skull. That type of brutality is similar to the ancient pagan Roman practice of infanticide. That is not social progress but is social regress. It is turning the clock back to the social conditions of ancient pagan civilizations. The acceptance of homosexuality as an alternative lifestyle is another reversion to the practices of ancient paganism. Some have said that ancient Greece was one-third homosexual.
There are now more than a million abortions per year in the United States alone. The culture of death has spread from abortion to doctor assisted suicide to euthanasia. The social acceptance of fornication and adultery has led to widespread family breakdown and fatherlessness. Family breakdown and father abandonment was also a feature of the ancient “great” civilizations. “Greatness” was measured by the ability of a civilization to conquer surrounding peoples and seize their land.
Communism can be considered a form of secular fundamentalism. Communists seized power in Russia in 1917 and in China in 1949. Together these secular communist states not only suppressed Christianity and other religions but also caused the deaths of over 70 million people in their quest to build a secular utopia. Their brutality was worse than that of the ancient pagan societies!
Secularists often laugh at the social agenda of Christians and say: “You’re trying to bring back the 1950s!” On the contrary however it’s the secularists who knowingly or otherwise seek to turn the clock back all the way to the brutality of the ancient pagan civilizations.