As I and others have reported, nearly ten thousand babies have been saved in Texas since the state enacted its abortion ban in September 2021. This article on the subject caught my eye, however, when it described those who gave birth as “pregnant individuals” and “birthing people.”
In other news, a lifestyle influencer who makes money by talking with people about their anxieties has created an AI clone. Now, for a dollar a minute, people can chat with her digital double. If they want to talk with her, they will pay more. The article is right: this “move toward self-automation [seems] to perfectly encapsulate an increasingly bizarre present.”
Some scientists are claiming that the world has entered a new epoch called the Anthropocene, a phase in which humans rather than natural phenomena are rapidly transforming our planet. While they are focusing on changes to the natural world from industrialization, globalization, pollution, and other human factors, a similar argument could be made for the moral world.
Longtime pastor Paul Powell wrote these words in the 1970s: “Scientifically we are in graduate school; morally we are in kindergarten.” What would he say of us today?
Is this America’s future?
Ecclesiasticus (not to be confused with Ecclesiastes) is part of the Apocrypha, fifteen books that Catholics include in the Old Testament but Jews and most Protestants do not. While I do not consider the book to be authoritative, I do find it informative.
For example, I was reading recently in Ecclesiasticus 47 and discovered this illuminating (and frightening) discourse regarding Solomon:
A wise son succeeded David, who lived spaciously, thanks to him. Solomon reigned in a time of peace, and God gave him peace all round so that he could raise a house to his name and prepare an everlasting sanctuary.
How wise you were in your youth, brimming over with understanding like a river! Your mind ranged the earth, you filled it with mysterious sayings. Your name reached the distant islands, and you were loved for your peace. Your songs, your proverbs, your sayings and your retorts made you the wonder of the world. In the name of the Lord God, of him who is called the God of Israel, you amassed gold like so much tin, and made silver as common as lead.
[But] you abandoned your body to women, you became the slave of your appetites. You stained your honor, you profaned your stock, so bringing wrath on your children and grief on your posterity.
When I read these words, they instantly struck me as a description of our post-World War II nation.
In defeating Hitler and Japan, the “greatest generation” gave us “peace all around” so that we were “loved for [our] peace” by the world. Our scientists birthed a technological revolution that “made [us] the wonder of the world.” We became the world’s greatest superpower such that we “amassed gold like so much tin, and made silver as common as lead.”
But then came the postmodern revolution of the fifties and sixties that redefined truth as personal, individual, and subjective. It birthed the sexual revolution that continues today and makes us “the slave of [our] appetites.” Its result: “You stained your honor, you profaned your stock, so bringing wrath on your children and grief on your posterity.”
Solomon’s sin and that of his successors led to the division and eventual destruction of the nation. Ecclesiasticus continues: “From then on their sins multiplied so excessively as to drive them out of their country; for they tried out every kind of wickedness, until vengeance overtook them.”
When Solomon presided over the wealthiest and most powerful nation in his part of the world, none of this seemed possible. Someone who warned his people that this could be their future would have been dismissed and even considered dangerous to society.
Will Israel’s story be ours?
“The further from a viper the better”
The Scottish theologian Sinclair Ferguson is right: “We cannot reach our destination if we are traveling in the wrong direction.” But the post-Christian, even anti-Christian trajectory of our culture does not have to be ours. Speaking in a very decadent age, Jesus nonetheless promised us: “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God” (Matthew 5:8).
Commenting on this beatitude, St. Gregory of Nyssa (c. 335–c. 394) observed: “If your thought is kept pure from evil habits, free from passion and weakness, separated from all stain, you are blessed because your vision is sharp and clear. You are able to see what is invisible to those who have not been purified. The eyes of your soul have been cleansed of material filth and through the purity of your heart you have a clear sight of the vision of blessedness.”
What is this “vision of blessedness”? According to Gregory, “It is purity, sanctity, simplicity, and other reflections of the brightness of the divine nature. It is the sight of God.”
How can we attain it? “Walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh” (Galatians 5:16, my emphasis). Choose the first to reject the second.
Charles Spurgeon warned: “When the town is on fire, our house cannot be too far from the flames. When the plague is abroad, a man cannot be too far from its haunts. The further from a viper the better, and the further from worldly conformity the better. To all true believers let the trumpet call be sounded, ‘Come ye out from among them, be ye separate.’”
“Spiritual growth depends on two things”
According to Sinclair Ferguson, “Spiritual growth depends on two things: first a willingness to live according to the word of God; second, a willingness to take whatever consequences emerge as a result.”
Will you grow spiritually today?