No, The Secularization of Western Society is Not a Good Thing

Last month an article was released reviewing 2016 Australian census data and providing analyses of the recent surge of secularization in Australia. The results were stunning; during a single lifetime, Australians that claimed no religious affiliation grew from 1/100 to 1/3 of the overall population (approximately 27 million). Take a moment and consider the gravity and speed of this worldview shift.

These stats, alongside the pending legalization of gay marriage in Australia, paint a picture that Americans and Europeans know all too well; namely, the slippery slope of liberalism in western civilization. Australia remains one of the last dominos of an English-speaking country to not currently allow same-sex marriage; it too will soon fall. The historic western worldview of civilization, shaped by Christianity, is crumbling. The societies nursed and grown in a cradle of Christian ethics and morals are abandoning their religious origins for the secular.

This destruction of western civilization is being implemented under the banner of progressiveness (root word: progress). But progress towards what? Well, as one secular commenter recently said on a blog post, “improvement of the human condition.” He goes on to specify that the “well-being” of nations can be observed by “economy, longevity, nutrition, and scientific achievement.” For the purposes of this article, I am mostly concerned with focusing on these claims of “well-being” and “longevity.”

Despite the protestations of the vocal left, arguments that secularization is ameliorating the western world is a logical fallacy; in fact, it’s slowly smothering it.

Before I go on, I think it’s worth clarifying a few things related to the value of progressive thinking. Not all liberal ideas are harmful. If an ideology is compliant with Scripture, we should consider reforms to it. For example, it was a progressive, liberal rationale that stood up against the practice of slavery. These reforms were good, noble, and helpful to western society. William Wilberforce, who politically ended the slave trade in England, was a champion of Christian ethics who stood opposed to a conservative pro-slavery parliament.

The fight for racial equality is another example of a movement that is 100% compatible with the Christian worldview. All men and women, regardless of skin color, are made in the image of God and should be revered as such; there are no exceptions. Racism is an evil that should not be tolerated by any Christian. Ideologies (progressive or conservative) aimed to uphold the value and sacredness of human lives should be celebrated and further explored.

Sadly, the substance of much liberal progressive ideology today is less focused on the value and sacredness of human life and more focused on personal “liberties.” Today’s headlines are permeated with themes of transgenderism, gay marriage, sexual freedom, nonbinary gender recognition, abortion, etc.. These ideals are not driven by a motivation to aid the well-being of society, but rather, a desire for the self-justification of sin. Religion remains the final roadblock to this progress. So, the answer for many is to dump religion.

However, getting rid of religion is the worst thing you can do if you are genuinely interested in improving society or the human condition. The human condition is one of brokenness that only Jesus can restore. The Bible tells us the human heart, “with perversity, continually devises evil” (Proverbs 6:14). Legislation (or forced social recognition) aimed at the progression of liberal themes, like those mentioned above, ignore the fundamental problem of the human condition sin.

The book of Romans reminds us that God uses governments and social constructs to prevent the spread of secular philosophies. If left unchecked and ungoverned societies will, as it has shown time and time again, bend over backward to the perverse desires of the heart and undo themselves. This is the story of almost every empire the world has ever seen, and I fear, we are watching that happen to western civilization. Secularization with consequence-free licentious living does not aid or promote longevity; it destroys it.

The correlation of a non-religious society and low-birth rates is remarkable. Anyone with basic math and science skills can figure out that if your ideology dislikes having children you will eventually wipe yourself out. Ideas die with people if they are not passed on. If parents are not averaging at least 2 kids, you’re on the decline; it’s not complicated. In 2015 the average fertility rate (average number of births per woman) in the European Union was calculated to be 1.58. How is this sustainable?

If one studies age demographics of countries like China or Russia (arguably two of the most non-religious nations on earth) you can imagine an all-out economic collapse in 60 or so years. The birth rates are so low that as the current workforce dies out there will be a people-shortage to replace it. One study suggests that within the next decade Russia’s workforce will shrink by 15% due to low birth rates.

You might contend that Marxism is a poor example of a progressive secular thinking society. Well, how about a non-Marxist secular society like Japan? OK, for starters Japan has a top 10 high suicide-rate among all countries. High suicide rates are obviously not compatible with the longevity of a people and its culture. At the very least, it’s an indicator of some serious underlying worldview problems.

One of the promises God gave to Abraham was that his decedents would “outnumber the stars in the sky” (Genesis 5:15). This was a promise pregnant with hope because Abraham knew that posterity was a requirement for longevity. For culture to survive it must be passed on. Abraham was concerned not just his well-being, but also that of children and his children’s children. In a general sense, there seems to be an absence of this forward-type thinking into today’s society. It is certainly absent from the liberal progressives.

Even if you disagree with a Christian worldview perspective, how can you argue that this is for the betterment of humanity if it’s slowly extinguishing it? This logic (or lack thereof) baffles me.

One final example that demonstrates how a secularized nation is more harmful than helpful comes from Iceland. Even though Nordic societies are often presented as poster-children for non-religious cultures, a recent story that made headlines all over the world says otherwise. This news story documents the near eradication of children in Iceland who are born with Down Syndrome. The cause finds its origins in hospitals and medical care that counsel women to abort when birth defects are found.

One counselor at an Iceland hospital named Helga Sol Olafsdottir commented,

“We don’t look at abortion as a murder. We look at it as a thing that we ended. We ended a possible life that may have had a huge complication… preventing suffering for the child and for the family. And I think that is more right than seeing it as a murder – that’s so black and white. Life isn’t black and white. Life is grey.”

All human lives are made in the image of God and are to be valued. Human life is sacred, not a thing to arbitrarily “be ended.” A Christian worldview promotes the sanctity of life and the longevity of it. The progressive, liberal secularization of western civilization is a logical fallacy, sinful endeavor and will kill itself off with enough time.

Finally, the Christian should remember that our future is not ultimately tied to success or failure of western civilization. Our future is rooted in the promises of the everlasting kingdom Jesus secured on the cross. We should rest in that no matter what storm the world stirs up, the church will remain the permanent lighthouse and beacon of hope for the lost.

 

 

Much of the inspiration for this article came from “The Briefing” by Albert Mohler, which provides analysis about the leading headlines and cultural conversations from a Christian worldview. It is highly recommended.

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