A World in Decay—Is There Any Hope?
TODAY, newspaper headlines are dominated by the threat of nuclear catastrophe and the relentless, worldwide, economic decline. But are these the only threats to modern civilization? Well, other civilizations have fallen in times past. None of them fell because of nuclear warfare. And often their economies were still functioning adequately when they collapsed. What caused their fall? In many cases historians trace it to the collapse of moral standards, a rotting from within.
Is our civilization rotting from within? The following reports indicate that indeed it is. Can individuals do anything about it? For many years Jehovah’s Witnesses have pointed to God’s Kingdom as the only solution to the problem. And those who subject themselves to God’s Kingdom now can fight the moral decay in their own families. The following scriptures indicate how God views the things happening around us, and how we can avoid being corrupted by them.
‘Preserve the Family,’ Experts Plead
Child-care experts gathered from 17 countries. “We must seek to support the family as the most important of all institutions,” they implored.
The family institution needs all the support it can get. In the United States in 1981, when 2,438,000 said “I do” in marriage, 1,219,000 said “I don’t” in divorce. Unmarried couples living together nearly tripled between 1970 and 1980, while one out of every six babies is born out of wedlock. The result? Children are being robbed of the sense of security that goes with a solid family upbringing.
At that same gathering, Professor Geoffrey P. Ivimey of the University of London said that too often the parents who try to hold the family together practice “parking” children at nursery schools, day-care centers or in front of the television set. Such practices, the professor said, have spawned a generation of people “who have never learned to be parents.”
“Has one found a good wife? One has found a good thing, and one gets goodwill from Jehovah.”—Proverbs 18:22.
“Let marriage be honorable among all, and the marriage bed be without defilement, for God will judge fornicators and adulterers.”—Hebrews 13:4.
“Continue putting up with one another and forgiving one another freely if anyone has a cause for complaint against another. . . . But, besides all these things, clothe yourselves with love, for it is a perfect bond of union.”—Colossians 3:13, 14.
“Train up a boy according to the way for him; even when he grows old he will not turn aside from it.”—Proverbs 22:6.
Abuse of the Children
What makes a mother scald her three-year-old daughter to death for taking a can of soda without permission? Or another to hit a four-month-old baby so violently in the face that the child will spend the rest of its life in an institution for the mentally handicapped? Or why would a former mayor be guilty of five counts of sex crimes with young girls? Or a school counselor sodomize an eight-year-old boy?
As many as 10 million children in the United States alone are physically or sexually abused, or severely neglected, each year. Several thousand die as a direct result. What kind of society acts like that toward its children?
A director of a Connecticut sex-offender program comments: “If we saw these same numbers of children suddenly developing some kind of illness, we’d think we had a major epidemic on our hands.”
“But now really put them all away from you, wrath, anger, badness, abusive speech, and obscene talk . . . Strip off the old personality with its practices, and clothe yourselves with the new personality.”—Colossians 3:8-10.
“You, fathers, do not be irritating your children, but go on bringing them up in the discipline and mental-regulating of Jehovah.”—Ephesians 6:4.
“Let fornication and uncleanness of every sort or greediness not even be mentioned among you, just as it befits holy people.”—Ephesians 5:3.
“The Devil’s Strategy”
“As more of us take our paper-work jobs home or our jobs take us away from home, there is less time for family and neighborhood contacts,” asserts psychology professor Philip G. Zimbardo. “The Devil’s strategy for our times is to trivialize human existence . . . creating the delusion that the reasons are time pressures, work demands, or anxieties created by economic uncertainty.”
And the consequences? “I know of no more potent killer than isolation. . . . It has been shown to be a central agent in the etiology [starting cause] of depression, paranoia, schizophrenia, rape, suicide, mass murder, and a wide variety of disease states.”—Psychology Today, August 1980.
“One isolating himself will seek his own selfish longing; against all practical wisdom he will break forth.”—Proverbs 18:1.
“Don’t do anything from selfish ambition or from a cheap desire to boast, but be humble toward one another, always considering others better than yourselves. And look out for one another’s interests, not just for your own.”—Philippians 2:3, 4, Today’s English Version.
“This is my commandment, that you love one another just as I have loved you.”—John 15:12.
A Dog-Eat-Dog World
Many people today are cynical and disillusioned. This is evidenced in cutthroat business practices, unscrupulous politics and especially in crime. “Crime is on the rise in almost every country around the world. . . . Crime is becoming more violent . . . Juveniles and women, in growing numbers, are turning to crime,” reports the U.S. News & World Report.
Are criminals just a small minority? Hardly. Crime is woven into the fabric of society. For example, in the Federal Republic of Germany, employee dishonesty costs taxpayers one billion marks a year (over $400,000,000, U.S.). Employee dishonesty is not far removed morally from cheating on taxes, and “the loss in tax dollars due to the underground economy [taxable income not reported] came to some $97 billion last year,” according to the estimate of one economist. Another said: “The real total could be more than $200 billion.”
“Cheating has replaced baseball as the great American pastime,” added an Internal Revenue Service investigator.
“Let the stealer steal no more, but rather let him do hard work, doing with his hands what is good work, that he may have something to distribute to someone in need.”—Ephesians 4:28.
“Neither . . . thieves, nor greedy persons . . . nor extortioners will inherit God’s kingdom.”—1 Corinthians 6:9, 10.
“Those who are determined to be rich fall into temptation and a snare and many senseless and hurtful desires, which plunge men into destruction and ruin.”—1 Timothy 6:9.
When Ideals Are Lost
When ideals are lost, people no longer care. They become hardened. Thus, six times Thelma Qualls’ heart stopped as she lay in the rain on Main Street in Richmond, Virginia. Six times Doug Waldrop revived her. For 50 minutes rush-home drivers by the hundreds ignored his plea for someone to stop and help or call an ambulance. Thelma died. But doctors say that if she could have got to the hospital more quickly, it would have tripled her chances of living.
In Hartford, Connecticut, police officer James Quigley saw a girl slashing her wrists with a razor. He tried to approach her. She ran to the steps of the Immaculate Conception Church. Brandishing the razor at her throat, she held police, priests and friends at bay for 45 minutes. A crowd gathered. People jeered, “Do your thing, sister! Right on!” “What has society come to?” muttered an incredulous policeman.
“Where there is no vision the people go unrestrained, but happy are they that are keeping the law.”—Proverbs 29:18.
“All things, therefore, that you want men to do to you, you also must likewise do to them.”—Matthew 7:12.
“Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of persons ought you to be in holy acts of conduct and deeds of godly devotion!”—2 Peter 3:11.
Today’s collapse in moral standards was foreseen in the Bible. (2 Timothy 3:1-5) In fact, it is one of the many signs that we are living close to the time when God’s Kingdom will finally replace the present chaotic system with a stable, righteous government. (Daniel 2:44) At that time, God’s King, Christ Jesus, “will have subjects from sea to sea and from the River to the ends of the earth.”—Psalm 72:8.
Does today’s moral decay bother you? If you would like to avoid being contaminated by it now and would like to be confident that the earth will be freed from it in the near future, why not see for yourself what the Bible says? Jehovah’s Witnesses will be happy to give you any help you need. Then you can hope to benefit from the promise God himself has made: “They will not do any harm or cause any ruin in all my holy mountain; because the earth will certainly be filled with the knowledge of Jehovah as the waters are covering the very sea.”—Isaiah 11:9.