Every few weeks, my older brother calls. We talk about several subjects and then the conversation moves to the topic he spends the most time on, the breakdown of civil society. He is a businessman and constantly dealing with people. He cannot believe the way people behave. He decries the corporate greed, the stealing that goes on and the inhumane way people treat each other.
Mind you, I am not talking to any right-wing conservative. He is a far-left leaning liberal who cannot comprehend the moral breakdown in today’s society. It is a rare day if he mentions the word “God” and I have no idea what his religious beliefs are.
I, in turn, answer him pretty much the same way, phone call after phone call. “We, as a society, have lost our moral compass.” In previous centuries, most of western society have based their laws and public morals on the Judeo-Christian ethic, i.e. a belief that some behaviors are wrong. Lying, stealing, adultery, usury and sexual perversion are examples to name a few.
Since our society decided to cast off a belief in God, then of course, His word and the values that are attached to it have lost their significance. Behaviors that were once considered morally wrong have now been accepted. Not only are they accepted, they are now flaunted. Relativism has taken hold, and all behaviors are judged relative to the situation they happen in. Situational ethics is the term used now to describe this phenomenon.
Take stealing for example, it was once considered wrong. Now, corporations can charge astronomical prices for goods and it is an accepted practice. Credit card companies can charge exorbitant interest fees and it is legal. Individuals feel free to walk into stores and steal as much as they can get away with and feel no sense of guilt or shame.
You know we have reached a tipping point when universities have to teach classes in ethics in various disciplines because students have no idea what right or wrong is anymore.
There is a word that is no longer used in today’s society. It is a moral term: sin. Sin is defined as: “an immoral act considered to be a transgression against divine law. Oxford Languages.
And really, why would we use the term anymore? If as a society we no longer believe that there is a divine law, then there can be no moral transgression against it. However, just because that moral law is no longer accepted as a societal norm, does not mean that it does not exist.
There is a God, a divine moral law, and consequences for breaking that law. Look around you. We are watching those consequences manifest themselves in practically every arena in society. If we want to describe this breakdown in a moral context, we must say the word sin, for it most certainly is the best way to describe what is happening. Sin against self, sin against others and most of all sin against God.