Question: What does the demise of decency have to do with the rise of self-righteousness?
There has never been a perfect time in human history. Let's establish that at the get go. Keeping it real, utopia is never going to happen here on earth and certainly not if left up to humans tasked with the job. All the beautiful words written, lyrics sung and good intentions mustered that tout love, love, love as the answer, are not going to get us there especially since modernity now declares there are all sorts of ways to define 'love' with SELF LOVE at the top.
However, believe it or not, there was a period, even in my lifetime, that love had boundaries delineated by modesty, morals, self-control and civil behavior. These represented a standard that most of society accepted as fundamental. It was a sacred commitment passed down from generation to generation. Parents taught their children how to be polite, respectful, modest and responsible. Sometimes it was faked but it did hold us in check for awhile.
Of course there have always been those who are drawn to the dark side so immorality, pornography, vulgar language and gestures recognized as such by all including those that prefer the uncivil fringes and defiantly/proudly celebrate those as representative of their values. Nowadays even the smallest, most impressionable of our children are allowed to be exposed to this.
Definitions do matter though and when the values that are the glue that hold society together are diluted and thus allow society to fall apart at the seams, history repeats itself in the continuous circle that predicts its rise and fall.
[This is the tip of iceberg, of course, and does not even begin to expose the darkest most evil elements of a civilization in fast fall which profits hugely from a worldwide sex slave market that holds hostage an estimated 40 million people including children. That's another dark topic for another day.]
However, on close examination, the one commonality among all things anti-civil has sexuality at the center in some way and seems to be the hub. Extremism and the gradual acceptance of anything that promotes, or worse, elevates human sexuality to a 'little g' god that permeates all thoughts, art, music, education, and human interactions is a well-practiced tactic of the evil one who despises all things Godly. It rises slowly in popularity because it feels so good but it is just another way self-righteousness disguises itself as righteousness. And this, without exception, always leads to misery.
I am reminded of the movie It's a Wonderful Life when I think of the contrast between a civil society as portrayed by the town of Bedford Falls turned into Pottersville by the simple change in leadership. Art reflecting life. It wasn't just a fictional story. It was representative and what actually happens when society allows standards to be ignored in exchange for anything goes. Once society turns its back on God mandated decency it inevitably morphs to godlessness which is excused by the righteousness of self.
The process is slow enough to be imperceptible until God is quietly replaced with the god of depravity. As each generation relaxes the rules further and sinks to another level of indecency, which is celebrated as the new definition of love as good, it seals its own fate and the rules that keep civilization civil end up under the heap of a fallen world.
Once upon a time, the modern lack of standards of civilized behavior, that is the new normal, would have been called out and shamed. But it seems now everything is good and right so long as anyone is allowed to define good and right according to his/her own purpose. When everything is allowable everything becomes valueless. When anything goes, everything does.
And satan and his minions shout, 'Amen!'.
Another question: What can we imagine that God thinks about all this? He does not change, so His rules don't change either. He does not morph with us or get hip or cool along with our modern perceptions of what is good and acceptable behavior.
I watch helplessly as the world descends into self-righteousness becoming godlessness, knowing the pattern and what must come next. My only consolation is also knowing that satan is in no way equal to God and whatever must come was established long ago, just as were the foundational rules of decency.
One last question: How long will God allow this cycle to continue? How many times can we rise and fall before He says, 'Enough!' ?
God does not want us to live self-righteous lives - He wants us to live in His righteousness. He wants us to admit that He is the only one who is righteous - our righteousness is as filthy rags. (Isaiah 64:6).
Update: I confess I labored over this post. It's a painful topic for me. It's also a multi-layered, complex topic. Evil has always existed but it feels as though it has been given the lead for now. This is bad news and good news because, even as things begin to fall apart and conflict and fear become a normal state of being, it also means that we are closer to conclusion. The most difficult, grief causing, part of this new normal is the desolution of families. It was predicted: