Two members of our extended family committed suicide, and I have been close to a number of other suicidal tragedies.
A businessman friend of mine, who was well known as a Christian layman, committed suicide a decade ago. At his funeral, his pastor told the grieving audience, “If Harry (not his real name) was here today I am sure he would ask your forgiveness for the rash emotional choice he made to end his life.”
I agreed. His death made no sense when compared to the life that he lived.
Nations and civilizations also commit suicide. They make wrong choices over time, maybe against their overall heritage, that plunge them into ruin. Why do nations commit suicide? What can be done to prevent it?
One of the hardest things for me to watch during this latter stage of my life, is the apparent suicide of America–and really, all of Western civilization. This downward death spiral began in Europe, which has vastly moved away from God and biblical values. The USA is now boarding the same train which is heading to disaster.
It’s agonizing and heart-wrenching to watch the looming death spiral. It reminds me of one biblical figure –the prophet Jeremiah.
Jeremiah lived through a powerful season of revival in the nation of Israel during his early years. He was a contemporary of the young, godly king Josiah whom the Bible calls the greatest king in the lineage of Jesus (2 Kings 23:25). Over a ten year time period, the southern kingdom of Judah went through a significant national reformation (you can read the amazing story in 2 Chronicles 34) that impacted a generation and lasted twenty years.
But after Josiah died, the nation began to self-destruct, and Jeremiah, in his later years, watched the horrifying fall while trying to turn the nation back to its godly heritage.
But it wasn’t to be. The people were unwilling to change their ways.
In 586 BC, God used King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon to rightly bring justice to the backslidden nation. Jeremiah warned and warned the people, lived through the national collapse, and ended up dying as a refugee in Egypt.
Jeremiah’s life started well–he experienced a national spiritual awakening–but it ended with his beloved nation falling from grace.
I see an eerie parallel in my own life. I came into God’s kingdom during a wonderful season of American renewal called the Jesus Revolution. In the 1980s, I was privileged to be a small part of the Reagan years which, at the least, retarded the acceleration of American decline. That political period was known as “Morning in America” and brought about a moral and economic renewal that lasted for nearly three decades.
But many of those gains are now being lost. It appears that our godly nation, once the land of great revivals, faith, morality, freedom, and economic prosperity, is careening down a path that could lead to national suicide.
Are we experiencing the birth pangs of “Sunset in America” and possibly all of Western Civilization?
Something inside of me doesn’t want to believe it. But honesty and reality tell a different tale that makes me wonder whether the pattern of Jeremiah’s life may be mirrored in our own time.
The best word I can find to describe what is taking place in Europe and America today is the concept of suicide. We seem to be willingly and foolishly voting for people and living for things that will kill us as a nation.
Let’s begin with the dictionary definition of SUICIDE:
b : ruin of one’s own interests.
The definition assumes that in the past, the suicidal person lived responsibly, with sound thoughts and lifestyle actions. But at a point in time, this individual abandoned their sane and wise course and began down a pathway that led to consciously killing themselves–destroying their own interests and true happiness.
This scenario is at work in America today, in at least five different forms.
This is always the root cause of personal or corporate suicide–a collapse of faith in God. When the Creator of the universe is honored, loved, and his principles followed, this tends to bring joy, peace, justice and prosperity to human existence.
The “American experiment in liberty” was once anchored in the idea of “In God We Trust,”–that respecting Him and following his ways were the keys to earthly success. Thus, early Americans prayed around their kitchen tables, built churches in their cities and towns, started schools teaching biblical character qualities and taking dominion in God’s world, and more than any nation in history, placed God as the center of national life.
There were plenty of exceptions to this rule, and even wars that were fought over our sins. But the United States of America rose to global greatness because of its faith and dedication to Almighty God which was rekindled numerous times through national awakenings and revivals.
But not today. Atheists have doubled in numbers in recent years, biblical truths have been taken out of the schools, and secularism, (a new name for being man-centered and anti-God), has now become the up-and-coming religion in the land.
It is for this reason that the Rev. Billy Graham, at the age of 95, will preach his “final sermon” the week of November 4-9. He knows that we are committing religious suicide and wants to do his part to call us back to faith in God and Jesus Christ.
I encourage you to participate in My Hope America with Billy Graham.
The breakdown of the American family has been breath-taking in the past two generations. The nuclear family, a husband and wife and their children, were once the backbone of this country. How far we have disintegrated in such a short period of time!
When I was a young boy, divorce was rare and ninety percent of households built their lives around the love, nurture and protection of the family unit. Today, divorce and broken families are as common as cars on the road. In the black community, the single parent ratio has reached an astounding 72 percent. Absent dads, working moms, and kids who’d rather be in gangs than in church have become a norm in many neighborhoods.
It happened quickly–since the 1960s. Now, counterfeit forms of marriage and family are on the horizon which will only weaken the real deal. The family is committing suicide in numerous and alarming ways.
The decline of morality has also been stunning in the past fifty years. Sex outside of marriage used to be rare; Adults preying on kids was once viewed as hideous and evil; Men having sex with men and women with women was viewed as an abomination and crooked; Babies were cherished and protected, not slaughtered in abortion mills.
Our moral suicide can be time-lined by the songs of past decades. The early Beatles reeked of innocence when they first crooned “I Want to Hold Your Hand.” The Rolling Stones descended into outright lust when they proposed “Let’s Spend the Night Together” (a very lewd and foreign idea to single Americans in Judeo-Christian America just fifty years ago).
More recently, the young generation just shrugs (or maybe twerks) when rapper Cee Lo Green parades onstage and bellows out profanities, such as the song F**K You.
It’s a long way from shyly holding hands to tossing F-bombs to minors. It’s the mark of a death spiral that has numbed and destroyed the morals of a once godly people.
In the past four years, Amnerica’s fiscal insanity has ballooned to the forefront. Cheating in morals usually leads to cheating with money. If you can get away with fornication, then you can certainly bend the rules of debt–to your own demise. Many Americans are lost under a mountain of personal debt, and the politicians we’ve elected have followed our lead in running up a 17 trillion dollar national time bomb.
In Washington, D.C., they don’t even do budgets anymore, and it’s not uncommon to have yearly deficits of 500 billion to one trillion dollars. In 2013, the stock market is being manipulated to phony highs by quantitative easing, we linger in a painful and debilitating recession, 151 million people are receiving government checks of one sort (100 million of them on welfare), and only 125 million people earn their own way (paychecks). Yet, we keep electing politicians who are spending the nation into a disaster.
This insanity of national fiscal suicide may be the most sudden and painful of all–when it hits.
Closest to home at the moment, through the foolishness of the misnamed “Affordable Health Care Act” (commonly called Obamacare), we are driving some nails into our national coffin via the destruction of the best health care system the world has ever known.
People are losing their doctors and personal plans; Premiums and deductibles are going up for millions of Americans; There will be a doctor and health care shortage in the coming years; There will be death panels for some of the elderly.
We’ve even spent a billion dollars on this government intrusion into our personal health– and the federal website doesn’t even work! Plus, you will be penalized (taxed) for non-compliance.
America’s healthiest days are behind her if we do not cast off this governmental health monstrosity. It is unaffordable, is not about health (it’s about control), does not really care for the good of the nation, and is an act we can do without. Still, probably half of the nation doesn’t even realize that we’ve stuck a hypodermic needle filled with poison into our national body politic.
Maybe that will be the ultimate suicidal act of a civilization gone mad.
So why do nations commit suicide? There are a number of factors to remember:
First, the Bible says that “My people are destroyed for a lack of knowledge” (Hosea 4:6). This certainly applies to the knowledge of God, right and wrong, godly perspective, and the wisdom to pursue true liberty. Nations die when they forget–lose the knowledge–of what made them great to begin with.
Second, nations commit suicide when they fail to grasp the power of human depravity–that we are fallen human beings who, if left to ourselves, will always descend into lust, greed, carnality and death. The human tendency to sin is the most tragic form of entropy (“gradual decline into disorder”).
That is why we need God to enlighten, forgive, redeem and empower us to neutralize the destructive tendencies. We CANNOT do it without Him.
And finally, both individuals and nations commit suicide when they make emotional decisions to go against their good character or history in the pursuit of personal pleasure. That’s what happened to my friend Harry. It is happening to the United States before our very eyes.
I am reminded of a scene from the sci-fi movie Independence Day when a group of emotional, unthinking, city residents went up on the top of a tower to party and “welcome” the aliens to planet Earth.
They were incinerated in a moment.
We are not there yet, but we are getting close. We might be Jeremiah in our latter years, or we could be God’s chosen instruments of the next great spiritual awakening. Be awake to the former, but give your life for the latter.
God does not want us to commit national suicide. He wants us to live, not die.