From 1620 through 1930 – a period of more than 300 years – the culture, customs, educational, social, and economic dimensions of American Colonial life were under-girded with a philosophy of life that arose applying the teachings from both The Hebrew Bible (The Old Testament) and The Christian Scriptures (The New Testament).
The Old Testament taught two important life principles that Colonial America embraced: 1.) “To Love The LORD Thy GOD with all of your Heart, Soul, Mind and Strength” (Deuteronomy 6.5) and 2.) “Love Thy Neighbor as Thyself” (Leviticus 19.18).
Jesus Christ affirmed these two great commandants in His teachings in Matthew 22.37-40.
The philosophy that developed from the teachings of Judaism and Christianity is called our “Judeo-Christian heritage.”
In 2015 , these two great Judeo-Christian commandments are diametrically opposed to the spirit of the current age that we live in.
A case in point is that one of the dominant philosophies that Americans are taught today is the “philosophy of hedonism.”
Hedonism is the outlook on life that states that an individual has the right to maximize their pleasure and happiness and minimize their pain.
Last week, we looked at the philosophy of utilitarianism which was put forth by the two English Statesmen Jeremy Bentham and John Stuart Mill (1806– 1873).
Hedonism stresses individual freedom and pleasure whereas Utilitarianism applies the principle of hedonistic pleasure on the national level of policy or statecraft.
Two profound Theologians of the middle and late 20th century – the late Dr. Francis A. Schaeffer (founder of L’Abri) and the late Mr. Chuck “Charles” Colson (founder of Prison Fellowship) – both argued that the ultimate test of a worldview with regards to evaluating its positive or negative effects is in relation to the type of long-term quality or lack of quality of life that it produces.
In other words, does a philosophy in this case hedonism promote acts of kindness, courage, valor, and mercy or does it place an emphasis on the rights of the individual that negates those time-honored principles?
(Both Schaeffer and Colson advanced a “Judeo-Christian worldview” that starts with accepting Jesus Christ as LORD and Savior.)
When one surveys the American landscape over the last 50 years, one sees a pronounced deterioration of American life as both “hedonism” and “utilitarianism” have supplanted the “Judeo-Christian worldview.”
Since 1965, the number of children born to a single parent has exploded among all ethnic groups.
In 1965, 70 to 75% of all Black children were born into two parent households.
Today, 70 to 73% of all Black children are born into single parent households.
Please note that this author is a Christian pastor who is Black so he is not singling out Black families.
Please note that today all families are experiencing this phenomena:
- 53% of Latino children are born into single parent families.
- 36% of Caucasian “White” children are born into single parent families.
- Black families are not the only families that are disintegrating.
(I am not suggesting that single parents love their children any less than a two parent household. However, the empirical evidence shows that children from single parent households usually attain less quality and quantity of education – and their future economic potential is severely curtailed).
Hedonism and Utilitarianism have effected national policy in two other ways: (1.) No-Fault Divorce Laws and (2.) the liberalization of abortion with the Roe v. Wade decision of 1973.
A thinly veiled secret in American life is that the Upper-Middle Class and the Upper Classes (the top 2 economic tiers) in the United States are still getting married and having children.
As a matter of fact more than 80% of children born into the top 2 economic tiers live in homes with two parents. Children from these homes experience great upward educational and economic mobility.
Could it be that the low marriage rates among the poor and the working classes contributes much to the income inequality that we see in American life?
Boys that grow up in homes without consistent male love and support tend to experience higher level of criminal activity, unemployment and lower self-esteem.
Furthermore, why is it that the elites in our culture marry, create stable families, and demand polite behavior from their children but at times articulate and advance policies that state that the poor should not have to live up to these standards?
One might ask why there is such a political and cultural disconnect between the Upper and Lower classes in our society with regards to the “values” that they cherish?
If Misters Schaeffer and Colson were alive today that would give the philosophies of “hedonism” and “utilitarianism” grades of F for failing to live up to the benefits that they espouse.
I ask you the reader: what grade would you assign to these two worldviews?