Preachers might have to get some new material, because the demise of American culture may have been grossly exaggerated. Peter Wehner and Yuval Levin recount the remarkable comeback in their article "Crimes, Drugs, Welfareand Other Good News" for Commentary magazine.
Surveys over the last 15 years show improvement across the board on a host of benchmarks, including crime, the number of welfare recipients, and academic scores. The news has improved for teenagers with declining drug abuse, birthrates, and binge drinking. College-educated Americans are leading the way in dropping divorce rates, apparently responding to research that shows their children will suffer if they separate. Abortion rates have fallen, and a Harris poll from September showed that Americans between the ages of 18 and 30 oppose abortion more than any other age group.
"In attitudes toward education, drugs, abortion, religion, marriage, and divorce, the current generation of teenagers and young adults appears in many respects to be more culturally conservative than its immediate predecessors," Wehner and Levin write. "To any who may have written off American society as incorrigibly corrupt and adrift, these young people offer a powerful reminder of the boundless inner resources still at our disposal, and of our constantly surprising national resilience."
These young people may also demonstrate the power of therapeutic appeals. Don't binge drink, do drugs, or smoke, because you'll hurt yourself. But when the therapeutic arguments are less compelling, the news isn't so good. That's the case with homosexuality, where youth buck their elders' reticence.
Even so, these signs of sustained cultural improvement could precede significant theological changes, ...