A ship headed toward the rocks is frightening to consider. A car rushing toward a washed-out bridge brings disaster to mind. A person poised in the act of taking poison makes one think of untimely death. In each case immediate action is indicated.

America as a nation is headed for certain disaster because the bridge of moral values and restraints has been washed away by lust and the banks all along the road are being eroded by carelessness and folly.

Some religious journals and Christian ministers have warned of the danger. Many parents are concerned, having found themselves and their homes enmeshed in the disintegrating process. Moral degeneration has continued to the point where in our society immorality is increasingly taken as a matter of course.

It has remained for a secular magazine (Time, January 24, 1964) to give an objective study of the changes that have taken place since World War I, when F. Scott Fitzgerald’s books spoke of the blossoming jazz age and alarmed mothers were told of “how casually their daughters were accustomed to being kissed.” Now we read: “In the 1920s, to praise sexual freedom was still outrageous; today sex is simply no longer shocking, in life and literature.” The explanation is that an entirely new set of values has emerged in which, for many, there are no moral or spiritual absolutes and the question is not God’s law but man’s choice.

We are frightened because yesterday’s parents (and today’s) permitted the sowing of the wind of unchallenged license and are now reaping the whirlwind of unrestrained lust.

We are frightened because God says, “Thou shalt not commit adultery” (and our Lord carried the prohibition to the inward thoughts and desires and the lustful look), but today adultery is only too often taken as a normal way of life. One woman recently boasted that her marriage had been saved by extramarital adventures.

We are frightened because the words of Jeremiah are being fulfilled in America: “How can I pardon you? Your children have forsaken me, and have sworn by those who are no gods. When I fed them to the full, they committed adultery and trooped to the houses of harlots. They were well-fed lusty stallions, each neighing for his neighbor’s wife. Shall I not punish them for these things? says the Lord; and shall I not avenge myself on a nation such as this?” (Jer. 5:7–9, RSV).

We are frightened because our young people can buy unspeakably lewd books at almost any newsstand; because promiscuity, adultery, and homosexuality are paraded before their eyes in many of the popular movies of today; because the Church and the Christian home have broken down in providing the standards and restraints without which any young person can be caught up in the maelstrom of sexual promiscuity.

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We are frightened because the “new” morality (as old as evil itself) completely ignores God’s standards and accepts a code that man has devised. This is described as “ ‘permissiveness with affection’—which means to most people that: (1) morals are a private affair; (2) being in love justifies premarital sex, and by implication perhaps extramarital sex; (3) nothing really is wrong as long as nobody else ‘gets hurt.’ ”

We are frightened because we have permitted this situation to develop through parental folly and indifference. Young people have been prematurely pushed out into a social situation for which they were not prepared, for which they had had no spiritual or moral restraints provided, by either home or church. Cars, money, and unrestricted dating without chaperonage have given the opportunity; and now, for far too many, there is the bitter fruit of unrestrained passion.

Nothing is more frightening than the increasing number of churchmen, as well as non-Christian psychologists, who justify premarital and even extramarital sex, indulging in a rationalization that ignores God’s absolutes in favor of a devastating behaviorism stemming from personal desire and the accepted norms of a culture no longer loyal to the Judeo-Christian system of morality. Miami psychologist Granville Fisher is quoted as speaking for countless colleagues when he says: “Sex is not a moral question. For answers you don’t turn to a body of absolutes. The criterion should not be, ‘Is it morally right or wrong,’ but, is it socially feasible, is it personally healthy and rewarding, will it enrich human life?”

We are frightened because Dr. Fisher adds that many Protestant churchmen are beginning to feel the same way. “They are no longer shaking their finger because the boys and girls give in to natural biological urges and experiment a bit. They don’t say, ‘Stop, you’re wrong,’ but, is it meaningful?”

We are frightened because the very people to whom American youth should look for sound counsel based on divine principles too often are involved themselves or are at least taking a vicarious pleasure in licentiousness. The Apostle Paul has a word for them: “Though they know God’s decree that those who do such things deserve to die, they not only do them but approve those who practice them” (Rom. 1:32).

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We are frightened because this article talks at length about the freedom of sex expression in many colleges and universities. In the past prostitutes hovered on the fringe of campuses, but now they are largely a vanishing group because of the acquiescent attitude of women students. Men students are looked at with scorn if they do not succeed in the conquest of a date, and women students regard a virgin as a “square.”

Has the author of this article overstated the situation today? He quotes Dr. Graham B. Blaine, Jr., psychiatrist to the Harvard and Radcliffe Health Service, who says that there has been a radical change in the last fifteen years and that sexual promiscuity is practiced by about 60 per cent of the boys and 40 per cent of the girls. True, these figures do not apply to all areas of America; but they do give a frightening picture of the change that is taking place at an accelerated rate. Young people are unprepared for life situations because the teachings of home and church have turned from God’s absolutes to man’s desires.

Moses looked down the ages and said to the children of Israel: “Lay to heart all the words which I enjoin upon you this day, that you may command them to your children, that they may be careful to do all the words of this law. For it is no trifle for you, but it is your life” (Deut. 32:46, 47a). And Paul speaks to our generation: “Let no one deceive you with empty words, for it is because of these things that the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience” (Eph. 5:6).

We are frightened because a tide of evil has set in and because the forces of righteousness seem often to be paralyzed. Only the teaching, preaching, and living of righteousness according to faith in the power of the living and holy God can change the present course of history and stem the tide of certain disaster.

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