Analysis of American Culture through the lens of Hosea 4
In America, as it was in Israel, we find a lack of the “knowledge of God in the land”. Because we find here in our land, as they found in their land, wide spread immorality. There is “swearing, lying, murder, stealing, and adultery”. It can be said of us, “they break all bounds”. Whether our discussions center on pop culture, political culture, or church culture, the statement remains true. We think of Miley Cyrus and Robin Thicke’s recent escapade on stage together at the MTV Awards show, where a teenager engaged in sexually explicit behavior with a married man on a prime time venue. Truly, we break all bounds. Or maybe we can lament the recent murder of a high school teacher in Massachusetts, or New Town and all those children, or the events that transpired in the movie theater in Colorado, or even the recent naval yard shootings. Truly,” blood shed follows blood shed.”
Whose fault are these things? Of course the perpetrators of these crimes deserve the blame. As individuals they decided to commit them, and as individuals they will stand for them. But when God approaches a nation or culture in this much decay, whom does He come to first? Surely in our time, God would approach the leader of the free world, the president of the United States first, but this is not the case. Perhaps, congress then? Shockingly, to many Christians the answer is still, no. Maybe the educators, those responsible for shaping the intellectual lives of our children, maybe God will hold them ultimately responsible? Still the answer is no. God holds the spiritual leaders of the nation responsible first.
Yet let no one contend, and let none accuse, for with you is my contention, O priest. You shall stumble by day; the prophet also shall stumble with you by night; and I will destroy your mother.
Judgment must begin at the house of God, because it is the spiritual leaders of our nation that are the ones capable of withholding the life saving knowledge of God from the people of our land. It is the truth of God that not only brings life, but shapes law, art, and even political structures, and power distribution. The Gospel changes everything and when this knowledge is withheld, what starts out as a little leaven, leavens the whole lump. So the same truth that set women free to be more than household slaves, when obscured, turns them into slaves for sexual gratification via pornography, murderers via abortion, and makes motherhood unwanted or at best a lesser calling in life. When God sees these events transpiring He approaches our spiritual leaders and makes sure that they know, that they are responsible.
In our day, is there a spiritual movement based on teaching the Scriptures on a fifth grade level? Are there men who intentionally withhold the deeper teaching of the Scriptures from their people in order to attempt to grow their church’s attendance numbers and coffers? Yes there is, it has gone under the banner of the “Church Growth Movement” or the “Seeker Church Movement”. Believing wrongly, and in many cases innocently enough, that if they would teach on practical things and meet felt needs, that they would draw larger crowds, more people would hear about Jesus Christ, and, via extension, many more would be saved. Instead however, I wonder if we might well say,
“My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge; because you (priest) have rejected knowledge, I reject you from being a priest to me. And since you have forgotten the law of your God, I also will forget your children.
The Seeker Church Movement, and I don’t mean this to be uncharitable, is a group of pastors, who, for mainly consumer reasons, conspired together to withhold the knowledge of God from the people of our land. I know many of these men will say, “I preached Jesus and His cross”. Yes you did. But did you proclaim the whole counsel of God? Did you tell them about all its implications? To those questions the answer is no. We, spiritual leaders, have colluded in a massive failure to disciple the people of God. We have not lead them deeper into the ocean of grace and truth that is given to us in Christ Jesus and declared to us in the Scriptures, instead we have been content to play in the puddles near the waters edge. And because we rejected the “knowledge of God”, He is rejecting our children. Pastor’s children are now referred to as PK’s, which is not a term of endearment but one of derision. It is expected for the children of pastors to not only go astray, but to be leaders in sin in their congregations.
The more they increased, the more they sinned against me; I will change their glory into shame.
What does it look like when the spiritual leaders of a nation have their glory turned into shame? When I tell someone I am a pastor, about 50% of the time their estimation of me drops. Instead of increasing in influence, my stock often plummets. Why is this? Maybe I am a bad example of a pastor…….. but this happens whether these folks have met me and know my failures (which are many) or not. That’s because the Jimmy Swaggarts, Jim Bakers, and Robert Tiltons of the world made us all look like scheisters and conmen. There is also a plethora of bad experiences on the local level, of pastors, who should have been above reproach, but instead, are a reproach to the Gospel themselves. Pastors, our glory has been turned into shame, and we are the ones responsible. And this curse has spread further than to just the homes and reputations of spiritual leaders.
And it shall be like people, like priest; I will punish them for their ways and repay them for their deeds.
By some estimates, upward of 85% of the children now attending Bible believing evangelical churches will not be there when they are 29 years of age. There is a growing and widespread rejection in our culture, not just of Christian doctrine, but of Christian people. In the military, Christians are being described as extremists, and Christian teachings are no longer deemed compatible with military conduct, thus neither are Christians. We are already seeing chaplains being disciplined and muzzled because of the Gospel. In classrooms, especially colleges, Christians are being discriminated against freely. I know many will say in response to this that when Jesus was on the earth He told us that we would be rejected, just as He was rejected. Except, I don’t think we are being rejected for the same reasons He was exactly. I am not saying the military or higher education system is right in what they are doing, but I am suggesting that God has turned our glory into shame, because we, for the most part, have rejected His knowledge, not as a nation but as a church.