Monday, January 15, 2007

Uncivilized Civilization: The Call of the Wild

by Stephen Z. Biller

Recently, I coined a phrase to refer to modern, mainstream American culture: Heathen Nation. I see this evidenced in the body piercings and tattoos that disfigure the forms of so many individuals in the States today. Oh, and those forms--they don't have much on to to cover them anymore either! The sad thing is that it's not just young people--nor is it just the secular culture. More and more, this heathenization is spreading to all ages and classes, in the church and outside of it.

As evidenced by the popularity of Mel Gibson's recent gory, provocative flick Apocalypto, the "American dream" for many Americans today seems to be the pursuit of sensuous pleasure. I think that there are a lot of Americans who would like nothing better than to run around naked, giving in to every idea that pops into their heads. This is definitely the entertainment industry's dream for Western society, and people are buying it--literally. Look at what many of them wear, do, watch and play. From gory video games to prime time television that would have embarrassed even the most secular of entertainment gurus in days gone by--people are showing their primitive tastes.

I am reminded of Golding's classic Lord of the Flies. This book, contrary to most secular teachers' opinions, is an examination of life without the confines of God. The title "Lord of the Flies" is actually the English interpretation of the Greek word "Beelzebub." Yep, the name Jesus used for Satan. I never knew this until I ran across a review of the book on a Catholic teen magazine's website. Throughout the novel, the "Lord of the Flies" is a voice that speaks to the main character and tries to get him to follow his comrades into their riotous, uncivilized way of living. The boy refuses, through great effort, and perseveres until the group is rescued from the island. Unfortunately, the other boys, who give in to their "natural" call of sin, commit horrible crimes that will undoubtedly haunt them for the rest of their lives.

I do not believe that society is what keeps us pure. As a creationist, I recognize the Biblical truth that civilization left alone would continually degrade to destruction at its own hands (not evolve to a continually better state!). God's grace is the only thing that has enabled mankind to form itself into peaceful, constructive groups. He initiated society when He created the first family (the very foundation of any society), and He has guided civilization throughout the centuries. Thus, I believe that God made society in order to help us live upright lives. We are not intended to be solitary creatures, at least not as a norm. (There might be times in your life when God calls you into solitude in order for you can hear Him better.)

What does this mean for the Christian? What practical application can you and I take away from this? Well, throughout history God has used His people to preserve civilized living in the world. Sanctity of life is the best name for what separates a godly civilization from a heathen one, and this is protected by purity and prudence in the individual. Government can help to ensure these things, but only on an outer level. The root of the problem (the heart of men) can only be addressed by God through His Son. Thus, the born-again believer has the responsibility to live a wholesome, holy lifestyle in line with the teaching of the Bible.

Prov. 14:34 tells us, "Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people."
and Psalm 33:12 says, "Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord." (NIV)

It is up to the Conservative, Christian community to preserve a righteous civilization in America and the Western World. We must resist the temptations of Beelzebub and live as one who has "died, and...is now hidden with Christ in God" (Col. 3:3). For we "have been raised with Christ" (v. 1) and become "more than conquerors through Him who loved us" (Rom. 8:37, NIV).

We can and must stand strong against the urges of "natural" sin!


Special Note:
I have not seen Apocalypto, nor do I intend to. I highly recommend that you do NOT go to see it either; from what I have read, you would probably regret it! Also, I have never read the whole of Lord of the Flies , but I understand that it is pretty intense. Thus, I urge caution if you do read it.

5 comments:

Rubies&Sapphires said...

Okay, I know this was tough, but I had to get it off my chest! I am just sick of what I see going on around me. We are not savages and should not be acting as if we were...especially if we're children of the Living God!

Hope this doesn't offend anyone, but that it does make you think! :)
-Steve

Kingdom Advancer said...

Hey Steve. Thanks for stopping by Kingdom Advancing.

Can you really say you coined the term "Heathen Nation"? :) That's more just a generic description, isn't it?

Here's two things that probably should've been a part of your article: narcissism and nihilism. That's what this society largely is about these days: "...there is no purpose in life, except to pursue personal pleasure." Since we "are all animals anyway," ultimately we should just do "whatever pleases us." That's the philosophy.

However, that doesn't mean I think America is a lost cause necessarily, though it is an overwhelming task. Still, America is considered a "Christian nation" in comparison to many others. Consider Europe for example. If Christians wake-up and get fired-up, big things can happen.

I especially liked this paragraph of yours:

"...Well, throughout history God has used His people to preserve civilized living in the world. Sanctity of life is the best name for what separates a godly civilization from a heathen one, and this is protected by purity and prudence in the individual. Government can help to ensure these things, but only on an outer level. The root of the problem (the heart of men) can only be addressed by God through His Son. Thus, the born-again believer has the responsibility to live a wholesome, holy lifestyle in line with the teaching of the Bible."

What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world, but loses his soul? The only permanent and sufficient solution is salvation. And, salvation is the most important thing, ultimately. As I read one time--I can't remember where--: we shouldn't see our faith just as a means to the end of reforming society, though it can reform society. Ultimately ,our faith should BE the desired end-goal.

Keep on keepin' on! :)

Rubies&Sapphires said...

Kingdom Advancer,

Hi! "Heathen Nation" itself is not original! :) However, I have never heard used as a name for America--pagan, Gentile, or Babylonian seem to be the prefered terms. I simply prefer "heathen" because it connotates images of the jungle, etc. (which was important for my article).

Narcissism and nihilism are also present in our society--excellent point(s). Your quote was also a great one; it is something that all Christians would be good to learn!

Thanks for your thoughts! -Steve

Austin said...

I think the term "epicureanism" would be an appropriate one here.

I've read Lord of the Flies. I like your interpretation better, but I don't think it's what the author intended to portray exactly, seeing as he was an atheist. It would be weird for an atheist to intentionally write a book showing that humans are horrible without God. I'm sure he meant it to show that we're horrible without civilization, in contrast to Rousseau's beliefs that we're better without civilization.

Rubies&Sapphires said...

Austin,

I'm not sure the author (William Golding) of "Lord of the Flies" was an atheist (maybe he was just not an atheist his whole life). I got that theory on the book from an article in a Catholic magazine. I ran across it online, but it looked pretty trustworthy (I routinely check out sites for trustworthiness). I also just did a little more research and found that Golding wrote the book while teaching at a Christian school.

I think that the definition of the book I gave is simply uncommon, since the book has been so often interpreted using modern psychology.

Let me know if you find anything in your research. -Steve