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EIGHT: The eighth problem is the idea that difficulties, suffering and pain are to be avoided at all costs and the problems of life should be able to be quickly resolved. Whether it's popping a psychotropic drug or a quick divorce, when things begin to get difficult, people have little patience to work through their problems. This is vitally connected to the first problem. 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 reminds us: "Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal."
NINE: The ninth problem is the sexual saturation of American culture. I grew up in a world where a woman would never be told a dirty joke and where I almost never heard a woman cuss or use vulgarity. That's not true today. With tampon ads and that goofy eyed woman in the Levitra commercial coming into people's homes at all hours, with the nightly news dominated by the explicit details of President Clinton's sexual dalliances a few years back, with films that have continued to push the envelope in language and nudity over the past forty years, with the proliferation of even hard-core pornography available in the privacy of one's home, especially through the Internet, and especially with men and women working together in fairly intimate settings, sexual sin is off the charts.
Back in the early seventies, I was a police chaplain. What was simple common sense for thousands of years has now been tossed in the trash can: you cannot put a man and a woman in a patrol car together for forty plus hours a week and them not form a powerful bond, a bond that oftentimes leads them into an affair, if they are not really careful, especially if they don't have strong marriages.
TEN: Two or three generations ago, people lived in close proximity to their extended families, and there was both social pressure and easy transmission of cultural values. Today people move a lot more than they did in the past, often thousands of miles away from where they were brought up, and there are no grandparents, aunts and uncles close by, reinforcing the concept of putting up with stuff and working out your problems.
ELEVEN: Without the social safety net of twentieth and twenty-first century America, people were forced by economic consequences to put up with their problems. With financial assistance readily available without moral considerations, modern society encourages people more quickly to get out of difficulties. I'm not saying that this is always evil, only that it is a factor.
TWELVE: In the individualistic atomization of modern life, television often replaces flesh and blood peer group pressure with new friends such as Oprah and the main characters in soap operas. Psychologically people become bonded to these characters oftentimes more than to the people around them.
THIRTEEN: Public education has systematically been de-Christianized in the past half century--gone are the moral imperatives that were drummed into our heads in the public school system of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.
FOURTEEN: Loyalty to the denomination of one's upbringing is largely a thing of the past, replaced with a consumer driven kind of Christianity. In a small congregation, there is still a lot of pressure on people to deal with their business. In a mega-church while there is an on-site counseling center for those who want it, there remains a basic anonymity for those who don't.
I'm sure I could go on and on, but I'll stop for now.