By David Kinnaman and Gabe Lyons, The Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission.
For a couple centuries of American public life, a soft reliance on the state to endorse Christian values seemed to work just fine. Since most people assumed America was a “Christian nation,” it made sense that federal and state laws tacitly affirmed a biblical worldview and actively promoted Christian morals. From gambling and alcohol prohibition to tax exemptions and modesty laws, nominal Christianity benevolently reigned over the public square. Everyone stayed buttoned up, and, for the most part, we appeared to be a virtuous people, a moral people.
But in the twentieth century, more and more people began to see Christian morality as standing in the way of a new moral code: the morality of self-fulfillment. Throwing off burdensome traditional mores, people began to imagine life without a bothersome God standing watch. John Lennon captured the zeitgeist in his perennial hit: “Imagine there’s no heaven, it’s easy if you try . . .”
New research, as shown in the table below, highlights the extent to which Americans pledge allegiance to the new moral code, which can be summed up in six guiding principles.
The New Moral Code
Please indicate whether you agree or disagree with each of the following statements.
Source: Barna OmniPoll, August 2015, N = 1,000
As you can see, the morality of self-fulfillment has even crept into American Christianity. Large percentages of practicing Christians embrace the principles of the new moral code. Too many Christians have substituted comfortable living for a life changed by the gospel.