The Decline and Fall of America
Study No. 66
In 1788, Sir Edward Gibbon, England’s eminent historian of the 18th century, published the most comprehensive history of the Roman Empire ever compiled. Under the title, The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Gibbon’s massive chronicle encompassed several volumes and suggested five basic causes for the collapse of Roman civilization.
Even a casual observer cannot help noticing numerous parallels between conditions which, according to Gibbon, led to the fall of Rome and conditions which exist today in America.
Gibbon’s Five Causes for Rome’s Demise
1. The undermining of the dignity and sanctity of the home.
Bible believers have always recognized the importance of the home in the plan of God. Dorothy Kelley Patterson, in her note entitled, "The Home in the Heart of Scripture," says:
"At the dawn of creation, God’s first institution was not the church but the home. The garden paradise was prepared, and the entirety of God’s creative handiwork was accomplished in the preparation for man. Throughout Scripture is found concern and careful direction in timeless principles governing this primary institution which binds a man and a woman together as one to engage in spiritual ministry, including companionship, dominion, procreation, and worship. This institution we call the home" — Chriswell Study Bible, page 1515.
The forces of humanism and secularism in America have launched an all-out offensive against the traditional institution of the home. Record numbers of men and women are living together without a legal marriage contract, with many thousands of children born out of wedlock each year as a result of these immoral relationships.
According to Herbert A. Glieberman, an attorney in the Chicago area who has specialized in divorce and family law for 28 years, one in three marriages now ends in divorce, a ratio far higher than it was 20 years ago. Surprisingly, the greatest rise in the divorce rate has been among couples married 10 years or longer. Homes are falling apart at an alarming rate!
Threats to the traditional American home are coming from all sides. Homosexual marriages are becoming more and more common, and the Gay Task Force is pushing for adoptive rights for "gay" couples. One court case gained national publicity recently when a Lesbian who divorced her husband and moved in with her girl friend won custody of three minor children.
One of the outstanding signs of the end time is the people will be "without natural affection" II Timothy 3:3. Truly, this prophecy is being fulfilled before our very eyes.
2. Higher and higher taxes, the spending of public money for free bread and circuses for the populace.
The concept of "redistribution of wealth," taxing those who have and giving to those who have not, has become part of the American way of life with the New Deal and the Great Society. The result has been an excessive burden of taxation on the middle, working class of Americans.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, a typical "urban family" of four operated on a 1982 budget which looks something like this:
INCOME TAXES 16.3%
SOCIAL SECURITY TAXES 6.2%
MEDICAL CARE 5.6%
PERSONAL CARE 2.0%
* This figure includes property taxes.
** This figure includes gasoline taxes.
The total percentage of income swallowed up by taxes (in 1982) was over 25%. In 1971, employees paid 5.2% of their wages into the Social Security system, up to a maximum of $405.60. Today, they pay 6.65%, up to $1,975, and further increases are scheduled during the next five years.
When the Apostle Paul heard that certain unemployed busybodies were disrupting the church at Thessalonica, he was quick to give his appraisal of the situation. He said, "For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat" II Thessalonians 3:10.
The Bible teaches that industry, creativity, and hard, honest work should be encouraged and richly rewarded. Slothfulness, laziness, and neglect, however, are condemned by the Word of God.
3. The mad craze for pleasure, sports becoming every year more exciting, more brutal, more immoral.
America, like ancient Rome, is obsessed with her quest for pleasure and recreation. The average workweek has dropped from 38.6 hours to 35.3 hours in the last 20 years, with most people enjoying 120 non-working days every year — and we make the most of it!
In 1965, U.S. dollars spent on leisure activities totaled $58 billion. In 1981, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce, the American outlay for sports, recreation, and entertainment was over $244 billion — an increase of 321% over a 16-year period — and about $77 billion more than we spent on national defense over the same period.
America’s determination to show herself a "good time" is evidenced by many facts. Among them:
§ "Walt Disney World" in Orlando, Florida, has been so successful financially, the Disney people just recently opened on September 30, 1982, the new one-billion-dollar EPCOT (Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow) Center, highlighting futuristic technology.
§ Atlantic City’s eight gambling casinos drew an estimated 19.5 million people in 1982, up from just seven million in 1978.
§ "E.T. — the Extraterrestrial," the number one box-office hit in 1982, grossed $75.3 million during the first 28 weeks of its release and $194 million in movie rentals.
§ Mariott’s "Great America" amusement park near Gurnee, Illinois, registered a record-shattering attendance of over three million in 1981.
According to the A.C. Nielsen Company, America’s top 10 spectator sports are:
SPECTATOR SPORT EST. ANNUAL ATTENDANCE
Automobile Racing 51.0 Million
Thoroughbred Racing 50.0 Million
Major-league Baseball 43.7 Million
College Football 35.5 Million
College Basketball 30.7 Million
Harness Racing 27.4 Million
Greyhound Racing 20.8 Million
NFL Football 13.4 Million
Minor-league Baseball 12.6 Million
NHL Hockey 11.5 Million
The importance Americans place on sports is reflected in the way we reward our sports heroes. The average (early 1980’s) major league baseball player earns $170,000 per year; the average National Football League player, $80,000 per year; the average National Basketball League player, $186,000 per year; and the average National Hockey League player, $108,000. At the same time, the average mark for teachers is $16,000; for accountants, $17,000; and even for attorneys it’s only $39,000. This says something about our priorities as a nation of pleasure-crazy people.
4. The building of great armaments when the real enemy is within — the decay of individual responsibility.
Anyone who reads the daily paper or watches the evening news knows that we are witnessing one of the most massive arms build-ups in the history of the world.
Pentagon planners are hoping to pump $184 billion over the next five years [when this was written in early 1980’s] into an already-hefty defense budget, bringing our total military spending over that same period to $1.5 trillion. This includes $68 billion for one project alone: the MX Missile.
The bomb-waving, loud-boasting Soviets are not our greatest threat, however. They have their own problems in places like Poland, Afghanistan, and along the Sino-Soviet border. The last thing they need right now is a confrontation with the United States.
The REAL danger is from WITHIN, not without. Our character and determination are withering. Our once iron will is softening. Liberties purchased with the blood of previous generations are no longer precious to us. The ability of our labor force to produce quality work is waning in the face of a more disciplined, foreign competition.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation reports dramatic increases in all categories of violent crime: armed robbery, rape, aggravated assault, and murder. During 1981, 30% of all households in the U.S. experienced some type of crime, and 6% suffered a violent crime.
5. The decay of religion, faith fading into mere form, losing touch with life, losing power to guide the people.
Recognizing "decay of religion" in America is all too easy. Great denominations founded in post-Reformation days by fiery, uncompromising men of the Book have long since been given over to the darkest depths of apostasy. Educational institutions like Harvard, Princeton, and Yale, which were built by God-fearing people for the purpose of training young men to be ministers of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, have now become bastions of humanistic unbelief.
Jude’s prophecy that in "the last time" there would appear doubters who would deny and disdain "the faith which was once delivered unto the saints" has truly come to pass in our generation.
Can America Be Saved?
Sometimes people ask the question: "Can America be saved? Is there any hope of survival?" No, beloved, what has been written must be fulfilled. What has been decreed must come to pass. According to God’s prophetic word, this dispensation will end in violence and apostasy, the very things that we are witnessing today (Luke 17:26; Matthew 24:12, 21 and II Timothy 3:1-5, 13). Everything is coming to pass exactly as God said it would.
The next act of God in the affairs of man will be the return of Jesus Christ, first to protect His church, and then to punish the ungodly. If you don’t have the assurance of salvation today, put your trust in the Lord Jesus Christ, receive Him as your Saviour, and then you will be ready for the hour of His coming.
— by Dr. Charles Halff
Editor’s Note: This article appeared in the April, 1983 issue of Message of the Christian Jew. It has been one of the most requested reprint articles distributed by Giving & Sharing, and is even more true now than when it was first published. W
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