Understanding the New, Self-Based Morality Emerging in America


A Nation of “My Truths”: Barna Research Group graphic shows high percentages of Americans (including Christians) who believe in subjective morality. See full Barna story on the new, “self-fulfillment morality” HERE. Click to enlarge.

By Micah Clark, AFA of Indiana

If you are familiar with the story of Noah’s Ark beyond a Sunday School flannel graph, you’ll likely recall that the times in which Noah lived were described as days of exceptional evil across the earth. This saddened the heart of God. Many observers think that we are living in days of global evil again. I am not sure if we are in similar times, but there’s no doubt that the mass killing of Muslims and Christians all across the globe from civil wars and radical Islam saddens God’s heart.

In parts of the Bible, similar times of exceptional evil are described as times in which “everyone did what was right in their own eyes” or according to themselves. Morality was in the eye of the beholder. Nothing was off limits anymore because it was up to each person’s heart, no matter how confused or depraved, to determine. How else can one explain the insanity of Lot’s offering his own daughters up to crazed men in Sodom under the guise of good manners and cultural norms?

In this backdrop, a new study from the Barna Research Group may concern many while also explaining much of the evil in America. Entitled, “The End of Absolutes: America’s New Moral Code” Barna’s research finds that the vast majority of Americans (80 percent) express concern about our nation’s moral condition. Every demographic shares this concern, with 89 percent of elders, 87 percent of baby-boomers, 75 percent of Gen-X’ers and 74 percent of Millennials expressing concerns about America’s moral condition. Although 90 percent of Christians express concern over our moral decline, even 67 percent of adults of no faith say they have concerns about America’s values.

However, consensus on morality is more ambiguous. For the majority of Americans (57 percent), knowing right from wrong comes from personal experience. An even higher percent (65 percent), say morality comes from cultural consensus. (Did I mention Lot’s offer?)

This is a key part of postmodernism. Truth does not come from external facts as much as it does from experience today. This explains the frustration of citing statistics or objective measures on Facebook only to have someone respond with a feeling or a story to ignore peer-reviewed scientific research. For example, you might read a new report from the Indiana State Police that finds that drinking more than six beers increases your chance of an auto accident by 600 percent. A conservative would say, “Well sure, that makes sense, but I hope my taxes didn’t go for that obvious study.” A postmodern Millennial would respond, “I don’t believe that study. My uncle drinks a six-pack of Bud every Friday night while playing poker with his friends, and he’s never been in an accident.” For the postmodernist, personal experience is more influential than outside objective reason.

The Barna Report finds that a new open-ended morality has emerged in America, and it is based upon the slippery slope of SELF. David Kinnaman, president of Barna, concludes from this report that a new morality of self-fulfillment has all but replaced Judeo-Christian traditions as the culture’s moral norm. A whopping 91 percent of Americans now agree that the best way to “find oneself” is to “look within yourself.” (Most Christians, 76 percent, agreed with this!!) Nearly as many Americans, (89 percent), agree, “people should not criticize someone else’s life choices.” Perhaps most telling is that 86 percent of Americans say, “to be fulfilled in life you should pursue the things you desire most.”

You can see evidence of this ambiguous new morality everywhere. Yet we are surprised when the full consequences of these beliefs play out on the evening news as people, chasing their own desires via what was right in their own eyes, take their passions beyond God’s boundaries.


Micah Clark is the executive director of the American Family Association of Indiana. This article was reprinted with permission from the AFA-IN newsletter.

This article was posted on Wednesday, June 22nd, 2016 at 10:44 pm and is filed under "Civil Unions" & "Gay Marriage", Biblical Truth, News, Redefining Morality. You can follow any updates to this article through the RSS 2.0 feed.

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