It is no wonder that a society that tells its citizens constantly that they are no better than the animals — indeed, no different from them — winds up seeing those same citizens act like animals. How could we reasonably expect anything else?
As Christians, we hope and expect humans to rise above the animal world. Animals can be trained, after all. Why not humans? But culture wins over holiness, time after time. And thus we see headline after headline, proclaiming in grotesque detail how degraded a culture bereft of God can become.
This is not the primary reason for believing in God, of course. We don’t believe in God to make this world more habitable; we believe in God in preparation for inhabiting the world to come. Still, this world is the only one we have for the time being. God placed it in our trust, telling us to take care of the garden as well as our fellow gardeners. We would all like that task to be as pleasant as possible. Alas, we appear to be doomed to disappointment on that front. And it has nothing to do with the times, or the president, or the internet. It’s the devil. It always has been.
That doesn’t have to be a bad thing. That is Solomon’s point in Ecclesiastes. A life lived apart from God is, as he says over and over, “vanity.” If we conceive of life as entirely consisting of what we see “under the sun,” we have to be struck with the utter pointlessness of it all. We live, and then we die. For creatures made with “eternity in their heart” (Ecclesiastes 3:11), this is absurdity. When we recognize this and reach for something more, we pass His test (Ecclesiastes 3:18-19). When we persist in embracing the beastly lifestyle, we fail — and we curse the land and those who inhabit it.
Lord, come quickly.