Thursday, August 26, 2021

When Did Western Civilisation Go Downhill?

 Probably when Victorians decided parts of the Bible were "mean". It's true that the New Testament supersedes the OT, but the Old Testament is not there to only fill up space, either. 

In fact, many New Testament commands are right there in OT, too, including one of the most famous and important Love thy neighbour as thyself.

Leviticus 19 gives several commands on dealing with your neighbour starting with verse 13 and sums it up as follows (vs 18, KJV)

Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself: I am the LORD.

What does it really mean to love your neighbour? Modern liberal Christians will tell you it means being "nice" and accept him (her) as they are. Yet the very preceding verse states:

Thou shalt not hate thy brother in thine heart: thou shalt in any wise rebuke thy neighbour, and not suffer sin upon him.

Here is a case when I think a modern translation conveys the meaning better so I turned to NIV:
Rebuke your neighbor frankly so you will not share in their guilt. 
Loving your neighbour actually means rebuking them, and being all nice and "tolerant" is in fact, hating them:
and not suffer sin upon him;
unconvinced of, unrepented of and persisted in, which may prove of fatal consequence to him; and therefore to let him alone, and go on in it without telling him of it, and reproving him for it, would be so far from acting the kind and friendly part, and showing him love and respect, that it would be an evidence of hating him at heart,
The most popular phrase in Dutch language is probably "everybody must know for himself".  It's right on par with the 1st satanist commandment:
(Please note that though the article linked above is written about the USA, it's actually true about all Western countries, all of which are at best, post-Christian).
Yet, the Scriptures tell us right here that not rebuking your neighbour is participating in his sin and even sharing in their guilt:
"and not bear sin for him" F1; become a partner with him in his sin, and so become liable to bear punishment for it; which is a strong reason for reproving sin, in a proper manner, lest we should be partakers of other men's sins  

(John Gill)
BTW, the idea of niceness has probably very long roots, since J. Gill stresses that we should be "gentle, meek and tender", while even a somewhat liberal NIV says nothing about tenderness:

Rebuke your neighbor frankly
that is, in a frank manner :
used when giving an honest and direct opinion, often one that might upset someone:
Quite frankly, I think this whole situation is ridiculous.
That's a frankly absurd suggestion.
(Quoted from here)

So when did it really go downhill? Probably when people decided that being kind is more important than being right. It's all fine to be nice in social settings, but there are times when frankness is needed...


  1. This is what one of the leaders (former Young Women General President, Bonnie L. Oscarson) said in 2016, "I worry that we live in such an atmosphere of avoiding offense that we sometimes altogether avoid teaching correct principles. We fail to teach our young women that preparing to be a mother is of utmost importance because we don’t want to offend those who aren’t married or those who can’t have children, or to be seen as stifling future choices. On the other hand, we may also fail to emphasize the importance of education because we don’t want to send the message that it is more important than marriage. We avoid declaring that our Heavenly Father defines marriage as being between a man and woman because we don’t want to offend those who experience same-sex attraction. And we may find it uncomfortable to discuss gender issues or healthy sexuality.

    Certainly, sisters, we need to use sensitivity, but let us also use our common sense and our understanding of the plan of salvation to be bold and straightforward when it comes to teaching our children and youth the essential gospel principles they must understand to navigate the world in which they live. If we don’t teach our children and youth true doctrine—and teach it clearly—the world will teach them Satan’s lies."(

  2. The first half of that article was both spot on and chilling at the same time. Self-worship is at the heart of post-Christian culture.

    It got a little wonky after that, but yeah. He's right.

  3. When did the West go downhill? Some would argue it started with the Enlightenment. A quick search show these ideas:

    "At least six ideas came to punctuate American Enlightenment thinking: deism, liberalism, republicanism, conservatism, toleration and scientific progress. Many of these were shared with European Enlightenment thinkers, but in some instances took a uniquely American form."

  4. The Great Hillel was on the tolerant and meek side ("That which is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow. That is the whole Torah; the rest is the explanation; go and learn.") so perhaps this ''downhill'' begun before Jesus' time.

    On the other hand, in Orthodox Judaism ''your fellowman'' is considered to be another jew. Against that perception, the progress of considering all the mankind to be your fellow is great, not something to lament about.

    Personally, I think ''loving your neighbor'' isnt just being kind and tolerate your neighbor. That is just being kind and tolerant. How do you love? How can one be commanded to love? In my opinion it means seeing someone else as yourself, not worse or better than yourself but as a human like you. To see them for what they are (what treasure there is within) instead of what they do. ''Father forgive them for they know not what they are doing''

  5. Elspeth, this site is somewhat on the wacky site, I agree, but it was literally one of the first search results I got and the gist of the article is OK, so I linked to it.

  6. Miriam, perhaps life used to be very hard in the past and people were often unnecessary harsh to each other so meekness and gentleness was something to aspire.

    On the other hand, modern life is often too easy and makes people too soft and indulgent, so we need more frankness. There should be some happy medium...

  7. Texan, yeah, but what really caused the Enlightenment? Why did it only happen in the West, not even Eastern Europe had it. I guess we could go back to the creation of the world, but it's still interesting to ponder these things sometimes.

    1. I'm under the theory that the Asians killed off anyone with independent thought or actions and removed them from the gene pool. I'm not sure about Eastern Europe so I don't have an answer.

      Brett here makes some good points:

  8. Thanks for the link! I wonder if it also had to do with the Reformation.