Some food for thought and discussion.
We Christians are living in a decidedly difficult time in the life of America. As abortion and general disrespect for human life rise, as the sense of absolute moral values declines, we are certainly in choppy waters. Some Christians, and indeed even some non-Christians, look to the state of our civilization and try to suggest that it is the beginning of the End Times, desparately trying to fit anything into an apocalyptic model, while justifying it by their own interpretation of Bible Prophecy. But if we study the halls of history, is it really true that what we are experiencing now is one-of-a-kind, never before experienced, event? Is this the beginning of an apocalyptic destruction, or is just simply part of the cycle of nations? After all, is it not true that later civilizations tend to make the same mistakes as former civilizations?
When the thirteen colonies were still a part of England, Professor Alexander Tyler wrote about the fall of the Athenian republic over two thousand years previous to that time:
A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves money from the public treasure. From that moment on the majority always votes for the candidates promising the most money from the public treasury, with the result that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy followed by a dictatorship. The average age of the world's great civilizations has been two hundred years.Alexander Tyler came up with a sequence of 10 stages that represents the cycle of nations. Kerby Anderson, in his article The Decline of a Nation states:
Each of the great civilizations in the world passed through a series of stages from their birth to their decline to their death. Historians have listed these in ten stages.Something interesting he notes is that the move from stage to stage is largely dependent upon the value associated with the family, because families are the foundation of a nation. Carl Wilson, in his book Our Dance Has Turned to Death notes a similar set of stages representing the pattern of family decline, based on a study of the Roman Empire and Ancient Greece. This is what he says:
These nations have progressed through the following sequence:
from bondage to spiritual faith,
from spiritual faith to great courage,
from courage to liberty,
from liberty to abundance,
from abundance to selfishness,
from selfishness to complacency,
from complacency to apathy,
from apathy to moral decay,
from moral decay to dependency,
from dependency back to bondage.
In the first stage, men ceased to lead their families in worship. Spiritual and moral development became secondary. Their view of God became naturalistic, mathematical, and mechanical.Interesting. Personally, I think that this model may be a tad over-generalized. But I ask you what you think about this model. What is the current stage of America according to this picture? And what does this say? One thing that one could use in the initial argument, that what we are experiencing now is unparalleled in history, is the fact that the world is so much more globalized than it has been at any other point. There is no longer the same extent of isolation between nations on opposite ends of the globe. Because media is now so ubiquitous, and the advent of the Internet has joined much of the world together, there is much more interaction between nations and global civilizations. Hence, we affect each other uniquely.
In the second stage, men selfishly neglected care of their wives and children to pursue material wealth, political and military power, and cultural development. Material values began to dominate thought, and the man began to exalt his own role as an individual.
The third stage involved a change in men's sexual values. Men who were preoccupied with business or war either neglected their wives sexually or became involved with lower-class women or with homosexuality. Ultimately, a double standard of morality developed.
The fourth stage affected women. The role of women at home and with children lost value and status. Women were neglected and their roles devalued. Soon they revolted to gain access to material wealth and also freedom for sex outside marriage. Women also began to minimize having sex relations to conceive children, and the emphasis became sex for pleasure. Marriage laws were changed to make divorce easy.
In the fifth stage, husbands and wives competed against each other for money, home leadership, and the affection of their children. This resulted in hostility and frustration and possible homosexuality in the children. Many marriages ended in separation and divorce. Many children were unwanted, aborted, abandoned, molested, and undisciplined. The more undisciplined children became, the more social pressure there was not to have children. The breakdown of the home produced anarchy.
In the sixth stage, selfish individualism grew and carried over into society, fragmenting it into smaller and smaller group loyalties. The nation was thus weakened by internal conflict. The decrease in the birthrate produced an older population that had less ability to defend itself and less will to do so, making the nation more vulnerable to its enemies.
Finally, unbelief in God became more complete, parental authority diminished, and ethical and moral principles disappeared, affecting the economy and government. Thus, by internal weakness and fragmentation the societies came apart. There was no way to save them except by a dictator who arose from within or by barbarians who invaded from without.
A nation will not be strong unless the family is strong. That was true in the ancient world and it is true today.
And then again, the Cycle of Nations may just be another world theory of doom and gloom. It certainly isn't necessary that we follow the path of some deterministic model.