Would He do that? Has He done that? How do we know?
In this age of Tolerance and GodIsOnlyLove theology, we often skip over vast chunks of scripture that loudly declare otherwise. Most people don’t care, as long as they are reasonably happy. But for those who appreciate the warning, Romans 1:18-30 gives some clear indicators that God has abandoned a nation. A quick glance can raise the hair on the back of your neck. Penned 2000 years ago, it is as relevant as the morning news.
Four prerequisites come before the abandonment:
1. First, a nation begins to willfully suppress the truth (v. 18-20). It is not for a lack of knowledge that a nation goes down; it is because of what they did with that knowledge. In the public square, it may sound like this: “I know the Bible says such-and-such, but we believe…”
2. Secondly, the predominant attitude of the nation shifts from God-reliance to self-reliance. They know their godly heritage. They know the ways God has provided, sustained, rescued, and blessed them. But they pride themselves on doing it “my way.” They are convinced that it was their strength, their resourcefulness, and their superiority that has earned them such success (v. 21).
3. Third, they develop an inflated sense of intellectual wisdom. They now have “science” as god and there is nothing this god cannot explain. They are too brilliant to need an invisible “Man in the sky” and look disdainfully upon the remnant that still clings to outdated religion to validate existence. Their “wisdom” says, “People believed the Bible before we had science. But we're too smart for that now” (v. 22).
4. Fourth, man-worship replaces God-worship. Even so-called Christianity becomes me-centered rather than cross-centered. Versions of this theme are pumped through the airways on Sunday mornings: “God thinks you’re awesome! He just wants you to believe in yourself! He wants to bless and prosper you, so start visualizing your success and God is bound to honor it!”(v. 23)
When these attitudes dominate a culture, God gives them up and it looks like this:
1. The first sign that God has abandoned a nation is that sexual boundaries are torn down. Perversions of every sort are not only explored but celebrated. The exciting sex goddess drives morality from its place of public honor and without a fight installs herself as the new empress (v. 24). She brings her glittery entourage: slavery, adultery, pornography, abortion, rape, disease, divorce, fatherless children, prostitution, and violence.
2. The second sign of God’s abandonment is that a nation no longer cares whether God is honored or whether He even exists. Money is more exciting. Pleasure is a higher aim. Self-fulfillment at any cost is an applauded goal and the most self-indulgent are celebrated as heroes. Entertainment drives the marketplace and the thirst for greater thrills, newer stimulation, and shinier gadgets is all-consuming (v. 25).
3. In the midst of this crumbling of a society comes homosexual deviance. Homosexual practice does not merely bring God’s judgment; it IS God’s judgment. Blatant sodomy dancing through the streets to the cheers of the spiritually blind is the third sign that God has abandoned a nation (v. 26). Women declaring no use for men, men proudly stating that man-boy love is the ultimate satisfaction are merely shouting the truth of Romans 1:26-27. They do not realize that they affirm the truth of scripture more accurately than the flashy TV preacher promising wealth.
4. AIDS. HIV. STD’s. Anacronyms that spell God’s judgment on a culture that has first abandoned Him. The mutilated bodies of self-defined transgenders flaunt themselves before the media and it becomes a crime to state the obvious. A sign that God has abandoned a nation is when sexually-transmitted diseases and obsessions are a national health crisis. They are “receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error (v. 27).
5. A fifth indicator that God has abandoned a nation is when the majority can openly commit any and all of the above sins with scarcely a shred of guilt or remorse. In fact, they’re proud of it and consider this lack of a conscience a virtue. Sin is a bottomless pit painted pink in which they continue to dig to their hearts’ content convinced that, if there is a God, He is pleased with them because they feel so good about it (v. 28). “God wants me to be happy, and this makes me happy, so I think He understands.”
6. When a formerly Bible-based culture tosses absolutes out the window in celebration of every form of evil, that is a sign that God has abandoned that nation. The nightly news could be a reading of Romans 1:29-30. These sins have always been a part of human history since the Fall. However, they have never been considered desirable by the masses. When millions of church-going Americans would rather Keep Up With the Sin-Laden Kardashians than with Jesus, it is a sign that God has abandoned that nation.
7. One often-overlooked item in this litany of sins is this: “they disobey their parents.” That one is jarring amidst such a cesspool of wickedness, so why is it there? Consider the last few generations. Has there ever been such open defiance of parental authority? What culture has long survived such blatant disregard for its elders? Children who should be adults by now continue to rebel like bratty toddlers: attacking, cursing, stealing from, and abusing their parents. Little children live secret lives via the smartphones bought by Mom and Dad. A parent trying to discipline a child can be arrested and jailed with one phone call. When an out-of-control youth generation disdains, dishonors, and disrespects its parents, that is a sign that God’s favor and protection have been removed from that nation (v. 30).
8. An eerie phenomenon has begun that also may indicate God’s abandonment of a nation. A growing multitude has a strange inability to comprehend what is right before them. As though a plexiglass wall stood between wise counsel and rebellious defiance, the hearer only blinks dumbly at the pleas for sanity. Verse 31 says that they are “without understanding.” This doesn’t refer to difficult trig problems. This refers to moral and ethical understanding. There is a new and chilling lack of understanding of the most basic common sense. They cannot see that up is not down, in is not out, and red is not green. They appear confused at the notion that there are only two genders, one way to marry, and that there may, in fact, be absolute right and wrong. When God has removed His restraining power from a culture, those without Him are left with a vacuum, an inability to grasp what wisdom cries to them. They are not only unwilling but unable to understand.
9. The final sign that God has abandoned a nation may be the most sinister of all because it masquerades as love. This indicator applies to those who consider themselves “the church.” These people make up the majority of the religious world because they “know God's righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death” (v. 32). They know it because they’ve had some foundation in truth.
But instead of standing in the gap, sounding the alarm, crying out in the public square, “Stop! Please! We’re going the wrong way! This will bring God’s judgment on us!” they applaud the wickedness. They stand at the Gay Pride marches holding signs that say “God made you this way.” They justify sexual immorality: “God understands we love each other.” They rip out sections of their Bibles so that it says only what they want it to say, and then they put it on TV as a “ministry.” They waffle on abortion saying, “It wouldn’t be right for me, but you have to make your own choice. There is no right or wrong.”
A sign that God has abandoned a nation is when those who call themselves “the church” have stopped influencing culture and culture is now influencing the church.