2 Thessalonians 3:1-2
Finally, brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may have free course, and be glorified, even as it is with you: And that we may be delivered from unreasonable and wicked men: for all men have not faith.
Paul sensed a great opposition to his ministry through those whom he classified as unreasonable and wicked men. This was not just opposition to the message of Paul, the Gospel, but personal attacks that he endured. The need weighs so heavily on Paul’s mind that he seeks fervent prayer not just for success but for personal deliverance as well. The prevalence of this threat on the safety of ministers in Paul’s day was not only due to the offense that the Gospel naturally brings to unregenerate men, but it is also due to the growing decadence and lack of moral civility ever-growing in the Greco-Roman culture of the day. The utter depravity and rank barbarism that characterized Roman leadership was a stark reminder as to why this mighty society would soon fall. Sadly, as light in darkness, Christians naturally received the brunt of this decadent violence and moral angst. So Paul prays for deliverance!
Fast forward about 2000 years and we see an increase in unreasonable men parading in our American culture and society. Within my short life, I believe I have seen violence rise and the unreasonable nature of men within and without the church become a distinguishing mark of this age in our society. I believe that there are cultural expressions within the past few generations that have increased the unreasonableness of men today, making the practice of this prayer even more applicable today than previously in our society. It is simply an obvious observation by many that our society has lost the ability to reason. The rise in violent crimes, especially by young people, school or public venues shootings, and other evidences point to an inability for people, especially the youth, to solve problems with reason and common sense.
Recently, in the city in which I live, a young man was gunned down execution style simply because he “offended” another man. Of course, I do not know the background of the man who allegedly perpetrated this crime, so this article is not about him; however, it appears obvious to me, that instances like this are becoming more and more plentiful. In the past, when young men had an altercation, they exchanged some words, maybe threw a few punches, then when their noses and egos were hurt enough they parted ways and moved on. Today, it seems like rage just builds up in people until they let loose with violence and angst far beyond proportion of what the situation deserves.
Being a Christian, I believe the answers to our societal problems are exactly what Paul said, “the Word of God” (the Gospel). I do believe, however, that there are certain societal tendencies that lead to a greater abundance of “unreasonable and wicked men” which necessitates praying this prayer today even more earnestly. The following are observations and my informed opinions concerning societal changes that saints and sinners alike should contemplate, asking themselves, “Have I imbibed the world’s philosophies to the point that I am becoming an unreasonable and wicked man?”
1. Ignorance of consequences-Young people grow up today with little sense of real consequences for real actions. While positively reinforcing values in children is wonderful, and while being careful not to incite children to sin is to be commended (“provoke not your children to wrath”); parents have often swung too far in the positive direction, neglecting teaching their children about painful, lasting consequences that come for evil behavior. Young men and women today just do not think about consequences. They do not have before their mind the reality that if I take this gun out and shoot someone, not only will I take a life, irreparably damage a whole host of people’s lives, but I will spend the rest of my life in misery behind bars. No, all they are thinking is this, “I am mad, I want to inflict pain on the one who made me mad.” It is a very immature way to live, but children are rarely given insight into the painful consequences that come from sin. The blame is plentiful to spread around. The failing and often times painfully slow justice system, the school systems failure to discipline for fear of reprisal from parents and governments, parental doting about their children masquerading as love which says, “I don’t want my children to have any of the fears and difficulties I had growing up” and the churches inaction and unwillingness to practice church discipline in all of its forms. A society has been developed that has the philosophy that consequences are minor details in the whole scheme of things. Sadly, consequences are a big deal, just ask Adam and Eve.
2. Just do it–This was the mantra of my youth. Michael Jordan and Nike popularized the philosophy. Behind this catch-phrase lurks a dangerous idea, and ideas have consequences. You don’t need to think, just do it. Instant gratification through technology and media, fast food, instant …well, everything has taught us that if you want it all you have to do is…do it. (Oh, I forgot one small detail, you have to believe in yourself then just do it). We are told by our society that we must act. It does not matter what it is that we act upon, just act. Whether it is sending aid to some third-world nation, hunting down a killer (think the viral sensation Kony 2012), or engaging an annoying neighbor, quick just click this link, sign the petition, now, now, now! Aren’t you against murder, then join our cause, now! Don’t you dislike poverty, then donate now! There is a massive attempt by many to keep people from researching, thinking, planning, theorizing, re-planning and executing and to just act before it is too late! The primary method used in this is lighting speed internet technology. Now, I am someone who greatly dislikes committees; I am a man of action, but I believe that our society has gone the extreme and instead of acting out of logical thinking and common sense ideas, we are encouraged to “just do it.” The instant gratification culture in which produces unreasonable (unable to think) and wicked men. Briefly, it is clear to me, that the public education system of our society is not the friend of those who desire to think, but seems to be more concerned with training “activists” to be warriors of action in society today. (Up until recently I had never heard of “professional” activists).
3. Extended Adolescence–There is an epidemic in our society of non-marriageable males. I am talking about men who are of marrying age, who have great careers, are educated, and intelligent, yet they are not marriage material. All this because they are too busy playing video games 5 hours a day, making weekend trips to Las Vegas every weekend, and generally being more concerned about spending time with their “bros” than they are cultivating leadership and enriching other’s lives. Immaturity reigns among the young men of our society. They are more concerned about having a good time than they are about growing up, having a family, teaching the next generation, and leading their wives. A chief mark of immaturity is unreasonableness. I have a difficult time reasoning with my 4 year old, because he is, well, 4 years old. What is ridiculous is how unreasonable 44 year old men are, but are we surprised? I mean it was only a few years back that the 44 year old decided to “settle down.” One of the reasons why the World War II generation was called the greatest generation was their entrepreneurship and enterprise in starting industries, inventions, and technology after the war. But where did this come from? Their maturity and work ethic was forged in battle as 18, 19, 20 year old men. They were forced to mature due to the rigors of war and thus when they came home, they were 22 going on 50 as far as reason and human wisdom. Today, we have the exact opposite. Men are 50 going on 22 and run from responsibility for their actions, reactions, or thoughts. In a nutshell, immaturity among men has bred unreasonableness and wickedness.
These are just a few observations. I do believe that the answer to the unreasonableness of our culture is sourced in the Gospel of Jesus Christ, not simply behavior and societal reformation. I will write on that in later posts so as to provide a Biblical view, but I was mostly interested in noting in this article sign posts in society pointing to the growing reality of unreasonable and wicked men. May we who have the faith not be led astray by our world’s culture that is so counter to the Word of God and the Gospel of Grace.