Cultural Madness In America, 2022

Jul 30th, 2022 | By | Category: Culture & Wordview, Featured Issues

The mission of Issues in Perspective is to provide thoughtful, historical and biblically-centered perspectives on current ethical and cultural issues.

American culture in 2022 bears every evidence of a madness that defies reason and common sense.  Quite frankly, it manifests an utter foolishness.  As Chuck Colson used to declare, what was once unthinkable becomes debatable and gradually becomes acceptable.  Such foolishness and madness reflects the downward spiral of evil explained by the Apostle Paul in Romans 1:18-32.  Consider these three examples of cultural madness:


  • First of all, the madness associated with cannabis.  For decades marijuana was regarded as a disgrace in our culture.  No longer.  Nineteen states have legalized cannabis for recreational use and politicians of both political parties regard it as harmless.  But in a recent article, Allysia Finley of the Wall Street Journal convincingly demonstrates that heavy us of marijuana produces greater addiction and antisocial behavior.   For example, mass shooters at Congresswoman Gibby Gifford’s meeting in Tucson (2011), the Pulse nightclub in Orlando (2016), the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas (2017), and Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland Florida (2018), were reported to be marijuana users.  Finley offers the following facts about current marijuana use in America:  [1] THC, the chemical that causes a euphoric high, interacts with the brain’s neuron receptors involved with pleasure.  “Marijuana nowadays on average is about four times as potent as in 1995.  But dabs—portions of concentrated cannabis—can include 20 times as much THC as joints did in the 1960s.  It’s much easier for young people to get hooked.  One in 6 people who start using pot while under 18 will develop an addiction, which doctors call ‘cannabis use disorder.’  As they use the drug more frequently to satisfy cravings, they develop psychological and social problems.”  [2] The National Institute of Health notes that “People who have taken large doses of the drug may experience an acute psychosis, which includes hallucinations, delusions, and a loss of the sense of personal identity.”  [3] In California cannabis emergency-room visits climbed 53% in the three years after the state legalized recreational marijuana in 2016.  Daily marijuana emergency-room visits in San Diego nearly quadrupled between 2104 and 2019.  [4] Countless studies have also linked chronic cannabis use to schizophrenia.  “A meta-analysis in January examining 591 studies concluded that early marijuana use among adolescents was associated with significant increase in the risk of developing schizophrenia.”  Indeed, a study from Denmark last summer found that schizophrenia cases associated with pot addiction have increased three-to fourfold over the past 20 years as marijuana potency rose 200%.  [5] Young people are especially vulnerable to cannabis’s effects because their brains are still developing.  Scientists in a recent study reviewed scans of teenagers’ brains before and after they started using pot.  “They found that parts of the brain involved in decision making and morality judgments were altered in pot users compared to nonusers.”  [6]  “A study last year found that young people with such mood disorders as depression who were also addicted to pot were 3.2 times as likely to commit self-harm and die of homicide—often after initiated violence—than those who weren’t.  A meta-analysis found the risk of perpetrating violence was more than twice as high for young adults who used marijuana.”  [7] Finally, legalization of cannabis seems to be leading to more pregnant women using pot.  “About 20% of pregnant women in California tested positive for marijuana in 2016.  THC crosses the placenta and can impair neurological development.  Prenatal exposure to marijuana has been linked to behavioral problems, mental illness and lower academic achievement in children and adolescents.”


It seems wise that American culture should reexamine its panacea of embracing the recreational use of marijuana.  It is foolish and harmful.

  • Second is the ongoing revolution in language.  As Michael Powell of the New York Times reports, “From Planned Parenthood to NARAL Pro-Choice America to the American Medical Association to city and state health departments and younger activists, the word ‘women’ has in a matter of a few years appeared far less in talk about abortion and pregnancy.”  The reason?  These various groups and individuals have adopted gender-neutral language that draws few distinctions between women and transgender men, “as well as those who reject those identities altogether.”  What is replacing “women?”  The British medical journal Lancet refers to women as “bodies with vaginas.”  Today, “pregnant people” and “birthing people” have replaced “pregnant women.”  “Breastfeeding” is now called “chestfeeding.”  The American Cancer Society website recommends cancer screenings “for people with a cervix.”  Last year the Biden administration put out a budget with documents that reflected the gendered discourse of progressives in referring to “birthing people.”  Louise Melling, a deputy legal director of the ACLU, argues that “language evolves, and it can exclude or it can include.  It’s really important to me that we think about pregnant people.  It’s the truth: Not only women give birth, not only women seek abortions.”  But how many transgender or nonbinary pregnancies are there?  Powell reports that no agency appears to collect data on such pregnancies, but Australia has reported that about 0.1 percent of all births involve transgender men.

What does Scripture say?  Quoting the Creation Ordinance of Genesis 1-2, Jesus declared, “Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning made them male and female. . .” (Matthew 19:4).  Jesus made this declaration to a culture with no gender identity or gender difference issues.  Instead, He was affirming a basic proposition concerning the human race:  God made the human race in two grand streams—male and female—and they are totally different.  No matter what humans try to do, they can never erase this fundamental attribute of the human race.  What then should we do?  At bottom, we must acknowledge what God declared from the beginning—men and women are different.  In much of the federal government and certainly in much of public education, it is nearly impossible to discuss the topic of gender differences.  More than ever I am convinced of these bedrock propositions:  God has revealed quite clearly His actions as the Creator, His values and morals as a holy, righteous God, and His ethical standards by which we are to live.  As humans, we have the freedom to ignore or even flaunt those propositions, but then we must accept the consequences.  God created the human race male and female; and men and women are completely different—physically, emotionally, and psychologically.  This language madness evidences further the willful rejection of God’s Creation Ordinance and His purposes for the human race.

  • Finally, consider New Age gurus who are now “spiritual coaches” in America.  Molly Worthen, a University of North Carolina historian, writes” As church attendance and other marks of the authority of traditional religion continue to decline, American hunger for a sense of transcendent meaning isn’t going away.  Instead, it is fusing with a long standing civil religion that worships the entrepreneurs as a guru and mixes and matches ideas that help us to imagine our way to a better life, to pretend that making up our own rules will bring true freedom”  Such “spiritual coaches” are a “new chapter in the long history of female religious entrepreneurship in America—a tradition that runs from Boston in the 1630s, when Anne Hutchinson’s packed religious meetings outraged Puritan ministers , to today’s evangelical conference circuit, dominated by demure yet forceful female evangelists who are not ordained and whose books and podcasts constitute major media empires.”  “Spiritual coaches” are part of the life-coaching industry, which emerged in the 1970s and matured “as a self-help profession in the 1990s by combining self-help psychology, positive thinking and insights from the business-school world of leadership studies.”  Worthen writes:  “Attention to unseen forces in the universe—especially the divine feminine—is partly a means for these coaches to counter the machismo that dominates American entrepreneurial culture.  Many spiritual coaches target female would-be entrepreneurs with spiritual business accelerator programs that promise to help them find fulfillment while making money.”  In effect, then, “spiritual coaching” fuses entrepreneurial business practices with New Age theology to “coach” women to success.  Why is this so appealing?  A 2018 Pew survey found that 62% of Americans subscribe to some kind of New Age belief, like reincarnation or the reliability of astrology and psychics.  At its core “spiritual coaching” champions New Age theology and practice in the name of self-help counsel: “The core of their practices are visualization and positive thinking—manifesting as many coaches put it, the good thing you want—such psychological disciplines are a mainstay of some mainstay Christian ministries, Eastern traditions and self-help manuals, reinforced by social science studies claiming that they actually work pretty well.”

The pursuit of personal autonomy naturally leads to the phenomenon of “spiritual coaching,” which uses New Age techniques rooted in Eastern pantheism.  It is doubtful that it will produce the fulfillment and joy that it promises.  As Worthen argues, “400 years ago, these spiritual coaches would have been called ‘witches.’”  Now they are accepted as gurus of personal self-actualization.  That alone is disturbing.

See Allysia Finley in the Wall Street Journal (7 June 2022); Michael Powell in the New York Times (9 June 2022); and Molly Worthen in the New York Times (8 June 2022).

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