If I were to ask you what you thought the greatest sin the America culture is guilty of, what would you select? You may pick one of the big problems Christians see with the culture—abortion, greed, homosexuality, etc. But I believe that you’d be mistaken. Don’t get me wrong—I believe these are a problem, but I believe that they are the outgrowth of a deeper sin, rather than truly the problem itself.
Americans have a big problem with contentment. Part of the driving force of this economy—of a capitalist system—is always wanting more, always wanting to be better and never being satisfied.
This is more than the Protestant Work Ethic, which talks about giving your all to all that you do, this is the actual dissatisfaction with where one is, what one has, and who one is.
You can see this all over the place:
- Advertisements that tell you “Have it your way,” “Just do it,” and “You gotta have it.”
- Presidential politics that talk more about what the government can give you, and who will give you more.
- Keeping up with the Jones.
- The housing boom, flipping houses, etc.
- Television shows focused on telling you that you have an out of date wardrobe, that your house is a dump, or that glorify what someone else has.
All of these things feed discontentment. They don’t want you to be happy with what you have—or less!—they want you to need their product. They want to sell you on their latest thing. So what if you already have a vacuum cleaner—you need our model because it’s better.
And this discontentment feeds a whole host of sins, discord in marriages and families, and all kinds of theft.
It’s no wonder that generations ago when families had little, there was less divorce, a better work ethic, etc. They had all they needed, but few of their wants. They didn’t spend their time looking at what others had, or envying other people’s houses/clothes/things.
We’ve gone so far, and done so much damage in the name of the economy and western civilization. One wonders if the damage can be repaired—and if it can, it must come from the inside and then spread out.