May 28, 2022

The Greatest Sin of the American Culture

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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  • Television shows focused on telling you that you have an out of date wardrobe, that your house is a dump, or that glorify what someone else has.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.

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8 thoughts on “The Greatest Sin of the American Culture

  1. @Valerie: Yes, I received your e-mail. Thank you so much! I’m in the process of reading it, and as you requested, I’ll review it when I’m done.

  2. To often we search for our contentment in the wrong places. Only God working in our lives can bring about real contentment and too often we are praying that he will grant us our desires rather asking him to grant us contentment with what he has already blessed us with!

    MamaArchers last blog post..Water Water Water

  3. @MamaArcher: So true. I think all too often our prayers are “Lord bless my plans,” “Lord grant me this,” or the like. We expect God to do things for us and to bless what we have in mind. We have a transactional model with God– where we believe that we can do a few things for God and He can do a few things for us.

    The reality is that God is actively at work and wants to work with us– but we must obey Him.

  4. I agree! Only, I think I would term it “self-indulgence.” Paul tells us to discipline our bodies (which includes our emotions). Instead, we would rather indulge them.

    Great blog.

  5. @Robin: Right, and Paul goes even further to say that we should take care to watch out for things that may not be that bad that can hinder us.

    Thanks for your kind words.

  6. I was in Bible Study with a Missionary couple who had spent 20 years in Kenya. They said that the families who brought their children with them to Kenya from the USA had told them that their children, while in the USA used to ask for many expensive presents for Christmas, but upon living in Kenya amongst the poor, they asked for very modest gifts for Christmas. I pointed out the flaw in our guidebook to our Bible study on the topic of materialism: “materialism.”

    My point is that materialism is not the sin, it’s covetousness. Those children didnt really want a Nintendo Wii, they just wanted what they saw their peers in posession of. They coveted what those around them had, just as we adults covet large houses with central air, two dogs, an in-ground pool, expensive vacation packages, big flat-screen HDTVs, tiny iPods, Blackberries with webaccess, high fashion, and the rest.

    We don’t particularly desire these things for their inherent value or virtue, we desire them because someone else has them. If nobody had those things around us, we would not desire them.

    If you are someone who likes to take expensive vacations, I challenge you: make you next trip to Haiti, and don’t stay in a luxurious hotel or home, stay in the home of a humble and poor family, or a Church or an orphanage. Try living amongst the poor we Christians profess to love. It might just be the most valuable, enjoyable, and edifying vacation you ever took. (Google Ron Paul!)

    Arthur Eisss last blog post..Ron Paul

  7. @Arthur Eiss: Speak for yourself– you can have the dogs!

    You’re main point is pretty much on target, though. My dad’s church sends a group down to Haiti every year to help construction on a school and each year those that come back are changed. Pictures are not powerful enough to really make people understand what it’s like to live in those places, but pictures of goodies that we can have are powerful enough to make us covet.

    I noticed this when we went from no television to basic cable. Up until that point there were no commercials, but once the kids started seeing commercials they said “What’s this? Where’s my show?” and then they started telling us about the “cool” stuff they saw.

    We really have to be careful about our media exposure.

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