“Because of the increase of wickedness…” (Matthew 24:12a).
In most respects, civilization is more advanced today than it has ever been. Paradoxically, the advancement of civilization has not led to a corresponding advancement in civility, as even a casual survey of “traditional” and “social” media will attest. Some may even argue that civilization (or at least civility) has retreated rather than advanced. But how does one accurately measure the decline in morality and the increase in wickedness when the standard of measurement is constantly being redefined by society? As it stands, things that a generation ago would have been universally condemned or considered abnormal are now tolerated or considered praiseworthy and acceptable. This phenomenon was illustrated quite eloquently in the following invocation.
We come before you today to ask Your forgiveness and to seek Your direction and guidance. We know Your Word says, “Woe to those who call evil good,” but that is exactly what we have done. We have lost our spiritual equilibrium and reversed our values.
We have ridiculed the absolute truth of Your Word and called it Pluralism. We have worshipped other gods and called it multiculturalism. We have endorsed perversion and called it alternative lifestyle. We have exploited the poor and called it the lottery. We have rewarded laziness and called it welfare.
We have killed our unborn and called it choice. We have shot abortionists and called it justifiable. We have neglected to discipline our children and called it building self-esteem. We have abused power and called it politics. We have coveted our neighbor’s possessions and called it ambition. We have polluted the air with profanity and pornography and called it freedom of expression. We have ridiculed the time-honored values of our forefathers and called it enlightenment.
Search us, Oh God, and know our hearts today; cleanse us from every sin and set us free. Guide and bless these men and women who have been sent to direct us to the center of your will. I ask it in the Name of Your Son, the living Savior, Jesus Christ.
The prayer is represented to be a fairly accurate transcription of the actual prayer delivered before the Kansas House of Representatives by Central Christian Church Pastor Joe Wright on January 23, 1996. It has circulated continuously on the Internet ever since,(1) although sometimes erroneously attributed to either Paul Harvey of Billy Graham.
That prayer was delivered over twenty years ago. Can we honestly say that things gotten better, or like “the beginning of birth pains,” have they gotten worse? Like birth pains they may seem trivial, inconsequential or even mistaken for something else (false labor) in the beginning. But as they occur more frequently and become more intense as the labor continues, there is soon no mistaking what is taking place. James, in his epistle says that “after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown; gives birth to death” (James 1:15).
To further illustrate and underscore the unmistakable increase in wickedness and man’s inhumanity to man, Figure 2.3 lists seven of the worst genocides that have taken place in just the last 100 years.
To put these atrocities in perspective, the estimated victims in the last one hundred years approximates the low-end of what the estimated total world population was two thousand years ago at the time of Christ’s Olivet Discourse. Yet we have not yet reached the end of the “birth pains,” sin is not yet “full-grown,” and “the end is still to come.”