I do agree that America has become more secularized. It is true that as Christians we face an America that accepts both abortion and same-sex unions. However, America is doing more than ever to stop and prevent evils like human trafficking and to protect many of the most vulnerable than it has in the past. America is a better place for women to work now that there are sexual harassment laws. Americans have done much to bring to light the issue of bullying and racism. So even though some things in our world or country have gotten worse, some things have gotten better. Evil and sin never die out; it just changes shape and form.
In the end I don't think we can ever accurately measure if it was more evil then than it is today; nor do I think it is helpful. This world has been fallen for quite some time and I don't need an idealized past to convince me that this day has enough trouble of its own. Nor do I want an idealized past to be my motivation for how I live in the present. Jesus is motivation enough for me.
- I don't think "the good ol' days" argument/phraseology in relation to America or the world is helpful or accurate in making a statement about the present.
- "The good ol' days" can be insensitive and offensive to those whose past was not made up of good days. To go back to a time past, for blacks for example, would mean days of oppression, fear of death, opposition, and segregation. And to say that those were "the good ol' days" is to minimize the evil of that day.
- Scripture teaches us to remember the past faithfulness of God so that we can live faithfully in the present. Scripture does not teach us to idealize the past. If anything it teaches us to look ahead to a future where every day will be a "good ol' day" after Christ returns.
My own blind-spot
Now I don't want to give a bad rep to this preacher or all preachers. We all have blind-spots that cause us to be insensitive to others, and I pray that we all will be patient and forgiving with each other. In fact, this preacher's blind-spot made me aware of my own in the same regard. Often times in seeing someone else's sin, God reveals to us our own sin showing us that we are just as guilty and no better than the other person. (Isn't it funny how God works!) You see, I had bought into the notion of "the good ol' days" in my own life. My sister gave birth to her son a little over a year after I had my son. When she would tell me of her struggles of not getting a lot of sleep at night, breastfeeding, etc, I would say, "Oh, just you wait. It gets worse. Those are 'the good ol' days;' enjoy them while you can because then you'll have real problems. You will have to deal with walking, talking back, potty training, etc." Unbeknownst to me, what I was doing was minimizing what she was going through because in my mind I just remembered the good things, like cuddling, rocking and kissing on a baby. The past seemed much better than my present troubles. But I was not being fair to her or the real struggles and pain she was going through, like her lack of sleep. So thanks to this preacher's mistake, I realized a mistake of my own.
May we remember the past – those special memories with loved ones and those past acts of God's faithfulness – and may they give us hope and encouragement in our present troubles that God is faithful, that He won't abandon us, and that this is not the end. But may we not set up a memorial for an idealized past that never existed thereby making it into an idol.
I think Michelle Van Loon, who wrote an article for Christianity Today's Her.meneutics called Who Raised These Millennials Anyway?, sums it up well, "... the pride embedded in our insistence that we did life better in our good ol' days is counterproductive. And it's simply not true. At midlife, we're tempted to throw a rose-colored tint on the rearview mirror so that when we glance backwards, we remember only the best of our own youthful glory days."