WAKE FOREST, N.C. (BP)–Describing the 20th century as probably the most vicious, blood-soaked and pagan era in history, Richard Land said that without a spiritual renewal, the United States is on course to self-destruct.
“Make no mistake about it, we face a far greater peril in this land of destruction from within than we ever faced from the Japanese navy or the German air force or the Soviet missile command,” Land said March 19 on the campus of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, Wake Forest, N.C.
Land, executive director of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Christian Life Commission, attributed the nation’s moral decay and breakdown of the family to a perversion rooted in the country’s $8.5 billion pornography industry — an industry generating more revenue than all of Hollywood or rock and roll and country/western music combined.
In 1997, Land said, statistics show that a 6-year-old girl has a one in three chance of being sexually molested by her 16th birthday, while a 6-year-old boy has a one in four chance of being sexually molested by age 16.
“No wonder child sexual abuse, child molestation, rape and assault are all up — because hard-core pornography reduces women and children to the level of sexual appliances,” Land said, “and it shrivels, distorts, shrinks and corrupts sexuality and contaminates as a spiritual cancer all it touches.”
Land said the United States is number one in the industrialized world in teenage abortions, teenage births out of wedlock and teenagers with sexually transmitted diseases.
In a country where 70 percent of Americans reject the concept of absolute truth, Land said, the gospel — not government — remains the remedy for the country’s ills.
“When we face such an onslaught of paganism and when we are threatened by a tidal wave of moral relativism, there is always the temptation to turn to the government and try to get the government to do what the government must not and cannot do,” Land said.
“There are those who say, ‘Well, if we can just pass this law, God will send a revival.’ Who ever heard of a God-sponsored revival? Government gives us things like the post office, not revival.”
When government gets involved in religion, Land said, religion becomes the government’s.
“There are systematic attempts to trivialize religion, to marginalize religion, to segregate religious conviction to the home, to the church, but never beyond the four walls of either,” Land suggested.
“We must understand that this is a denial of our First Amendment rights to the free exercise of religion. Our religion, the religion of the one true God and his Son, Jesus Christ, has called us to go forth to preach the gospel, to hold up the vision, to be the watchman on the wall and to be salt and light.”
Land said Christians must not be intimidated by rhetoric from the U.S. Supreme Court discouraging believers from engaging in the political process while standing up for biblical principles.
“We have a right to be there,” Land said. “We have a responsibility to be there. And we have a resolve to be there, and we’re going to be there. Those nine justices in those long black robes sitting in that Supreme Court in Washington, D.C., had just better get used to it. We’re here and we’re not going anywhere.”
Land said that while government is to ensure a “level playing field” for the free expression of religion, their involvement should stop there.
“I stand with (the apostle) Peter on that, I’m not going to let Rome tell me what to preach, when to preach or how to preach it,” Land said.
Scripture’s call for Christians to be salt and light, Land said, means believers must make a difference in society for the cause of Christ.
“Salt must touch that which it would preserve,” he said. “Salt must touch that which it would purify and the light must come close enough that people can see the light and feel the heat.”
Land said Christians should be moral disinfectant agents in a filthy, sinful world, but only the power of the gospel will save the world.
“Salt can change actions, but only the light of the gospel can change attitudes,” Land said. “The salt of the law can change habits, but it’s only the light of the gospel that can change hearts.”