The Characteristics of a Culture Without God

Every culture has had its opportunities to know God. "What may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse" (Rom. 1:19,20). Certainly our American society has had countless opportunities to know God. What happens to a country or culture that refuses to acknowledge God? This is carefully explained to us in Romans, Chapter 1. Let us note carefully the characteristics and compare them to events that are taking place around us today.

1. They become futile in their thoughts and their foolish hearts are darkened (v.21). Becoming godless in their thinking, they engage in foolish and stupid speculations and their minds are filled with darkness.

2. Professing to be wise, they become fools (v.22). Claiming to be smart, they actually arrive at stupid conclusions.

3. They change the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man (v.23). Their image of God resembles mortal man. This image may not necessarily be a physical and visible image. It might be an image in their thoughts expressed in their writings, cartoons, jokes, and movies.

4. They exchange the truth of God for a lie (v.25). They would sooner believe the prefabrications of men than accept the truth of God.

5. They worship and serve the creature rather than the Creator (v.25). They glorify their fellow-men but refuse to glorify the God of heaven. Men may be extolled in their public gatherings, but it is unlawful to even mention the name of God.

6. They have been given over to vile passions. Women practice what is against nature. The men with men, commit what is shameful (vv.26,27). Homosexuality becomes widespread to the point that it is accepted as an alternative lifestyle even though it is obviously against the normal practices of nature all around us.

7. They do those things which are not fitting (v.28). The things they do are really abhorrent, repulsive, and disgusting.

8. And then comes a long list of other evil practices. It is a dark list of twenty-three indictments. They range from charges that could result in death sentences, such as murder (v.29) to charges that many would label as commendable, such as boasters and inventors of evil things (v.30). The list includes sins of corruption, which are outwardly manifested, such as sexual immorality (v.29), disobedience to parents (v.30), and unmerciful (v.31). They also include sins of the heart that only God can see, but yet they are sins that eventually produce tragic and painful consequences. These are sins such as covetousness, maliciousness, envy, strife, deceit (v.29), backbiters, haters of God, proud (v.30), untrustworthy, unloving and unforgiving (v.31). The list reminds us of the days before the flood, when it was stated that the "Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually" (Gen. 6:5).

As we look around us, we are enabled to see that our culture in rapidly taking on these characteristics. Only a fool, who buries his head in the sand like a ostrich, can fail to see the deterioration of our godless society. It cannot be approved and it certainly cannot be overlooked. The greatest condemnation of the whole list appears at the end of the chapter when it states, "who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but also approve of those who practice them" (v. 32). Neither can our culture be changed or improved. It is a mistake for the church to involve itself in reform movements because we cannot reform a society that has turned away from God’s light and is under the judgment of God.

Rather verses 15 and 16 give us the key to our responsibility. The Gospel, which calls men and women out of this world to be citizens of another world, is the power of God which brings salvation to a condemned world. "So, as much as is in me, I am ready to preach the gospel....for I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes."