My daughter’s former French professor has a blog, now a legend in our family. His latest is “Some Things You May Not Know About Americans.” A few caught my attention:
- 27% admit to cheating on a test or quiz.
- 29% admit they’ve intentionally stolen something from a store.
- 58% have called into work sick when we weren’t.
- 90% believe in divine retribution.
So many who “believe in divine retribution” have cheated or stolen, and more than half of them have called in a sickie. Do they really believe in divine retribution if they do those things? Why say they believe it when they obviously don’t? Are Americans just stupid (Brits not allowed to answer :))? Perhaps this explains:
- 91% of us lie regularly.
A life of lying is also a life of self-deceit. Many who “believe in divine retribution” think they actually mean it — but their life shows otherwise. (That 91% has to include a LOT of professing Christians, an absolute disgrace, and sadly some of my readers, American or British or elsewhere, must be in that category. If that is you, time to get it sorted.)
Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour: for we are members one of another.
“Are Americans just stupid?” (I am an American; therefore, I may answer.) In a spiritual sense, yes, many of us Americans are just Biblically stupid. For many of us probably also believe something like one of the following:
Yes, I believe in divine retribution; but I do not believe that cheating and lying “in such a small manner” is really worthy of such divine retribution.
Yes, I believe in divine retribution for such matters; but I only believe in it for the other guy, not for myself.
Yes, I believe in divine retribution for such matters; but I also believe that such divine retribution is really far down the road, and that I can redeem myself from these things by doing some “good things” before that time of divine retribution comes.
That’s the three main “Yes, but” pairs right there, I think.
My first thought, not as an American (though I am), but as a person who likes polls, etc.. is that the sampled populations may not be representative of the whole. Certain polling organizations seem to focus on the coats, with only some token polling in the the plain states /midwest. Others seem focused on the religious or the secular, etc… so I’d say that possibly this is mixing of apples and oranges.
I’m sure you are right, Sean, the numbers wouldn’t all have come from the same polls and similar samples. I suspect the numbers aren’t entirely wrong, though, and that there is significant overlap between those who believe in divine retribution and those who do the things described.
Call it confirmation bias if you will, since I’ve certainly seen plenty of anecdotal evidence to support the overlap, and I suspect just about any pastor would say the same. So perhaps I’m just predisposed to believe there is a lot of overlap.
People–not just Americans, I am guessing– are changing how they define sin–i.e. what is worthy of divine retribution. It is what comes when we take our eyes from God’s Word and let mere man define sin however he wants.
Hello, Leslie. You are right. Ultimately, it is self-idolatry — we exalt ourselves to the position of God when we decide that we have the right to define sin.