Alexis de Tocqueville was a keen observer of American society. Writing from the perspective of the 1830s, the French author concluded that the exceptional virtue, moral fiber, and self‑restraint shown by Americans were due to the extraordinary influence of the Christian faith in this land. “It was religion that gave birth to the English colonies in America,” Tocqueville wrote.
The religion that Tocqueville wrote about was Christianity. “While the United States embraced ‘an infinite variety’ of religious sects, Christianity stood in this new land as an ‘established and irresistible fact which no one seeks to attack or defend.’” Tocqueville considered America’s religious climate superior to that of Europe.
All foreign visitors to America, Tocqueville noted, agreed that sexual morality was “infinitely stricter” in the new United States than anywhere else in the world. In America, he reported, all books even novels supposed women to be chaste, and no one boasted of amorous adventures. He was astonished to discover that in cases of sexual immorality, both the seduced and the seducer were scorned; he was equally surprised to learn that rape was punishable by death, while in France it was difficult to get any jury to convict rapists, even given much lighter sentences.
The Puritan ethic was solidly entrenched in America prior to Tocqueville’s visit. His observations were later incorporated in his celebrated Democracy in America. But by 1830, European Enlightenment philosophy had gained a foothold in America and was making a significant impact.
Because of the strong influence of Christianity, Enlightenment philosophies were diluted enough so their impact was minimal. Even so, the incremental strides the movement had made were real. Add to this Darwinian evolution (1859), combined with Higher Criticism as propounded by Graf and Wellhausen (1869–1878), and a volatile mix had been concocted to destroy biblical ethics.
Having turned away from the knowledge given by God, the Christian influence on the whole of culture has been lost. In Europe, including England, it took many years in the United States only a few decades. In the United States, in the short span from the twenties to the sixties, we have seen a complete shift. Ours is a post‑Christian world in which Christianity, not only in the number of Christians but in cultural emphasis and cultural result, is no longer the consensus or ethos of our society.
In all of this man became the interpreter of reality. The Bible was just another book about religion. What Tocqueville saw as differences between European and American worldviews have now become nearly indistinguishable, especially at the academic and political levels. The rallying cry of the nineteenth century was “freedom” without restraint. “To be free was to be modern; to be modern was to take chances. The American century was to be the century of unleashing, of breaking away, at first from the 19th century (as Freud, Proust, Einstein and others had done), and eventually from any constraints at all.”
What we are seeing today is the fruit of a nation’s steady but determined rejection of the Bible. “Everywhere this thinking, rooted in godlessness, bears fruit today we can see that the fruit is bitter. In all areas of life man is trying to take control of his own ship. Meanwhile the ship is out of control, and many live in a state of helpless perplexity.”
The libertines began to turn the ship slowly. They knew it would take time. In terms of television, there is a starting date: November 1, 1972 with the airing of That Certain Summer. This ABC TV-movie featured Hal Holbrook as Doug Salter, a divorced father whose son comes to stay with him for the summer. The boy is shocked to learn that his father has chosen homosexuality and to live with his “lover” (played by Martin Sheen).
The taboo had been broken, and all the king’s horses and all the king’s men could not put the taboo back together again. That Certain Summer was the vehicle the homosexual community needed to make their lifestyle seem normative. They were not after drama, “they wanted propaganda.” Even though homosexuals are a minority, they persisted in normalizing their worldview. They never give up; they never surrender. We’ve won a few small battles in the past week. The Maine anti-homosexual marriage reversal was big. Do you think this 31st setback is going to stop the homosexuals? Don’t count on it. The New York legislature is about to vote on homosexual marriage. It will probably pass. Then it will be up to the voters . . . again!
 Quoted in Allan C. Carlson, “Our National Self‑Confidence: Understanding its Decline and Supporting its Revival” (Rockford, IL: The Rockford Institute, 1984), 6. Carlson, “Our National Self‑Confidence,” 6. Carlson, “Our National Self‑Confidence,” 7.**
** Francis A. Schaeffer, _The Great Evangelical Disaster_ (Westchester, IL: Crossway Books, 1984), 28–29. **** Roger Rosenblatt, “What Really Mattered?,” _Time_ (October 1983), 25. Emphasis added.
**** Eta Linnemann, _Historical Criticism of the Bible: Methodology or Ideology?_, trans. Robert W. Yarbrough (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1990), 34.**** Richard Levinson and William Link, _Stay Tuned: An Inside Look at the Making of Prime‑Time Television_ (New York, St. Martin’s, 1981), 133. Quoted in Montgomery, _Target: Prime Time_ (New York: Oxford University Press, 1989), 77.