“For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God,”
– 2 Timothy 3:2-4
We live in an age of postmodernism. We’ll unpack postmodernism and how is it affecting society in a moment, but for now, we should understand that the apostles foresaw the age we live in now – a time of evil in the last days.
The simple fact is that self-interest and selfishness are thriving in a culture that is seeing a decline in religion. These two changes in society are not unrelated.
Timothy foresaw how people will be “lovers of self” and how this will lead to apostasy. Timothy wrote:
“Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons,”
–1 Timothy 4:1
“What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you?”
– James 4:1
The age of self
We’ve heard the term such as “the me generation,” a phrase that is a nickname given to the baby boomers, but it really took root during the 70s and 80s.
But this title also got passed down to the so-called “echo boomers”, the generation that followed – millennials.
Time magazine featured a cover that called millennials the “Me Me Me Generation.” All of the generations that followed the baby boomers are also considered generation me.
People are basically selfish
“For they all seek their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ.”
It is often said that people are basically good. But in fact or in truth, people are basically selfish.
Beginning in the 1970s, people began to become much more self-involved than preceding generations.
With this shift toward selfishness, we’ve seen a decline in the church. The church is still responsible for the majority of volunteer work in the US, while the same cannot be said of the secular population, according to the Pew Research Center.
“And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
– John 8:32
Postmodernism is a way of thinking that has been driving our culture from some time now, especially the mindset of younger people. Postmodernism proclaims that there is no real truth that people can know with any certainty.
This is because knowledge is said to be made by people. Therefore, all ideas and facts are only “believed” and can’t be “known.” If some type of “ultimate truth” exists – postmodernism says mankind cannot know it.
This kind of postmodern thinking explains why people today proclaim that what they believe as truth is truth for them. It’s why their truth can be different than your truth.
Postmodernism treats truth in an agnostic way, not specifically saying truth is subjective, but concluding that there is no objective truth.
With postmodernism, critical thinking is out the window and is replaced by feelings and personal beliefs.
“Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor.”
–1 Corinthians 10:24
Now that you understand postmodernism and the type of thinking that is taking over the mindset of so many young people – the largest group of Americans who are disconnecting from the church and religion – it’s easy to understand how postmodernism is driving an increase in selfishness.
If what I believe is truth for me, it gives me a license to act on that truth. It gives me a basis for acting out of my own self-interest without regard for others.
Whatever I feel or believed to be right, is right. In fact, the National Study of Youth and Religion found that 60% of millennials believe they’ll just be able to feel what’s right in any given situation, rather than being guided by morality.
At the same time, this thinking can shift the blame of personal responsibility, as well as increased the perception of self-importance. This translates to what people believe they deserve.
“For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice.”
The National Institutes of Health found that narcissistic personality disorder is nearly 3 times higher for people who are now in their 20s than it is for those who are 65 or older.
Further, over 58% more college students scored higher on the scale of narcissism in 2009 and they did in 1982.
Three times as many middle school girls now would prefer to grow up to be a personal assistant to someone famous rather than be a senator, and four times as many of those would also prefer this over being the CEO of a major corporation.
Think about the generation that grew up receiving participation trophies rather than earning awards. Because of this, a recent study found that 40% of younger people believe they should be promoted every two years – regardless of their performance.