“Oral histories often paint a rosy picture of the moral fiber of previous generations,” write Anthony Bradley and Sean Spurlock in this week’s Acton Commentary. “But close attention to history reveals the truth about human condition: that regardless of our social status, everyone is in need of moral formation – and thus it has always been.”

In Britain and elsewhere, as the contrast between the publicly held moral code and private behavior became clear, the code itself was discredited. The need for repentance and reform among today’s aristocratic elite – in Hollywood, on Capitol Hill, on Wall Street – is obvious. Thanks to the media, private indiscretions held in secret among the elite in a previous era are now part of the daily news cycle. Couple these stories with America’s high divorce rate and we begin to see why confidence in the virtues of marriage among our youth is on the decline.

The full text of the essay can be found here. Subscribe to the free, weekly Acton News & Commentary and other publications here.

  • gates of vienna

    That same media pushes a degraded culture. Instead of a top-down influence, the gangsta culture is ironically kewl and imitated, right down to slut couture and rampant illegitimacy.

    Sad to say, it will take a reform of our badly battered masculine values for anything to happen. Men are ever more androgynous while women are far too liberated to listen.

  • SteveD

    The late Victorian period was a product of the decline of genuine Christian faith among the upper classes, and the lapse of the Anglican “high church” into ritualism and away from a Scripturally based call to EVERYONE to renounce sin and build a personal relationship with Christ. “Liberalism” had beset the Anglican Church. It was against this that the Methodist movement had risen to try to revive the Anglican Church, only to be expelled for disrupting the class-based conventions held by the Church hierarchy. When the church fails to clearly preach the full Gospel expounding human sinfulness, God’s absolute holiness and loving mercy, and the need for each person to embrace Christ to be reconciled to God, the result is an amoral society that pretends that it is moral because it behaves so “nicely.”