"One rotten apple spoils the whole barrel," goes the saying. The Bible says effectively the same thing using the imagery of fermenting yeast working its way through bread dough: "A little leaven leavens the whole lump" (1 Corinthians 5:6). This idea is right at the heart of the wrong values people live by today.
In our modern world, five "rotten apples" are rotting away the good morals the Bible teaches us. These bad apples were introduced in different countries, but their corrupting effects have gradually spread around the world.
What are they, and how have these corrupting ideas spread their poisonous effects to the lives of so many?
#1 - Marxist Communism
The philosophy of atheistic communism was spread mainly by the German writer Karl Marx, who lived in England in the mid-1800s.
His ideas were helped along by the bad conditions for workers in many countries during the Industrial Revolution. Suffering terrible hardship and abuse, working men were attracted to Marx's ideas. Eventually, the bloody Bolshevik Revolution in Russia in 1917 led to the takeover by Marxist Vladimir Lenin and the creation of a communist empire, the Russian-headed Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (U.S.S.R.).
After World War II, the U.S.S.R. imposed communism on the countries of Eastern Europe. In 1949, it became the official political system in China. Then it spread to other nations, like North Korea, Vietnam and Cuba.
In 1991, communism was overthrown in the Soviet Union, which then was forced to release its stranglehold over the countries of Eastern Europe—some of which are economically thriving today in comparison to how things were. Of necessity communism has also been watered down and reshaped in China to allow for a more open and economically prosperous society.
But morally, the world has never been the same. Communism—or more technically Marxist-Leninist socialism—is always attached to atheism. This belief has affected the mindset of so many political, cultural and educational leaders around the globe. Because of that, it still exerts a powerful influence all over the world.
This rotten apple is based on four false ideas:
1. God does not exist, and man is simply a highly evolved animal with no hope of an afterlife.
2. Truth is relative. There is no true moral way to live. Everyone has the right to decide what is right and wrong for themselves.
3. A one-party government should own both the wealth and the ways of creating wealth in a country. It can distribute the wealth however its leaders choose. This means the goal is to have state control over the economy, politics, education and religion.
4. Human nature is very malleable and can be altered by changing the environment. If goods are equally shared in a communal way (the term "communism" originally meant living communally), people will live in peace and harmony, and the negative aspects of human nature will supposedly wither away.
However, the institution of communism is in direct rebellion against God's commandments, which back the right to a belief in God, in family values and in personal property instead of the state controlling the individual. And, as history shows, communism has led to terrible atrocities, including mass murders such as those that took place in the Soviet Union, China and Cambodia.
Alexander Solzhenitsyn, a dissident who suffered in the Soviet concentration camps and later won the Nobel Prize in literature, once noted, "If I were asked today to formulate as concisely as possible the main cause of the ruinous [Soviet] Revolution that swallowed up some sixty million of our people, I could not put it more accurately than to repeat: Men have forgotten God; that's why all this has happened ... "
He continued: "If I were called upon to identify briefly the principal trait of the entire Twentieth Century ... I would ... repeat once again: Men have forgotten God ... Within the philosophical system of Marx and Lenin, and at the heart of their psychology, hatred of God is the principal driving force, more fundamental than all their political and economic pretensions" ("Men Have Forgotten God," address when receiving the Templeton Prize for Progress in Religion in London, 1983, emphasis added throughout).
#2 - Darwinian Evolution
In the 1800s the English naturalist Charles Darwin developed a theory that human beings evolved from lower forms of life. Starting from single-celled amoebas, the lineage of human beings supposedly progressed to fish, then to amphibians, to reptiles, to mammals, to apes and finally to man.
This led to the conclusion that there is no real meaning to life—that we are here as the result of blind, purposeless chance. Karl Marx was so thrilled with this idea that he asked Darwin if he could dedicate his famous book on communism, Das Kapital, to Darwin. Darwin declined, but the connection between the two beliefs is very real.
Author Aldous Huxley, a great supporter of Darwin's theory, made this remarkable admission: "For myself, as, no doubt, for most of my contemporaries, the philosophy of meaninglessness was essentially an instrument of liberation. The liberation we desired was simultaneously liberation from a certain political and economic system and liberation from a certain system of morality. We objected to the morality because it interfered with our sexual freedom" (Ends and Means, 1941, p. 273).
As various critics of evolutionary theory have pointed out, if you teach a student to believe he's just an animal, don't be surprised when he begins to act like one. Is it any surprise that many of our schools are breeding grounds for violence, cheating, sexual immorality, drug abuse and rebellion against authority?
However, as more and more people begin to critically weigh the evidence for and against Darwinian evolution, many are finding Darwin's conclusions astonishingly lacking in support.
One such critic is molecular biologist Michael Denton, who wrote of Darwin's theory: "One might have expected that a theory of such cardinal importance, a theory that literally changed the world, would have been something more than metaphysics, something more than a myth. Ultimately the Darwinian theory of evolution is no more nor less than the great cosmogenic myth of the twentieth century" (Evolution: A Theory in Crisis, 1985, p. 358). For more on this subject, read our free Bible study aids Creation or Evolution: Does It Really Matter What You Believe? and Life's Ultimate Question: Does God Exist?
#3 - Freudian Psychology
Austrian neurologist Sigmund Freud, the father of psychoanalysis, developed his methods and views on psychology in the late 1800s and early 1900s. His teachings on the subject centered on removing guilt from sinful acts and promoting sexual liberation as a way of avoiding mental and emotional disorders.
He insisted that sexual cravings, fundamental to human thought and behavior, should be freed. This idea wasn't accepted in society or academic circles before his time. Freud's drive theory suggested that people are instinctually driven from birth by the desire to experience physical pleasure. And he saw moral repression of this drive as damaging to mental health.
As Freud's ideas spread and caught on, there was a loosening of society's sexual morals in the 20th century—paving the way to widespread depravity.
Indeed, all three rotten apples we've discussed so far have worked together in this vein. However, there is growing disregard for them. Author Phillip Johnson, a law professor and science writer, stated:
"Every history of the twentieth century lists three thinkers as preeminent in influence: Darwin, Marx and Freud. All three were regarded as ‘scientific' (and hence far more reliable than anything ‘religious') in their heyday. Yet Marx and Freud have fallen, and even their dwindling bands of followers no longer claim that their insights were based on any methodology remotely comparable to that of experimental science. I am convinced that Darwin is next on the block. His fall will be by far the mightiest of the three" (Defeating Darwinism by Opening Minds, 1997, p. 113).
Yet the influence of these figures, even the first two, has not gone away. Their corruption is still spreading even now, subverting the thinking of old and young alike and thriving in many university campuses around the world. And two additional "rotten apples" have helped make our world stagger even further from the true God of the Bible and His way of life, corrupting the hearts and minds of millions more people.
#4 - The Sexual Revolution
The birth control pill, invented in the United States in the 1950s, was approved for contraceptive use in the country in 1960. Before "the pill," most women were afraid of having sex before marriage because of the high risk of an unwanted pregnancy. Yet, after its availability, it became a cheap and convenient way to avoid pregnancy. And it helped launch the sexual revolution of the 1960s in much of the world.
In the wake of that largely immoral revolution, and in spite of the birth control pill, there are only more unwanted pregnancies than ever before.
A recent news story titled "Out-of-Wedlock Births Society's ‘New Normal'" pointed out some startling findings: "More children are now being born outside of marriage, according to a new study by the National Marriage Project and the Institute for American Values. The report focuses on what it calls ‘middle-America,' the nearly 60 percent of Americans who complete high school but not college.
"Among that group, 44 percent of children are now born outside of marriage. That's up from 13 percent in the 1980s. ‘America is at a tipping point, with unwed childbearing threatening to become a new norm,' study co-author Brad Wilcox said. Research shows children born or raised outside of marriage are more likely to suffer from a range of social and emotional problems" (CBN News, Dec. 18, 2012).
This is not to say that contraception is wrong, as perhaps practiced by married couples in trying to determine when they have children. The problem lies in using a method of avoiding consequences as license to commit sexual immorality. We see the same problem with the promotion of other methods of contraception and protection from sexually transmissible diseases today.
The fact is, immorality eventually catches up with individuals and societies that condone and indulge in it. Combined with the other rotten apples listed earlier, the result has been a growing number of plagues afflicting our societies today—exploding sexual promiscuity, epidemics of sexually transmitted diseases, broken homes and families, rampant pornography, child abuse, sexual perversion and more.
#5 - The Banning of God and Prayer
In 1962 and 1963 the U.S. Supreme Court, led by liberal chief justice Earl Warren, made the decisions to ban prayer and Bible reading from American public schools. This removal of God from educational systems has also spread around most of the world.
Randall Price, an archaeologist and religious writer, recently commented in his newsletter about the impact of these watershed decisions and the 1973 decision to legalize abortion:
"These decisions affected our society's moral consciousness ... by making humanism the only religion sanctioned in the public education system and demeaning the value of human life. Over the years since these anti-values became a part of our national values, we have witnessed degeneration in our society, especially with our youth who never knew other values once were accepted and practiced under the law in our nation.
"We have also witnessed the government and the private sector increasing[ly] apply these anti-values in ways and to an extent that may never have been envisioned by the justices that rendered their original decisions (such as prayer and the mention of God at commencements and sports events and expressions of public faith ... ).
"However, while expressions of Christian values are prohibited or denounced, these anti-values are marketed wholesale through the entertainment industry (movies, TV, and video games) that saturates our culture with trivial violence and death, creating the illusion that wanton murder is just a game and the hero is the one with the ‘baddest' weapons! This was one of the traits of the young man who murdered the teachers and children in Connecticut" ("What's Wrong With Our Country?" World of the Bible News & Views, Winter 2012, p. 21).
As it often has after terrible tragedies like the school killings in Newtown, Connecticut, in December 2012, the following fictional letter exchange between a student and God made the internet rounds. It begins with a question: "Dear God, Why do you allow so much violence in our schools? Signed, a concerned student." And this is the reply: "Dear Concerned Student, I'm not allowed in schools. —God."
Former Arkansas governor and presidential candidate Mike Huckabee stated it well when he said: "We ask why there is violence in our schools but we've systematically removed God from our schools. Should we be so surprised that schools would become a place of carnage?" (interview on Fox News, Dec. 14, 2012).
Indeed, the expulsion of God from schools was followed by an accelerated rise in all manner of societal ills.
Sorting out the rotten apples
It's important to realize that these five "rotten apples" have affected society in a profound way—their toxic corruption permeating it throughout.
The Bible describes the last generation before Jesus Christ returns to earth, and it's not a pleasant picture. It should be obvious that these "rotten apples" have much to do with this.
Notice the apostle Paul's prophecy of what conditions would be like just before Jesus Christ returns to earth to save mankind from extinction: "You must understand this: In the last days there will be violent periods of time. People will be selfish and love money. They will brag, be arrogant, and use abusive language. They will curse their parents, show no gratitude, have no respect for what is holy, and lack normal affection for their families.
"They will refuse to make peace with anyone. They will be slanderous, lack self-control, be brutal, and have no love for what is good. They will be traitors. They will be reckless and conceited. They will love pleasure rather than God" (2 Timothy 3:1-4, God's Word Translation).
Doesn't this define the world we live in today? Read or listen to the news or watch TV. The lack of moral and spiritual values is glaring.
So what can we do about it? The answer is: We can't change society, but we can change ourselves—and even more so with God's help.
Paul said it well in another passage: "So then, my friends, because of God's great mercy to us I appeal to you: Offer yourselves as a living sacrifice to God, dedicated to his service and pleasing to him ... Do not conform yourselves to the standards of this world, but let God transform you inwardly by a complete change of your mind. Then you will be able to know the will of God—what is good and is pleasing to him and is perfect" (Romans 12:1-2, Good News Bible).
Throw out the rotten apples. Learn the truth about the incredible future God has planned for you! From your heart and mind follow God's ways—the true values—and reject the "anti-values" of this present, evil world!