Looking to the future from a Christian perspective

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There are people called “futurists,” people who look at the present and attempt to predict the future. While it might sound a bit crazy, it’s not really. In fact, there are professional futurists who get paid a lot of money by major corporations to do just that: predict the future. While some of them are probably pretty kooky, there are also a number who have been successful, those who can look at the world as it is today and get a good gauge at the future. It’s not that these people are tapping some kind of hidden power; they are just good at observing both the past and the present and can make some good predictions about the future. After all, if a guy keeps predicting things that come out as he says, then maybe he isn’t so kooky after all.

One such successful professional futurist is David Zach. Mr. Zach thinks a lot about, and gets paid to talk about, the future. Interestingly enough, he maintains that without our most worthwhile traditions and principles, we are lost in the future without a compass.

David Zach states, “When looking at the world, you can divide much of it into Fads, Trends or Principles. A little mantra for this is that we should Play with Fads, Work with Trends, and Live by Principles … but in modern times, we are too often Seduced by Fads, Ignorant of Trends, and Resistant to Principles.” He also states, “Not all principles are equally valued, just like not all change is forward. The great struggle of our age is to define what should change and what should stay the same.”

Coming from a Christian perspective this makes perfect sense. One of the hallmarks of Pope Benedict XVI’s pontificate was the battle against relativism. The tyranny of relativism cited by Benedict is found precisely in the rejection of universal principles, that there are no universal truths. Instead of acknowledging God’s Divine Law written into Creation (what we call Natural Law), the only law that seems to exist is that there is no law, “what is right and good is what I happen to like today.” There is nothing wrong except to try to tell me that there is a moral law that exists outside of me that I have to obey.

But as we experience, time and time again, failure to obey God’s law only results in our own suffering. It is not tyranny to follow our Creator, it is wisdom. Even a secular futurist like David Zach understands this. The promotion of relativism has made the immoral moral and we are suffering for it. Only the future will show us how much, and then it will be too late to undo what we have done without a long, painful process. This is why we must — in our own lives first but also publicly — follow and uphold God’s law. Pornography and the abuse toward women that it spawns, marital infidelity, artificial contraception, abortion, acceptance of homosexual activity and marriage, the denial of one’s biological gender, continued racism and prejudice, tremendous violence, greed for wealth and power, plus a vast array of new addictions to go along with the older ones — these are all byproducts of a society that lives without principles, a society that has chosen not to follow God’s law. How much longer and how much further can we go, and what will be the result? I don’t think you have to be a futurist like David Zach to figure it out.

Now is not too soon for all of us to return to God and return to the obedience of God’s Law. For when we disobey God we not only bring suffering upon ourselves in this life, but we endanger our eternal salvation. It is not so much that God punishes us, as much when we choose to live without obeying God, he will allow us to experience the consequences of our actions. Which in this life usually entails great suffering, and in the next life may entail eternal separation from the God we chose to live apart from while on earth, otherwise known as hell.

Yet, despite what we may have done or how bleak things may seem to be in our lives, the Lord is ever ready to pour out his mercy and forgiveness and healing grace upon anyone who wants to turn away from sin and the harm it causes and back to God and his love. The Lord loves us and wants nothing more to help us to be happy and at peace. That is why we can and should always be hopeful. For whenever we sincerely turn to the Lord we receive a future of joy and happiness. That is his promise to those who follow him.

Father Joseph Byerley is pastor of Saint Rose of Lima Parish, Haddon Heights.