Western/European culture was founded primarily on the tenets of Christianity. One major teaching of Christianity is freedom from sin—not social, political or economic freedom—but rather freedom from slavery to sin which ultimately results in death. Such freedom from the sin nature present in every person is achieved by faith in Christ Jesus as Lord and Savior.
Now as western nations followed God’s moral laws, they began to enjoy material prosperity on earth. Gradually they came to realize that “a better life here on earth” was possible. They came to realize that not only could they have the hope of eternal life in heaven (“pie in the sky”), they could equally enjoy life (and their pie) on earth as well.
Enjoying life on earth as we do in the West, however, is not at all emphasized in the New Testament. Rather, it tells us that we are “strangers on earth” and reminds us to “set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming.”
2 Peter 3:10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything done in it will be laid bare. 11 Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives 12 as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. 13 But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells. 14 So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him.
But man’s primary focus on eternity naturally (and thus inevitably) weakens as life on earth becomes physically enjoyable. The embodiment of this is seen in none other than the American Declaration of Independence which enshrines “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness” as unalienable rights from our Creator.
Although these rights are not found much less guaranteed by our Creator in the New Testament (which interestingly did not condemn the institution of slavery as it existed at that time), Americans see them as God-given rights. In the Old Testament we indeed see promises of material prosperity and blessing for obedient Israel. However, the Old Testament is but a shadow already fulfilled by the New Testament which promises far greater spiritual and eternal blessing for the followers of the Messiah Jesus Christ.
Of course God has and will bless some of his children with material blessings. But such earthly blessing is not to be seen primarily as a means by which we can enjoy life here on earth, but rather to be used to lay up treasure in heaven for the age to come.
1 Timothy 6:17 Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. 18 Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. 19 In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.
It is clear that the prevailing focus in America and the West on realizing “heaven on earth”—as in the American Dream—is not scriptural. Nevertheless, it is ingrained in us that the pursuit of happiness on earth is guaranteed for every American—regardless of religious belief, race, ethnicity, and now more recently sexual orientation and gender identity. We are called to be tolerant and accepting toward all. If “the pursuit of happiness” in life involves what Scripture calls sin, it is nevertheless not only to be accepted, but even celebrated. Thus in the West various behaviors and lifestyles sinful in the sight of God are not only tolerated, but astoundingly have even become a matter of pride—as in the Gay Pride Parades proliferating in the West. And we are not to judge.
As long as the behavior is “consensual” between two (or more) consenting adults and does “no harm” to others, it is not to be judged. What Jesus Christ said about such behavior in Scripture is irrelevant, and would even be considered “hate speech” if brought into public discourse. Sadly it is now getting to the point in the land of “freedom” where some pastors might think twice about calling homosexuality a sin from the pulpit on a Sunday morning in church.
This is how a primary aspect of progressive liberalism has developed in the “Christian” West. (Another aspect teaches us not to trust in God, but instead in government largesse.) Sadly, this direction is inevitable inasmuch as Jesus told us that in the end the world would hate the followers of Christ. Because we dare to espouse the godly values taught and instilled in us by Him, everyone around us now hates us.
Mark 13:13 Everyone will hate you because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.