In a recent podcast with Joe Rogan, Jordan Peterson1 gave this response to a question along the lines of, “How on earth did we get to this point in our culture?” People often look at their lives, their families, friends, marriages or countries and wonder, “How did things ever get so bad?”
The reason, says Peterson, is simple. Most of the time, things get really bad one small step at a time.
If I encroach on your life, your beliefs or your relationships and if, like many governments throughout history have done, I do it with enough sophistication, I’m going to push until the point where you object. Then I’m going to leave you alone for a little while.
Then I’m going to come along and push you a little further down the road until you object. And then I’ll wait for you to calm down. And then I’ll do it again and you’ll take another step back.
And I’m going to keep doing this over and over until you find yourself a mile away from where you were.
At some point, sometimes it’s years later, you’re going to look around and wonder how the hell you ever got into the miserable mess you’re now in. And you’re going to ask, “How did this happen?”
And the answer is, well, I pushed you a little farther than you should have gone, and you agreed. And so I pushed you again, a little farther than you should have gone, and you agreed.
And now, here you are, in a terrible place. And you agreed.
The principle is universal. From drug and porn addiction to Germans in the 1930s who lost their moral compass and sincerely believed that Jews were disease-carrying vermin who shouldn’t be allowed to ride the bus.
It happens in countless ways every day. Maybe it was intentional on the part of those pushing you, maybe not. It may have occurred through passivity, bullying, fear, threats, coercion, temptation, pride or guilt. But however it happened, it did happen.
Like the hell that awaits those who worship idols, you weren’t really forced. You could have said no. But you agreed.
The way out of this is the same way out of anything. Confession and repentance. When did you start paying heed to the voice of your generation and stop listening to the Spirit speaking through the Word? What tempted you to change your position, your direction?
Repentance means turning around, and that’s what you need to do. And God is there, rejoicing (Luke 15:7).