Look up the definition for decadence online and you will find three definitions
- the act or process of falling into an inferior condition or state; deterioration; decay
- moral degeneration or decay; turpitude
- unrestrained or excessive self-indulgence.
To me the third definition given above is the core of decadence, for moral degeneration or decay cannot take place without some form of excessive self-indulgence. Likewise excessive self-indulgence would also lead to deterioration and decay.
Today we see evidence of this all around us and especially in the world of entertainment. Michael Medved wrote about this in Hollywood vs. America almost 20 years ago. To read his book today is to see it as a place marker as the self-indulgence of Hollywood has become more and more unrestrained and excessive.
Another marker came up today, it is a movie The Children’s Hour from 1961. Gary North in an article to his subscribers described a conversation he had with an actress (whom he did not name) who was offered a role in said movie at the tender age of ten (10). Without explanation her agent warned her against it. He could not explain why to a ten-year-old, but she took his advice. [Gary North] remarked, “He was looking out for you.” She agreed.
Sadly today two major things would be different. The ten-year-old would know what lesbianism is and most agents (and parents) in their unrestrained and excessive desire for money (greed) would now encourage the ten-year-old to take such a role.
She would know because of the incredible level of sexualization in today’s post Christian culture in the United States that includes a constant barrage of lesbianism/homosexuality in the entertainment world – movies and television and now entering comic books.
At one time parents would have fought to avoid the process of sexualizing their children letting them be children. Today, many parents would not object at all and in many liberal homes would actually encourage their ten-year-old or younger to explore “their sexuality” always assuming it is a good thing.
Why? To justify the parents’ self-indulgence in their own activities. Truly unrestrained self-indulgence leading to moral degeneration, putting the adults’ feelings and values above the protection of their own children.
Decadence indeed. Jesus had something to say about this as well, "If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea. Woe to the world because of the things that cause people to stumble! Such things must come, but woe to the person through whom they come!" (Matthew 18:6-7)