C. David Ragland, Jr.
January 1, 2016
Affluenza: An American Epidemic
On December 12, 2013, Americans were both stunned and angered by a Judge’s decision to sentence Ethan Couch to a mere 10 years probation. “Judge Jean Boyd sentenced 16-year-old Texan Ethan Couch to 10 years of probation after he killed four people and paralyzed one while driving drunk in 2013. His defense claimed Couch was a victim of “affluenza,” meaning his wealthy upbringing kept him from knowing the difference between right and wrong.”1
Now, the “affluenza teen” and his Mother were recently detained in Mexico because he violated his probation by leaving the country with his Mother’s help. As of January 1, 2016, Ethan’s Mother Tony Couch has been extradited but Ethan remains in Mexico.
These recent events have reignited the already heated controversy surrounding the Couch case. It’s not at all surprising just how many Americans were stunned that a psychologist actually testified that Couch was a “victim”. So, is affluenza a valid psychological malady or just a euphemistic term for a spoiled brat?
The term “alluenza” seems to be a recently coined linguistic blend. However, even though recent news reports regarding Ethan Couch have given the term new life, this fancy fusion of “affluence” and “influenza” was actually first used in 19542. It was also prominently featured in a book titled, “Affluenza: The All-Consuming Epidemic”, in 20013.
Whether we buy into the “affluenza” defense or not, most of us would agree that people of privilege often live reckless, self-centered lives. Moreover, due to overt hubris, they tend to believe that societal rules and even the law don’t apply to them. This social phenomenon, not only plagues individuals and families, it has been the downfall of entire nations.
Just as the Roman Empire was brought to desolation by their own self-indulgence and arrogance, America too wanders obliviously down the same self-destructive path. Many would argue that America has been blessed by God more than any nation on the face of the earth. At the very least, this is true in modern times. From the time of America’s birth, she was found upon Godly, biblical principles. Sadly, we’ve gone from being ‘one nation under God’ to ‘one nation on the way to ruin’
Those who ignore history doom themselves to repeat it, and history has shown us time and time again that nations crumble when they turn their backs on God. Yet there is hope for America, if only we can repent of our worship of ‘self’ and once again honor God in all we do as a nation. It is time for America to wake up and it is time that we Christians started stepping out and speaking up in Christ’s name! We have nothing to fear from men who hate God and we have a duty to proclaim the Gospel and speak to biblical principles for Godly living (Heb 13:6).
Finally, In 2 Chronicles 7:14 we read, “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.” May God forgive us all and restore America to her former glory!
2. John de Graaf, Coauthor of the book Affluenza Appalled by the Ethan Couch Decision, TIME, December 14, 2013
3. Affluenza: The All-Consuming Epidemic, John de Graaf, David Wann & Thomas H. Naylor, 2001 ISBN 1-57675-199-6