Written in 2005
A child of five taken into a wood by other children who attempt to hang him … A funeral cortege attacked by a gang of yobs … Children’s gravestones in a cemetery smashed and vandalised … A teenage girl beaten unconscious by youths who filmed the attack on their mobile phones and then passed it round their mates at school … Two girls abducted by six men who subject them to torture and rape and leave one dead in a park. Some of the horror stories to appear in the news recently. No wonder many people despair of the society we live in. David Baines, Chief Superintendent of Greater Manchester police force spoke of ‘communities terrorised by gangs of feral youths.’ He painted a picture of entire neighbourhoods living in fear of the gangs who ‘don’t give a damn about the police or the criminal justice system.’
Tony Blair has said he wants to restore a culture of respect and get on top of the yob culture. What are his chances of success in this aim? Not very great on current trends. In fact if you look at the causes of the problem you find our society is going the wrong way on all of them.
Influence of the family
The family is the basic building block of any society. Break the family and you break the social order. The biggest reason for the rise of crime is the culture of fatherless children and disorderly homes. While many single parents do a valiant job of bringing up their children, the need for the influence of a father and a mother on a child’s development is obvious to anyone with eyes to see. Today cynical young men father children they have no intention of looking after and leave gullible young women to hold the baby literally. Those children grow up with no committed father and as a result generally with no respect for any authority. Recently in the news is the Atkins family where twice divorced Julie Atkins lives with her three daughters aged 14 to 18 and their three children with not one committed father among them. Fifteen year old Jade Atkins said, ‘We don’t need their dads. We give them all the love and support they need.’
This is a complete fantasy because in terms of providing financially for their children these girls can give them virtually nothing. It all comes from the state (i.e. the tax payer), making them dependent for life. In fact our tax and welfare policies actually provide financial incentives for lone parenthood and penalise marriage. So now half of all children are born outside marriage and the idea is promoted that all types of family are of equal value in bringing up children.
Influence of the school
Former teacher Sylvia Thomas went back to teaching after a 30 year absence. She secretly filmed the chaos she found in the classroom for a documentary filmed on TV. In an article in the Daily Mail (25/4/05) she describes examples of the disorder she found there: ‘The boys who openly attempted to access hard core sex sites on school computers, the pupils who routinely swore not just at each other but also at me and the scenes of mayhem during which desks were overturned, books torn up and windows smashed. Not to mention the brawls that broke out in the classroom.’ She goes on to describe the impossibility of getting the children to be quiet. ‘They had their backs to me. The girls were putting on lip gloss. They had mobile phones out, personal stereos, hand held computer games. They were talking, eating, drinking. Despite shouting at the top of my voice I could not get them even to acknowledge my presence.’ When she asked them to take out their pens and exercise books she discovered they had brought neither to school with them nor was there any supply in the school. When she asked an 11 year old child to be quiet he swore at her. She told him not to talk to her like that. His reply? ‘Don’t talk to me like that – I’ve got my rights you know.’
The removal of all authority from teachers and the promotion of a ‘rights’ culture in which children cannot be punished for misbehaviour has brought about the collapse of discipline in the classroom. I saw this happening during my time as a teacher in the 70s and 80s which made me sad for the children who were exposed to a system which gives freedom to the bullies and vandals and penalises those who want to learn and behave.
Influence of the media, in particular TV
If you spend hours of the day watching violence and people acting aggressively towards each other on TV is it surprising if you end up behaving this way yourself? If you think TV is bad now wait until Ofcom, the broadcasting regulator brings in the new broadcasting code. The new broadcasting code states that ‘freedom of expression’ is its goal and restrictions based on ‘taste and decency’ have been removed. This will mean a dramatic rise in sex, swearing and violence after 9 o’clock as anything goes on mainstream TV.
Influence of drink and drugs
In January 2004 the government downgraded the dangers of cannabis thus encouraging a rise in the use of the drug. However even those who campaigned for the legalisation of cannabis now recognise that this was a mistake. The enhanced form of cannabis known as skunk used today is up to 30 times stronger than the naturally grown drug. It creates alarming mood swings, causing some who use it to go into uncontrollable rages and exhibit manic tendencies of paranoia. Sometimes this does not go away even after the user stops taking the drug.
As well as the drug problem, alcohol abuse is spiralling out of control with an explosion of pubs offering cut price drinks in city centres. As a result many areas are becoming violent no go areas for those wanting a quiet night out on Fridays and Saturdays. The government’s answer to this is to bring in legislation to open the pubs round the clock.
The influence of God
Sadly God has very little influence at all in much of our society. Many people have no idea what the 10 commandments are, why Jesus died and rose again, what happens after we die. Any ideas they do pick up about God are more likely to relate to re-incarnation or Islam than any teaching of the Bible. Christianity is often caricatured as old fashioned, narrow minded and reactionary It is virtually forbidden to teach in schools that God created the world, that Jesus is the unique Saviour or that we will all face God on the Day of Judgement when we die.
All of this has been replaced with a secular humanist world view which claims to be tolerant but is actually the most intolerant religion imaginable. Today we see many examples of this intolerance. A Christian run hostel for the homeless in Kings Lynn, Norfolk has been warned it will lose its government grant because grace is said at meal times and the staff put Bibles out for use. The accusation is that it is not ‘inclusive’ enough of other faiths. The University of Leicester Hospital Trust has met to decide whether to ban Gideon Bibles from the bedside because they could ‘offend people from other faith groups who are receiving treatment’. In fact people from other faith groups have not complained about the Bibles.
The opposition to the Bible comes from secularists who have used this strategy to exclude Christianity from public life over the past 30 years. Back in the 1970s I taught Religious Education in a large multi racial comprehensive school in south London. The largest racial group were from the Caribbean and I soon discovered that in general there was far more Christianity in their homes than in the white homes. I taught mainly from the Bible and ran a Christian Union at lunch times. I never had any complaints from the parents of children from ethnic minorities. The opposition came from secular humanist teachers who clearly wanted Christianity out of the classroom. Their reason was that it was not appropriate to give teaching from the Bible in a multi racial situation. Over the past 30 years this element has gained increasing influence in our society over education, the media, social services, the judiciary and government. They have used the ethnic minorities and the push for multi- culturalism as a cover to stigmatise and eliminate Christianity from our public life.
All of the negative factors mentioned above can be traced back to the abandonment of faith in God and in particular of Christianity in our society. God’s order for society is based on the family and the responsibility of parents to care for their children and children to honour their parents.
God tells us to think about ‘whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable’ (Philippians 4.8) not whatever is degrading and evil. In the days of Noah we read how ‘every imagination of the heart of man was only evil continually’ and that as a result ‘the earth was filled with violence’ (Genesis 6.5, 11). Jesus said that in the last days of this age it would be ‘as in the days of Noah’ (Luke 17.26). Today people’s imagination is being corrupted leading to acts of violence, by TV, rock music, computer games and drug taking.
The Bible teaches that we are all born with a sinful human nature which causes us to turn away from God and to act selfishly, therefore children need to be taught God’s truth and to be disciplined for their own good. Secular humanism teaches that there is no God and no moral absolutes and therefore man is the measure of all things. Today’s liberal humanist establishment puts the blame for what is wrong on upbringing, on racism, on the environment, on anything except the person responsible. According to this worldview what is needed is to empathise with and understand anti social and criminal behaviour rather than restrain and punish it.
Out of this lawlessness we see a society emerging, which is dominated by anti-God values. In Psalm 2 we read of the nations in revolt against God in the last days: ‘Why do the nations rage, and the people plot a vain thing? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord and against his anointed (Messiah / Christ), saying, ‘Let us break their bonds in pieces and cast away their cords from us.’ In other words they are seeking to break out of what they imagine to be the restraining influence of Biblical morality and do what they like.
This in turn will lead to the emergence of the ‘Lawless One’ or the Antichrist as the world leader in the last days of this age. ‘For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only He who now restrains will do so until He is taken out of the way. And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord will consume with the breath of His mouth and destroy with the brightness of His coming. The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved.’ (2 Thessalonians 2.9-10)
As society breaks down into chaos the end result will be that people in their terror at what is coming on the world will turn to an evil world ruler who will promise peace and safety. However because he is the embodiment of Satan he will in fact bring in the ultimate world dictatorship described in Revelation 13.
The good news is that there is a way to be saved from all this. When Jesus died on the cross he took the punishment for our sins and made the way for all those who repent to receive forgiveness and eternal life. The last person to turn to Jesus in faith during his earthly ministry was himself a criminal. As he was dying on the cross he said, ‘Jesus remember me when you come into your kingdom.’ Jesus answered him, ‘I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.’ (Luke 23.42-3).