As we observe the UK at the present time what is the most urgent need of the country? In order to begin to answer that question let us consider where we are. One of the most disturbing developments over the last fifty years has been the demolition of absolute moral principles. These principles, upon which our society was historically founded, were derived from biblical teachings. Today, we live in a situation where the standards adopted by most people are dependent upon the prevailing majority viewpoint. So, people reason that if the majority do it then it is fine for me to do it. And likewise if the majority believe it, I will believe it. This is particularly observable in respect of the change in attitude to homosexual relationships. We have gone from a situation where homosexual activity was considered abhorrent, which was only some fifty years ago to one where today such activity is celebrated.
Since the Reformation in the 1500’s, the UK has had its principles based on the Bible. Christianity is a faith which is rooted in absolute principles. God is a God of standards – absolute standards – and He has revealed them in His Word. Most particularly, we see His standards revealed and encoded in the Ten Commandments (see Ex. 20:1-17). When a society is based on standards which flow from the Bible then there is a solid basis to that society. This is because God, who gave these standards, is good and desires the best for His creation. When biblical standards are adopted, even though everyone may not be a Christian, at least the moral framework with which people operate in society is good and beneficial to people. These principles also guard society against strange initiatives which would be destructive to the welfare of people. Accordingly, it can be said that when a society is Christianised through the influence of Christianity then that is good for the country.
As a general principle, when a society has detached itself from the moorings of fixed principles that society is filled with many uncertainties and dangers. In the UK, the heritage of Christian belief has underpinned the development of the values in our society. When these started to be rejected in the 1950’s and 60’s then the immediate consequences were negligible. This was because the majority of people still held to a world-view which had wholesome moral principles at the core. Moreover, they were used to and comfortable with the lifestyle connected to the principles. Therefore, very little changed as to the way people conduct themselves.
However, over time, when there has been an increasing rejection of those standards and accordingly things have become very concerning. In the UK generations have grown up who ignore or even reject biblical morality. As long as things are well in society, then the tendency is for people to generally be kind to each other and uphold law and order. However, because there are no moral principles underpinning the consensus, the situation can change and change very rapidly when there is a certain trigger.
The riots of August 2011 were an occasion when some of these dangers were manifest. For a brief period of time the accepted consensus changed. It suddenly became acceptable for people to take property that was not their own as was demonstrated in the looting of shops. People had no moral undergirding to prevent them doing this. And as an atmosphere of lawlessness took hold, people just flowed with it. Normal decent law abiding citizens suddenly became looters and thieves.
This phenomenon is one of the most frightening issues in the UK at this time. Moral principles are not the basis upon which people determine their conduct. Rather, people operate according to standards which are deemed to be acceptable to the majority of people. Accordingly, if there is a trigger, which normally is in the way of some catastrophe, then a vast swathe of the population can be swayed to follow a new abiding consensus without any thought of the dangers involved.
At the heart of the issue is the fact that there is a lack of a moral framework which prevents people from adopting destructive behaviour. The Ten commandments provided such a framework through being a strong moral code. Alas, such a standard is now considered out-of-date.
Two further factors enhance the cause for concern.
- The majority of the population have never known the cost of having to literally fight in a war to uphold vital principles.
- The “Sitting-at-Screens” generation, of which we are all to some degree part, have grown up experiencing life as something that happens to them. Through spending lots of time just watching TV and looking at computers there is an inclination to allow life just to happen to us.
These two things add to the tendency towards a “make-it-up-as-you-go-along” morality.
However, as Solomon observes in Ecclesiastes 1:9b there is nothing new under the sun. Similar situations have happened before, such as in the days of the Judges. In those days everyone did as they saw fit (Jud. 21:25b). Thankfully, though, during those times of collapse God was seen to be active in raising up Judges, like Gideon and Samson, to call people back to Himself and His ways.
So what do we need most as a country at the end of 2014? We desperately need people of principle and “back-bone” who will be able to resist the moral volatility which is likely to be displayed in days ahead. We need characters who are like the aforementioned judges. Men and women who call us back to God. What is the hope for our land? It stands in many returning to the Lord God. It will be seen in many hearing the call of the One who is the fulfillment of all that the previous Judges prefigure. He is Jesus and He still calls out as He did when he started His ministry ‘The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!’ (Mark 1:15b) May many be converted to God and find a way of life which is solidly established because it is based on scripture. Then principles would start to determine our ways again.
(Taken and adapted from the Feltham Evangelical Church newsletter of December 2014)