On Social Morality and Law and Order

Any media outlet that expresses public opinion in any form, for example talk-back radio, is awash with concern over the current state of crime, violence, social addictions and morality. Much of the debate centers on law, what changes need to be made if any, and how to enforce those changes once made, or simply retain the status quo but strengthen penalties for transgression.

A few years ago our government was embarrassed by revelations that it had broken the law over some election issues. This was not just the ruling party, but also opposition parties who were found to be guilty, some quite seriously. The eventual response to this, after much discussion and pointing of fingers from all directions and red-faced obfuscating and fudging of issues, was a retrospective change to the law.

Sadly, this is not an unusual response from secular society. When enough people, and not necessarily the majority, but enough to make an impact, flout current law or ignore acceptable behaviour and openly rebel against current standards, the inevitable response from politicians, bereft of any real solutions and lacking for the most part personal moral conviction, lower the legal standard in order to accommodate the law-breakers. A glaring example of this recently here in this country was the lowering of the legal drinking age as a result of concern over underage drinking. Naturally, when the new law wasn’t sufficiently enforced even younger people took advantage of this new found ‘freedom’, and now society is reeling from the impact of binge drinking by minors. When an opportunity arose later to rectify the matter through a bill introduced and supported by several more insightful members of parliament, because of pride and self interest, the status quo won, and the problems remain.

 

With leaders like this, and parents all too willing to abrogate authority and responsibility for their children to the government and/or schools, or even worse with many, where the internet has become a de facto parent, children lack consistent role models and leadership to set a high moral example. Children are then left to themselves to find their own role models, and Satan is only too willing to oblige them, mainly through the entertainment industries. Anyone who is ‘good’ at something becomes a ‘star’, whether sportsmen or women, entertainers or actors or media ‘celebrities’, all promoted as the quintessential role model of the new age, yet most end up on the front pages of the tabloid newspapers for all the wrong reasons, having fallen headlong from the pedestal upon which they had been placed; and these ‘idols’ are found to be as prone to extra-marital affairs, drugs, alcohol abuse, violence, and fraud as the next door neighbour. Yes, ‘stars’ are human too.

 

We humans are very much like cows. If you put 100 cows into a paddock but leave gates open, an hour or so later there will be 20 cows in each of five paddocks, regardless of the sufficiency of feed in the first paddock. We all, like cows, constantly crave what we don’t need, touch which we ought to leave alone, go where we ought to walk away from, and welcome that which we should shun. We, like cows, need boundaries beyond which we should not venture. Sadly, like cows, we don’t always need open gates to encourage our waywardness. We push at the boundaries much like cows push at fences. We push until they give way, and we then establish new boundaries. In society, the power for the boundary is the judicial system, parental control, or school or business discipline. On the farm, it is electricity. In society, those powers enforcing the boundaries are under constant attack, and are currently being compromised to the point of extinction. In this country, murder is met with ‘life imprisonment’ with a non-parole period of 12 to 14 years attached. Sometimes less. Go figure.

When cows break down a fence, the first thing to be checked is the power. If it isn’t working, it is reconnected to the fence, the fence repaired, and the cows driven back to their former quarters. What kind of a farmer would one be if he moved the fence and left the power disconnected? Yet that is what society is doing with its progeny, and every subsequent generation is met with weaker and weaker defences against all out anarchy. Then we ring the radio stations and complain that our ‘neighbours’ children are lawless immoral reprobates and society gone to the dogs. Then we hang up, go back to our TVs and cocktail cabinets and blame the government. And children are particularly prone to the ‘cow’ problem. Ever seen a 3 yo not go through an open gate, or climb a fence if possible?

 

Ethical, moral, and civil boundaries are essential to the well being of society, they must remain constant, and they must be enforced. Accomplished musicians adhere to the laws of harmony, melody, and rhythm. The closer the musician keeps to the laws, the better is the music. The alternative, to rebel against the laws that govern music, results in punk rock.

The same applies to builders, who must adhere to the laws of engineering and physics etc that govern their trade. Any compromise or disobedience to those laws result in what we recently witnessed in Haiti.

Just as in art and trade, so also in all of life. We can only live to our potential as human beings if we obey the laws and parameters God has set for mankind and revealed to us through the Ten Commandments. The law of God is the eternal unchanging standard by which mankind will be judged, and for the transgression of which Christ died. Sin is transgression against the law, and the wages of sin is death. Only through the grace of God through Christ can obedience be attained, but obedience is none the less essential to gaining eternal life. God set the nation of Israel to be His witnesses in the midst of rampant idolatry and sinfulness in the surrounding nations. Sadly, through compromise and refusing to obey God by destroying the heathen pagan Canaanites, their abominations became “pricks in their eyes and thorns in their sides” and Israel failed in their God given opportunities. The church is now in a similar role. The church now stands as God’s witness to His power to establish His righteousness in the minds and hearts of His people. Let us not fail Him in these last days. Let us now recommit ourselves in holy consecration to obey, love, and share the gospel with a world lost in sin and idolatry. The world needs Jesus; the world needs to know Jesus loves them, and they will never know until we love them first, and demonstrate the power of God to change lives and make them conformable to His laws. The abundant powerful testimony of a life dedicated to God is the most effectual witness to a world dieing of starvation from a chronic shortage of Spirit filled standard bearers.

 

With many, obedience to the laws of God have become somewhat fudged, mainly through the acceptance of traditions which have led the church away from the express will of God. An incident in the OT (1 Kings 13: 1-34) reveals to us the importance of obedience to the express word of God. An unnamed prophet was given the task to rebuke the altar upon which king Jereboam was about to offer sacrifice. Because the Levites had refused to join Jereboam in his political machinations of ordering two separate places of worship in the northern kingdom, Jereboam was left with the only alternative but to make anyone a priest who applied, and making himself one also. The prophet in the meantime, after doing courageously what God had commanded, did not quite complete his duty. Told to leave the northern kingdom immediately after his commission, he dallied and relaxed under a tree. There another prophet found him and invited him home under the pretext of a lie. The result was death to the prophet from Judah. God deems obedience extremely important. Any message from a ‘prophet’ or angel or church, where it contradicts the former express commandment of God, should be utterly  repudiated. That is where sola scriptura is such a safe option. Trusting in any man, be they priest or prophet, is placing your life in the hands of a mere mortal who is no more empowered to know and tell the truth than you are.

 

The Bereans of NT fame, refused to simply take Paul at his word choosing rather to search the scriptures for themselves in order to verify what Paul proclaimed. (Acts 17:11) If only the unnamed prophet would have been so careful, how differently would the story have turned out. Searching the scriptures for ourselves, never surrendering our individual judgment to another on the basis of academic status or popular reasoning, these are two safeguards against the perilous mistake in judgment that caused the death of one who once stood fearlessly for God.

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