There is a massive difference between breaking God’s law (sin) and breaking the laws of the nations we live in – although sometimes they can look very much the same. A man who murders another is clearly both sinning and breaking the law of the land. Conversely a man who covets in his heart something that is forbidden to him – such as his neighbour’s wife – is not breaking any law of the land, but he is sinning.
In Hebrew 4:12 the writer clearly states that the Word of God judges the thoughts and intentions of the heart – irrespective of whether or not what was dwelt on in the heart was ever actually committed. And Jesus added to this thinking by redefining adultery (Matthew 5:28) as the lust of the eyes which fixes on a woman’s body with a view to imagining having a sexual experience with her. Job made it clear that he had not fallen into this trap by saying he had never looked wrongfully on a girl (Job 31:1).
So, everyone reading this blog would probably agree that lust is a sin, but the fact is we now live in a world where it is not illegal to aid and abet lust by producing, displaying and selling pornographic images in ever increasing detail and general availability. The number of so-called ‘adult’ channels on free to view and satellite TV channels grows by the day and makes pornography available to anyone, whatever their age, at the click of a button on a remote control. Sadly, the purveyors of such material are not breaking the law of the land, but they are breaking God’s commandments and facilitating sin. And the same can be said of the governments that license the TV moguls to transmit such material.
The government’s current plea to the makers of Blackberry mobile phones, not to allow pornography to be viewed on their screens because it might damage young people, would carry more weight if the legislators had the courage to make the transmission of pornography illegal in the first place. Suggesting to a phone manufacturer that it shouldn’t do something which successive governments have legitimised through law is, surely, the height of hypocrisy! If they believe pornography is harmful, why don’t they have the courage of their convictions and make the open transmission of all pornography a criminal offence?
One could follow this line of thinking in many other areas. For example, it is not illegal to ask for an abortion, or for a doctor to provide one – but it is sinful. Government rules and regulations are definitely not in line with God’s Word. Respect for human life begins with respect for the unborn child. The fact published this week which states that 25% of young people lost their virginity before the legal age for marriage (16) speaks for itself – abortion is portrayed to this generation as just another form of contraception. What a travesty of the truth.
There are probably hundreds of other ways in which Government legislation permits people to break God’s law without legal retribution. But the tragedy is, sin is not without its consequence – as Paul said to the Galatians, “God is not mocked” (Galatians 6:7). The fact that something sinful may be legal does not remove the consequences of sinful actions from the life of man.
The unchecked practice of sin does, of course, lead to anti-social behaviour, and anti-social behaviour leads to what the UK Government are now calling ‘troublesome families’. There are believed to be about 120,000 such families in the UK and together they cost the British tax-payer about £9 billion every year! Because they cost so much, they have come to the attention of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who is keen to save some money in these economically stringent times.
So, the Government is now intent on reducing the size of the problem by spending another half a billion pounds on employing a small army of family advisors, whose job it is to try and help the families sort out their own problems and so take a slice off the £9 billion pound cost to the taxpayer.
I doubt if there’s ever been such a blatant example of trying to close the stable door after the horse has bolted – and not just, in this case, one horse, but a whole string of out-of-control horses that are galloping at full speed across the land that was once Great Britain.
There are no longer any moral boundaries to keep the horses in the stable and we fondly think that a band of family advisors, with no moral authority can do the job! Ultimately, when a nation dismisses God from its statute books, as if He is irrelevant to the needs of a humanistic modern-day society, there will be no fear of God in the land. And where there is no fear of God, there is no restraint (Proverbs 29:18) and where there is no restraint, the people are perishing because there are no limits to the depths of moral rebellion. And where there is no restraint the people will die for lack of knowledge. Only the fool says in his heart that there is no God (Psalm 14:1)
The genie is out of the bottle. And no army of advisers to troublesome families will ever be able to re-capture the essence of rebellion that has been unleashed on our society. It’s interesting that only this week the Prime Minister, David Cameron, addressed churchmen in Christ Church, Oxford and urged them to boldly declare the Christian faith to the nation. I have no doubt that David Cameron realises that without a spiritual awakening, he is fighting an impossible sociological battle, having only political weapons to fight with.
I can’t pretend that in my youth in the fifties people didn’t sin. I’m sure they did. But the difference between then and now is that then people knew when they were doing wrong! Today, people have no knowledge of the difference between right and wrong, between godliness and sinfulness. This generation of young people has been betrayed by the leaders of Church and State who, in the last fifty years, have systematically destroyed the godly foundations of government, education and social behaviour and dismissed the authority of the Bible as an irrelevant anachronism.
The whirlwind is just beginning to gather speed and only when it has done its worst will people realise what they have done and bemoan the crucifixion of truth and the passing of righteousness into the history books.
Perhaps the historians of future generations will shake their heads in utter amazement at what was thrown away by our generation in exchange for a mess of potage (see Genesis 27). The conduct that would bring God’s blessing was sacrificed on the altar of humanism and hedonistic self-indulgence.
O God, what have we done?