The State of the Nation
Britain in Serious Moral Decline
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Noted Daily Mail columnist Melanie Phillips sums up the sad state of affairs in the British nation. She recently wrote: "The government is convulsed by spiralling revelations in which ministers and their aides are all swearing, plotting and spinning...Meanwhile the [London] Metropolitan Police is reeling under mounting claims of brutality at the G20 demonstration... Indeed, almost everywhere the governance of Britain appears to be crumbling before our eyes" (April 20, 2009, emphasis added throughout).
The latest incident involves the disclosure of a private e-mail by a senior government political adviser virtually slandering a few prominent members of the opposition Conservative Party. This official was subsequently forced to resign. But as Melanie Phillips observed: "True responsibility lies with the politicians who have used such creatures to carry out their destabilising campaigns and have perverted the whole of politics as a result."
This sad state of affairs shows the contempt that some political leaders have for their opponents. How can the country pull together when its political leaders are so divided?
The state church in crisis
Meanwhile Rod Liddle, writing in the well-respected weekly magazine The Spectator, asserted that the leaders of the Church of England "have ditched its traditions and reduced it to a sort of superannuated ad-hoc branch of social services. It has lost all sense of mission and direction" ("The C of E Has Forgotten Its Purpose," April 7, 2009, p. 14).
Mr. Liddle's rather severe indictment accurately reflects the suspicions of many of his countrymen and women. He continued: "It [the Anglican Church] seems to have swallowed whole every convenient shibboleth [watchword] of modern liberalism, every transient political fashion—just as have, by the way, our judiciary, our social services, our education departments. It has become an institution which is more politically correct even than our government; you look to it for moral leadership and it offers none whatsoever."
Some nine months ago Theo Hobson was even more strident in his overall appraisal of British Anglicanism. He wrote: "The church is damaged beyond repair" ("A Very English Coup—and the End of Our National Church," The Spectator, July 2, 2008, p. 14). Of course, other churches have residence in the United Kingdom, but the Church of England remains the state church and the one expected to set proper spiritual standards for the whole nation.
Basic causes examined
This publication has no interest in disparaging individuals, governments or churches just for the sake of running people or institutions into the ground. Our purpose remains to search out basic causes of national distress, identify them to our readers and recommend solutions from God's Holy Word. King Solomon observed that "the curse causeless shall not come" (Proverbs 26:2, King James Version).
Jesus Christ asked His Church to preach the good news of the Kingdom of God as a warning and witness to all nations (Matthew 24:14). This is one important aspect of our overall mission. The other is to prepare a people, making disciples around the entire world (see Matthew 28:18-20).
Embroiled in long-running controversies like the ordination of women bishops and the role of gay priests, the Anglican Church in Britain has lost its way.
Policy makers in the Church of England should know that when we determine to follow God's instructions, we must live up to all His standards. God doesn't permit us to rewrite His rules simply because humankind is naturally inclined to premarital sex, adultery, homosexuality or any other sin. A church has no real option but to strictly adhere to God's biblical standards.
What must God think of any organization that claims to represent Him but ignores His explicit instructions from both the Old and New Testaments? The Judeo/Christian Bible should be the source of doctrine, belief and practice.
When both the state church and the civil government let the people down either by dubious personal examples or failure to teach traditional truths, the nation suffers enormously. People follow their leaders, and moral behavior takes a dive.
Conservative Party leader David Cameron recently spoke out boldly about other worrying trends in Britain. He wrote: "So as we survey our broken economy, the hallmarks of our broken society are clearer than ever—crime, fear, incivility, teenage pregnancy, wasted lives. There's a theme that links all of these things together. We see it in their root causes of family breakdown, welfare dependency, debt, drugs, poverty, poor policing and failing schools. It all comes down to a society that is in danger of losing its most important value: responsibility.
"You can see this loss of responsibility in the decades-long shredding of our civic fabric. There's been a deep erosion of duty and of the unwritten codes of courtesy and neighbourliness that sustain our communities. This can't go on" ("It Isn't Just Our Economy That's Broken—Our Society Is Too," Scotland on Sunday, April 26, 2009).
Marriage and family life in the United Kingdom have really suffered from a lack of responsible behavior. According to an article by Harry Wallop (consumer affairs editor of The Daily Telegraph), "Women are more likely to give birth before they turn 25 than get married." This is an official statistic which shows "how British family life has been transformed in a generation. More people are living alone, more children are being raised by single parents" ("Death of the Traditional Family," April 16, 2009).
The marriage institution has not been helped by official government policy. "The last tax break for married couples, the married couples' allowance was abolished in 2000. Gordon Brown's flagship tax credit system pay[s] more to single mothers than to two-parent families" (ibid.). Major benefit incentives encourage single women to bear children.
The nation's religious responsibilities
Religious figures denigrate the Ten Commandments both in print and public utterances. One Oxford professor wrote: "Some people think that the Ten Commandments are a set of universal moral rules, which everybody should obey. But they are not. They are addressed to the Jews... Again these are not universal moral rules for the whole world" (Keith Ward, God: A Guide for the Perplexed, 2002, p. 73, emphasis added). The Bible teaches otherwise! See our free booklet The Ten Commandments.
Adherence to biblical standards is definitely on the wane in the British Isles and elsewhere in the Western world. Confusion reigns as to what is right and what is wrong, good or bad, truth or error.
The Hebrew prophet Isaiah looked at his own age and what he saw certainly applies to our modern world. "Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!" (Isaiah 5:20).
As British author Leo McKinstry observed: "Children growing up today know nothing of the central tenets of Christianity: the Ten Commandments, the four gospels, the Sermon on the Mount... We are living in a religiously illiterate society, where young people are not given the opportunity to decide for themselves whether to believe in God or not because they are so ill-informed about the religion which built our civilisation" (Turning the Tide, 1997, p. 6).
There is no question there are huge holes in the British national fabric. Relationships are fragile. The land is full of broken marriages, lonely people, confused and uncared-for children, rising violence and a marked decline in common courtesy, civility and good manners.
Basic changes are in order across the board. Melanie Phillips' column closed with these words of advice: "A change of government will not be enough. The rot will be stopped only if Britain starts once again to believe in itself—and in its unique history, institutions and values that once made it great, but which are now so grievously undermined" (The Daily Mail, April 20, 2009). That's a start, but far more is needed.
A call to repentance and renewal
The purpose of this article is not to defame Britain or unfairly put the microscope on her serious national problems. Instead, an integral part of preaching the true gospel message involves a genuine call to repentance—a change of mind and heart in an altogether different direction—one of obedience to God's basic spiritual law, the Ten Commandments.
What Isaiah wrote so many centuries ago applies equally well today: "Cry aloud, spare not; lift up your voice like a trumpet; tell My people their transgression [of God's law], and the house of Jacob their sins" (Isaiah 58:1). For what purpose? So that as many individuals as possible (if not the whole nation) may repent and turn to God, thereby receiving His abundant mercy (Acts 2:37-39).
This same Hebrew prophet recorded this vital reconciliation process: "'Come now, and let us reason together,' says the Lord, 'though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall be as wool. If you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land'" (Isaiah 1:18-19).
Luke's version of Christ's commission to His Church emphasizes repentance in particular: "That repentance and remission [forgiveness] of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem" (Luke 24:47).
Booklets worth having
We publish a free booklet, The Ten Commandments, that shows how each of God's commandments is as powerful, active and unchanging as the scientific law of gravity. This basic spiritual law remains the very summation of God's absolute standard for the conduct of all people. Each commandment is thoroughly explained and expounded in a separate chapter.
Another important publication you can find on our Web site wnponline.org or request by mail is The Gospel of the Kingdom. Few realize the real nature and content of the true gospel of Christ, an absolute essential to genuine spiritual understanding.
We've titled yet another booklet Transforming Your Life: The Process of Conversion. You need this basic biblical information in order to intelligently make proper spiritual decisions, leading to everlasting life. The apostle Peter stated in his first sermon on the Day of Pentecost: "Save yourselves from this untoward generation" (Acts 2:40, King James Version). You can turn your life around no matter which choices your nation makes.
All three of these publications are free of charge. Read them or download each from our Web site. WNP