Darkness Before Dawn
Three unrelated items all appearing in the daily paper on the same day have been enough to sound again the warning bells about the steady slide of our society. No doubt they are all true. They present obvious concerns for parents. We are aware that the subtle war for the minds of men is more dangerous and is being fought at more profound levels. But once the foundations of a God-less world have been laid this is the sort of society which will be evident:-
1. Increasing degeneracy in popular music.
The biggest English star on the pop scene called Robbie Williams has issued a video in which he appears to peel off his skin and pelt the dancers with chunks of his flesh, and the dancers eat it. This appeared this week on an increasingly X-rated “Top of the Pops.” One can remember one’s children watching Cliff Richard singing ‘Congratulations’ on that programme. No Christian can watch it any longer. Many supposedly ‘offensive’ videos are accompanying songs aimed at the teenage audience. When someone who calls himself ‘Eminem’ recently performed a number on “Top of the Pops” there were so many bleeps to cover the swear words that the producer ditched the appearance all together. The paper said, “Modesty, decorum, good taste: these are concepts that hold little away in the bawling, sprawling arena of pop where it is the worst behaviour and the most extreme exhibitionist tendencies that earn the biggest rewards.” Someone called Richard Ashcroft said, “People want me to live their fantasy, angst-ridden, messed-up, drug-fuelled madness for them.” The heroes of so many young people are such men who have clawed their way to the top, men who are motivated by a mixture of personal insecurity and massive egotism. These are the role models of a whole lost generation.
2. Increasing immodesty in personal appearance.
The paper described the new look – the ‘Essex Girl’ – which teenagers must get. There is not much dress, and what there is is accompanied by high heels and a handbag. The women get to be peacocks; the face is caked in colour, hair is yellow, stiff as erect plumage. There is no need of further description of dress or attitude. It is as bad as it looks. Both boys and girls need ‘attitude’; a little bit crass, a little bit swaggering, assertion on the brink of aggression. Leaving a church after a young people’s meeting on a Friday evening and walking through the streets of a town back home can be an intimidating experience, but we, at least, have happy peaceful homes to return to.
3. Increasing interest in witchcraft.
About 100 teenage girls every month want to join covens to learn about casting spells, according to a report in the September issue of a magazine published by the Premier Christian Media Group called “Youthwork.” The demand is being accelerated by thousands of pages on the Internet offering everything from ‘poison’ rings to spells. One book to be published later this year is “The Young Witches’ Handbook’ by Kate West, vice-president of the Pagan Federation. It includes spells to find a partner and to pass examinations. Another book is by Marina Baker called “Spells for Teenage Witches.”
One does not need to research any more into modern decadence. We have said too much already. That the nation is awash with drugs and hooked on drink, sexual purity is the object of more relentless scorn than ever before, violence can erupt out of nothing, television programmes are unspeakably tawdry, and that the Internet is an intercontinental morass of filth – such observations are unquestionably true. A person of spiritual sensitivity can hardly walk around any big city without wishing to avert his gaze from the advertisements.
These three items from the Times (August 4, 2000) present a bleak picture of British life. We are a nation experiencing the wrath of God, and those are some of its manifestations.
And the good news? We can still express our opinions very freely on moral questions. What we say is so revolutionary, every other idea being a demonstrable failure, that we must not cease speaking of the good law of God, the wisdom of the Ten Commandments and the truth of the Bible. We have our Christian homes where an alternative life-style is promoted and experienced. The gospel is being preached from thousands of pulpits all over Britain today to congregations whose longing is that God’s name should be honoured again. This very day when such bad news appeared in the paper a dozen of us met for prayer at 7 a.m. as we have done every Friday for some years. God was with us. There was much fervent intercession and hope. We were privileged to be there.
The situation we face today is not new. This was Neronian Rome, when members of ancient families were compelled by the crazed emperor to join him in theatrical performances, not by invitation, but command. One thinks of the octogenarian Aelia Catella, who was humiliated by being forced to dance. One thinks of the degradation of the circus. But enough! Over that Christianity triumphed because the early Christians out-loved, out-preached, out-suffered and out-thought their neighbours.
Liza Picard has just written “Dr Johnson’s London” (Weidenfeld, £20), examining the Metropolis between 1740 and 1770. It is full of fascinating details, but her surface approach deprives the reader of the sense of violence and hopelessness of that age, and the details about the extraordinary effect that the great Evangelical Awakening had on London and the British Isles. The salt regained is savour. Might not the God of the early church and our evangelical fathers not show such mercy on us again?
Living in the World 6 November 2020
This article is the contents of an address first given in February 2020 at the Westminster Presbyterian Theological Seminary, Newcastle, UK. * * * LIVING in the world. How are Christians to live in the world? The question can be answered in many ways. The topic is potentially vast in scope — that becomes more […]
When coming to consider plagues throughout history and some Christian responses, it is appropriate to begin with this extract from the 1662 Book of Common Prayer: O Almighty God, who in thy wrath did send a plague upon thine own people in the wilderness, for their obstinate rebellion against Moses and Aaron; and also, in […]