The recovery of childhood and the grace of God

The BBC reports today that Children’s author Dame Jacqueline Wilson has expressed concern that youngsters are growing up too quickly.

There is a general lawlessness in British trash culture which deprives children of an extended period of innocence. I grew up in a sheltered rural Scottish village and was then thrust illprepared into Glasgow student culture where my peers were two or three years “ahead” of me. I thought they were street-wise and I hated being innocent. Drunkenness, promiscuity and moral lawlessness resulted as I raced to catch up.

But good moral behaviour and laws are necessary for civil society to function. The problem British culture faces is how high to set the bar. If we set the bar too high by insisting on high moral values, people will fail. When we set ourselves up for failure we produce a climate of massive corporate guilt. So what should we do?

The answer this country has given to that question for the past 40 years or so has been to steadily lower the bar. When we fail we lay “let’s change the standard” because this takes away our guilt and we feel better. The problem is, even as we lower the bar, there’s still inevitable failure and where there is failure there is guilt and so we must lower the bar again.

For example, there has been a steady erosion of sexual morality in the last 40 years which went in stages like this:

  1. Sex before marriage is wrong
  2. You can have a little sex before marriage, just make sure you don’t get pregnant.
  3. If you get pregnant, get an abortion or get married quickly, before people realise your mistake
  4. Just get married when you can, but make sure you do.
  5. At least try and wait until you meet someone you want to marry before you have reproductive sex.
  6. At least wait until you are 16.

Now, many don’t wait. The BBC report shows that 45% of under 16s sleepover at their boyfriends or girlfriends and another recent survey shown around 22% of children have sex before their 15th birthday, which is before the legal age of consent.

That is how far we have come in 40 years since the beginning of the sexual revolution and knowing the history of human behaviour the worst is probably still to come.

Given our corporate tendency towards lawlessness, what reason can we give people for keeping the highest possible moral standards? If we are setting ourselves up for failure, and guilt, what reason does God give us for being good? If being godly and moral is so hard, which it is, and so often results in shameful failure, then why bother?

Paul writes, For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people…redeeming us us from all lawlessness. (Titus 2:11-13).

The desire for a moral society in Britain is perhaps strong but we can’t raise the bar without en masse failure and guilt. The grace of God in the death of Christ for sin is the only way for our guilt to be removed and for us to be freed from all lawlessness. If we want high moral standards we need a higher level of grace for the times we fail. Christ’s substitutionary death alone provides the way.

About neilrobbie

I am a 6'6" formerly ginger Scot, in a cross cultural marriage to my lovely Londoner wife. We've lived in SE Asia and since 2005, I have served as an Anglican minister in Wolverhampton and West Bromwich.
This entry was posted in Transforming hatred of Sin and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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