The scenes of chaos, civil disobedience and looting that descended upon the beautiful picturesque city of London shocked all communities far and wide. Many gave excuses for the abhorrent behaviour. Others just wanted issues swept underneath the carpet with a stiff upper lip. But the question that was on every one’s lips was, “where did it all go wrong?” Some answers were truly thought provoking…
[The Bishop of London said] “background to the riots is family breakdown and the absence of strong and positive role models”.
And Chief Rabbi Lord Sacks, writing in The Times newspaper, said: “Too much of contemporary society has been a vacation from responsibility.”
He commented: “Children have been the victims of our self-serving beliefs that you can have partnerships without the responsibility of marriage, children without the responsibility of parenthood, social order without the responsibility of citizenship, liberty without the responsibility of morality, and self-esteem without the responsibility of hard work and achievement.”
Mr Lammy MP warned that in areas like his there is, “none of the basic starting presumption of two adults who want to start a family, raise children together, love them, nourish them and lead them to full independence”.
He continued: “The parents are not married and the child has come, frankly, out of casual sex; the father isn’t present, and isn’t expected to be.
“There aren’t the networks of extended families to make up for it.” He warned that children, without male role models, turn to “hip-hop”, “gang culture” and peer groups for their masculinity. -The Christian Institute
This may be true in some cases but not all rioters and looters came from single families or from dysfunctional homesteads or yobs with no decent upbringing. Poverty, social exclusion, poor education – these are just some of the poor, insufficient and flimsy theories put forward to explain the recent rioting and gluttonous looting.
There was a plethora of backgrounds. Let’s look at a couple of the cases. Three teenage girls (one of whom being an up and coming model) were arrested with packs of looted ware. All pleaded guilty and had no previous convictions. Upon sentencing them an appalled District Judge lamented: ‘The tragedy is that you are all of previous good character, each of you well educated.’ Their lawyer had invain pleaded and told the court: ‘I was taken by surprise. Talking to them and recently talking to their families, they come across as perfectly ordinary, reasonable, dare I say it civilised young women.’
What will you say then about Laura Johnson? A 19 year old who happens to be a millionaire’s daughter; she was charged with stealing £5,000-worth of electronic goods, including a Toshiba TV, Goodmans TV, microwave and mobile phones. You see, Miss Johnson attended St Olave’s Grammar School in Orpington, Kent, the fourth best performing state school in the country. Ironically she achieved A*s in classical civilisation and is now studying at Exeter University.
Not to forget Chelsea, the 2012 London Olympics ambassador turned in by her own mother. The talented athlete was charged with burglary, violent disorder and hurling bricks at a police car. While her mum and dad were at home watching scenes of decadence unfold on television, lo and behold: ‘Roger and I were watching the TV news and it was absolutely sickening,’ she said. ‘And then we saw our daughter. I could not believe it. For a minute we did not know what to do.’
The plain truth is man of himself is inclined to wickedness. Since the fall of Adam we became totally depraved (Genesis 3:6) every part of man—his mind, will, emotions and flesh—have been corrupted by sin. In other words, sin affects all areas of our being including who we are and what we do. It penetrates to the very core of our being so that everything is tainted by sin and “…all our righteous acts are like filthy rags” before a holy God (Isaiah 64:6). This terrible condition of man’s heart will never be recognized by people who assess it only in relation to other men. The bible laments this in saying, man’s heart is “deceitful and desperately wicked” (Jeremiah 17:9), and the thoughts of his heart are “continually evil” (Genesis 6:5).
So then, with “no if and no buts” can you see where the problem lies? It lies in you and me. We are already flawed. It’s not just “those rioters” or “those British louts”. What happened in London can happen in Soweto or Tokyo or Iceland or even the Wallstreet. Man is born dead in transgression and sin (Psalm 51:5, Psalm 58:3, Ephesians 2:1-5). The Bible teaches that because unregenerate man is “dead in transgressions” (Ephesians 2:5), he is held captive by a love for sin (John 3:19; John 8:34). There is therefore no doubt that man could perform more evil acts toward his fellow man than he does if it wasn’t for the grace of God holding back the relentless throes of wickedness.
St Augustine of Hippo in the early part of the fifth century rightly said:
Our nature is not only destitute of all good, but is so fertile in all evils that it cannot remain inactive. Those who have called it concupiscence have used an expression not improper, if it were only added, which is far from being conceded by most persons, that everything in man, the understanding and will, the soul and body, is polluted and engrossed by this concupiscence; or, to express it more briefly, that man is of himself nothing else but concupiscence.
Don’t get me wrong. It does not mean that man is as wicked or sinful as he could be, nor does it mean that man is without a conscience or any sense of right or wrong. Neither does it mean that man does not or cannot do things that seem to be good when viewed from a human perspective or measured against a human standard.
The idea that man by nature is a depraved sinner runs contrary to most modern religious, psychological and philosophical views of the basic nature of man. But the fact is that the Bible does teach that the depravity of the human heart, and the root cause of man’s problems is not the environment he is raised in but his wicked and selfish heart.
We must take the facts as we find them. To sum up the wickedness in the heart of man, here is a short clip of part of what went on in London ( this unfortunate incident involves a teenager with a broken jaw):