Monday, December 11, 2006

Breakdown Britain

The Sunday Telegraph yesterday interviewed Iain Duncan Smith in anticipation of the launch of his interim report "Breakdown Britain", commissioned by the leader of the Conservative Party, David Cameron. In this report, Duncan Smith examines what is at the root of social breakdown in the UK today:
It identifies the "collapse of the family" as a key driver of social breakdown, claiming that children from broken homes are far more likely to fail at school, turn to drink and drugs or fall foul of the law. It concludes that without a "radical reappraisal" of policy towards marriage "social tensions will grow, fuelling the wave of violent crime that is already scarring society and eroding the informal bonds that keep communities together".
The interviewer goes on to state:
The Chingford MP is clear that the trend for rearing children in loose, transient relationships is damaging.

"The facts show that there is a difference between a cohabiting couple with children and a married couple with children. The reality is the children themselves do suffer enormously. The life chances of those children degrade immediately on the breakdown."

It will be interesting to hear more about this report when it is published later today. The conclusions may be a revelation to the 21st century political elite, but this should not be so for the Christian. God designed the family to be bedrock of all human relationships and the ideal situation for the nurture, instruction and discipline of children. If this design is rejected, the result will be the breakdown of society as a whole.

However, important as strong marriages are to the functioning of society, there is a deeper reason for "Breakdown Britain." Underlying the rejection of marriage is a rejection of God himself, his rule and his grace. And what we see around us at the end of 2006 is not unknown territory. Today, I read Isaiah 3 and was struck by the familiar ring of the situation depicted there. Isaiah is proclaiming God's judgement on Judah, who have rejected his law and spurned his grace. Verse 5 says,

And the people will oppress one another, every one his fellow and every one his neighbour; the youth will be insolent to the elder, and the despised to the honourable.

God gives Judah up to their sin and the result is the breakdown of society; the young give no respect to their elders, everyone is looking out for "number one".

This is a gloomy picture and we cannot look to politicians for a remedy. A few chapters further on in Isaiah, God presents his solution:

The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in the land of deep darkness, on them has light shined...For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:2&6)

Praise God for the incarnation of his Son and pray that this Christmas, God will open people's eyes to their need for a Saviour.

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