The Inability to Enforce Standards in Western Society
Certainly one of the primary characteristics of Western society is an inability to enforce standards. We see this across the board in every institution and every sector of society. The only exception seems to be those businesses that excel because they are subject to the stiff competition of the market.
Here are some egregious examples.
Some years ago, CNN reported that at least 22,000 illegal aliens crossed the border into the United States through normal check points. The guards did not check for visas or for any kind of identification. The illegals were just waived through. This is in an age where we worry about terrorism! The guards simply did not have the will to enforce standards. As of yet there have been no serious consequences for the guards.
Speaking of illegal aliens in the United States, we can solve the problem of illegal Mexican immigration and enforce the law with regard to our borders. If we need Mexican labor and it is inhumane to prevent Mexican immigration, we can expand legal immigration or have a legal guest workers program where potential alien workers are checked with regard to any criminal problems. We do not do this because illegal workers are cheaper for businesses. Corruption and money are the root of not enforcing standards.
Many of our public schools do not enforce academic and disciplinary standards. This is in spite of the No Child Left Behind legislation. This hurts students who most desperately need an education to escape poverty. We are no longer clear on what children and young people should learn!
We know how to fight crime and to greatly lower rates of serious crime. New York City is our prime example. Mayor Rudy Giuliani attained success that few would have thought possible. New York went from being one of the most unsafe cities in the world, to one of the safest. This was accomplished in spite of the challenges of great ethnic diversity and organized crime. No doubt the prayers of believers were an influence. The success was due to a rare commitment to enforce standards for all kinds of crime, both major and minor. It entailed putting more police officers on the street. Other cities did not follow the New York pattern. So, for example, in Baltimore and Philadelphia, the crime rates still soar. They do not have the spine to enforce standards.
We add to our list environmental protection enforcement, food safety inspection and so much more.
In our local town in Israel on any given day in our shopping center, scores of cars park illegally even when many spaces are available. Here again is lax enforcement. The illegal parking makes it difficult for people to pull into legal spaces. The people who have been given the Law, and who are to be a light to the world, break the law and are in fact a lawless society. Laws do not mean much unless they are enforced.
In America, government agents test our airport screening system. The screeners fail again and again. They are not trained adequately to enforce the standards. Those who train them do not show high standards themselves!
In hospitals, many patients die because nurses and aids simply refuse to follow directions for washing their hands. The hospitals are not able to enforce hygienic standards.
We have laws on the books against pornography. They are not enforced. We no longer even have standards against homosexual behavior and other aberrant sexual deviancies. Rap music demeans women and calls for violence, but there is no enforcing of any standards of decency. This is due to today’s interpretation of free speech. We had free speech for the first 200 years in America and yet we were able to preclude such rot.
The Root of our Problem
What is the root of all this? This is the fruit of two generations of adherence to the doctrine of relativism. Relativism tells us that there is no objective standard of truth or right and wrong. When a society is no longer unified by belief in God and His standards of right and wrong (which includes some fear of His judgment), enforcing standards is difficult indeed. We produce a spineless people who have little motivation to enforce anything.
The Condition of Western Churches
The saddest and most alarming trend is in the western churches. Society has so influenced us that Yeshua’s exhortation to not have a condemning attitude (judge not that you be not judged) has been taken to mean that we are not to enforce standards of righteousness in the Body of Believers. This is contrary to the history of Christian interpretation and was not the view in the Protestant Churches before the end of the 20th century.
This is so very contrary to the Bible’s teaching on enforcing standards in the community. In the prophets, Israel’s leaders were severely judged for not enforcing standards of justice and morality. Isaiah 59 is especially poignant. Revelation 2 and 3 strongly warn congregations that they will be judged if they do not enforce standards.
The indulgent orientation of modern western Christianity also contradicts Paul’s teaching in I Corinthians 5 and 6. Here we read that the community of faith is to discontinue fellowship with the sexually immoral members. Then we read that the community is to have a judiciary to settle serious disputes between members. In many of today’s western churches, the pastor can leave his wife and marry another with no biblical discipline. Independent churches provide no court of appeal to deal with serious miscarriages of justice. Mercy and grace are perverted to allow license. Then the press reported another scandal at a large church, this time in Atlanta. Didn’t we already know that the leader was sexually perverted? Yet the people continued to follow their corrupt bishop, and there was no process to remove him. The Church is being taught that we are all sinners so who can judge? But Paul said, such were some of you. He commanded us to judge those inside the Church (I Corinthians 4: 5). We do not understand that grace is a transforming power that leads to righteousness through identifying with Yeshua’s death and resurrection. We have no excuse for continuing to practice sin.
A few years ago I wrote a book called Due Process, a Plea for Biblical Justice Among God’s People (the new edition is now available on our web page). The enforcing of standards is at a low point in the life of the western Church. Only if churches enforce standards of righteousness will they have the power to positively influence society.
The Israeli Body of Believers
I have a dream and even have faith that God will turn this around before Yeshua returns. I think often about the Body of Believers in Israel. I have friendships with many leaders who believe in enforcing standards. Could God build such a quality of community life amongst believers in this Land that the community of believers here will bring change to the churches of the West? In some way, will the Torah go forth from Zion and the Word of the Lord from Jerusalem … even before the Messiah Yeshua returns? It is my fond hope. It is certainly possible, since much of the world and many of the churches of the world have a focus on what is happening here. I am challenged and privileged to be a part of those working toward this end in Israel. May God pour out a spirit of repentance and revival for us all.