I recently finished reading the book Not for Sale: the Return of the Global Slave Trade – and How We Can Fight It by David Batstone. The title says it all. This book is a blatant, straightforward assessment of the current state of human trafficking all over the world. I can’t necessarily say I enjoyed the book (as one might enjoy candy), but I can say it definitely gave me a good wakeup call to this great need in our day. For those of you who are interested in battling human trafficking and slavery, I can definitely recommend it.
For me, however, it brought up many interesting thoughts. There are many problems in this world that, as a Christian, I want to see ended, slavery being one. But as I began to think about how I would go about battling this cause specifically, this though occurred to me: “This is exactly why we need a revival in our churches.”
Go with me for a second: let’s say the hot topic of abortion is settled once and for all in our country, with the pro-life movement coming out on top. Abortion is illegalized – that’s great! However, there is just one problem… are there still girls getting pregnant because they haven’t been taught otherwise? We’ve still got the crisis of teen pregnancies on hand. And we don’t want those kids going to the foster care system, because it’s practically worthless. What about pornography? That abomination is still fueling young men to pursue women as objects for their own pleasure.
What I came to realize was this: we don’t just need a few laws to be passed and the police force to crack down on these issues. We need something more. We need our entire country to be radically changed.
Here’s the point I’m trying to make: you can’t separate Christian morals from Christianity. It just doesn’t work that way. William Wilberforce saw this clearly in his battle against the slave trade. He penned, “Almighty God has set before me two great objectives: the abolition of the slave trade and the reformation of manners.” By “manners”, Wilberforce meant morals. He understood that in order for the slave trade to be abolished once and for all, it would take more than just new laws – it would take revival. His book, A Practical View of the Prevailing Religious System of Professed Christians in the Higher and Middle Classes in this Country Contrasted with Real Christianity (also known as, A Practical View of Christianity for short), proves this point. Wilberforce desired to reform not just the laws of England, but the state of Christianity in England. Without Christianity to back up the morals, any system of law will quickly fall apart.
In my (limited) understanding of history, I have seen a pattern of societal degradation. Let’s take the issue of sexual immorality as an example. The first generation says, “We remain pure because we are Christians. God commands it, so we agree and hold to it.” If Christianity isn’t fully passed on in this same manner, the second generation will say, “We remain pure just because that’s the proper and right thing to do.” There isn’t much support to hold up the morals, so the third generation comes along and begins to bend the rules by saying, “So why do we stay pure anyway?” Of course, this question is passed along to the next generation, who break the boundaries and say, “Well, it doesn’t really matter anyhow. You can stay pure if you want, but some of us are going to seek sexual gratification our own way.” This compromise leads to the fifth generation, which not only allows this immorality, but boldly declares, “We are sexually immoral, and proud of it! No one can tell us what to do! Sexual immorality is a good thing!”
The system of morals fell apart because it had no strength in it. Though generation one succeeded in passing on the morality to their progeny, they failed in passing along their Christianity. Thus, when the second generation faced the questions of the third, they had nothing with which to answer them.
I see our society on the edge of plunging into the darkness of applauding immorality and sin. Listen to the words of King David in Psalm 12; how well it describes our country’s state:
Help, LORD; for the godly man ceaseth; for the faithful fail from among the children of men. They speak vanity every one with his neighbour: with flattering lips and with a double heart do they speak. The LORD shall cut off all flattering lips, and the tongue that speaketh proud things: who have said, With our tongue will we prevail; our lips are our own: who is lord over us? For the oppression of the poor, for the sighing of the needy, now will I arise, saith the LORD; I will set him in safety from him that puffeth at him. The words of the LORD are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times. Thou shalt keep them, O LORD, thou shalt preserve them from this generation for ever. The wicked walk on every side, when the vilest men are exalted.
I see the despair of King David. But I also see the hope. I do see something beginning to stir in the body of Christ. My prayer now is that the Spirit of God will blow it into a large and consuming fire. When revival comes, all wickedness is driven out. If we truly want these battles to be won, we need the aid in our hands and the gospel on our tongue. And may God get all the glory.
Help, Lord; for the godly man ceaseth; for the faithful fail from among the children of men. 2 They speak vanity every one with his neighbour: with flattering lips and with a double heart do they speak. 3 The Lord shall cut off all flattering lips, and the tongue that speaketh proud things: 4 Who have said, With our tongue will we prevail; our lips are our own: who is lord over us? 5 For the oppression of the poor, for the sighing of the needy, now will I arise, saith the Lord; I will set him in safety from him that puffeth at him. 6 The words of the Lord are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times. 7 Thou shalt keep them, O Lord, thou shalt preserve them from this generation for ever. 8 The wicked walk on every side, when the vilest men are exalted.Psalms 12:1-8 (KJV)