THE WORD IS
Among the youth of our day there is an effort to bring about changes in our society through certain means of pressure and coercion, by attacking matters straight on and by?passing the methods presupposed by our nation's laws, decrees and good proven customs. Those involved in this effort do not represent all of our youth - perhaps only a small minority. They are influential largely because of the media, which seem to have difficulty in presenting matters from a realistic perspective. This method (the direct approach), which has been learned from the world, has also been used in the Christian churches. The task of the Church has been construed to include not only curing the ills of society, but also curing them by unconventional methods.
THE LACK OF EXPERIENCE AND KNOWLEDGE
Youth seeks ideals. It has a proclivity for idealism, and often at the same time is full of enthusiasm, eager for action and seeking a way to put its ideals into practice. In such an attitude there is not yet anything moral, either good or bad. Whether we approve or disapprove of youth's attitude depends on the deals and the way in which they are pursued and carried out. Are the ideals right or wrong? And are the ways in which they are pursued and carried out morally acceptable? In one of our songs for youth we sing: "Here your zeal is appropriate and your cheerful songs are of help."
Youth of a necessity lacks experience. Young people do not know how improvement can be achieved, and often do not even know which means of improvement are right and already in existence. The lack of experience is also partly to blame for the superficial understanding of man's corruption and the childish belief that the world can be improved instantly and changes brought about in matters whose roots had their beginning centuries ago. Disappointment gives rise to bitterness and the disappointed one doesn't understand its cause. Christian young people also often do not understand what means God has provided for holding in check fallen mankind and the world, which lies in "the power of the evil one" (1 John 5:19), so that man cannot commit all the evil he contemplates in his heart.
THE BY-PASSING OF THE LAW
To the Christian, who knows the Bible, it is apparent that by-passing the Law and rebelling against it, is against God's will and His Word. "Therefore he who resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves... Wherefore it is necessary to be in subjection, not only because of wrath, but also for conscience sake" (Rom. 13:2,5).
The Bible, it's true, recognizes exceptional circumstances in which one "must obey God rather than men" (Acts 5:29). But during the time of the Apostles circumstances of this type did not even include slavery. The Apostles were permitted to act contrary to the civil authorities when the authorities forbade them to proclaim God's Word, so too the Egyptian midwives (Ex. 1:15-21), when they were commanded to kill the male children of the Hebrews. In many countries, through the influence of the atheistic philosophy of life, certain changes have been made in the laws, which do not protect the development of life. But restless youth does not take note of this. When we compare the faults of society, which today's youth is attacking, to the faults at the time of the Apostles, for instance slavery, we can readily see that circumstances today are not exceptional to such a degree that the law can be by?passed.
WHAT ARE THE GOALS OF THE RESTLESS?
The agitators among the restless see modern day society as the root of all evil. For this reason they believe that society must be renewed by corrupting and destroying the old or opposing it in some other way. What sort of society they want is often unclear to them. By destroying the old they envisualize a better society, the nature of which cannot as yet be determined. There is even one school of thought which maintains that there is nothing permanent to strive for. Goals, the way of life and morals may change continually. Today its representatives may be of one opinion, tomorrow of another.
According to God's Word, however, there are certain institutions that have a divine right of existence, and which cannot be rebelled against without incurring God's wrath.
Institutions of this type are:
Of these the first two belong to the sphere of earthly life, the third, to the sphere of spiritual life.
In present-day youth's desire to destroy the old, the question is not really one of renewal, which is constantly needed in the face of changing times and circumstances, but the question is of the destruction of the above mentioned institutions or rebellion against God.
From that perspective accusations against society are made. It is accused of practicing bureaucracy and government by police force, of being slow to act and promoting class distinction and racial segregation. Something of this nature can indeed occur at times in certain areas among certain people. But it does not occur because everything old is bad, and the matter cannot be corrected by rejecting basic values. There are many acceptable ways of improving our society. Mature citizens, especially Christians, should also have patience. A sinless society cannot be created from sinful people.
THE CHURCH AND THE FAULTS OF SOCIETY
In our day the Christian Church is viewed as a sector of society and even as a group for pressuring society. This can be explained by the fact that the methods of operation used by the unbelieving world are being brought into the churches. The Apostles knew how to separate the spiritual from the earthly. The Apostolic Church was not a pressure group or a sector of society. This is apparent, for instance, from the Apostles' attitude toward slavery. Paul writes: "Were you called while a slave? Do not worry about it; but if you are able also to become free, rather do that" (1 Cor.7:21). According to the Bible the task of the Christian Church is not correcting the faults of society. The Church merely exhorts its members to act properly and expects this of them.
The above?mentioned exhortation of Paul to slaves provides much room for thought because the lines of demarcation between the spiritual and earthly spheres are jumbled in the minds of people today. The members of the early Church obeyed the civil authorities. Without pressuring the masters of slaves or urging the slaves to rebel against their masters, the Christian Church, as is generally known, was in time instrumental in abolishing slavery, even though the abolition of slavery was not a part of its program. One wonders just how great a blessing would ensue, if in Christendom today the spiritual and earthly matters were kept separate from each other.
THE RESTLESS AND PACIFISM
Certain radicals have adopted pacifism as part of their program. They oppose military service, thinking that by doing so, they can oppose war.
According to the Bible God has given the sword to the civil government and at the same time has given it the authority to command its citizens to use it. The Christian faith does not include the idea that arms and military service are in themselves evil. Christian indeed want to live in peace with all people. But that is another matter.
God has given the civil government the sword to use in this evil world so that with its help He can prevent the coarse outbreak of evil. God wants the sword held by the civil government to be directed against evildoers for the benefit of the citizens. Defending one's country is also using the sword of the civil government. An anarchy would soon arise if a State had no army, police, laws or punishments. Man's corruption is the reason for all this. Wars are not caused by armies and arms but by people. According to the Bible there will never be a kingdom made up only of believers on this earth. On the contrary the great majority will be unbelievers. Experience also indicates that we cannot always even rely on the peaceful aspirations of Christians because every Christian still is corrupt by nature.
Peter used the sword by his own authority against the civil government. Jesus told him: "Put your sword back into its place" (Matt. 26:52). The question has often been left unasked: By whose sword would have the rebellious Peter perished? By the sword of the government, of course. Thus Jesus placed His Apostle as a human being and member of society under the authority of the civil government, even under the sword of the government! (Compare this to the Catholic Church's demand for power). Jesus did not take away the sword from the civil government, but rather preserved it for the government.
WHAT IS BEHIND THE RESTLESSNESS?
There are certain goals associated with the restlessness of our day that are by nature idealistic, such as promoting the cause of the needy and demanding equality and tolerance for everyone. But the same people who speak of these matters have a desire to rise up against all divine basic values. According to the Bible the devil puts on the armor of light so that his activity will seem to be morally acceptable. Behind such armor it is easier to bring about the destruction of the basic values, the foundation of human life. Behind this mask of idealism it is easier to reach youth in particular, for youth seeks ideals, if not noble ones, then at least distorted ones.
When youth lacks experience and discernment, it can easily be led astry by half?truths.
THE FOURTH COMMANDMENT
"But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy" (2 Tim. 3:1,2). This prediction of the Apostle has come true in the present restlessness of our age. The Fourth Commandment gives parents the authority and responsibility to demand obedience from their children. If someone has been granted some authority, it is a sin not to fulfill the responsibilities it entails or to let it slip into hands that cannot be controlled. If children do not learn at home to respect commands and prohibitions, arrangements and agreements as well as their parents, it is difficult for them to learn to adjust when they are away from home.
We live in an age of rapid development in the fields of industry and technology. The term "old-fashioned" is often applied where it doesn't belong: to the order of creation, to Christian doctrine and to morality. It is easily forgotten that we are building on the work of hundreds of generations, without which the development taking place today would not be possible. We are also responsible for the way in which we use this heritage, and for the condition in which we leave it to future generations. We are responsible for this in the sight of that Creator from whom we have received our cultural task (Gen. 2:15).