"Make a chain," God told Ezekiel, "for the land is full of bloody crimes, and the city is full of violence." No prophecy of your Bible any more graphically indicts our peoples than this one. Today the great, all-wise, divine and powerful Creator God has to look down at the incredible irony of the peoples who have been given the greatest material blessings ever bestowed upon any nation; who possess the choicest piece of real estate this world ever saw; who have been granted the greatest natural possessions in raw materials and minerals; who like Atlas try to shoulder the burden of the entirety of the world; and yet cannot even discover why their most precious national resource — their youth — are out in the streets committing monstrous crimes. Our beloved United States of America — now celebrating its 200th birthday in our bicentennial year — ironically finds itself in the midst of losing some of those most precious freedoms that the founding fathers worked and fought so long and hard to establish.
We no longer are free to walk the streets of many of our cities even in broad daylight; no longer free to do a simple thing like making change on our buses and taxis; no longer free to architecturally design our homes and apartment buildings without considering the hideous specter of violent crime often taking the form of ghastly bomb explosions, muggings, murders and rapes.
Is freedom cowering before criminals? Is freedom living in terror of our own youth? Is freedom being locked up at night in our own homes and apartments while violent gangs of criminals roam our city streets?
More and more mill ions of us are being forced to change our lifestyles because violent crime continues to sweep across America at an ever-burgeoning rate — now even in previously untouched rural areas.
Crime Capital. The murder capital of the world is not atheistic Red China; it is not even godless, communist Russia — it is our own beloved "Christian" "land of the free and home of the brave." Over 20,000 human beings were murdered last year in the United States of America. The American homicide rate (proportionate to the population) is more than twice that of West Germany, nearly three times that of France, four times the rate of Australia, and over twenty-five times that of Great Britain.
We ought to be hanging our collective head in shame. But no, when some horrible political assassination (actual or attempted) takes place, our politicians are oh so quick to put the blame on those few demented souls who are the off-scouring of our society — all the while excusing that great majority of Americans who would never dream of committing a crime (unless, of course, it's cheating at cards, shaving their income taxes, or maybe padding their expense accounts).
We seem to be in total ignorance of the fact that we have created a "beautiful" climate for crime by our own foolish notions. We are a nation that does not understand the simple principle of cause and effect — and we seem always to prefer dealing with the effect while ignoring the cause. The elementary fact that criminals are made and not born escapes us.
We had better get very busy about the business of discovering the causes of crime in this country; and upon finding those causes, systematically eliminating them one by one. We don't have forever!
National Punishments Prophesied. Ezekiel wrote of a "watchman" whom God would inspire to foresee impending national calamities (Ezek. 33). That prophet issued the sternly worded warning that if the watchman failed to perform his God-ordained commission, the blood of the people dying in future calamities would be on his head (verses 3-6). Notice now the next vital verse: "... I have set thee a watchman unto the house of Israel; therefore thou shalt hear the word at my mouth, and warn them from me" (verse 7). God has commissioned this Work to take His warning and witness (the message of Ezekiel) to our beloved America.
Our Creator is a patient, longsuffering God! He does not possess a "short fuse" like so many human beings; He doesn't "fly off the handle" in sudden, uncontrolled anger — lashing out in unconstrained fury at His human creation.
But God will tolerate just so much flaunting of His holy laws — just so much trampling on His Ten Commandments — before He allows the automatic consequences of our own actions to overtake and overthrow us. Usually God does not need to take a direct hand. More often than not, the principle of "Thine own wickedness shall correct thee, and thy backslidings shall reprove thee" (Jer. 2:19) works all too efficiently.
The seventh chapter of Ezekiel prophesies of a time when God has finally decided to punish a nation for its own good. "Now is the end come upon thee, and I will send mine anger upon thee, and will judge thee according to thy ways, and will recompense upon thee all thine abominations" (verse 3). But what abominations — and why?
Bloody Crimes. An unprecedented wave of ugly, unsightly, revolting, repulsive crime and violence is one good reason why. "Violence is risen up into a rod of wickedness," says your God (verse 11). "Make a chain: for the land is full of bloody crimes, and the city is full of violence," He continues (verse 23). The increase in crime, right now, is the largest in fourteen years — the greatest increase since records have been kept in their present form.
So when God told Ezekiel to "make a chain," He implied that the land would be so replete and satiated with crime and violence that one crime would be following another like the links on a chain! And so it is! Serious crime rose more in 1974 than any previous year on record. The FBI Uniform Crime Reports (1974 edition) reported 10.1 million serious crimes in the United States — about a million and a half more than in 1973 — adding up to a whopping increase of 18%. Of course, you know that in addition to these categorized criminal acts, many crimes go unreported for a variety of reasons.
God continued His long conversation with Ezekiel: "... For they have filled the land with violence ..." (Ezek. 8:17). "Then said he [God] unto me, The iniquity [lawlessness] of the house of Israel and Judah is exceeding great, and the land is full of blood [the result of many murders], and the city full of perverseness: for they say [by their actions], The Lord hath forsaken the earth, and the Lord seeth not [God doesn't exist, and even if He does He isn't all that interested in what's going on down here on earth]" (Ezek. 9:9).
There is no fear of God prevalent in the United States of America today. Daily we hear of more and more bloody violence rearing its ugly head in city after city.
God is finally going to react if we don't do something about it of our own free will and volition. "And as for me also, mine eye shall not spare, neither will I have pity, but I will recompense their way upon their head" (verse 10).
Do these prophecies sound a little vague — perhaps a little archaic — a little too much like some "Old Testament fire and brimstone"? Don't delude yourself! God is going to punish our peoples severely for our national and individual crimes and sins unless we really repent and turn to Him with all of our hearts and minds!
But our Creator is not a vindictive human being seeking revenge for its own reward. The English word "punish" comes from the Hebrew root yasar, which literally means "to admonish, instruct, chasten and correct." To God, punishment is only a tool to teach humankind the big lessons of life — the most severe forms of which He would far rather not use. Notice Ezekiel 33:11: "As I live, saith the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel?" our Creator pleads with us. He cries out: "O Israel [or all of 'humanity], thou hast destroyed thyself; but in me is thine help" (Hosea 13:9).
Is Crime a Social Mystery? Our nation is sick to its innards with the cancerous disease of violent crime — and a big part of the sickness is our stubborn, mule-headed refusal to face cause and effect. Crime has causes! If we first discover the causes and then systematically eliminate them — we will have won the war against crime.
It's high time to take Uncle Sam's temperature and suggest some cures for a very seriously ill patient. It has now been over ten years since crime became a political football — over ten years since we conducted a massive study involving the expenditure of billions of dollars (most of which was used, as always, to treat the effect — not the cause).
Throwing more and more money at the problem is not the solution. More policemen, more modern crime-fighting hardware,. the opening of additional police academies, more juvenile halls and detention centers, additional farm programs and summer camps, softening the image of officers — all of these "solutions" have failed to halt the avalanche of crime.
Recently our television team interviewed administrative personnel in the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department. Lt. John N. Barnick told. our reporter that juvenile crimes increasingly involve the use of firearms - unfortunately sometimes resulting in murders. At the Altadena substation, Lt. Allan Tol told us that juveniles were responsible for about 80% of all reported crime in that area. He found that 14 and 15 year olds were being arrested for crimes that only a year before had been minimal in that particular age bracket.
Nationally in 1974, youths under 18 accounted for 27% of all arrests in the United States, while a shocking 43% of all arrests were of persons under 21. Arrests of persons under 18 years of age increased 9% for the year.
Our TV team also recently conducted an interview with Joseph N. Sorrentino, author of the informative book The Concrete Cradle and a juvenile court judge in California. Judge Sorrentino told us that "juvenile crime is escalating very dangerously and is symptomatic... of a society that is morally sick." He pointed to the failure and apparent deterioration of our traditional institutions — the home, the church and the school. He talked about the middle-class parent who has become consumed with status seeking and ambition — making him into a virtual non parent. Judge Sorrentino mentioned a poor substitute which cannot fill the void — an electronic parent called television!
He pointed to the emotional starvation a child suffers when his parents neglect him. He said 70% of the children who come into juvenile courts stem from broken homes — suggesting to him the all-important role of parenthood in preventing child crime.
Judge Sorrentino said something very significant in the course of the interview: "Without a decent set of parents, a kid doesn't have much of a chance in this society."
The Home. The disintegration and destruction of the American home as a viable unit in our society is the principal cause for our growing crime problem in general — and more specifically and particularly
"Violence is risen up into a rod of wickedness.... Make a chain: for the land is full of bloody crimes, and the city is full of violence" (Ezekiel 7:11, 23). Serious crime in the U.S. rose more in 1974 than in any previous year on record. the reason for our mountainous tidal wave of child crime. Yes, the church and the school have their part to play. But there isn't anybody — not the church, the schools, or the courts — that is going to be able to even begin to cope with what parents do accidentally, without even thinking about it.
The home is the world's first authority, the world's first comfort, the world's first protection, provision, security, warmth, to every young child — regardless as to race, color or nationality. Yet the home (especially in the United States) is fast disappearing as a traditional bulwark for standards of conduct. Every third American home has been ripped asunder by divorce!
Many studies are available which directly link juvenile delinquency and teenage crime with broken homes. (Remember Judge Sorrentino said in the interview that 70% of the children who come into the juvenile courts are from broken homes.) But for each home directly involved in a divorce, there are many others which are only hollow shells of their former selves — couples barely clinging together because of socioeconomic pressures, and not because of any desire of their own.
Remember, every home is a vital building block — an integral part of the very underpinnings of society. As go our homes, so goes our nation. A house divided against itself cannot stand — just as nations filled with divided homes will not stand indefinitely.
One-Eyed Monster. In the affluence following World War II, thousands of American families found themselves able to afford more entertainment. Television was on the increase, and millions of Americans were now able to afford top Hollywood talent, nightly, in their own living rooms.
The television set became, in effect, an automatic babysitter — an electronic parent, so to speak. Children have been allowed to grow up in hunch-backed stares of transfixed, avid admiration before a one-eyed monster that demands incredible amounts of their time in the years preceding formal schooling. A media that too often glamorizes violence is offered as a model to our children.
Millions of adults, far more concerned about their own personal interests, have abandoned their own flesh and blood right in their own private living rooms.
Some completely misguided souls in ancient Israel actually offered their own sweet little children as literal sacrifices to fat, leering idols. Today, self-seeking, lust-filled, pleasure-mad, middle-aged Americans — wildly casting about for self-fulfillment — are sacrificing our most precious national resource, our children, on the altar of their own vanity — letting day schools, television, movies and the like form and shape those precious little minds in those first few critical, formative years of their lives.
Obviously, to analyze the entire picture of the dissolution of the. American home, and its drooping effectiveness in accepting its responsibility as the traditional teacher of morals, the instiller of social values and spiritual precepts, would take at least one large book, if not several. But I did want to pass on some positive tips to parents on how to improve themselves — from, believe it or not, hundreds of juvenile delinquents.
Tips from Teenagers. A social worker at a correctional center in Ontario, Canada developed quite a rapport with a large number of young people who had run afoul of the law. These youths were asked what parents could do to prevent other adolescents from winding up in juvenile courts and correctional centers. They gave seven major points, in their own teenage jargon, that all parents ought to sit up and take notice of.
1) "Keep cool. Don't lose your temper in the crunch. Keep the lid on when things go wrong."
Our children need the reassurance that automatically emanates from controlled responses to their inevitable mistakes. Parents don't need to "blow their minds" in fits of unrestrained temper just because the child spilled the cereal bowl. A lot of sensationalized child beatings have resulted from just such angry, emotional reactions on the part of far too many parents.
No punishment or discipline should ever be administered in an uncontrolled emotional state. Correction appropriate to the infraction ought always to be meted out by a normal, mature, emotionally stable, loving, forgiving parent.
Solomon said: "He that hath no rule over his own spirit is like a city that is broken down, and without walls" (Prov. 25:28). Parents, you'd better heed what these young people are telling you!
2). "Don't get strung out from too much booze or too many pills. When we see our parents reaching for those crutches we get the idea that nobody goes out there alone; that it's perfectly okay to go for a bottle or a-capsule when things get heavy."
Parents, your children are the greatest imitators in the world. The old "don't do as I do, but do as I say" syndrome never did " cut any ice" with children.
If multiple millions of parents hit the bottle too hard and have a medicine cabinet that looks like a miniature corner drugstore, they shouldn't be a bit surprised to discover that their teenagers are alcoholics, pill poppers or hard drug addicts.
Several of the first chapters of Proverbs are simply addressed to "My son." One of the purposes of the book of Proverbs is to give "the young man knowledge and discretion" (Prov. 1:4). Solomon wrote at least part of this biblical book directly to his own son.
But do you know that Rehoboam, his son, paid a lot more attention to what Solomon did than what he said? Solomon talked an awfully good fight — but he ended up not living it. He lived to see his very own son begin to fulfill one of his own proverbs: "A wise servant shall have rule over a son that causeth shame... " (Prov. 17:2).
3) "Don't blow your class. Keep the dignity of parenthood. Stay on that pedestal. Your children have put you there because they need someone to look up to. Don't try to dress, dance, or talk like your kids. You embarrass us, and you look ridiculous."
Fathers, you don't need to wear your hair like your teenager does or use the slang he does. He won't respect you for it.
Why is it that we see parents following their children instead of the other way around? The kids just don't like it, folks. You've got to find a better way to "relate" to your young people.
Parents ought to follow the apostle Paul. He wrote: "When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things" (I Cor. 13:11). Our children respect us when we act our age!
4) "Bug us a little. Be strict and consistent in dishing out discipline. Call our bluff. Make it clear that you mean what you say. Don't be wishy-washy. Lukewarm answers make us uneasy. Show us who's boss. It gives us a feeling of security to know we've got some strong support under us."
Hundreds of these young people happen to agree with a thesis I wrote twenty years ago which has long since been condensed into a book that is periodically revised and brought up to date. The title is The Plain Truth About Child Rearing. On page 72, this book has a subhead captioned: "It Must Be Consistent."
I'll quote some excerpts from this section in order to make my point. "To punish for an infraction one day, and then to allow the same infraction without punishment the next day is totally confusing to the child.... I have observed many parents make the gross mistake of totally inconsistent punishment and training. The underlying cause for inconsistency is that the parents have lapsed into the habit of punishing their children only when the children finally 'get on their nerves' to the effect that the parent becomes angry, and 'lashes out' at the child in retributive haste.... This is perhaps the most common of all parental failings in administering just and loving discipline. On one day, mother may spank little Johnnie for having pulled a knife out of the drawer. On the following day, she may totally ignore Johnnie as he plays with a whole fistful of knives and forks."
5) "Don't compromise and don't be intimidated by our threats to drop out of school or leave home."
All too often parents react through fear of terrible, imagined consequences. Sometimes parents need to be firm and take a stand. A father might have to look his teenager right in the eye and simply say: "Okay, go ahead and leave home. But as long as you're under my roof partaking of the food at my table, you're going to do what I say."
Parents should make the rules in their own homes (of course, with due consideration for their children). Oftentimes the result of too much compromise is a juvenile delinquent.
6) "Be honest with us. Tell the truth no matter what and be straight-arrowed about it. We want you to tell it like it is."
There's a family film with an interesting title being shown in the movie theaters across America these days. The National Board of Review rates it "one of the year's ten best." The title is "Lies My Father Told Me." I haven't the faintest idea what this movie is all about; I haven't seen it. But I do take issue with the title because it is reflective of an enormous sin being committed wholesale in this country today — a sin that is paradoxically acceptable to people as the normal thing to do.
Parents by the multiple millions lie to their children about "Santa Claus," "the Sandman," "the man in the moon," and "Jack and the beanstalk." Their little minds are completely cluttered with sugared and candied lies — but lies nevertheless!
When one of our former Presidents was a young boy, his mother ran into an unusual "problem" in reading to him. She would start a fairy story, and he would interrupt her with: "Mother, is it true?" She would tell him it wasn't. "Well," he would say, "I don't want to hear it then."
Very few children possess that kind of perception. In the vast majority of cases, the parents must bear a heavy responsibility.
The ninth commandment says "Don't lie" and that includes not lying to our offspring because children are people, too. It is wrong to teach your children fairy tales, fantasies, guesswork, hazy notions, prejudices, racial hatreds, spurious information about sex — or anything that is false. God condemns it as wickedness!
Incidentally, on page 88 of The Plain Truth About Child Rearing, there is a subhead captioned "Don't Be a Liar to Your Child."
7) "If you catch us lying, stealing, or being cruel, get tough! When we need punishment, dish it out. But let us know you still love us, even though we have let you down. It'll make us think twice before we make the same move again. Let us know why what we did was wrong. Impress on us the importance of not repeating such behavior."
This attractively printed free book — The Plain Truth About Child Rearing — echoes the seventh point these young people are advising. For example, on page 57 it says: "The positive type of punishment always carries with it the automatic understanding that the child is now forgiven for his wrong action, and is now in the good graces of his parents.... You will be surprised how often a child will thoroughly repent of his wrong action and assure you that he is sorry for his wrong deed, throwing his arms around you and telling you how much he loves you, when you punish in an attitude of love and let him know that the punishment carries forgiveness with it." This free book also advocates explaining "why what we did was wrong."
Although written primarily about younger children in those first few formative years, this book does have a chapter at the very end devoted to teenagers. Why not read it now The Plain Truth About Child Rearing? This 144-page book is a practical, workable manual that gives you the means of guiding your children to their full potential.
Cause and Effect. Criminals are made — not born. Our mushrooming crime problem should be no mystery to anybody who really looks into it. It's all a matter of cause and effect. Our epidemic of criminal behavior has been learned from adults in a factory we call the home. Thousands of criminals have been molded in our tottering homes.
But it doesn't need to be that way. We could begin to raise a whole generation of respectful, loving, obedient young people who are a gigantic plus and an enormous credit to this great country. But will we?
No matter what may befall this United States of America, you can as a committee of one begin to rear your children right. God said of the ancient patriarch Abraham: "For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the lord, to do justice and judgment ..." (Gen. 18:19). Does God know that about you?