From the March 2014 Trumpet Print Edition

‘I have nothing to live for’

More than three quarters of a million young people in the United Kingdom feel they “have nothing to live for,” according to a YouGov poll for the Prince’s Trust Macquarie Youth Index published January 1.

The study, based on interviews with 2,161 people ages 16 to 25, also shows that more than one in four British youth have considered committing suicide. And almost one in five have self-harmed.

Why do so many young people in the affluent UK believe life is not worth living? Why have over 2 million of them thought seriously about taking their own life? Why have over 1.5 million deliberately harmed their bodies by cutting their skin with blades and other methods?

Most analysts discussing the study blame long-term unemployment. This is a contributing factor, but the figures include significant percentages of job-holders, students and others. Unemployment exacerbates hopelessness and self-destructive tendencies, but it isn’t the only cause.

Alongside unemployment, we could also point to the UK’s failing school systems, its entertainment and music industries, pornography, drug pushers, violent video games and a host of other aspects of its lawless modern culture.

But the far bigger cause of the increasing hopelessness of youths originates in the home.

Increasing numbers of parents in the UK are unstable and self-absorbed. They are often too mired in personal crises of their own to be active in the lives of their children. Many have bought the deception that permissiveness in child rearing is the paragon of parental love.

But what does the God who created mankind, and who designed us to reproduce and live in the structure of family, say? “The one who spares his rod hates his child, but the one who loves his child is diligent in disciplining him” (Proverbs 13:24; Net Translation).

That proverb and hundreds of other biblical passages revealing how to build healthy families are largely ignored. Whether unqualified or unwilling, too many parents are not fulfilling their God-given responsibility to love, nurture, teach, lead, correct and discipline their children. In these vital areas, many parents have abandoned their children. The result is the millions of troubled youth revealed by the YouGov poll.

A new year, a new 40,000 laws

By the measure of signing new bills into law, America’s Congress this past year was the most ineffective in American history, passing a meager 56 laws. Individual states, however, surged ahead with legislative ferocity. A mind-staggering 40,000 new state laws are coming into effect this year.

The thinking seems to be that every problem can be solved by making it unlawful, and every positive action can be secured by making it legally mandatory.

The explosion of new laws recalls the effort that was made in 1982 to count the criminal laws on America’s books scattered among 50 titles and 23,000 pages of federal law. The project took two years, and in the end, no one could say for sure how many criminal offenses there were. A Justice Department official who oversaw the attempted tally said, “You will have died and [been] resurrected three times” before you could ever hope to count all the laws.

America is already overburdened with laws. “There is no one in the United States over the age of 18 who cannot be indicted for some federal crime,” John Baker, a retired Louisiana State University law professor told the Wall Street Journal. “That is not an exaggeration.”

But the problem is greater than just the sheer number of laws. Many of these laws promote practices that a great number of people consider immoral. In California, transgender students will be able to choose which restrooms to use and which sports teams to play on based on “gender identity” rather than physical anatomy. Also in California, children can now have more than two legal parents. Illinois legalized a same-sex “marriage” law that will come into effect later this year. Colorado became the first place in the world to allow the legal selling of marijuana.

What is the root cause driving all this legislation? Would you believe that it is the breaking of a higher law that supersedes every law ever written by man?

The truth is that all the evils in society today—evils that human governments try to curtail with laws of their own—are a result of breaking the perfect law of God—His spiritual law of love. What is that law? Herbert W. Armstrong explained: “When the Eternal God first created man and placed him on this Earth, all was perfect harmony and beauty. … And then, of necessity, there is a great fundamental, inexorable spiritual law, to regulate man’s relations with man, and man’s relation to his Creator. This spiritual law might be called the law of love.”

It is because of these broken laws that man is unable to produce peace, regardless of the political system or legal mechanism we use. America’s countless laws have failed to bring real peace, and the 40,000 new laws won’t bring us any closer to peace either.

Ultimately, it will take a totally different governmental and legal structure to bring peace—one founded on God’s perfect law of love summed up in the Ten Commandments. Such a government is coming.