A pandemic of lawlessness and theft is gripping our planet, and recently I had a personal experience with it. My wife and I were doing laundry for a needy family at a laundromat in our community. As we waited for the machine to finish a load of clothes, my wife laid her purse down, and someone stole it. The thief was careful to remove her cell phone and scrub her contact information. We notified the police immediately and canceled all of our credit cards. The police told us that this was becoming a significant problem. They said the thief was obviously experienced at grabbing women’s purses and running because they removed any possibility of tracing their location.
The next day, I took our car in for some service. My mechanic said I should not leave the car in the parking space near the service area because of lawlessness and theft. Thieves had become efficient in stripping the catalytic converters and drilling holes in the fuel tanks to drain and steal the gasoline. Another major problem we all face today is identity theft. In professional fields, research scientists, authors, and songwriters must hire legal protection organizations to avoid losing the rights to their creative work.
Lawlessness and theft are not new problems, but their magnitude and acceptance as part of everyday life are new. Eighty years ago, people considered it a breach of morality and civilized behavior to be caught shoplifting or stealing from someone’s home or business. In today’s world, stores must set their prices to cover losses to shoplifting, while many consider theft a survival tool. We have seen cases of parents teaching their children how to steal from stores.
The justification for this pandemic of lawlessness and theft is rooted in evolutionary assumptions. Some people suggest that survival of the fittest is the operating principle for life. Animals steal food, territory, and mates, so if humans are merely animals, why not use the same survival techniques as other animals? Saying we live in a “dog eat dog” world implies that the behavior we see in dogs is an acceptable survival method for humans.
God gave humans a unique identification separating us from the animal world. One of the Old Testament laws was “thou shalt not steal.” God would judge harshly those who engaged in any kind of stealing. (See Exodus 20:15 and referenced in Romans 13:9.) In the New Testament, honesty and respecting the rights and security of others were part of the Christian ethic. (See Romans 2:21, Mark 10:19, Luke 18:20, Ephesians 4:28).
As our society plunges into atheism and the rejection of God and Christianity, we can expect changes in what people consider right and wrong. For a growing segment of our population, lawlessness and theft are becoming accepted forms of survival, whether in goods, creative abilities, or relationships.
— John N. Clayton © 2022