The best practical explanation I’ve heard for why we have the civil anarchy that we do in this country came from an episode of "Castle Rock."
Set in a small Maine town, "Castle Rock" is a horror streaming series created by Stephen King. As you might expect from its description and creator, awful things happen in Castle Rock. Frustrated over the town’s madness and turmoil, one of the characters sums up the situation this way:
“Bad **** happens in this town because bad people feel safe in this town.”
Castle Rock may be fiction but its description of why our society today resembles, as Ann Coulter so well puts it, a “feces-smeared murdertopia that makes Charles Bronson’s Death Wish look like The Sound of Music,” is anything but fantasy. You see it everywhere.
You see it in small towns like the one depicted in "Castle Rock." A recent Wall Street Journal article on the violent crime afflicting rural American towns says:
“Veteran law-enforcement officials said they had never before witnessed the level of violence of the past two years.
"'It was like people lost their ever-lovin’ minds,' said Ms. McCoy, the prosecuting attorney in White County, a dry county in central Arkansas with poultry farms and a Christian university.”
You see it in big cities, especially ones that have been the victim of “progressive” district attorneys and “reimagined” law enforcement. Even the most leftist-leaning cities have finally gotten tired of constantly replacing their car windows and being asked (incredulously) to “tolerate burglaries as a part of city living.” Witness the recent landslide recall of leftist District Attorney Chesa Boudin in San Francisco as evidence.
You see it on the national level where, in some countries, gangs of murderers carry out their violent acts with no concerns whatsoever. For example, Open Doors USA’s most recent annual report documents the killing of 4,650 Christians in the country of Nigeria alone in 2021, which is more than one person every two hours. Assisting the country’s unwillingness to act is the Biden administration, which amazingly removed Nigeria from the U.S. government’s “Countries of Particular Concern” list, which is a critical tool for identifying the worst violators of religious freedom across the globe.
So why, with all the carnage, do we let bad people feel safe in our towns, cities and countries?
Noonan to the rescue
In her normally spot-on fashion, Pulitzer Prize winner, author, and political columnist Peggy Noonan lists three failures of government leadership that pave the way for societal chaos. The first, says Noonan, is an abusive unwillingness to listen to anyone but themselves, which is an expression of their narcissistic pride.
The second is that they are more loyal to their ideological theories than they are to people and thus have no real sympathy whatsoever for those hurt by their flawed philosophical implementations. Lastly, they manifest a deer-in-the-headlights attitude when their plans crash and burn in the real world.
As an example, when booted out of office, Chesa Boudin said voters were “in a bad mood” because of inflation and housing costs. Uh-huh. It couldn’t be that San Francisco is now more dangerous than its depiction in "The Walking Dead."
Noonan’s observations are useful in helping us understand the secular mechanics behind our social disorder, but what do we do about rectifying the situation and what does Scripture have to say on the subject?
The Bible’s prescription for order
Admittedly, some of the commands given to Israel in the Old Testament are difficult to understand at first. More than a few seem overly harsh.
For example, while the death penalty seems appropriate for homicide (Ex. 21:12), is executing someone for breaking the Sabbath (Ex. 31:15) and dishonoring parents (Deut. 21:18-21) really necessary?
For the deep theological reasons that satisfactorily answer that question, I’ll leave you in the good hands of scholars like Dr. Paul Copan. But there is one thing I’ll tell you here and now about the divine directives and punishments that God gave to Israel:
They didn’t let bad people feel safe.
There are only one or two accounts recorded in Scripture that describe those punishments being carried out, and there’s likely a good reason: it only took one or two examples for criminals to get the picture of what awaited them should they follow through on their evil intentions.
Solomon wrote, “Because the sentence against an evil deed is not executed quickly, therefore the hearts of the sons of men among them are given fully to do evil” (Ecc. 8:11). David says the arrogance of bad people reaches a point where they say, “I will not be moved” (Ps. 10:6).
But they need to be moved. And outside of a change brought about by our Creator, they must bear the penalties of their sins.
These individuals require the constant attention of our justice system and all of us must stay vigilant in keeping them fearful of committing crimes or they will quickly regroup and do more evil. As Gandalf said to Frodo in Lord of the Rings: “Always after a defeat and a respite, the Shadow takes another shape and grows again.”
So, the question is, how many more Castle Rocks will we tolerate until we do what’s needed and bad people don’t feel safe anymore?
Robin Schumacher is an accomplished software executive and Christian apologist who has written many articles, authored and contributed to several Christian books, appeared on nationally syndicated radio programs, and presented at apologetic events. He holds a BS in Business, Master's in Christian apologetics and a Ph.D. in New Testament. His latest book is, A Confident Faith: Winning people to Christ with the apologetics of the Apostle Paul.