Peter Oborne opines on the moral decay of British society occurring in all sectors of it, making special reference to the greed of its venal politicians who are rushing to judgement on what is wrong with the rioters and looters. The theological point is simply that all are sinners and have fallen short of the glory of God: noone does not need salvation, none of us have nothing to repent of. If Britain is to change its ways then the example needs to come from the top.
Philip Blond notes in an interview that two particular problems lie at the root of the recent riots (italics mine):
"I believe the cause of the riots is essentially liberalism in the form of libertarianism, both left libertarianism and right libertarianism. The left libertarianism came first and essentially denounced human relationships. It broke up the extended family, repudiated the nuclear family and separated children from parents such that the state became the main guardian of people rather than people. As a result, it created a whole class that was based on one-way entitlement rights rather than mutual rights and responsibilities. As such, a whole class developed of subsidized output and this subsidized output pursued its own agenda regardless of anyone else’s and it led to its own privatized world where whatever it wished for is what it thought it should have.There is much to think about here, but I want to note one thing: the connection made between the breakdown of family stability and structure and the disturbances. Other material I am reading makes a similar point: where male role models, particularly fathers are absent from young people's lives, the disciplines of life which contribute to the stability and structure of society are missing. The theological point here is that the bonds of marriage are foundational to the biblical vision of human society. To the extent that the church, here and there, at times, has lost sight of this foundationalism, and even now in the Anglican Communion may be (is?) playing with possibilities for changing its theology of marriage, it (i.e. you and me) shares (later: may share?) in responsibility for communities losing the basis for order that is not based on the 'violence' otherwise required through police and even military upholding decency and civility. [ADDENDUM: I note comments below which suggest my last sentence is a 'blame it on gay marriage' kind of thing. Perhaps - reader-response may rule here! But that is not what I wrote. As an attempt at restating what I am trying to say, let me try this: if marriage between a man and a woman is at the heart of stable family life and stable family life is at the heart of ordered society not relying on massive policing, even military discipline, then the church would do well to maintain rather than vary its theology of marriage. In a variety of ways the church has varied or is contemplating varying its theology of marriage. Implicit in what I am raising here is this question: if marriage is an elastic concept, is commitment to the core of family being the presence of a mum and a dad loosened? I think churches, including Anglican churches in the West have elasticised the concept of marriage and have failed to commit clearly and specifically to the core of family being the presence of a mum and a dad. Thus we have, or more diplomatically, we may have contributed to the social contexts in which social disruption occurs in which young people are out of control. If you do not think this is so, then I would be interested in whether you think church teaching or lack of teaching has any bearing at all on the state of societies in Christian and post-Christian countries.]
That led to a form of libertarianism on the right that produced a form of neo-liberalism that only helped those at the top of society and, increasingly, ordinary wage earners and ordinary working people were squeezed out of prosperity, wealth and advance. We’ve created a whole new generation of serfs who are waited on enough to maintain living standards and people have to go to the state for middle class welfare. Once we cut off the paths to ownership and opportunity, what we’ve actually done is we’ve created a world where the free market produces monopoly and oligopoly. As a result, we’ve produced a cartel capitalism and a state that denies people ownership and opportunity."
Everytime we contemplate if not articulate, as I know some of us do, a weakening of the standard that sexual intercourse belongs within marriage, not outside of it, we contribute to a narrative or script for society which says marriage does not matter in any absolute sense, and that risks may be taken that children will be born into homes without male role models. Other things play a role, as Peter Oborne notes, such as greed and venality afflicting every class and corner of society, but social disruption flows as much as anything from disruption to marriage.