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Listen to the 10 min audio
Read the transcript:
A NEW BRITISH GOVERNMENT POSITION FOR… LONELINESS?
TOM LAMPRECHT: Forbes Magazine is reporting, Harry, loneliness has become such a problem in the United Kingdom that the country now has a Minister of Loneliness. Prime Minister Teresa May announced the creation of the new position just in the last week. May stated, “For far too many people, loneliness is the sad reality of modern life.”
DR. REEDER: So there are a number things here, Tom, from a Christian world and life view looking at this news report that Forbes has brought to us. No. 1 is, of course, the go-to now in Britain — fully embedded — “Whatever the issues are in the nation, the government is our solution.”
It’s really a totally different mindset than what is embedded in our Constitution and in our historic values in America, which was the government had a responsibility to maintain law and order and it had a responsibility for the general welfare in terms of commerce and upholding the rights that God had given to all of its citizens, but it wasn’t the go-to solution to the issues of the day — it was supposed to protect society and its freedoms and then, out of society would come the answers as people would address the issues, thus, the First Amendment which was the free practice of religion and the free speech, assembly, etc.
But, in Britain, it’s automatically assumed — even on the conservative side, the conservative party there — that the answer is found in governmental provision. They had a survey that was done and the survey came back and showed that, throughout society, there was loneliness because of a sense of — now hear this word carefully — alienation. The two demographics that manifested it the most were the youth and teenagers and the elderly. The elderly, they felt alienated, lonely, abandoned and youth felt alienated and lonely.
ALIENATION HITTING ELDERLY AND YOUTH
The roots of this issue of alienation has its roots in only one place and there’s only one solution to it but what are the contributing factors? In a culture that embraces death, such as abortion and, at the moment, passive euthanasia but rapidly becoming active, the two segments of the demography is going to be the youth and the elderly who are sensing, on the one hand, “I’m not wanted” — on the other hand, “The only reason I’m here is because somebody said, ‘Well, I think I want them,’ but I don’t have any intrinsic dignity other than somebody wanted me.”
Therefore, you set up this idolatry of affirmation — this idolatry of being wanted — and, actually, you can never be wanted enough by people around you to feel that you are significant and that you have dignity.
Christian world and life view says no, you don’t have dignity because you are wanted. You don’t have dignity because you are considered in the realm of perfection in society, physically and mentally. You are wanted because you are made in the image of God and you have an intrinsic dignity that God has given to you — that God had granted to you by making you in His image. That world and life view comes at it totally differently than the notion your existence is dependent on the fact that you’re wanted and, if you’re not wanted or if you’re not considered perfect — if we get a reading in your birth process that there may be some abnormality with you — then we are going to destroy you.
Recently, Tom, there was a pro-abortion advertisement and this lady is now suing them because they took a picture of her nine-year-old child with some challenging deformities and said, “If you pro-life people want to give birth to people like this, fine, but society’s not going to help you.” In other words, society is determined that child was not worth living and, if you didn’t decide to destroy that child in the womb, then we’re going to cut you off from society because we have decided that those lives are not worth living. That comes straight out of the eugenics movement of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
SOCIAL MEDIA, MORE CONNECTED THAN EVER BUT ALSO LONELIER
There’s a second thing that’s at work here and I think it’s social media. Everybody is judging their worth: “If I put something on Facebook, how many hits do I get? How many likes do I get? How many friends do I have?” And, by the way, forget the notion that those people really aren’t friends — there is this desire to be connected to people and social media says, “We can do it.” It’s being marketed as, “You are somebody because you’re liked by people. You are their friends. You are connected to them. You put something on the internet — some stream of consciousness statement — and then people are going to like it. See, that means people like you.”
Particularly, the youth are susceptible to that and this alienation issue is continuing. The elderly, “We’re not wanted. We’re not considered desirable for society. We are a blight on society. We are a burden to society.” Well, the answer is, according to Teresa May, we’ll get a Minister to Loneliness.
LONELINESS AFFECTS WHOLE HEALTH
TOM LAMPRECHTH: Harry, to that end, Vivek Murthy, who is the former surgeon general of the United States, recently wrote, “Loneliness is a growing health epidemic. We live in the most technologically connected age in the history of civilization, yet rates of loneliness have doubled since the 1980s.”
DR. REEDER: As one writer said years ago in the book Megatrends, high-tech will be low-touch so everybody’s got the high-tech, but there are no face-to-face relationships and there’s no getting in one another’s life — it’s all digital. Nothing sinful about media or technology — that’s amoral — but it’s how’s it being used and how’s it being embraced? It’s one thing for it to be an instrument of communication, but it’s another thing that it is the source of your meaning in life and your significance in life.
And so what’s being found out is that, well, it just doesn’t work and I’m not sensing my worth in life and then, on the other hand, somebody unfriends me, then there’s a sense of alienation. What do we do about this increasing alienation? Well, we need to understand the foundation of it is, apart from Christ, we’re alienated from God because of our sin. And what does our sin do? It leads us to idolatry — that we live in contradiction to God and that we were made for His glory and to enjoy Him forever, therefore, “No, I will make my own gods to give me my joy,” and so we embrace the idolatry of achievement, of academics, of athletics, of social media, or of the digital world. We embrace the idolatry that, “There is my meaning and strength and significance and security in life,” and it never delivers. It’s Ecclesiastes all over again: “Everything is empty. All is vanity.”
CHRISTIAN HOPE FOR WORTH
The answer is not to upgrade your use of social media, but the answer is to come to Christ. I love the Gospel message in 2 Corinthians 5 that, God was in Christ, reconciling the world to Himself — that God was in Christ, reconciling. In other words, we were alienated from Him because of our sin and God sends His Son, who goes to the cross and, when He goes to the cross, He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. Jesus Christ, at the cross, takes our old record of our life — our record of sin — He pays for it by taking the judgment that should have been due to us and He puts Himself in our place.
I love that passage in 2 Corinthians 5 where it says that God did not count our transgressions, our sins, against us. He counted it against Christ and Christ paid for those sins so that, when you come to Christ, He takes your sins. They’re changed from you to Him, and He pays for them and then He takes His righteousness and gives it to you with His blessings. And you’re reconciled to God, and you now have a life of reconciliation and you are reconciled to others because now I don’t look at my husband, my wife, my Facebook, my technology — I don’t look at any of that as my meaning in life. I have meaning in life. I am a child of God. I have a relationship with God. I can enjoy Him forever and God is right within me.
FOLLOW THE REAL MINISTER OF LONELINESS: JESUS CHRIST
Therefore, I say to folks the Minister of Loneliness is not a cabinet position, but the minister to loneliness is the one with the message of reconciliation — the Good News that Jesus saved sinners — and the minister to loneliness is Jesus Christ, who will make you right with God and then send His spirit so that He is now at work right within you and will never leave you nor forsake you. Now you’re free to enjoy life for His glory because you enjoy Him and His glory. There is your minister of loneliness. Come to Christ.
Dr. Harry L. Reeder III is the Senior Pastor of Briarwood Presbyterian Church in Birmingham.
This podcast was transcribed by Jessica Havin, editorial assistant for Yellowhammer News. Jessica has transcribed some of the top podcasts in the country and her work has been featured in a New York Times Bestseller.