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BRITAIN’S GOVERNMENT: HELPING LONELINESS
TOM LAMPRECHT: Loneliness has become such a problem in the United Kingdom that the country now has a Minister of Loneliness. Prime Minister Theresa May announced the creation of the new position. May stated, “For far too many people, loneliness is the sad reality of modern life.”
DR. REEDER: There’s a number of things here, Tom, from a Christian world and life view, looking at this news report that Forbes has brought to us. Number one 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 free speech, assembly, etc.
However, in Britain, it’s automatically assumed, even on the conservative side and 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.
And 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. 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 some of the contributing factors?
A PRO-ABORTION CULTURE JUDGES YOU ON WHETHER YOU ARE WANTED
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,” and 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 and 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 and 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 and that God has granted to you by making you in His image.
That world and life view comes at it totally differently than the notion that your existence is dependent on the fact that you’re wanted. 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 9-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 has 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 nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
HOW DOES SOCIAL MEDIA TIE INTO ALIENATION?
There’s a second thing that’s at work here and I think it’s social media. Everybody is judging their worth by if I put something on Facebook, 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 are 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. And, see, that means people like you.”
Particularly, the youth are susceptible to that and this alienation issue is continuing. The elderly think, “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 Theresa May, we’ll get a Minister to Loneliness.
IS LONELINESS A LEGITIMATE CONCERN?
TOM LAMPRECHT: Harry, to that end, Vivek Murthy, who was 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. Everybody’s got the high tech, but there’s no face-to-face relationships. There’s no getting in one another’s life — it’s all digital. Nothing sinful about media or technology — that’s amoral — it’s how is it being used and how is 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 and then there’s a sense of alienation.
Therefore, what do we do about this increasing alienation? Well, we need to understand that the foundation of it is that, 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 the God 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, or of social media or the digital world. We embrace the idolatry that there is my meaning, and strength, and significance, and security and life and it never delivers. It’s Ecclesiastes all over again: “Everything is empty; all is vanity.”
ALIENATION FROM GOD IS WHAT CHRIST OVERCAME FOR US
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. 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 and 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, “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 or any of that as my meaning in life because I have meaning in life — I am a child of God. I have a relationship with God and I can enjoy Him forever and God is right within me.
Therefore, I say to folks the minister to loneliness is not a cabinet position; the minister to loneliness is the one with the message of reconciliation and the Good News that Jesus saves 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, who has transcribed some of the top podcasts in the country and whose work has been featured in a New York Times Bestseller.