ANOTHER CONDITION that Jesus said would be prevalent immediately prior to His return would be unrestrained violence: “As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the [second] coming of the Son of Man” (Matthew 24:37.)
How were things in “the days of Noah?” The Book of Genesis tells us “the earth was corrupt before God, and was filled with violence” (Genesis 6:11). We are all painfully aware that today’s headlines are full of tragic stories of senseless violence.
In the U.S. alone, the statistics for violent crime are staggering. According to the FBI, on average a person is murdered every 22 minutes; someone is raped every four minutes, a robbery is committed every 26 seconds.
Citing a commission of crime experts, Reuter reports that U.S. crime levels are even higher:
The Council on Crime in America said in its first report that [crime levels] “remain at historic highs.”
“America is a ticking violent crime bomb, and there is little time remaining to prepare for the blast,” said the report, which noted the rise in youthful violence.
They said official FBI statistics on crime were only the tips of the iceberg. The report said the crime rate – based on surveys of victims and not just crimes reported to the police – show violent crime – including murder, rape, assault and burglary – was 5.6 times higher than those reported.
The Washington Post adds:
Murders and suicides [in the U.S.] are now occurring at a rate of more than 145 a day, a rate that is rising. In the past 30 years alone, the total exceeds 1,200,000 people, more than all the men killed in all the wars in the history of the United States. And many of these recent victims are not men and women; they are children.
Jack Levin, a sociology professor at Northeastern University in Boston, warns that the current increase in homicides by juveniles as young as 14 and 15 is a precursor of worse things to come:
“They are in the leading edge of the mini-baby boom of children of the original post-World War II baby boomers, and they haven’t yet reached the 18- to 24-year-old age group that traditionally commits the overwhelming majority of murders.
“They aren’t even there yet, but they’re committing homicide,” Levin said. “What are they going to do for an encore?”
Why the unprecedented increase in violence among today’s youth? Behavioral scientists have concluded that one of the main culprits is so-called entertainment, particularly the images brought into everyone’s living room courtesy of television. In times past, you had to be on the scene where the violence was perpetrated in order to personally witness it. Not now. By the time the average American child is 15 years old, he or she will have witnessed the violent destruction of more than 35,000 human beings on television, as well as 200,000 other brutal acts. Even in the “days of Noah,” individuals were not subjected to the volume of violence that we are today.
The link between violence on film and violence in our streets and homes is irrefutable. United Press International reports on a survey conducted by the 40,000-member Professional Association of Teachers in Britain, which concluded that:
“The impact of violent material is far more widespread than was previously thought,” said Jackie Miller, the association’s deputy secretary general. The survey found that 77 percent of secondary school teachers thought children were being “desensitized to violence,” and choosing to glorify and mimic violent activity in the playground.
Dr. Leonard D. Efron, Professor of Psychology at the University of Illinois at Chicago, studied the habits of more than four hundred viewers for twenty-two years. He observes: “There can no longer be any doubt that heavy exposure to televised violence is one of the causes of aggressive behavior, crime and violence in society.” Arnold Kahn of the American Psychological Association adds, “The debate over the effects of violence on television is like the debate over cigarette smoking and cancer.”
To find out “how young people themselves feel about their rapidly changing world,” Newsweek magazine and the Children’s Defense Fund commissioned a poll of 758 American children between the ages of 10 and 17. Newsweek summarized their findings:
What emerges is a portrait of a generation living in fear. … Many had anxieties their parents could never have imagined: of guns, drugs, divorce, poverty. The interviews underscore how deeply violence, or the fear of it, permeates the lives of children, not just in inner cities, but also in small towns and suburbs across America.
Even in this violence-filled world, we don’t have to live in fear. Scripture refers to Jesus as “the Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6), who promises to all those who love and trust Him, “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (John 14:27).