When I picked him up he
put his arms around me. He was staring at me for a
minute with big eyes, then he went limp.” That was
Sasha Glenn’s gut-wrenching testimony about the
death of Malakai, her 18-month-old son.
Malakai slipped into a
coma on June 27 and died four days later from
injuries sustained when he was forcefully and
repeatedly swung against a wall by Derris Smith, his
mother’s 17-year-old boyfriend. During her
testimony, Sasha described how her son’s skull was
bashed so hard against the wall that it cracked a
wooden door and left shreds of drywall on his head.
Malakai’s crime: The
innocent toddler was taking too long to learn how to
use the toilet.
Our world is filled with
grisly stories like this. Stories of helpless
children tormented at the hands of emotionally
unstable, lust-ridden, rage-filled, out-of-control
parents and adults smear the pages of newspapers and
websites daily. Unthinkable crimes—gruesome
slayings, mass murders, child molestation, rape, and
a host of other vicious evils—occur frequently in
every Western society.
Brutality has been
accepted as a black patch on the tapestry of human
existence—and not just for soldiers on bloody
battlefields, inner-city gangs or hospital emergency
rooms. Today, brutality camps in the living rooms
and on computer screens in nearly every household,
toying with our children and courting the minds of
our teens, all under the often unsuspecting eyes of
parents. Though most of us may never experience such
calamity, we are all subject to its influence.
Tear-jerking stories of
unimaginable cruelty fill the news: babies killed by
their mothers and buried in the backyard; children
drowned in the bathtub; infants ripped from their
mothers’ wombs; children exploited as sex slaves;
adults tortured and shot by their own sons or
daughters—the list of tragedies is endless. In fact,
we have come to accept this sad state of affairs as
normal, another ghastly reality of life. Millions
have grown immune to human suffering, even when it’s
of the most atrocious and unimaginable kind. The
heart of man has grown hard, unforgiving and
emotionless. Many no longer appreciate, respect and
value human life other than their own.
Sure, when most people
hear stories like the one about Malakai, they
probably have trouble understanding how it can
happen. What kind of mind grips a toddler by the
front of his shirt, lifts him from the ground, and
smashes his head against a wall? Human beings are
not supposed to act that way _ we may think. But
after a while our thoughts probably shift to the
next episode of American Idol that follows
the nightly news.
How have men’s hearts
grown so cold, so callous and hard, that we are
scarcely impacted by gruesome news of horrific
crimes? In a world gone berserk on brutality, how
can we rear our children to be warm, loving,
compassionate human beings with a healthy respect
and appreciation for the preciousness of human life?
Some might say that
history is stained with aggression and cruelty, and
people today are no more callous than at any other
time in history. But read what the Apostle Paul
wrote in 2 Timothy 3: “[U]nderstand this, that in
the last days will come (set in) perilous times
of great stress and trouble …. For people will be
lovers of self and [utterly] self-centered …. [They
will be] without natural [human] affection (callous
and inhuman) … uncontrolled and fierce …” (verses
1-3, Amplified Bible). The term “last days” refers
to human society just prior to the return of Jesus
Christ—the time we live in now.
Our planet has never
been as perilous, as dangerous, as it is today.
Consider the terms Paul used to describe the way
people would be in our time: lovers of self,
self-centered, lacking natural affection, callous,
inhuman, uncontrolled and fierce. There
simply are no better terms to describe the
gut-wrenching state of mankind today. The minds of
millions, including children, are steadily
degenerating to the point where they are void of
natural affection. Our Western culture desensitizes
people to violence and cruelty, to human suffering
and pain, to death. If you read newspapers or watch
the news, you know that this is precisely the mental
state of too many.
In light of Paul’s
prophecy, consider the following stories, gleaned
from mainstream news sources in July alone.
In Australia, an 11-year-old
boy was taken into custody after he pressured two
preschool-age girls into having sex with him and
infected both with sexually transmitted diseases.
In Britain, a
67-year-old man who was playing cricket with his son
died of a heart attack after he was stoned by a gang
of children. The youngest offender was 10 years old.
In America, a
13-year-old girl killed her father by shooting him
in the face with a 12-gauge shotgun as he slept.
Stories of children and
teens beating the elderly and homeless are common.
Strong’s Concordance defines the word
fierce in 2 Timothy 3 as “not tame” and
“savage.” In many ways, Western societies are
devolving into cesspools of uncouth, uneducated,
emotionless pits of savagery. Gang warfare occurs in
nearly every major city. In California, a woman was
prosecuted for driving her 14-year-old son and his
gang friends to a skate park where they beat and
stabbed another boy to death. Astoundingly, the
mother had known exactly what the boys were
In San Francisco, two
teenage girls were prosecuted for animal cruelty
after they poured gasoline on a kitten, ignited it
on fire, and then laughed as the cat screeched in
pain. Proverbs 12:10 says a person’s nature is
revealed by the way he or she treats animals. What
kind of society produces teenagers that enjoy
burning animals alive?
describes the term without natural affection
as, “Without that affection which parents bear to
their young, and which the young bear to their
parents. An affection which is common to every class
of animals ….” In these perilous times, there are
many cases where familial love—that natural warmth
between parents and children—has grown cold.
In Reno, Nevada, Michael
and Iana Straw were prosecuted for child neglect
after authorities found their 22-month-old son and
11-month-old daughter severely malnourished and on
the verge of starvation. “Police said hospital staff
had to shave the head of the girl because her hair
was matted with cat urine. The 10-pound girl also
had a mouth infection, dry skin and severe
dehydration. Her brother had to be treated for
starvation and a genital infection. His lack of
muscle development caused him difficulty in walking
…” (Associated Press, July 15).
The reason for Mr. and
Mrs. Straw’s neglect? Both were obsessed with online
role-playing games. “They had food; they just chose
not to give it to their kids because they were too
busy playing video games” (ibid.). Some animals
travel miles to find food for their young; this
couple couldn’t set down their game controllers and
walk to the pantry!
In South Carolina,
authorities found the dead bodies of two toddlers in
trash bags under a kitchen sink. The children, a
1-year-old girl and 4-year-old boy, had died when
their mother had left them in the car all day while
she was at work.
In Maryland, police
searching the home of a mother accused of killing
her baby discovered the remains of three additional
fetuses on the property.
In Phoenix, Arizona, a
man died after being shot by policemen with a stun
gun. Police had been called in as the 49-year-old
man was performing an exorcism on his 3-year-old
granddaughter. When the police arrived and opened
the door of the bedroom, they saw the man “choking
his bloodied granddaughter, who was crying in pain
and gasping” (ibid., July 29).
In Florida, a woman was
prosecuted after authorities found she had bound,
starved and abused a total of 11 adopted children.
The woman had adopted the children in order to
receive as much as $2 million in welfare payments.
In another instance,
authorities arrested a man from Ohio who attempted
to rent two girls, ages 9 and 12, to abuse them
Again—all these stories
occurred in July of this year.
Such atrocities occur
frequently. The reality is, brutality and
callousness are spreading. Most of us, when we hear
such stories, turn the page or switch channels and
never really think about what is happening.
This failure to confront reality reflects a certain
heartlessness toward the suffering of our fellow
Why are so few asking
how parents are simply falling out of love with
their children? What is the cause? Only when
this is understood can brutality be eradicated. Only
by knowing the cause can we learn how to
protect our families from being besieged by such
The causes for this
pervasive spirit of callousness are both physical
and spiritual in nature. On the physical level,
Western culture and society devalues life and
worships violence and death.
Consider the television
shows, movies, music and video games that comprise
the mental diet of millions. Hardcore violence,
sexual deviancy and macabre murders form the
plotlines of the most popular television shows.
Shows like CSI and Law and Order are
built around violence so graphic and ghoulish that
it’s beyond the imagination of most people—until
it’s sitting in their living room at prime time. A
sort of justice is often served, but the road to it
is strewn with decapitated heads, decomposing bodies
and heinous sexual deviancy including rape, incest
and bestiality. A generation ago it would have been
unthinkable to show such scenes on television; today
they plaster every network.
These shows not only
desensitize viewers to senseless and lurid violence,
human pain and suffering and odious images of
death—they also gradually whittle down the
viewers’ respect and appreciation for the
preciousness of human life.
Consider the programming
designed for our children. Some cartoons contain
even more acts of violence than adult programming.
Could the repeated killings and acts of senseless
butchery on television and the big screen have any
connection with the younger generation’s increasing
loss of respect for human life? What are these
images doing to our children’s minds, to their
understanding of the sanctity of life?
Consider popular music.
Rap and hip-hop singers frequently boast about
killing police, engaging in gang warfare and
practicing perverted sex. Look at the tidal wave of
video games deluging society; they are charged with
unspeakable blood and gore, sexual innuendos and
images, graphic sadism and violence, death and
destruction. Callousness toward human misery is
epitomized in these games, just as in many of the
most popular television shows and music genres.
The point is, Western
culture idolizes brutality and violence. Human
suffering has become a source of entertainment
rather than something that saddens and disgusts us.
Horror movies with disturbing plotlines and grisly
death scenes are among the most popular for teens.
tv and movie
producers behave as if the more gross the scene, the
more captivating it will be.
Protect Your Family From
To protect ourselves and
our family members, we must make a stand against
these psychological assaults. We must build a
virtual wall around our homes; monitor what travels
in and out of our children’s minds, turn off violent
television shows, discard graphic video games.
Proper education will
also help protect our families. As children mature,
they do need to come to understand the reality of
the world they live in; they should be taught that
violence, brutal crimes and horrible events do
occur. But this kind of knowledge should be given in
stages, as the child grows in the mental and
emotional maturity to handle it. Young children do
not need gruesome details swimming around in their
If we’re not careful,
television and video games will program our children
to consider human suffering as no big deal. Counter
this influence by explaining that violence and death
should not be taken casually. Introduce children to
the realities of this world in a manner that will
arouse their compassion and empathy, not sear their
minds. Teach them that nothing justifies violent
retribution or the embracing of cruelty, and that
grisly crimes should never be glorified as the media
tends to do. Educate your children to respect and
Most importantly, we
must educate our families on God’s perspective on
human life. We must teach that God has a great
purpose for mankind and deeply values every human
life. Show children that a godly mind is repulsed by
brutality and saddened by suffering.
Request a free copy of
The Incredible Human Potential. It will
prove an ideal textbook in this education.
The Ultimate Cause
The ultimate cause of
the brutality pervading our society is spiritual
It’s easy to accept that
those committing these unspeakable acts have mental,
emotional and spiritual voids—but what about the
societies that have produced such people and grown
callous to barbarism?
Any person who doesn’t
cherish and respect the sanctity of life, any mind
not repulsed by cruelty and sickened by
suffering, also suffers a desperate spiritual and
Put simply, the cause
for the loss of natural affection is disobedience to
God’s spiritual and physical laws of love.
The same God who created
mankind created law. His laws, both physical and
spiritual, were designed to protect His creation.
God designed law to ensure that we value, respect,
enhance and nurture that creation—especially human
Today, man despises law.
We complain that it infringes on our freedom to live
the way we want. But the Bible tells us that the law
God created is good (1 Timothy 1:8). It shows
that submission to God’s law brings the excellent,
profitable and blessed results God intended for
What happens when God’s
law is rejected, despised, ridiculed and trampled
on? Well, look around. The state of mankind
today—the wars and violence, greed and vanity,
sexual perversion, broken families, plagues and
diseases, economic calamity, depression—is all the
product of broken laws. Disobedience drives a person
inward; it propels one to become self-absorbed,
entirely devoted to satisfying selfish desires and
This is why millions are
unaffected by the suffering occurring around them.
Selfishness is the mental state of mankind, just as
the Apostle Paul said: Most men are “lovers of self”
and “utterly self-centered”—everything they do
revolves around pleasing themselves. The more
intense a person’s self-absorption, the more he or
she neglects the needs, cares and sufferings of
This is against the
If people obeyed God’s
commandments, the tragic incidents so common in our
daily news would never occur. If all men obeyed the
spiritual intent of God’s law—if they valued the
welfare of others above their own—crime would cease;
child abuse would end; there would be no violence,
People who are obedient
to God’s law are striving to be selfless; they are
more concerned about pleasing God and respecting and
loving fellow man than about pleasing themselves.
This is why the Apostle James called God’s law “the
law of liberty” (James 1:25). It frees people
from the fruits of selfishness.
Obedience will protect
you. It will prevent you from growing heartless to
human suffering. It will guarantee that you and your
children develop into loving, warm, caring
individuals. Obedience to God’s law will help you
become more kind and compassionate.
Millions of people claim
they possess love today. But how does their claim
measure against what the Apostle Paul wrote about
God’s love? “Owe no man any thing, but to love one
another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled
the law. … Love worketh no ill to his neighbour:
therefore love is the fulfilling of the law” (Romans
13:8, 10). Love and obedience to God’s law walk side
by side. In order to be a loving person, to be a
person overflowing with right emotion and an outward
focus, you must fulfill, or obey, the law of God.
Herbert W. Armstrong
explained the connection between love and obedience
further. “The whole law of God is summed up in one
word—love! And it
requires love expressed in action to fulfill
the law. But this law-principle of love is
subdivided into the two Great Commandments—love
toward God, and love toward neighbor. The first four
of the Ten Commandments define love toward God. The
last six tell us how to love neighbor. …
‘Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.’ Of
course that is a lot of love!” (The
Missing Dimension in Sex).
Though mankind despises
God’s commandments, the fact is that they are the
ultimate solution to this callous, loveless
world! If Derris Smith obeyed God’s law, little
Malakai Glenn would still be alive today. It is that
Are you prepared to
confront the cause of the tragic realities in
this world? Are you willing to ask why human
suffering is so widespread, how the planet
has gone berserk on brutality and what will
the ultimate solution be? Answering these questions
will demand you realize some harsh and horrible
truths about the state of this world. But the
answers will open up knowledge that will bring
joy, excitement, happiness and hope. They will
provide a personal sense of fulfillment and inner