Ferguson. New York. Baltimore. Charleston. In 2015, the names of these cities have become synonymous with lawlessness. Whether it is the indefensible violence of Baltimore police officers, the indefensible violence of rioters, or the indefensible violence of  a hate-filled gunman, it is clear that America is suffering from a crisis of lawlessness.

In this week’s issue, author James Nelson Black highlights the root causes of a culture of lawlessness and what happens to nations that allow lawlessness to flourish. As you read Chapter 2 from Black’s 1993 book, When Nations Die, it is easy to see how the examples of lawlessness he cites in the early 1990s proved to be the seedbed for the crisis of lawlessness we face today. Not surprisingly, the root cause is not guns or racial hatred or police brutality or any of the dozens of other issues the media focus on in searching for answers to our lawless society. The root problem is the disintegration of the family structure. In the 1990s pro-family advocates were warning of the impending destruction of the family, and today we are witnessing the effects of a culture plagued by dysfunctional families. “The Crisis of Lawlessness” begins on page 4.

When Nations Die: The Crisis of Lawlessness

In Dallas a sixty-nine-year-old veteran of the Korean War is shot to death in a suburban parking lot while putting groceries into his car. Teenage gang members say they picked their victim at random. It was just “something to do.” A few miles away, a young father picking up his two-and-a-half-year-old son from nursery school is targeted by another gang. Five males and a female, all in their teens, follow the man home, then stomp and beat him unconscious in front of the child, who is left screaming in terror.

While leaving the scene, the punks wreck their stolen van and flee on foot into an upper-income neighborhood, where they are easy to spot and apprehend when the police arrive. Again, the gang members say they targeted the man at random, and when arraigned in a Dallas courtroom, the young hoodlums—accompanied by their lawyers, parents, and girlfriends—laugh and snicker throughout the brief proceedings, knowing there is little chance they will ever go to trial.

Both these incidents happened within the past few weeks in my own neighborhood; but crimes just like them, and much worse, happen every day in America. Dark and terrible episodes like these are coming to be seen as normal in the United States. But can we even claim to be a civilized people when an entire nation can be held captive by thugs? This country is in the midst of an unprecedented crisis of law and order. Once the model of peace, prosperity, and responsible citizenship to the entire world, the United States today is obviously a nation in chaos, a broken and humiliated empire apparently on the verge of collapse. There seems to be no sign of hope or relief on the horizon.

On one hand, crime is out of control and ravaging the streets of our cities. On the other, politically correct rulings without legal precedent are being handed down by the nation’s courts, granting unheard-of rights for a wide range of newly minted minorities and apparently guaranteeing protection from prosecution for criminals. America is being held hostage by violence and by the out-of-touch social agenda that allows it to thrive.

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