For a world that boasts of being cultured, civilized; and possessive of social refinement we certainly produce an abundance of violence. The sons of Cain are more than legion. If it is true, and it is, that history repeats itself, then it is abundantly evident that the violence first displayed by Cain repeats itself ten thousand fold and then some, by thousands upon thousands. Newspapers and news broadcasts seldom can avoid mentioning a new outbreak of violence. If there is no development of sin, what then shall we call this increase in brutality, violence, and bloodshed? Never did the world live in more fear of men, in spite of augmented and strengthened police forces. Never was there need for such great forces to combat violence and to protect the innocent.
Race riots have become so common that they do not stir up the flesh the way they did at first. We do become accustomed even to violence. Labor riots likewise have become so common place that we rather expect them than are surprised to hear of them. Nation rises up against nation and kingdom against kingdom. Always there has been the undercurrent of crafty theft and fraud. It is an age old practice of taking the neighbor’s goods and resorting to murder when it becomes necessary to get his gold. There was much violence in the, early days of the settlement of our country. It was called the “Wild and Woolly West” for a reason. Men were a law unto themselves; and that simply means that they were outlaws, men living outside of the law. Our land has known violence and the violent. And we might just as well be honest about it. We also by nature enjoy reading about these days of violence. It makes interesting reading for the flesh. And “Western stories” are still a main attraction in the television field. The raw brutality of it all, the cruel violence, cannot be so easily portrayed by mere voice and sound effects to make a radio serial popular. But with the advent of the television screen, the violence and brutality of western movies has come to its own in widespread observance even by the very young!
Violence has always been a problem for the world. Millions have been spent to try to curb it. Thousands upon thousands of men have been hired to guard against it and to apprehend those who commit it. Special studies have been made in an attempt to cure it. This article on “Seeds of Violence” was suggested by articles in two diverse magazines which show the concern of the world today in regard to this plague of violence. In the Newsweek Magazine of March 23, 1964 under the title of “Ticking Away” appears an article wherein, first of all, is pointed out the growing tension among children, not as in times past, for the “schoolyard bully,” but in regard to world affairs. The well-known Dr. Benjamin Speck is quoted as stating that children today are “greatly troubled by cold war anxieties” so that between 25 and 50 percent believe that there will be a nuclear war. “Young children,” he declares, “worry most about being separated from their parents in a disaster and about the death or maiming of their parents or themselves.” It is violence then which they fear.
The article goes on to point out another evidence of fear of violence and the seeds of violence. Marchers representing the “Parents against the Encouragement of Violence” were picketing the 61st American Toy Fair which was displaying all the current toys of violence together with other toys wherewith modem children will amuse themselves. The latest toy of suggested violence is called the “Time Bomb.” It is made of plastic, and children are encouraged to set the timer and then toss the bomb at each other, trying not to be caught with the “bomb” when it goes boom. This explains the title to the article, “Ticking Away.” The manufacturers of such toys, together with toy guns, rifles, and the like, are quick to answer that such toys do not encourage or lead to violence in the real life of the child. The signs, “Let’s Disarm the Nursery” and “Is Killing Kid Stuff?” do not please the manufacturers of such items. But is there a measure of truth in the charge? Is it harmless to let our children run around shouting “Bang! Bang! you’re dead!?” Are these the toys and the games for covenant seed who have been instructed in the law of God, “Thou shalt not kill”? May then they play that they are sinning? And does this have no effect at all on their walk of life? Is all this “In His Fear”?
Another magazine article: in the Scientific American of February, 1964, entitled, “The Effects of Observing Violence,” written by Leonard Berkowitz has this subtitle, “Experiments suggest that aggression depicted in television and motion picture dramas, or observed in actuality, can arouse certain members of the audience to violent action.” Aware of Aristotle’s theory that watching drama could “accomplish a purgation of such emotions” Mr. Berkowitz set out to experiment, in order to prove or disprove Aristotle’s contention. If Aristotle is correct, then we should seek drama with violence and brutality to get it out of our systems and to prevent us from performing the deeds themselves. Would it not be wonderful, if we could get rid of all our evil that way? Just watch others in drama, movie, or television commit crimes of violence and purge our souls of the desire to do so ourselves.
Mr. Berkowitz proved the contrary to be true. Exposing his voluntary subject (who did not know the nature of the experiment but thought he was helping determine physiological responses to certain stimuli) to an intelligence test in which he was nettled by one of Mr. Berkowitz’s assistants, who posed as another voluntary subject, and then subjecting him to a seven-minute film of violence in a boxing match, which was then followed by another test wherein the subject had to express approval or disapproval of a floor plan of a house, Mr. Berkowitz discovered that the subject pressed repeatedly the button that he was told would give electrical shocks to his co-worker, thereby expressing disapproval for the floor plan of the house. When, however, the subject was not nettled in the intelligence test and shown a travel movie, he did not make such frequent use of the shock button. Although Mr. Berkowitz concludes that the “effect of filmed violence is temporary,” he says of the catharsis or purging of the emotions by the sight of violence, “I would not deny that it exists. Nor would I reject the argument that a frustrated person can enjoy fantasy aggression because he sees characters doing things he wishes he could do, although in most cases his inhibitions restrain him. I believe, however, that effective catharsis occurs only when an angered person perceives that his frustrator has been aggressively injured. From this I argue that filmed violence is potentially dangerous. The motion picture aggression has increased the chance that an angry person, and possibly other people as well, will attack someone else.”
All this, of course, is entirely apart from the Word of God. It was not an experiment in His fear or conducted in His fear. It is nevertheless revealing and has its value. There are tunes when we do not want to listen to the Word of God and prefer to listen to men. There are times when we will not live in His fear and will be guided by the fear that men instill in our hearts. We will refrain from evil not because it is displeasing in God’s sight and lacks love to Him, but because we fear what men can and will do to us.
The Word of God has made a case of it for thousands of years that seeing violence breeds violence. Holy Writ has warned covenant parents for centuries that seeing sin fosters sin, exactly because the heart of man is by nature corrupt and, delights in sm. Why, did you ever ask yourself, why did Ham delight in Noah’s sin of drunkenness? And why did his brothers even refuse to LOOK at it? Why did God tell Moses to destroy all the idolaters in the land of Canaan together with their idols? We read in Exodus 34:12-15, “Take heed to thyself, lest thou make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land whither thou goest, lest it be for a snare in the midst of thee. But ye shall destroy their altars, break their images, and cut down their groves: For thou shalt worship no other god, for the Lord whose name is Jealous is a jealous God; Lest thou make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land, and they go a whoring after their gods, and do sacrifice unto their gods, and one call thee and thou eat of his sacrifice.”
Man does not sin by imitation. The child is not born with a clean slate on which you can write violence or love. He comes into this world, with a wicked heart, one totally depraved and that delights in all manner of sin, the quiet forms as well as the violent. And he will sin regardless of what he sees or does not see. But seeing evil entices him, excites him, draws him and feeds his evil nature. The seed of violence is born in his soul; but it is fanned and fed by that which he sees.
Cain committed violence without seeing murder before. He did not kill by imitation. But there can be no doubt about it that the long length of life of the sinners before the flood caused the world to be ripe for judgment at such an early age. They were able to hand down their sin to many generations and to show sin, wherein they had themselves developed by a long life, to children and children’s children.
Violence and all manner of sin is there in the soul of the child when he is born. Just read Romans 3:10-18 for a picture of the natural man that is far from flattering and yet very true. And that child can be taught more evil exactly because it is there from birth. In Cain’s murder we see what was in Adam’s and Eve’s heart when they ate of the forbidden tree. It was no innocent little act of eating. It was bold, defiant, hateful rebellion. When God told Satan that He would put enmity between seed and seed, it is evident that what Adam and Eve at the moment had in their hearts was enmity against God. Their deed was one of hate, of enmity; and the sin of Cain,—in fact, all the sin that is in the world today and as it shall develop until the man of sin appears,—shows what was really in Adam’s heart.
Shall we plant further seeds of rebellion in our children? Shall we fan it to a bright flame? Shall we water and feed the seed of evil that is there from birth? And if we do not want to take the Word of God, will the word of man bring some sense into our heads? In many a covenant home the only violence to be advocated is a smashing blow to the television set, that is, if we cannot control the switch in His fear. If it is better to enter into heaven with one eye and to lose the other, then by all means it is better to do violence to the television set so that we and our children may live in His fear. The seeds sown today, will bear fruit tomorrow. God is not mocked.