Summary: The Permissive Society (PowerPoint slides to accompany this talk are available on request - email:

Reading: Matthew chapter 5 verses 13-16.


• Snake who escaped from his cage etc;

• He became a victim of his own appetite!

• I believe our society has become the victim of its own permissive appetites;

• We have become trapped, enslaved by our own sinful attitudes and actions.

Quote: The word ‘Permissive’ in the dictionary simply means;

• ‘Tolerant, liberal, giving permission’

• Alternative words could be; “acquiescent, easy going, fore-bearing, indulgent’,

Our society is permissive because government after government:

• Have passed laws (given permission), to certain forms of behaviour & conduct.

• That runs contrary to this book.

• As a result morals and ethical standards have been lowered;

• People openly commit acts that at one-time they would have been ashamed of,


“It all began with the "Swinging Sixties" and the advent of the Pill.

Suddenly all the "old fashioned" morals and values were cast off in favour of free expression, free love and generally "doing your own thing".

Young people finally broke away from the social and moral shackles which, they thought, had enslaved their parents' and previous generations; beginning a carefree romp through all standards of restraint.

We have now gone past the end of the twentieth century, widely acknowledged as the wreckage of the permissive society.

What has it left us?

The answer is a painful legacy of broken homes, illegitimacy, venereal disease, drug addiction, and AIDS.

The permissive society with all its promise of total liberation has instead led us into insecurity and misery.


• On the Caribbean island of Barbados,

• Is a castle that once belonged to the pirate called Sam Lord.

• Sam Lord was a very cunning and crafty pirate, because he did not use a ship,

• Instead he used to hang lots of lanterns in the palm trees in front of his castle.

• Then when a ship having crossed the Atlantic, saw Barbados and saw those lights.

• It used to think that it had arrived at the port of Bridgetown,

• And it would turn into those lights,

• Thinking that that was where all the other boats were anchored.

• Unknowingly it would turn into the coral reef and be wrecked,

• That is exactly what Sam Lord wanted to happen, because he was a pirate

• His men could then row out to the wreck,

• Take prisoners or kill any survivors and steal all the goods and treasure.

Those alluring lights:

• Offered the sailors so much, but it gave them nothing,

• It promised them freedom, enjoyment, & a good time, but it shipwrecked (destroyed) them.

Now rather than depress you with statistics:

• Related to the use of drugs, or teenage pregnancies,

• Or the number of babies aborted each year etc

• I thought I would look at how we as Christians;

• Should react in a society gone wrong!

Quote Longfellow said;

"In this world a man must either be anvil or hammer".

• Meaning of course that we will either be a moulder of society,

• Or society will mould, it will change, it will influence us.

Quote: We live in a world, a society:

• That has been influenced, moulded by a variety of philosophies,

• A variety of different influences.

• Greece said, "be wise, know yourself !"

• Rome said, "be strong, discipline yourself!"

• Religion said, "be good, conform yourself!"

• Epicureanism says, "be sensuous, enjoy yourself!"

• Education says, "be resourceful, expand yourself!"

• Psychology says, "be confident, assert yourself!"

• Materialism says, "be satisfied, please yourself!"

• Pride says, "be superior, promote yourself!"

• Asceticism says, "be lowly, suppress yourself!"

• Humanism says, "be capable, believe in yourself!"

• Legalism says, "be pious, limit yourself!"

• Philanthropy says, "be generous, release yourself!"

Now there is probably a measure of truth in all of those philosophies:

• But on their own they can be very extreme and very excessive.

• And also dangerous! And if you will forgive the pun:

“The trouble with being moulded by these influences,

Is that society has gone mouldy, gone wrong, gone away from this book!”

In Matthew chapters 5-7:

• What is commonly called; 'The Sermon on the Mount'.

• It could well be called; 'The sermon of change, and its effect'.

Because this revolutionary stuff and if it were applied, it would turn:

• Our world, society, city, town, community, street,

• Our work place, family, our individual lives upside down

• Or perhaps rather inside out!

• And bring about a positive change for the good (‘a righteousness to lift up a nation’).

(a). Salt (verse 13):

• Jesus talks about what it means to make a difference?

• I would suggest; ‘How Christians should live in a permissive society!’

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