Was Victorian Society the Great Evil Which Liberals Claim?

The Baseless Caricature of the Truth Which is Much Loved by Liberals

Light at the end of the tunnel?

Christian Apologetics writer and preacher Robin A. Brace takes a somewhat lonely walk through the battlements of Cardiff Castle in the spring of 2009. During 2000 years of history, this Castle has been a Roman Garrison, a Norman stronghold and, in Victorian times, was transformed into its present state as a fairytale-style fantasy castle. It is located in Cardiff, Wales, UK, right in the town centre.

Cardiff Castle

In origin, of course, this well known question is a quote from the King James version of the Book of John. Let us briefly look at that:

John 13:36: 'Simon Peter said to him, Lord, whither goest thou? Jesus answered him, Whither I go, thou canst not follow me now; but thou shalt follow me afterward."'

Even at the Last Supper, the disciples did not fully understand the course that Jesus' final hours upon earth would take. When Jesus stated that where He would soon be going, they could not follow, they wanted some further explanation.

But the statement, "whither goest thou?" - 'Quo Vadis' in Latin - is a bit like Pilate's question, "what is truth?" - has often been broadened out into a fuller philosophical consideration of life, and the path one chooses to follow through it. In this light, "whither goest thou?" would seem to be a very good question to ask of modern men and women in a much-changed world.

For the last fifty years or so modern social liberals have been on a propaganda trail which has often appeared evangelistic in fervour. Their aim has been to constantly undermine and to attack Victorian Britain. The writers who have contributed to this ferocious assault are far too numerous to list but people like Australian writer Germaine Greer, author of The Female Eunuch, and fearless champion of the emancipation of women, has been among the many leftist, liberal leaders of the assault.

The assault on Britain's past has been so pervasive that modern Britons often even seem embarrassed to discuss their national history; the British Empire, once the envy of countless nations, is now surely more regularly lampooned and ridiculed by us British than by any other people! The frequent socialist/liberal assumption, which has proven to be so sadly contagious in nature, is that Victorian Britain was a cruel, harsh land only truly concerned about punishing people for being poor, for heartless restrictions on women, for sending children to work in coal mines whilst - all the while - protecting the status of the wealthy.

The fact that this is an often baseless caricature of the truth, has not hindered nor detained liberals. The real truth, however, is far different: Victorian Britain was the land which produced numerous great statemen, orators, designers, engineers, scientists and Christian preachers and teachers of quite incredible number! Christianity itself was held in awe and respect by all the land, and atheists (a very rare breed in that day), were often considered to be barely distinguishable from the mentally sub-normal. The truth is that that society would be much better compared with that which proceeded it, rather than which has followed it. On those terms, Victorian Britain was an amazingly imaginative, bold, and yes, also a caring society.

So what are the reasons that have caused British and European 'moderns' to be so misguided and so negative in their views of Victorian Britain?

The Influence of Charles Dickens

Possibly the greatest writer of the period, Charles Dickens, can now be seen as a primary cause. How come? Because Dickens, in his undeniably great novels, loved to 'major' on the crime and corruption of the day; he loved to present us with human examples of avarice, greed and cowardice. His schoolmasters were people like Wackford Squeers and Mr Bumble, incorrigible in their love of inflicting suffering on undernourished boys. Many of his novels are replete with unscrupulous sharks forever at work in depriving honest people of their just inheritances, and so it goes on. Dickens, after all, was a dramatist and such people were obviously meat and drink to him! Of course, such people will certainly have existed but may well have been fewer in Dickens' time than in the age before it, yet - because of his work - it is the age of Dickens which provides us with a most powerful social microscope! It is largely for this reason that numerous social commentators have come to see the Britain of Charles Dickens, Victorian Britain, if you will, as a dreadful stain on the past, even though in many ways it was a golden age! Moreover, it was an age which was fast eradicating the social injustices of the century which proceeded it. Slavery was abolished in 1833 and, although this was technically four years before the reign of Victoria, this was typical of the Victorian hunger to make Britain a fairer and more just society.

There are too many examples to mention here of how the Victorian British writers, but especially Dickens, have influenced an overly-negative modern view of Victorian Britain, but if we look at Dickens' treatment of the poor of his day, the infamous 'debtor's prison' looms large as a perceived evil of his age. Only in his masterly novel, Little Dorrit, originally published in 19 instalments between 1855 and 1857, does Charles appear prepared to admit that things were not entirely bad in such places and that much kindness was often evidenced, frequently by voluntary Christian prison visitors. Modern liberals hate the concept of a 'debtor's prison' (understandably, to a degree), even though it was surely better than an earlier age in which debtors either starved to death or were forced to turn to crime! In fact, in 'Little Dorrit,' the imprisoned man later leaves the 'debtor's prison,' and is able to embark on a European Grand Tour.

The willingness to mete out stern punishment for crime is another reason that modern liberals (many of whom reject the whole concept of punishing criminals!) hate Victorian Britain, yet an increasingly Christian Britain of that time was constantly revising overly-harsh laws, especially as they applied to children. However, the 'eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth' punishment principle of Israel under such leaders as Moses and Joshua fully corroborated the principle of a stern but just punishment for crime as the best assurance of a law-abiding society. Looking back - largely through the focus of the romantic writers - causes us to lose a more accurate focus and we fail to perceive that Victorian Britain was actually a highly law-abiding society.

So is one suggesting that the Britain of the reign of Queen Victoria (1837-1901), was a perfect, almost utopian society? Absolutely not! There were certain cruelties and injustices which were often tolerated, but the truth is that those things were largely the product of an earlier century and the Victorians were passionate reformers, always striving to improve things, especially for the poor. Their passion to improve Britain was motivated by the Christianity which was the major creed and motivator of the land. Though Dickens himself was a committed Protestant, he did not 'major' in these areas. Of course not - he was a dramatist!

Whither Goest Thou?

In our present age it is becoming very apparent that the schema of Social Liberalism has proven to be an utter disaster for society. Its inherent moral relativism has led to a society which refuses to clearly distinguish good from evil and therefore freely tolerates contemptible behaviour; this is the sort of behaviour which many previous generations considered evil and plainly corrupt. The public display of indecency, vulgarity and moral destitution has always been encouraged by liberals but, in talking to many ordinary Britons, I sense that an angry backlash against this state of affirs is getting ever closer; to switch on BBC TV on several nights of the week after 9PM is now to invite one's ears to be bombarded with foul language, and possibly to expose one's eyes to degraded simulations of sex acts - and the liberals who have presided over - and encouraged - this situation, dare to condemn Victorian society??

The numerous confused contradictions which the rejection of Judeo-Christian values and ethics has thrown up include the bizarre nonsense that European hoteliers can be prosecuted for refusing to rent hotel rooms to homosexual men, yet apparently not be liable to prosecution for refusing to rent such rooms to heterosexual couples! This, of course, turns the laws of only 40 or 50 years ago completely on their head, and makes it almost impossible not to be reminded of Isaiah 5:20: 'Woe to those who call evil good and good evil...'. The absurdity of the current situation within the UK may be evidenced by the fact that, according to reliable sources, most UK police authorities have now been given strongly pro-gay guidelines in which they are required to give such people preferential treatment in any dispute which they may become involved in.

To be critical of such areas is in no way to attack the undeniable and obvious existence of homosexuality nor to encourage the persecution of such people, very far from it - but have we now gone much too far in the opposite direction??

The concern for "human rights" has become magnified but only magnified when it favours traditionally leftist, liberal concerns. Christians, for example, find that they have few rights in the present liberal climate and are frequently coming under attack. British churches have been informed that if they seek to employ a 'youth worker,' but discriminate against a gay applicant, they can be prosecuted, and, in fact, this has already happened.

Putting everything together it seems certain that a right-wing, anti-liberal backlash must be on the way very soon. This, after all, is what happened when the Germans of the early 1930s could no longer tolerate any more of the Weimar Republic's pathetic liberalism. It was economic chaos which initiated that backlash, could that not happen again?

The big lie of Liberalism was that it alone could lead to an ideal society with religion being unrequired, in fact, religion being a positive hindrance. But this liberal experiment has now been fully played out and even this creed's continual undermining of Victorian Britain, a comparatively glorious age, surely will not be able to save it when people finally count the cost of where liberalism has led, and it is certainly a substantial cost: a veritable western plague of the suicide of the young, many thousands of umarried mothers, virtual abortion-on-demand now in many countries; there are 46 million abortions occurring worldwide each year (source: The Guttmacher Report on Public Policy, May 2003, Volume 6, Number 2). If we compare the carnage of abortion to World War I, we find an astonishing fact: It is known that in World War I, 8,500,000 people died. if we round that up to 9 million, then FIVE TIMES AS MANY TINY BABIES IN THE WOMB ARE SLAUGHTERED BY ABORTIONISTS EVERY SINGLE YEAR AS THE TOTAL HUMAN CARNAGE OF 1914-1918. This dreadful carnage is the product of the liberal revolution, a revolution which almost nobody ever wanted but was brought in by stealth.

Let none of us who are aware of the true facts be prepared to stand idly by anymore whenever liberals seek to denigrate the strongly Christian-based society of Victorian Britain. Those Victorians would look at our western societies of the early 21st century and be utterly horrified and appalled at where so-called "liberal progress" has led us.
And where ARE we going? Apparently down to a very bottomless pit of filth, degradation, perversity and hopelessness!

The only answer now is Jesus Christ and we Christians need to redouble our efforts to inform the world of the truth which our adversary has been so successfully suppressing!
Robin A. Brace, 2009.

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