There are days when the news seems to turn up the volume on the evil of the world we live in. Today feels like one of those days, as wave upon wave of cases of the abuse of young footballers break, battering the innocence of our national sport. I'm sure that amongst them there will be the false accusations and the sensationalists, but even now it is clear that most will be proven true.
Paedophiles are clever. They put themselves in positions where they have access to children. It's why it's right that anyone who works with young people has to be checked to see if they have a criminal record. Though that will only identify those who have been caught.
Of course the sexual abuse that we are seeing reported today is nothing new. In fact what is grooming or abuse and what is consensual sex has been culturally fluid throughout history. I was in Caernarfon Castle with my children last holiday looking as a display of the life of King Edward I, who conquered the Welsh. He was married to Eleanor of Castile when she was 12. She had her first child, who died in birth, when she was 13.
Even our culture is deeply confused as to what is an appropriate sexual relationship. Is it a question of consent? Is it a question of age and consent? So we regard two 14 year olds having a sexual relationship differently from a 25 year old having sex with a 15 year old. The former is a matter for the children themselves. Most schools would not involve parents if a 14 year old girl came and asked her school nurse or teacher for advice about contraception. The latter is a matter for the police. Even if the 15 year old has declare their undying love for their partner.
This level of confusion will only increase. We see it in the desire to let children choose their gender as a separate reality from their physical sex. Some people believe that they have the capacity to do this at an age when we think that they are too young to be sexually active. We see it in the age at which we are teaching children about sex at school. And in how that teaching avoids giving any moral guidance. Far be it from educators to suggest that there is a right or wrong in sexual practice!
We need to remember that the Roman world that most of the New Testament was written into was far more sexually promiscuous and "free" than our culture. The ancient Greeks and Romans would have thought nothing of the sexual practice that makes our headlines. It was acceptable for men and women to have sexual partners of an age that would be criminal today.
The world of darkness we live in is not new.
And it's not improving. That belief that things are always getting better is the tragic lie exposed by the news headlines of today or any day.
But there is hope. Light has broken in.
"The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him.... Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.." (John 1:9-12)
It is only as a child of God that we can live in the light of a relationship with Him. A relationship in which our loving Heavenly Father tells us how to have healthy sexual relationships within marriage and how to cherish and care for our children. A relationship in which we know that the darkness of today will one day be a thing of the past.
That's what the season of Advent is about. Not the first coming of the Lord Jesus as a baby; to live, die and rise to save us from our sin and make us children of God. But the second coming of Jesus as judge. When He will rid the world of evil once and for all and gather His children in.
We don't know when that day will be. But we know it will come, because everything else that God has promised in the Bible has happened.
Some days it's easier to look forward to that day than others.