When a child’s father is married to his mother, the probability of the child’s living in poverty drops by 82 percent.
Absent fathers don’t just harm their children economically. A father’s influence on children is documented and widely accepted. Adolescents without dads in their lives tend to exhibit more anti-social behavior. To be blunt, they get into trouble. Social science indicates that fathers play a different and complementary role to mothers in raising children, particularly sons. . . .
If American culture doesn’t honor the role of fathers, young people won’t understand the importance of young men growing up in responsibility – and young women won’t understand what to look for in a mate. Rather than honoring fatherhood, though, too often our society minimizes the importance of fathers in the home. So much so that a live-in dad is seen, at best, as optional.
“A healthy marriage culture helps the gold standard prevail, wherever possible, that children are raised by the parents who brought them into this world. … The Supreme Court itself has repeatedly noted that marriage and the family are necessary foundations of a free and properly functioning democratic republic. This is why the state, although it did not create marriage, has consistently supported and encouraged its flourishing. In contrast, until very recently, no government in human history has ever officially recognized same-sex relationships as marriages, precisely because they do not further society’s important interest in the natural procreation of the next generation of citizens. … The erosion of marriage and the breakdown of the family in America have unleashed social problems that are all too real and must be remedied. But the remedy will not come by accepting same-sex ‘marriage’ as valid, necessary, or constitutionally required. Marriage does not need redefinition, but re-dedication to its core meaning, the union of one man and one woman, and to its core purpose, uniting children to their own mother and father.”
With the U.S. Supreme Court set to take up gay marriage and potentially legalize it this summer, churches that host wedding ceremonies or other events for traditional couples should examine their bylaws and shield themselves from the impact of possible litigation, says an attorney who specializes in religious liberty issues.
Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood. I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; (Acts 20:28-29 ESV)
I believe that many will agree with me that Christianity has lost much of its influence on our modern culture. It has even become politically incorrect to mention it in the history books of our nation, unless it is portrayed in a negative context. Only 150 years ago, Christian influence was obvious in American education. Most of the early colleges, such as Harvard, Yale, Princeton, and Dartmouth were founded by Christians who believed there was no true knowledge or wisdom without Jesus Christ (see “Harvard’s Rules and Precepts”). The first 106 out of 108 colleges in the US were started as Christian schools primarily to ensure the availability of an educated clergy. University of Houston researchers, Donald Lutz and Charles Hyneman, have concluded that 34% of the quotes used by the Founding Fathers of our country between 1760 and 1805 were from the Bible. This certainly indicates that the Bible and Christianity were a major influence on these men and the early history of America. However, this is certainly not true of our leaders and the culture in general today.
How has it happened then, that Christianity has lost its prominent position of influence on American culture and modern society in the Western nations? At the core of it, I think the primary reason is that the “fear of God” has been replaced by the “fear of man”. Modern civilization has become self-absorbed. We are like a man who constantly checks the mirror to see what he thinks others see in him. It is the pride of life, which drives a man to desire independence from God while chaining himself to the ungodly opinions of others.
The sacred writings of the modern world are founded upon the wisdom of men, self-help books, psychology texts, and the latest People Magazine. The authority of Scripture is denied, if not out-rightly – then by neglect. The Bible is seen as providing “a” way, not “the” way. All men are seen as basically “good” without ever defining what “good” is.
Too many ministers today see their work as a job rather than a calling. They lack spiritual knowledge and personal holiness. Many are like the priests described by Ezekiel, “Her priests have done violence to my law and have profaned my holy things. They have made no distinction between the holy and the common, neither have they taught the difference between the unclean and the clean, and they have disregarded my Sabbaths, so that I am profaned among them. Her princes in her midst are like wolves tearing the prey, shedding blood, destroying lives to get dishonest gain. And her prophets have smeared whitewash for them, seeing false visions and divining lies for them, saying, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD,’ when the LORD has not spoken.” (Ezekiel 22:26-28 ESV) The essential good news of salvation is lost in trying to make the church meet the world’s standard of success.
Therefore, increasingly – as time has passed, parents and children have passed through Sunday Schools and worship services without being given a firm foundation in the Christian faith. Is it any wonder that so many of our youth, who have attended church all their lives, go off to the modern university and promptly lose what faith they have?
When the doctrines of the church and personal beliefs are allowed to become poles apart, is it any wonder that the definition of sin becomes uncertain and “salvation by death” the acceptable conclusion of a life? The underlying wish that everyone goes to heaven has sent too many to hell.
As the clergy has become weaker by submitting itself to the bonds of public opinion, the church and its members have lost their purpose of being “salt and light”. Indeed, how can they be salt and light when the world has become the standard by which the modern church measures all things? God has not changed. The Bible has not changed. Therefore, if the church has lost much of its influence for good in society, it is because the men and women who make up the church have chosen to ride the whirlwind of public approval rather than honor God.
We would do well to follow God’s instructions: “Stand by the roads, and look, and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is; and walk in it, and find rest for your souls.” (Jeremiah 6:16 ESV) God is speaking here to His people about using good judgment and not blindly following false prophets and priests. The Bible is our way mark to direct us which way to take. The ways of the world will never direct us to fulfill God’s purpose.
I once had a conversation (about Jesus Christ) with a young woman in which she told me emphatically that she was not a sinner and that she had no sins over which to repent. I am curious. Do you think that this attitude is prevalent in the culture of our youth today? How do you think our unchurched family members, friends, and acquaintances define sin?
A pulpit ministry may be greatly hindered if the pastor cannot rule his own house properly. Al Martin explains:
The ministry of many a church is being terribly hampered by the absence of practical piety in the life of the teaching elder. It is significant that in I Timothy 3, having mentioned that the man must be blameless, Paul immediately moves to a specific area that of the potential elder’s domestic life. ‘If any man be blameless, the husband of one wife, having children not accused of riot or unruly, for if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the house of God?’ And I say, not censoriously, but with true concern, that many pulpit ministries of some precious servants of God are being negated by the failure of practical piety in the realm of domestic life. A situation came to my attention recently where a minister was actually asked to resign his church because of the wagging tongue of his wife. The problem was not basically the man’s message or his ministry, but his failure to rule his own house, and to bring his wife into line in the area of her gossiping tongue. How dare we ministers call upon others to be obedient to the Word of God, if we are blatantly disobedient in this matter? God clearly says that, to qualify for the teaching elder’s position, our own houses must be ruled well. It does not say that they must be ruled perfectly; it does not say that we have power to infuse grace into the souls of our children. But, if we do not have clear principles and our own lives are not sufficiently weighty by their own godly example to rule our houses, how can we rule the House of God? That is the vital question. It is my own personal conviction that if a man fails to meet this requirement, he has no more right to remain in the ministry than if he fails in one of the other requirements. I would not presume to judge in individual cases, for that is God’s work, but certainly it cannot be of God that, in church after church, there is little pulpit power because the life of the minister is so shoddy in the area of practical piety, particularly in domestic matters. (“What’s Wrong with Preaching?”)
There is no doubt that in the history of warfare, women have certainly played a role in the frontline of combat many times. However, the rise of Western Civilization has mostly frowned upon the idea of women in combat. If we look to the Bible, we find Deborah (Judges 4:14) who on one occasion acted as a military adviser or even a general to an army of 10,000 men. The idea of women in combat, however, is a foreign concept to the teachings of the Bible.
There are many who have lobbied our government for years to place women in front line combat roles. “Equality” is often the generalized reason for pushing the concept forward. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta announced last month that the military is going to remove its ban on women in combat. Is this something to celebrate or just another sign of moral decay? Michael Foust writes:
Panetta made his announcement Thursday (Jan. 24), saying the removal of the ban had unanimous approval from the Joint Chiefs of Staff. With the removal, about 237,000 positions on or near the front lines of combat are now open to women.
“If members of our military can meet the qualifications for a job, then they should have the right to serve, regardless of creed, color, gender or sexual orientation,” Panetta said.
WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THIS NEW POLICY, AS A CHRISTIAN SPECIFICALLY?
In the face of this modern nihilism, Christians are often lacking in courage. We tend to give the impression that we will hold on to the outward forms whatever happens, even if god really is not there. But the opposite ought to be true of us, so that people can see that we demand the truth of what is there and that we are not dealing merely with platitudes. In other words, it should be understood that we take the question of truth and personality so seriously that if God were not there we would be among the first of those who had the courage to step out of the queue.
Jesus had several half-brothers and sisters ( Matthew 12:46-47; 13:55-56). We know some of his brothers were named James, Joses, Simon and Judas. His sisters are unnamed in the Bible. History tells us that James became the head of the church in Jerusalem.
Love is a command, not just a feeling. Somehow, in the romantic world of music and theater we have made love to be what it is not. We have so mixed it with beauty, charm, sensuality, and contact that we have robbed it of its higher call of cherishing and nurturing.
Chivalry in love has nothing to do with the sweetness of the appearance. It has everything to do with the tenderness of a heart determined to serve.
This New Year, I am addressing my message particularly to men. Now ladies, please do not be offended or think I am neglecting you – just continue reading, and I think you might see how this message benefits everyone.
How would you describe a Christian gentleman? In this culture, if a man attends church once a month he may be thought of as a good person. Let’s face it; to some degree we all put on our best Sunday attitude at church. I hope, however, this is not the only time a man is at his best. But the truth is, for guys; it probably is.
Men, how would the people who actually know you describe you? Would they say you are well-mannered and kind? Would they describe you as a good person to know because they enjoy being around you?
My concern is that there are too many men in America today who are extremely impatient with others. They are easily angered and often obnoxious. Just let anyone make a mistake in their presence or disagree with their cherished opinions – and an explosion of furious ranting goes off to the discomfort of everyone. They may be successful in academics or business, but their manner is arrogant and rude. Thus, civility is declining and obnoxious behavior continues to grow. How do we solve this problem? This article is a call to men to bring the art of living as a Christian gentleman back again.
First of all a man must be born again. (John 3:3) As Luke writes when speaking of Jesus, “there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12 ESV) Also, Paul writes: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” (2 Corinthians 5:17 ESV) However, even Christians are not perfect in their interactions with others. Many Christian men fail miserably at being a Christian gentleman.
It is a national tragedy that many American men seem to be untrained in the rules of simple manners. Perhaps I should provide some specific examples:
A gentleman is respectful of others. He is not soft, but he is polite and considerate. A gentleman is respectful of women and treats them all like ladies. He always holds the door for a lady and gives up his seat if she has no place to sit.
A Christian gentleman displays the fruit of the Spirit in his life: “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control”. (Galatians 5:22-23 ESV) A gentleman puts people at ease in his presence. If a gentleman disagrees with someone, he does so with kindness and always avoids vulgar jokes, profanity, and negative gossip.
A gentleman remembers such ordinary things as to say “please” and “thank you”. He uses the words “sir” and “ma’am” when he responds to others. He demonstrates respect for those who are older. (1 Peter 5:5 ESV) Concerning his appearance; a gentleman does not dress like a clown. He is conscientious about what is appropriate to wear for the occasion, in public, or work. He also does not date women who dress like hookers. Enough said!
A gentleman shuns violence and the loose talk and actions that lead to violence. When I was a teenager, I took classes in the Japanese martial arts. I remember my sensei always reminding his students “when faced with violence, it is better to run.” According to Jesus, “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.” (Matthew 5:38-39 ESV) This teaching does not mean that one should never be prepared to defend his life and health or that of another. It does mean, however, that you should never think your own honor so venerated that you are ready to fight at the slightest insult.
As an educator, I often heard my single female colleagues complain, and I quote: “No man is going to put his feet under my table if he cannot hold a job.” I recognize that bad health and our present economic conditions may make it difficult to find a good job and hold it. But consider what John Calvin said, “There is no work, however vile or sordid, that does not glisten before God.”
Men have become too willing to “pass the buck” to others; but a gentleman takes responsibility for his actions. If he makes a mistake, he owns up to it. If he sins against someone, he asks for forgiveness. (Ephesians 4:32) He deals responsibly with the results of all his actions. Another complaint I often heard from my female colleagues was, “There are no longer any ‘safe’ men around.” A gentleman should be a “safe man”. Think about what that means!
The Christian gentleman is a man of honor who keeps his word. He can be counted on. He is also highly family-centered. He is committed to his wife and children. He is conscious of the character he displays when interacting with his wife and children. He disciplines his children and goes with them to church. He demonstrates his love for his family openly.
A Christian gentleman is a man of the book – the Bible. He does more than simply read it; he studies it in order to apply its teachings to his life. As Jesus said, “It is written, “‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” (Matthew 4:4 ESV)
William Lyon Phelps has written, “The final test of a gentleman is his respect for those who can be of no possible service to him.” This is best illustrated by Matthew 7:12 (ESV), “whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them. . . .” Too often, men in our society adopt the view, “It is better to do unto others, before they do unto you.” They think it is better to be labeled a wolf than possibly seen as a lamb. Well, consider this quote from Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt who history records as being a masculine “man’s man”: “Courtesy is as much a mark of a gentleman as courage.”
In conclusion, my message to men this year is a call to civic virtue. American culture and institutions have been in decline. The traditional role of men in our society has become confused and denigrated. Yes, we need “men’s men” but we need to redefine this concept beyond physical ability and sports. Within this idea we must incorporate living life as a gentleman, and I hope – as a Christian gentleman. The barbarians of cultural chaos are currently at the gate. Real men must step up to become gentlemen in the finest tradition of George Washington, Samuel Adams, and Robert E. Lee. As we begin this New Year, you can make a difference by helping to reform the character of the America male. Man-up and change the future by resolving to be a Christian gentleman.
Parents naturally wish to save their children from suffering. Often, however, this protective instinct becomes an obsession and is carried to extremes. Such behavior on the parents’ part does more harm than good. Thomas Adams writes:
‘Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, and to-day, and for ever.’ (Heb. 13:8)
Many persons are solicitously perplexed, how their children shall do when they are dead; yet they consider not how God provided for them when they were children. Is the ‘Lord’s arm shortened?’… Is not ‘Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to-day, and for ever?’ ‘I have been young,’ saith David, ‘and am now old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken’—that is granted, nay—’nor his seed begging bread,’ Ps. 37:25.
Many distrustful fathers are so anxious for their posterity, that while they live they starve their bodies, and hazard their souls, to leave them rich. To such a father it is said justly: … Like an over-kind hen, he feeds his chickens, and famishes himself. If usury, circumvention, oppression, extortion, can make them rich, they shall not be poor. Their folly is ridiculous; they fear lest their children should be miserable, yet take the only course to make them miserable; for they leave them not so much heirs to their goods as to their evils. They as certainly inherit their father’s sins as their lands: ‘God layeth up his iniquity for his children; and his offspring shall want a morsel of bread,’ Job 21:19.
On the contrary, ‘the good man is merciful, and lends; and his seed is blessed,’ Ps. 37:26. That which the worldling thinks shall make his posterity poor, God saith shall make the good man’s [children] rich. The precept gives a promise of mercy to obedience, not only confined to the obedient man’s self, but extended to his seed, and that even to a thousand generations, Exod. 20:6. Trust, then, Christ with thy children; when thy friends shall fail, usury bear no date, oppression be condemned to hell, thyself rotten to the dust, the world itself turned and burned into cinders, still ‘Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, and to-day, and for ever.’
Now then, as ‘grace and peace are from him which is, and which was, and which is to come;’ so glory and honor be to him, which is, and which was, and which is to come; even to ‘Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, and to-day, and for ever,’ Rev. 1:4. (“The Immutable Mercy of Jesus Christ”)
Ryan T. Anderson and William E. Simon write:
Conservatives rightly uphold the institution of marriage between a man and a woman because marriage is the seedbed of society, the necessary precondition for limited self-government.
But not everyone sees it this way. With the United States Supreme Court expected to decide this week whether to hear challenges to traditional marriage laws, now is the time for citizens to think deeply about the nature and purpose of marriage.
Marriage unites a man and woman holistically—emotionally and bodily, in acts of conjugal love and in the children such love brings forth—for the whole of life.
In the revisionist view of marriage, however, what sets marriage apart from other bonds is emotional intensity—what one philosopher refers to as your “number one person.” But nothing about emotional union requires it to be permanent. Or limited to two. Or sexual, much less sexually exclusive. Or inherently oriented to family life and shaped by its demands.