I want to thank everyone who shared their thoughts and comments on my reflections on the Newtown, Connecticut, tragedy. Many agreed with my thesis that the breakdown of the family is the prime cause of the cultural chaos we see so prevalent around us. Some thought I was partly right. And a few thought I was actually far off base.
+ + “I Disagree Mightily With You”
“Gonna have to disagree mightily with you here,” wrote Carl. “The disintegration of the nuclear family unit is a symptom, not the cause.”
Linda echoed Carl’s concerns: “I think ‘strong families’ are good things, but to have that as a primary goal misses the root cause of our national dysfunction and brokenness.”
So, what do Carl and Linda (and a few others who responded) think is the primary cause of our dysfunction and brokenness?
In Carl’s words…
“In our current society, we have abolished God from everywhere except the church itself. Without His hand over every part of our lives, how can it possibly be a surprise that these things not only happen, but spread like wildfire?”
“I think the big problem is that as a nation, we have gotten away from God, Christianity, and the personal accountability that goes with it.”
One of the leaders in my church, Frank, almost restated the views of Carl and Linda:
“…We miss the glaring Pink Elephant in the living room, that the majority of our main stream media and political leaders refuse to see or address. WE HAVE REMOVED AND UNINVITED THE FATHER, SON AND HOLY SPIRIT, GOD’S WORD AND BIBLICAL PRINCIPLES from our schools and our culture!” (emphasis in original)
So, who is right?
Am I correct that the destruction of the husband-wife family unit is the prime cause of our moral chaos? Or are Carl, Linda and Frank correct in saying that we’ve stripped God from our public lives and therefore moral chaos ensues?
+ + The correct answer is…
Carl and Linda and Frank make a very vital point, but their conclusion begs an important question. Allow me to explain.
The secularization of our society — what Richard John Neuhaus called the “Naked Public Square” — has had profound ramifications on our lives.
President Obama’s response to the Newtown tragedy clearly exposes that the emperor (meaning, our society in general and just just the president) has no clothes. We saw our president openly quoting scripture and appropriately attempting to put this tragedy in some eternal context. Yet this same president led a party that stripped every reference to “God” from its 2012 platform (before putting back one reference after some public outcry).
This stripping of a basic God-awareness can be felt in our schools, in our businesses, at almost any public event and certainly on television. In fact, the purge is so complete that we are startled when we hear God mentioned. We celebrate a public school holiday program that features sacred songs. We make special note of a TV show that appropriately mentions God.
So yes, I agree with Carl and Linda and Frank — the stripping of a fundamental awareness and acknowledgement of God in society has had a profound impact on our lives.
+ + How Do We Restore God-Awareness?
But here’s the question that begs to be answered…
How do we restore a basic God-awareness to our lives, our communities, and our nation?
And is restoring a God-awareness in society fundamentally the responsibility of the government? Or our schools? Or our businesses? Or our churches?
Here’s where I circle back to my original thesis of the destruction of the family.
I would argue that the family unit is by divine design and practical reality the primary means by which a God-awareness is established in any society. The family is the prime means for communicating and passing on the fundamental values and beliefs held by a society.
Faith flows through families, and families form the foundation of personal and community prosperity. As the prophet Jeremiah instructed the Jewish exiles:
“Take wives and become the fathers of sons and daughters, and take wives for your sons and give your daughters to husbands, that they may bear sons and daughters; and multiply there and do not decrease” (Jeremiah 29:6, NASB).
Building families is of fundamental importance, especially during tough times. If you haven’t done so already, I encourage you to order your two copies of “Thriving In Exile,” my new resource that shares the principles of building, planting, blessing and praying in these tough times.
+ + It’s Almost Politically Incorrect To Say It…
My children attend a Christian school. But don’t be mistaken — it is the responsibility of my wife and me to transmit our values and beliefs to our children, not the school.
I would add that our churches are powerless to restore a basic God-awareness in our communities without countering the tsunami wave of family destruction.
Yes, it is time to end the antagonism toward faith that is now so prevalent in the public square. It is outrageous that a teacher in a public school should have any concern for his or her job for praying in class or reading the Bible. This is nonsensical and a violation of fundamental rights. We do not surrender our religious liberties once we step into a public space, and there is no constitutional mandate for a secular state.
But we need to move this discussion beyond the general call to “put God back in our schools” and ask ourselves how this God-awareness can be restored in our society.
It will not happen primarily by legislation (nor should it). It will not happen primarily by an awareness campaign (although those do help).
It will happen primarily in families. A basic God-awareness in our society will happen in and through families.
I know it’s almost politically incorrect to say it, but we must restore the family. We must make it our number-one national and community goal to build and support strong, two-parent families. With no apologies.
P.S. Once again, I would greatly appreciate your feedback and comments.