The Fatherless Generation
- Friday, June 18, 2004
“The highest glory of the American Revolution was this: it connected, in one indissoluble bond, the principles of civil government with the principles of Christianity.” ~~ John Quincy Adams
Every piece of currency issued in America proclaims, "In God we trust." But trusting in God requires much more than lip service; it is a lifetime commitment to follow the Lord, the kind of commitment our founding fathers expected our nation to keep.
They knew the truth of Scripture: Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths. (Proverbs 3:5-6 KJV)
These principles of trust apply to individuals, churches, communities and nations. God is waiting for our nation to return to these fundamental, foundational principles so the "indissoluble bond" that ties America to Christianity will never be severed.
A Clash of Cultures
The Freedom Forum First Amendment Center at Vanderbilt University points out that a "wide chasm" and an "unhealthy distrust" exist between "two alien cultures… one rooted largely in a search for facts and the other grounded in a discovery of faith beyond fact." The culture of disbelief and the culture of belief are at odds with each other almost to the point of total polarization.
Social scientist James Q. Wilson writes that "the powers exercised by the institutions of social control have been constrained and people, especially young people, have embraced an ethos that values self-expression over self-control." This war has escalated in the academic institutions of our land. One of its bloodiest battlegrounds is found in the minds of our fatherless young people.
In 1940, teachers reported the worst problems in our public schools as being these: talking out of turn; chewing gum; making noise; running in hallways; cutting in line; dress code infractions; and littering. In contrast, by 1990, teachers identified the following problems as being most significant, and these problems continue today: drug abuse, alcohol abuse, pregnancy, suicide, rape, robbery and assault.
Without the leadership of earthly fathers who derive their authority from the heavenly Father, young people today find themselves adrift on a turbulent sea of doubt and confusion. Many have lost sight of the shoreline and have no compass to guide them.
It is time for believers to take the offensive. We must lead society back to God and the Bible. The Apostle Paul stressed the importance of prayer as a weapon to be used in our current cultural conflicts:
Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints. (Ephesians 6:18)
We will win the battle if we stay focused on our calling, if we make sure we wear the full armor God provides for us, and if we determine in our hearts to take the offensive by exposing the works of darkness. Clearly, we need a cultural renewal. That will not happen through legislation because we know morality and spirituality cannot be legislated into existence. Rather, it requires that hearts be changed by the Spirit of God.
Does Crime Pay?
The cost of crime for the victims of our society is incalculable. Speaking in terms of cash, the aggregate cost of crime for victims back in 1984 was $92.5 billion! This does not include the emotional toll violence extracts from its victims.The Wall Street Journal, in showing how the fastest growing segement of our nation’s criminal population consists of children and young people, observed, "The tragedy of this system is that because he is so rarely made to pay for his crime, the juvenile offender doesn’t get the message that crime doesn’t pay. He may not even get the message that what he’s done is reprehensible in any sense" ("The Young and the Violent," September 12, 1992).
Many of these young criminals are truly fatherless, and most know nothing of a father’s authority.
When Will We Ever Learn?
Suicide is now the second greatest teenage killer in the United States, according to Dr. Bob Anstine and Dr. Richard Arno in their book Counseling the Suicidal/Teen Suicide (National Christian Counselors Association, 1991, p.2). For every successful suicide, there are believed to be approximately 100 unsuccessful attempts. Suicidal young people I’ve worked with indicate that a pervading sense of loneliness, hopelessness, and purposeless is what drives them to attempt suicide.
A fatherless generation of orphans goes through the early years of life feeling rejected and devoid of meaning. Such orphans may turn to sex in an effort to find love. The number of unmarried teenagers getting pregnant has nearly doubled in the past two decades—and now one in every four pregnancies ends in abortion.
The number of divorces in America has increased nearly 200 percent in the past three decades, leaving many of our children and young people feeling fatherless. Less than 60 percent of all children today live with their biological, married parents. As William Galston writes, "The economic consequences of a parent’s absence are often accompanied by psychological consequences, which include higher than average levels of youth suicide, low intellectual and education performance, and higher than average rates of mental illness, violence and drug use."
I wrote a tract called "The Condom Cover-Up" for an outreach at a local university. So often our society wants us to cover up the problem instead of dealing with its root issues.
Similarly, abortion attempts to solve a problem that stems from intrinsic irresponsibility. Giving clean needles to drug addicts attempts to solve one problem by exacerbating another one. Sex education gives information without providing a clear-cut framework for building a person’s character.
Methadone therapy in the lives of heroin addicts simply substitutes one drug for another. "Just say no" sounds nice, but a slogan is useless in the life of a person who does not have a sound spiritual base on which to build. A fatherless person has a hard time saying "no."
The Foundation of Family
Character-building begins in the home. The biblical pattern is for the father to set the tone for values in the family. By his teaching and example, the father leads his children into understanding the difference between right and wrong. By putting God first in his life, a father teaches his family what godly values and virtues are.
When the character of a man is transformed through Christ, his destiny as well as the direction of his home and family are determined. When the father refuses his God-given responsibility, the absence of direction leaves a void in the family.
Remember, the family is the microcosm of the community, society, and nation. Consider what professor of sociology David Poponoe of Rutgers University points out in "The Controversial Truth: Two-Parent Families Are Better" (The New York Times, December 26, 1992):
"In three decades of work as a social scientist, I know of few other bodies of data in which the weight of evidence is so decisively on one side of the issue: on the whole, for children, two-parent families are preferable…If our prevailing views on family structure hinged solely on scholarly evidence, the current debate would never have arisen in the first place."
The King of Kings
In the face of such discouraging statistics and the negative scenario painted by our society today, the true believer can still take heart. We know our Lord is greater than "the prince of the power of the air" (Ephesians 2:2).
A family can rest in the sense of security provided by a godly father, and a nation can rest in the security of the heavenly Father who guards, guides, and governs in all its affairs. Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. (Romans 8:37)
As the Church of Jesus Christ, we can help usher in the revival America needs. Through our commitment, our intercession, and our love, we will see the fulfillment of God’s promise given through the prophet Joel: And it shall come to pass afterward that I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions. …And I will show wonders in the heavens and in the earth… . (Joel 2:28-30)
What a glorious day that will be!
This article is adapted from Doug Stringer's book, The Fatherless Generation, which will be republished and released later this year. Visit somebodycares.orgor dougstringer.comfor more information, or to sign up for news, articles and announcements by e-mail.
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