I believe I have a good idea of how you feel when you hear about another horrible tragedy somewhere in the country, a tragedy like the one in Odessa, Texas, or Dayton, Ohio, or El Paso, Texas.
- You hurt for the people directly affected.
- You are grateful that your family is safe.
- You are glad that you are homeschooling your children.
As our daughter and I rode home from play practice yesterday, I told her that I never heard of anything like those tragedies happening when I was a girl. Never. Not once. This was not because my parents sheltered me. Those were the days when American families, including ours, tuned in to the national network news night after night. I knew about the Vietnam War and I knew about the threat of nuclear war with the Soviet Union and I knew about riots in the streets.
However, I felt completely safe from my fellow Americans at church, in stores, and at school.
I don’t know how to fix everything, but I do believe that two cultural changes that have occurred since my childhood are at least a part of the problem.
- Statistically speaking, American families are weaker.
- Not as many children learn what the Bible teaches about right and wrong.
I’ve shared this before, but I love what Theodore Roosevelt wrote at the beginning of his autobiography. This statement follows his thoughts about virtues needed for America to work well:
. . . these virtues are as dust in a windy street unless back of them lie the strong and tender virtues of a family life based on the love of the one man for the one woman and on their joyous and fearless acceptance of their common obligation to the children that are theirs.
I recently listened to a talk by a former white supremacist. He entered that movement at age fourteen. Among the reasons he gave for doing so were feelings that his parents were too busy for him and a desire to belong. Imagine how different America would be if families with the characteristics Roosevelt described were the norm:
- “Love of the one man for the one woman.”
- “Joyous and fearless acceptance of their common obligation to the children that are theirs.”
Learning Right and Wrong
I don’t remember what I was reading online the other day when I noticed an ad for a certain violent television show on the page. Yikes! There’s another reason mass shootings happen, I thought. I love the King James Version translation of Proverbs 23:7.
For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he.
If a child grows up watching mainstream television shows, spends his days on violent video games, and receives a constant diet of “do whatever you want to do” and “everyone is free to decide what is right and wrong” teaching, how will he know that anything is wrong? As he thinks, so he is. Dare I ask, “How can we expect him to know that he shouldn’t hurt people?”
If we don’t look to God to tell us what we should and should not do, then who decides?
Acts 17 records a sermon that the apostle Paul taught in the worldly, idolatrous first century city of Athens, Greece. This is one thing Paul told them about God:
. . . in Him we live and move and have our being. . .
Acts 17:28 KJV
Our children need to know that. They also need to know:
- God created the world.
- God created everyone in His image.
- In His Word, God has revealed how He wants us to live.
- We are sinners.
- Jesus is the answer for that.
Without those truths, life and the world don’t make sense to me. How could they?
I don’t say what I am about to say to bash public schools. I only say it to illustrate a point. Many times I have noticed a certain character trait — something like self-control, cooperation, or respect — displayed on a school marquee, indicating that the school is emphasizing that trait during a certain time period. Good character is essential, but isolating character traits without the context of right and wrong as revealed by our Father Who made us is like the patches idea I shared with you yesterday.
We can teach children that they should or should not behave in a certain way, but if they don’t have the ultimate why of “because God said so,” then why should they obey?
It seems sometimes that the only Bible teaching that the world believes is this: “Do not judge.” One place that God instructs about judging is in Romans 14. What the world’s “Do not judge” teaching does not take into account is that there is a Judge and that someday we and our children will stand before Him. Because of what Jesus did on the Cross, the Christian doesn’t have to fear that day, but the Christian also recognizes our Judge’s authority in our daily lives.
You, then, why do you judge your brother or sister?
Or why do you treat them with contempt?
For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat.
It is written:
“‘As surely as I live,’ says the Lord,
‘every knee will bow before me;
every tongue will acknowledge God.’”
So then, each of us will give
an account of ourselves to God.