Vol. 4, No. 7
~ Page 14 ~
Few would dispute the fact that marriage, home and the family have been under assault of late. The breakdown of the home is one of the most significant problems we face. There was a time in our history when family ties were close and solid, but that time has passed for many families. This is a problem we cannot afford to ignore.
What has caused the disintegration of the American family? Several factors are involved. Among them are: 1) the high divorce rate, 2) acceptance of alternate lifestyles (living together outside of marriage, homosexual unions), 3) rampant sexual immorality, 4) the mobility of society (the average family moves once every five years), 5) materialism (the belief that we need to have more has pulled young mothers out of the home and into the workforce), 6) the breakdown of traditional religious values. These factors and others are combining to destroy the traditional American family. Can anything be done?
The only solution is a return to the biblical framework for marriage and family. The home was the first institution ordained by God, and it was meant to be lasting (Genesis 1:28; Matthew 19:9). The home should be the center for spiritual, emotional and physical growth. It should be the place where love is nurtured and cultivated. It is the place where values are instilled. It is in the home that respect for God, country and fellow human beings is learned. Home is the heart of society. The ties that bind us to home and family must be strong and lasting. Couples must bring commitment to marriage. Children must be seen as precious gifts from God, and parents must make the sacrifices of time, talent and resources necessary to insure that they have a solid foundation upon which to build. How can we expect our children to have values if we have none?
There are no real government solutions to this crisis. In fact, part of the problem stems from the belief that it is government's role to baby-sit, feed, clothe, educate and provide healthcare for our children. What we really need is not more government programs, but more individual responsibility and accountability. In essence, what we need are parents who will be parents and raise their children to be productive citizens. The church can help in that regard, but not even the church can replace the home.
Oliver Wendell Holmes wrote: "And where we love is home, home that our feet may leave, but not our hearts. The chain may lengthen, but it never parts." May God help us to build better homes.
Solomon observed, "Death and life are in the power of the tongue" (Proverbs 18:21). The pen is mightier than the sword!
Our words reveal a great deal about us. What comes out of the mouth reveals what is in the heart. If you have listened carefully, you are aware of some serious heart problems. Vulgarity, profanity, lying and racial and sexual slurs seem to be the order of the day.
Hollywood has filled the big screen with foul-mouthed men and women. Television has not done much better. Filthy and profane language floods the work place, the classroom and the schoolyard. Children pick up the filthy talk from the media, from their peers and from their parents. They think it's cool to talk that way. They do not understand that adults, who spew forth a fountain of filth, do so because they lack the intelligence to express themselves in a decent and civil manner. Intelligent men and women do not need to resort to filthy and profane language to get their message across.
Christianity demands that we watch our words. The Bible is very clear. Paul admonished: "Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen" (Ephesians 4:29). "Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone" (Colossians 4:6). "Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body" (Ephesians 4:25). Before we say anything, we should ask ourselves three questions: Are our words kind? Are they pure? Are they true? If we can't say yes to all three questions, then we should be quiet!
The way we say something is almost as important as what we say. This is especially true when tempers flare. As Solomon wrote "A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a hash word stirs up anger" (Proverbs 15:1). "A word aptly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver" (Proverbs 25:11).
If we are not careful, our words may come back to haunt us. Jesus warned "But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned" (Matthew 12:36-37). Therefore, "Let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath" (James 1:19).