By Leslie Diestelkamp
From the apartment house in which I live here in the northwest suburbs of Chicago, it is about thirty-five miles to the Sears Tower, the world’s tallest building. On a clear day or night it can be seen from this apartment building. But between here and there; and then, throughout the whole city, lies a vast jungle – a sprawling mass of humanity compacted together in mansions and shacks, in neat rows of clean houses and in rat-infested tenements, in town-houses and in condominiums, in skyscrapers and in flats.
Twenty-three years ago when I first moved to Chicago-land the city had a reputation for wickedness, but I felt quite safe in walking in its parks alone or on its streets even at night. But things have changed here, and such activities are now very dangerous. Yet it may be no worse here in proportion to the population than in other areas of the country, generally. The fact is now well-known that the crisis in American is not in Chicago alone, but it reaches to the very crossroads of this great nation. Crime reaches into the lonely rural areas, violence reaches even the small towns, safety seems to be almost nowhere. People fled the cities a few years ago to rear their children in the security of the countryside, but now there is no use to run — there is no secure place.
Rebellion At Home
The moral crisis of which I write may indeed have been escalated by improper behavior by high officials of government and it may have been implemented by various social changes in the national scene. Liberal interpretation of law, reckless abandonment of authority and lawlessness in high places have all contributed to moral decay in the nation. But the real crisis is still at the crossroads! The family has always been the bed-rock foundation of society, and out of family circles have always come the men and the morals that were to determine the destinies of people. And when the family circle has deteriorated, then the very stalwart fabric and fiber of society has been destroyed. And that is the crisis we face today in Chicago-land and in every highway and by-way, every town and hamlet, every state and city of the nation.
These words should not be misunderstood. I am not a prophet of doom nor a pessimist who sees no good anywhere. I do not believe the whole country has gone to the dogs. I believe most of the people are still good, law-abiding folks. A relatively small minority have `become corrupt that they make it look bed for everyone. Yet, in this vast mass of law-abiding people, this “majority” who are basically good folks, the family circle is usually a broken circle, the home is insecure and an attitude o: despair prevails. Husbands become fugitives, wives seek “fulfillment” outside the home, children go home only when everything else is closed!
Most importantly, Christians are being swept up in this storm of rebellion against God-given directives for the family. Husbands, wives, parents, children — the whole family structure — seem to accept the new way of life as inevitable. The joy and peace, the tranquility and serenity that should characterize the family circle have been replaced by fear and dread, by anxiety and depression. Feelings of helplessness and despair prevail. The home, which God designed to be the cradle of civilization and which, historically, has always been the bulwark of the nations, has been neglected by husbands, deserted by wives and despised by children. Our society may be on the brink of disaster because the family circle, the foundation of that society, has crumbled beneath the weight of prosperity, materialism and worldliness.
In the very same way that the nation prospers economically but falters morally, the Lord’s church grows in our generation as it has seldom done before, yet it constantly loses doctrinal and moral vitality. If this loss of internal strength is not halted the church may follow the historical path of denominationalism: that is, the church may lose its identity as the “pillar and ground of the truth” and it may cease to be the spiritual house that is portrayed in God’s Word (see 1 Tim. 3:15; 1 Pet. 2:5). If the spiritual crisis that is now obviously imminent is not averted, the impact of the church may be little more than a social and cultural power.
Indeed, the crisis at the crossroads will determine the destiny of the nation, for “righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people” (Prov. 14:34). Most of all, the crisis at the crossroads will determine the quality of the church, for no church can rise above the level of quality that characterizes the families that constitute the temple of God (1 Cor. 3:16, 17). God said to Solomon, “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sins, and will heal their land” (2 Chron. 7:14). If God’s people will be faithful today, then surely God will bless us and our land and his church. Our faithfulness certainly must include devotion to the Word and to the church -fidelity in doctrine and in religious activity. But it must also include righteousness and holiness that prevails in, and emanates from, the family circle. If these essays can serve to help all of us see the reality of the crisis and if they can help in some small way, at least, to halt the deterioration of home life, then my time in writing and your time in reading will have been well spent. So, let us study, in succeeding chapters, ways to bring greater joy and success, as we, in our daily lives, meet the challenge of the crisis at the crossroads. Our next chapter will be a consideration of “Broken Circles.”
Truth Magazine XXII: 3, p. 50
January 19, 1978