By Leslie Diestelkamp
There is usually an atmosphere of crisis almost everywhere today. Pick up the daily paper and notice the headline. It is intended to stir deep interest as it appeals to consideration of some crisis. Watch the news on television and there will be an appeal to the dramatic, the sensational, and the alarming. Our behavior is largely or at least significantly influenced by the crisis attitude. Danger lurks about us, misfortune may befall us, trouble is prevalent; war, famine, pestilence, riot and disaster are everywhere. This is the crisis psychology we have learned to expect. Even in the advertising world the same tactics are used. We are told in screaming headlines and banner announcements that we have the opportunity of the “sale of the century” or “once-in-a-lifetime event” or that it is “Now or never”!
We may indeed tire of the kind of emphasis mentioned above, and we may actually become hardened and calloused against it so much so that we do not readily respond to it. For this reason we may need to deliberately project our minds into consideration of the spiritual and moral crisis that is the subject of consideration for this entire series of essays on “The Family Circle.” In other words, one of the gravest features of this very real crisis may be that most people, even most Christians, do not really recognize the nature and the extent of this crisis. Forgetting the various forms of a crisis that prevail in the secular world-political, economic, social-we do need to be motivated to react with excitement, with haste and with strength, to the deplorable conditions that do really constitute a crisis at the crossroads.
As long as hearts were broken by divorce, it did not prevail, significantly, but now that it has become an accepted and rather normal pattern-of life and now that it is viewed without much alarm, it is destroying the very fabric of the family circle. Furthermore, as long as parents were shamed by rebellious children, permissiveness was uncommon. Now that rebellion is everywhere, parents have given up and have yielded to disobedience. Such conduct no longer constitutes a crisis to many parents!
But there is indeed a crisis, whether you realize it or not! We could well appropriate the words of Paul when he said, “It is high time to awake out of sleep” (Rom. 13:11). Beginning in the home, and then reaching out into the community, into school life and social affairs, as well as into spiritual activities, parents must realize the significance of the emergency that does exist and that may determine the eternal destiny of many.
The family circle must be made secure against separation. Perhaps no one factor can disturb the maturing process in children more significantly than the fear they may have that their parents may separate. It is not enough to simply endure each other and stay together, but, for the serenity the children need and deserve, they must lie down at night without fear that one parent will be gone tomorrow. There used to be a comic strip that portrayed the father and mother frequently engaged in quarrels, and the little child would say, “Papa love Mama?” (or was it, “Mama love Papa?”). And that is what every little child deserves: parents who do indeed love each other.
Children need the sense of security that can come only through exercise of proper oversight, direction and discipline by the parents. Permissiveness never produces security! A quivering, vacillating attitude on the part of the parents will produce only fear, uncertainty and/or distrust on the part of the children. Children need to know who is in command!
But children need affection, too. I am not enthused about the idea of fathers becoming buddies to their sons or mothers being pals to their daughters. I doubt that fathers should act like brothers to their sons or that mothers should act like sisters to their daughters. The fondness of a child for his parents should be of a different nature and quality than that which he has toward his brothers and sisters. And this attitude which I now describe and which I like to see in children may be cultivated by the parents through careful, wise and effective oversight of the children, and through a demonstration of love that includes firmness with kindness, perseverance with patience, reproof with humility, rebuke with gentleness and punishment with justice.
In the secular world about us people may be quite complacent unless they are aroused by some sense of urgency, but in times of crisis they may respond enthusiastically and agressively. Today, in the spiritual and moral realm, God’s people must be made aware of the crisis conditions that usually exist. We are engaged in a life and death struggle-a warfare that is much more important than that which would destroy human lives, for in this effort we deal with immortal souls! And, most importantly, this warfare is not being waged on some far-away field of battle, but right there in your own family circle-or right there where your family should constitute a real circle! Next: “Home: The Vestibule To Heaven.”
Truth Magazine XXII: 16, p. 258
April 20, 1978