By Lewis Willis
Parade Magazine in the Akron Beacon Journal (7-14-91), contained a brief article entitled “Unflattering Portrait.” The substance of the article was a statement Senator Mark 0. Hatfield (R., Ore.) recently entered into the Congressional Record regarding the current status and real-life circumstances of American children. (All of the emphasises are mine, LW).
As good as the 1980s were for the military, what has happened to the children of this country? Many of the key measures of children’s well-being dramatically indicate that the 1980s were a terrible decade. Child poverty, violent deaths among teenagers and births to unmarried teens all increased substantially.
One American child in five now lives in poverty. Another one in five lives with a single parent. By the year 2000, both numbers will be one in four. If current trends continue. . . Every day, 135,000 children take a gun to school. Every 32 seconds, a 15to 19-year-old woman becomes pregnant. Every 55 seconds, a child is born to a mother who does not even hold a high school diploma. And, finally, every 14 hours, a child the age of 5 or younger is murdered.
The information above was presented by a politician – not a preacher! I don’t know how it affected you, but it was deeply disturbing to me. The children referred to are the next generation of Americans. From these will be converted the next generation of Christians. History and Scripture say that this kind of situation does not improve – it gets worse. “But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived” (2 Tim. 3:13).
We certainly should realize that 135,000 guns in the classroom means that no teacher is safe in that setting. It also means that the children in that room are not safe either. It has been alarming to hear of the violence associated with a current movie. Even an Akron teenager was shot in the stomach upon departing from the movie about gang life. Whether the movie prompted the shooting or not, the young man’s assailant had a gun at the movie where your children might have been. Two 14-year-old boys murdered a 50-year-old man in Cleveland last Sunday. They shot him! Senator Hatfield said that a child the age of 5 or younger is murdered every 14 hours in America. If that is true today, what do you suppose it might be 20 years from now? And, if it strikes terror in our hearts now, we will scarcely be able to express our terror 20 years from now. America, to its shame, has the highest incidence of crime of any nation in the world – and it gets worse every day. Parents are having to admit that “my kid” committed the crime, or was the victim of one of these crimes. Most of us are inclined to think that “it won’t happen to me and my family.” However, every day it is happening to more and more American families. It could be yours or mine next.
It is going to require a massive teaching effort to turn this situation around. We cannot expect that government, the schools or social organizations are going to do the teaching. In fact, not even the Church will succeed in doing all the teaching that needs to be done to change the direction our nation is going. The required teaching is going to have to be done on the most basic level of society -parents are going to have to accept their responsibility and both teach and discipline their children to live by the proper standards that assure success and safety in society. Of course, it is our conviction that the Bible is that standard. It is the only thing that will change America’s course.
The responsibility for this teaching is found several places in the New Testament. The “aged-women” are told to “teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands that the word of God be not blasphemed” (Tit. 2:3-5). Paul also gave this instruction: “I will therefore that the younger women marry, bare children, guide the house, give none occasion to the adversary to speak reproachfully” (1 Tim. 5:14). Raising children properly is not just a woman’s responsibility – it is also a responsibility of men. Men are to provide for their own house, and if they do not, they have denied the faith, and they are worse than infidels (1 Tim. 5:8). No man has provided for his household who does not teach his children how to act. And that is true no matter what kind of house you provide for them to live in, or how good the food is you provide. Paul said, “And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord” (Eph. 6:4). When parents – both father and mother – address themselves to teaching and training their children, they will succeed in raising them as they should be raised. But it will not happen until they do what they are supposed to do.
Elders are told their children must be faithful (Tit. 1:6) and in subjection (1 Tim. 3:4). Deacons are men who are “ruling their children and their own houses well” (1 Tim. 3:12). Through the years we have recognized that these are essential qualifications of elders and deacons. However, can we not see the advantage if all of us will raise our children by the same guidelines and discipline as they are to use? If their families are better because they have been raised properly, so will ours be better if we will do the same thing. It is foolhardy to think I can neglect my parental duty and still succeed as a parent. Parents are your eyes open?
Guardian of Truth XXXVI: 5, pp. 130, 151
March 5, 1992