Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you rise. Dt. 6:4-7
Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. Eph. 6:4
The pathologies of Godless living are undeniable and undeniably negative. Humanism, post-modern thought, and institutionalized secularism produce wrecked lives, broken families, and crushed hearts. Lifelong relationships are increasingly rare. The post-modern culture seems inherently hostile to whatever is good and lasting. Relationships with the living God of creation seem increasingly rare and certainly not appropriate for public discourse in “well educated” circles. God is now deemed personal and subjective, and better done in isolation. We’re a mobile, fractured society. We’re easily fractured from each other and ever increasingly fractured from our creator and sustainer God. People from “less developed” areas of the world comment on how we retreat into our closed garages and live inside, isolated from our neighbors and rarely in contact with our families. The body of Christ is thriving and growing most outside “developed” nations.
As people increasingly accept the post-modern paradigm that truth is a subjective experience, the institution of the church suffers. Churches that try to stay “relevant” to the culture and liberalize their theology become irrelevant and die or simply become moral social action clubs. The intellectual elites increasingly view the Bible with hostility. The church in Western Europe approaches extinction.
The family also suffers. Divorce is now accepted as normal. Increasingly, young people decide against marrying and opt instead for co-habitation and increasing numbers of children are born out of wedlock and increasing percentages of children are raised without fathers in the home. Earlier terms had pejorative terms for what we now accept as normal. Reproduction rates across most of Western Europe have fallen below replacement levels. The same was recently reported for the native US population. Within our hermetically sealed suburban homes, family connections are also suffering as we spend more time each year plugged into the latest electronic stimulation and less time each year plugged into each other.
There is an ever increasing body of evidence that these pathologies, particularly the breakdown of the family, have very negative effects on our children, and as a result, on society. Another recent commission of experts has drawn the same conclusion. Of note, this analysis also demonstrated the critical importance of a father’s involvement in the lives of his children.
LARGE AND GROWING numbers of U.S. children and young people are suffering from depression, anxiety, attention deficit, conduct disorders, thoughts of suicide, and other serious mental and behavioral problems. Why? What can be done to reverse this trend? In this pioneering report, the Commission on Children at Risk, a panel of 33 leading children’s doctors, neuroscientists, research scholars and youth service professionals, draw upon a large body of recent research showing that children are biologically primed (“hardwired”) for enduring connections to others and for moral and spiritual meaning.
Children with involved Fathers are more confident, better able to deal with frustration, better able to gain independence and their own identity, more likely to mature into compassionate adults, more likely to have a high self esteem, more sociable, more secure as infants, less likely to show signs of depression, less likely to commit suicide, more empathetic, boys have been shown to be less aggressive and adolescent girls are less likely to engage in sex.