Recently in our church service I asked our congregation, “How many of you are worried about the future of your children or grandchildren?” About 80% of those in attendance raised their hands. I then asked, “How many of you are worried about the future of our nation?” Nearly 95% of those in attendance raised their hands.
Often we can look at the size and scope of our nation as well as the complexities of its issues and wonder if we can make any difference at all. What if saving the family is best solution to saving our nation?
Bill Parcells, the Hall of Fame NFL football coach, once was asked if the quality of running backs in the NFL was declining and why he thought that was. His response was incredible. He said something along the lines of, “I do not know if the quality of the running backs in the NFL has declined, but what I do know is that the running backs we get are the ones the college coaches develop.” In other words, “The quality of the NFL player is often determined by the quality of the college coaching a player receives.”
In similar vein the quality of the people leading our nation is often determined by the quality of the parenting they received in their home. While this point is certainly not absolute, it does seem to carry great merit when it comes to diagnosing the decline of nations.
In his book Our Dance Has Turned to Death, Carl Wilson identifies the common pattern of family decline in ancient empires such as Greece and the Roman Empire and connects this pattern with the decline of that nation.
- In the first stage, men ceased to lead their families spiritually. Spiritual and moral development became secondary. Their view of God became naturalistic, mathematical, and mechanical.
- In the second stage, men selfishly neglected care of their wives and children to pursue material wealth, political and military power. Material values began to dominate thought, and the man began to exalt his own role as an individual.
- The third stage involved a change in men’s sexual values. Men who were preoccupied with business or war either neglected their wives or became involved with lower-class women or with homosexuality. Ultimately, a double standard of morality developed.
- The fourth stage affected women. The role of women at home and with children lost value and status. Women were neglected and their roles devalued. Soon they revolted to gain access to material wealth and also freedom for sex outside marriage. Women also began to minimize the importance of giving birth to children and raising children. Marriage laws were changed to make divorce easy. In 3rd century Rome, divorce would you to be ostracized, by 1st century BC you were simply the subject of gossip, and then by 2nd century AD it was common, shame free, and even expected. Many marriages ended in separation and divorce.
- In the fifth stage, husbands and wives competed rather than complimented one another. They competed for money, home leadership, and the affection of their children. This resulted in hostility and frustration and possible homosexuality in the children. Many children were unwanted, aborted, abandoned, molested, and undisciplined. The more undisciplined children became, the more social pressure there was not to have children. The breakdown of the home produced anarchy.
- In the sixth stage, selfish individualism grew and carried over into society, fragmenting it into smaller and smaller group loyalties. The nation was thus weakened by internal conflict. The decrease in the birthrate produced an older population that had less ability to defend itself and less will to do so, making the nation more vulnerable to its enemies.
- Finally, unbelief in God became more complete, parental authority diminished, and ethical and moral principles disappeared, affecting the economy and government. Thus, by internal weakness and fragmentation the societies came apart. There was no way to save them except by a dictator who arose from within or by barbarians who invaded from without.
Although this is an ancient pattern of decline found in Greece and Rome, it is relevant today. Families are the foundation of a nation. We want to equip families in the name of Jesus to further God’s purposes through our country and the world.