What is the importance of family? How can family relationships affect children? How can healthy children be raised?
I want to address a topic today that I feel is a very significant topic. It's one that we see in our society today where children are hurting. I appreciated what Gerald Seelig mentioned in his sermonette because I think it certainly does tie in with what we are going to speak on here today: the importance of family, as we'll see.
We observe in the United States children hurting and killing other children, children killing adults with seemingly no compunction. Take the example of a young boy by the name of James Bailey, age 9. He was indicted for murder in the state of Florida. Let me read you about his crime. Part of this is taken from the police report about what occurred with him. It says, "It's 10:30 a.m. in central Florida. Beads of sweat drip from the foreheads of tourists waiting in line — winding lines at Disney World for an exciting ride on the submarine Nautilus. Less than 10 miles away, nine-year-old Jeffrey Bailey, Jr. is also waiting. He's waiting for his companion to die. After making sure that no one else is around, Jeffery has pushed three-year-old Ricardo 'Nicky' Brown into the deep end of the motel swimming pool. He knows the younger boy cannot swim and is afraid of water. It is taking Nicky a long time to die. Jeffery gets tired of standing so he pulls up a chair to the edge of the pool. He wants a better view of how someone drowns. Jeffery stays by the pool until Nicky sinks to the bottom, lifeless. Then he puts on his shoes and shirt and saunters towards the house. A short time later, he asks another neighbor child what the white stuff is that comes out of somebody's nose when they're drowning. He doesn't mention that Nicky is at this moment lying at the bottom of the pool. Nicky's body is recovered from the pool at 6:40 by the police" — that's 6:40 p.m. "Later after neighborhood children have told Jeffrey's mother about the drowning, the younger boy tells his mother about 'the accident' that took place."
This was from the Kissimmee Police Department report. "Police officer Beth Partuka who investigated the case said she found Jeffery kind of nonchalant like he was enjoying all of the attention. On June 3, 1986 the State of Florida charged nine-year-old Jeffery with murder because it was a premeditated murder." This is taken the book titled High Risk — Children Without a Conscience. What we see today in our nation is that we have a whole generation of young people and adults who seemingly are growing up devoid of what we would call a conscience, who have no compunction about certain crimes that they might commit, certain acts, certain deeds that they perpetrate.
Let me quote to you from page 2 of this book and I'm going to be quoting from this book High Risk: Children Without a Conscience occasionally throughout this sermon. One of the authors here talks about psychopaths. It says, "They possess a poisonous mixture of traits. They are arrogant, shameless, immoral, impulsive, antisocial, superficial, charming, callous, irresponsible, irrelevant, cunning, self-assured. They are found in jails and mental institutions, but they're also found in boardrooms, in politics, in any number of respected professions today. This disorder evades established definitions of sanity or insanity and there is no cure for an adult psychopath."
Now, as we will see, the various names whereby they label this. On page 3, it says, "The consequence of this failure can be an individual suffering from what is called an anti-social personality disorder. These people more commonly are known as psychopath. They express no remorse if caught in wrongdoing."
Now, how many times have we seen a politician who, when he is caught and found out about committing something that is wrong, will not admit that he did anything wrong, will not show any remorse, but will justify in every way his actions? You will find that there's a whole generation that we have today in our society where this is true.
As the author brings out on page 27 of the book, it says, "Psychiatrists unofficially label children as psychopaths but the consequences of some childhood actions are just as deadly as those of adult murderers. At an alarming rate in this country, more and more children are becoming hardhearted killers. The records show that nationally 1,311 people under the age of 18 were charged with murder in 1986" — in 1986. "These statistics only reflect the cases in which formal charges are filed because 7 and under they send them for treatment and they don't count it 'as a murder'. Ten years ago it was a shock to see a 7, 8 or 9-year-old come into the system. Now, it's not. Now it is a national trend. The wave of criminal hard cases by children has officials baffled. From across the country, headlines in daily community newspapers read: 'Teenage boy in Colorado waits patiently while two young friends hacked and hammered his mother to death.' 'Florida police try to determine if a five-year-old knew the consequences when he threw a three-year-old off of the fifth-floor balcony.' 'Kansas City police are baffled by jealousy of a twelve-year-old who killed younger sister and mother over birthday party plans.' 'Eleven-year-old from affluent St. Louis neighborhood orders ten-year-old out of her yard. When she doesn't leave, she kills her.' And then, 'A girl four-year-old - twin baby brothers, she throws them to the floor and kills them when one of the three-week-old infants accidentally scratches her face.'
You see this happening all of the time. You find people who murder, hurt, maim others just to find out what it's like. I don't know how many of you have seen some of the headlines. I could go on reading all kinds of headlines like these of setting someone on fire to see what it's like; to see them burn; how long it will take them to die.
From the book titled Kids Killing Kids: The Alarming Statistics from Jack & Jill Why Do They Kill by Jane C. Shall, Ph.D. you have some of the following statistics of what's happening in this country to give you a little more up to date. "Every 48 hours twenty-six children, the equivalent of an entire classroom, are killed by other children in the United States." So, every two days, twenty-six children. That equals 4,745 children per year. It does not include children killing adults. We're just talking about children killing children. Now we know some of these are accidents. Not all of them are murders, but the predominate number are. "Homicide is the second leading cause of death among 10 to 19-year-olds. Homicide is the third leading cause of death among children ages 5 to 14." So today to be a young person you have to realize that many young people are dying simply from homicide. "The gun death rate among U. S. children 14 and younger is nearly twelve times the combined rate of twenty-five other industrial nations. More than 4,200 children lost their lives from gunfire in 1999. This number is equivalent to the number of passengers on 8 jumbo jets, 90 school buses filled with children or more than an entire high school graduating class every month. Since 1999 the number of children under ten who died from gunfire was almost three times the number of law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty." So children are more likely to be killed than police officers - three times more. "Among youth 10 to 19 there were more than 1,308 suicides from guns in 1996. You find 3 in 10 boys have been involved in an act of violence at school. During 1997-98 school year, nearly one million children grades 6 through 12 carried guns to school." You think about one million children carrying guns to school. It's quite scary and you have to realize that this is talking about what our children, our young people, are faced with. And we're not just talking about high school children. We're talking about middle school and grade school and where this type of attitude and this type of approach goes right down into the very youngest of children.
The question is asked, what goes wrong? How can a child — a young child — how can we have a whole generation of young people beginning to arise where many of them are so calloused towards life, so calloused towards crime, towards the feelings of other people? You could ask the question, What goes wrong? Well, that's what this particular book attempts to clarify. It only gives one approach, but it certainly hits upon something that we want to focus on today. It says, "How does a life go wrong so soon? There are no clear-cut answers, but experts around the country are compiling evidence that the violent behavior of children that erupts in murder is rooted..." what do you think? "...in family relationships..." It comes back to the family. "...in family relationships gone awry. The breaks that cause unattachment, domestic violence, divorce, parental mismanagement are often to blame."
And so what they're saying is that the breaks that occur in the family that keep a young person from becoming attached to his parents are much to blame. Today we see many young people who are committing crimes — violent, who take drugs, who are all mixed up — and what you find is that there is a reason for this. This doesn't just happen; there is a reason. There is a cause and effect. We have to remember the principle that the Bible very clearly enunciates over and over again: What you sow, you reap.
Let's notice in 2 Timothy chapter 3. 2 Timothy, the third chapter - and we'll begin to read here in verse 1. We have a prophecy about our day today. I'm going to read this from the New Revised Standard Version. It says,
2 Tim. 3:1 - You must understand this, that in the last days distressing times will come. There will be a time of danger and distress. For people will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy.
Beginning in verse 3 — Inhuman, implacable, slanderers, profagets, brutes, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God holding to the outward form of godliness but denying its power. Avoid them.
The word 'inhuman' in verse 3 that I read from the New Revised Standard Version is translated 'without natural affection' in the King James Version. The Greek word means natural affection, the natural feeling that a parent would have for his child or children for their parents. You find a definition of this word is 'the love of parents for children, of children for parents, of husband for wife, of wife for husband.' It is a love of obligation. It is a love of responsibility. It is a love of duty. It's what you would think naturally human beings would have for one another — just a natural love that they would have.
This is the binding factor by which any natural or social unit is held together. When the natural affection is no longer there, then there is no longer the attachment, the binding factor whereby social units - what are social units? They are called family units, they are called cities, they are called schools, any type - churches, whatever you want to call them. Any kind of social unit that people function within.
So it talks about the fact that there would be a lack of natural affection or people would be inhuman. The word brute means 'not tame, savage, fierce' - people who are fierce. Let me just read verse 3 from two or three other translations for you because I think they help to give the sense of the word.
The International Standard Version says, Unfeeling, uncooperative, slanderous, degenerate, brute, hateful of what is good. It uses the word unfeeling, that people do not have feelings, they don't have the proper emotions for other people.
The Contemporary English Version says Heartless and hateful, their words will be cruel and they will have no self-control or pity. These people will hate everything that is good.
So you have a society where it describes people as being unfeeling and heartless.
Another translation, The English Majority Text says, Unloving, unforgiving, slanderous without self-control, brutal, not loving what is good.
Why do we see so many young people with no conscience having anti-social behavior, no remorse? Why are so many adults today desensitized without feeling or proper emotion? Why do so many people today have severe problems with relationships, with commitment, with trust, having trouble emotionally and psychologically relating to one another, having difficulty just relating to another human being? There are many factors that can be considered and do impact this problem and, obviously, in 45 minutes to an hour, you don't have time to address everything. But I want to focus on one today that I feel is of utmost importance, that I feel is extremely important to all of us. One factor that this book focuses on and others recognize, other sources and books, is the lack of bonding and attachment of children at an early age. Let me state that again: The lack of bonding and the lack of attachment of children at an early age as they are in the process of developing.
Let me describe for you the problem here. It says, "Sometime early in their development something went terribly wrong. They never developed a conscience." It says, "Bundy and Bailey..." (two of the examples that are cited here in the book) "...are typical of a certain type of criminals who start life as unattached children perhaps aided by genetic predisposition." And then it goes on to say here, "What happens, right or wrong, in the critical first two years of a baby's life will imprint that child as an adult..." will stamp it. In other words, a child is imprinted at an early age with what he is going to basically be like as an adult. It says, "A complex set of events must occur in infancy to secure a future of trust and love. If the proper bonding and subsequent attachment does not occur usually between the child and mother the child will develop mistrust and a deep-seated rage. He becomes a child without a conscience. Somehow the normal process that causes attachment to occur, the very process that develops a social conscience was short-circuited." So you find, as a result of this that there is a lot of damage that takes place.
It uses the term, and I think the term 'imprint' is very significant because what you find in the first two years of a child's life, a child is imprinted — there is an imprint made just like going out here in the snow. You put your foot down in the snow and an imprint is made in that snow. So in a child's life an imprint is made on that child emotionally, psychologically in many different ways and he carries that over into his adult life. And when you find the proper imprinting doesn't take place, the proper stamping doesn't take place, the proper attachment is not there, then there are psychological damages that can take place.
It says, "Not all unattached children grow up to be criminals..." we know that obviously "...but most suffer some form of psychological damage." Maybe that such children simply are never able to develop a true loving relationship or they end up conning others for their own benefit. "One of the most devastating blows that comes from this is the fact of not being able to have proper relationships" - using other people, taking advantage of others. It says, "These, too, can be considered tragedies for no child should ever grow up without this trust bond and loving beginning. In most infants, the affectional bond, the essence of attachment to a parent, develops during the first nine months of life." The first nine months! "The most important event occurring during the first year is the formation of the social attachments."
Michael Reuter in Maternal Deprivation Reassessed says this: that the absence of attachment may lead to what Reuter calls 'affectionless psychopathy'. He describes this as beginning with an initial phase of clinging and dependent behavior followed by attention seeking, uninhibited and indiscriminated friendliness and finally a personality characterized by the lack of guilt or inability to keep rules and inability to form lasting relationships.
Mary Answorth argues that "the most important, long-term result of the failure to form an affectionate bond is "the inability to establish and maintain deep, significant, interpersonal relationships." So it has a lasting impression upon a young person as they begin to develop. And I want you to notice the emphasis, the inability to form a lasting relationship or commitment, and we do see that extremely prevalent in our society and world today.
Let's notice in Titus, Titus chapter 2 a scripture we are all familiar with beginning in verse 3.
Titus 2:3 — here is a verse that shows very clearly what God expects of us in our family lives. Titus, beginning in chapter 2nd verse 3 it says:
Titus 2:3 — Let the older women likewise, that they be reverent in behavior, not slanderers, not given to much wine, (but) teachers of good things,
Verse 4 - that they admonish the young women to love their husbands, (and) to love their children.
Now you think; now why would the Bible tell a young bride so to speak - a young lady - to love her husband and to love her children? Because the basis of a stable society depends upon the love that is demonstrated within a family — setting the right example, as Mr. Seelig mentioned.
Verse 5 - to be discreet, chaste, homemakers, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be blasphemed.
Children especially, and I cannot emphasize this any stronger, children especially need our love and attention at an early age. Between three to six month / nine months, the bond of affection is established between a parent and a child. They absolutely need love and attention at that age. It is critical to their development, to their maturity. That means we must spend time with them during this period. And so much of their identity and emotional state is being developed. You see, what so many parents today don't realize is that a child is not an animal. A child is not like an animal out here that all it needs is its physical needs taken care of — feed it and change it. A child has emotional needs, has psychological needs; has needs that need to be met and it's during the early stages, the first year or two, that the sexual identity, the child's social identity and a child's emotional psychological state are formed. And that is why it is so important for a mother, especially, to be involved with that child during those early periods. But let me hasten to add, it's very important to spend time with children no matter what their age is. So many parents today have bought into - and I consider it a falsehood — "Well, we have quality time." What they mean by that is they spend a few minutes of focused attention on that child may be in the evening and they say, "Well, I have quality time with my children" when that child needs your help all the time.
Proverbs 29:15 I think addresses this, speaks to it. Proverbs 29:15 - let's notice. There's a principle here that I think we can pick or select from this chapter.
Prov. 29:15 - The rod and reproof give wisdom, but a child left to himself... in other words, a child whose parents don't pay any attention to him, just leave him to himself ... brings shame to his mother.
Now I know it's talking about the principle of, you know, you're not just to neglect your children - leave them to themselves - you are to give them direction and train them in the proper way, but the principle is still there.
The New Revised Standard Version translates it this way: The rod and reproof give wisdom, but a mother is disgraced by a neglected child.
We are not to neglect our children. We are to focus on them. Better not to have them than to not focus on our children.
Now what is attachment? What am I talking about when I say 'attachment'? When does attachment start? I've already given you part of that, but I want you to notice here. I'd like to quote from page 51, a chapter dealing with what is attachment. A little saying that I thought was absolutely spot on. "The proper time to influence the character of a child is about 100 years before he is born." What does that mean? Well that means if you rear your children properly then hopefully they are going to come back and rear their children, which are your grandchildren, and then their — what would be your great-grandchildren and then your great-great-great-grandchildren, a hundred years or so down the road. If you want future generations of Smith's or Jones's or Holladay's or whomever they might be to come along to go in the right way, it starts back here. It starts with you dealing with your family so that those who come along in the future are going to have proper child rearing.
So what is attachment? Well, the book says, "have you ever observed the new mother cuddling her baby? In a healthy, loving relationship the mother will hold her baby close and gaze into her eyes. The baby will return her gaze and a feeling of rapture will envelop the pair." You have a sense that they are in love, and they are. Again, I don't know exactly what it is, but the moment that baby is born and the cord is cut — don't even have to cut the cord — just take that baby and put it up on the breast of the mother. There is a loving bond that is there. She has carried that child for nine months. She has felt it kicking. She has seen it grow and she can't wait to be able to take that child, hold that child, to suckle that child, to love that child. This is what we are talking about here. This is an affectional bond, the attachment that must be there for a stable relationship to grow between the mother and the infant.
Fathers, too, can help foster development of this special bond. You know, fathers bond with their children likewise. I remember the example of our son, David when his first son - we call him Little David. Little David is getting pretty big now, but when Little David was born, the first night he had a brain hemorrhage and they didn't realize it until later on. But during that night because of the labor that David — I should say, that Leanne went through. David was there, but Leanne went through the labor. David sat up all night holding Little David and rocking him in the rocking chair — just holding him and cuddling him. And you can tell that there is a bond there. That wasn't the only time that he held him, but because of the crisis that they went through and they had to go through, both of them had to spend an immense amount of time with the baby and helping him. And there was an attachment - men can develop. There has to be in a child's life one person, at least, that there is an attachment that develops and it can be the man. Sometimes in society, it's the grandmother, but there has to be someone who's there working with and caring for that child.
Notice, going on about attachment. Definition: Attachment is an affectionate bond between two individuals that endures through space and time and serves to join them emotionally. It joins them emotionally. "This affectional bond or attachment when strong and healthy can do much more than insure the child's physical survival. It allows him to develop both trust in others and reliance upon himself." So he begins to develop trust, being able to trust others. Therefore he can have a relationship with others, but also, reliance on himself. "The bond that a child develops to the person who cares for him in the early life is a foundation for his future psychological development and for his future relationship with others." So it heavily impacts how he's going to be able to relate to others.
Going on, it says, "Why is attachment important? Attachment is the most critical thing that happens in infancy other than meeting the baby's physical needs." Too much emphasis cannot be placed upon this point. The importance for a child to have a warm and loving relationship with a same-sex parent is vital. As a child grows, they have to have a relationship with the same sex because this helps to shape their sexual identity. A child must grow up having a proper relationship with his own gender. If not, he will look for it later in an inordinate way that is not healthy, is not right.
I want you to notice the term that leaped out of the page at me as I studied this and that is "a person who cares for them". We must care for or love our children. That means we have to spend time with them. Let me just throw a thought out, something that all of us need to think about. What happens when members in the church do not feel cared for? When somebody can sit here week after week, month after month maybe, and no one pays attention to them. As Mr. Seelig was talking about — to honor the elderly that we care for. And that the members of the church know that those who are there to pastor them care for them. And that those who are their brothers and sisters care for them - that we truly are a family and not just family in name, but a family in action; a family that is demonstrated by the care and the love that is shown.
Why do we see such an increase in this problem today among a whole generation? Well, there are several reasons that I could cover, and I could give you all kinds of stats, but let me just sort of summarize some of these.
Number one is working women today. Now we know that sometimes women have to work when they have little children because they have no other choice — maybe because of a divorce, because of some type of problem of this nature, the death of the husband and they are forced into the workplace. For many, though, it's a choice, isn't it? Many decide; many are pursuing a career, they have a child and a couple of months later — two or three months and they are back to work and they put the child in daycare. And what you find today in our society: our values are askew and people are more concerned about money, wealth, pursuing a career than they are about the future generations and about their children. And, sad to say, one of the reasons for this is that people are not being taught today and they are not learning. Too often, children are reared by strangers in a daycare center. There can be eight or ten children in a daycare center. Two or three of them can be in cribs, the others maybe ages 2, 4, 5, 10 or whatever that may be in a daycare center. And we live in a society today where every five years on an average people move. And so, consequently, we no longer live in a society today where there is a large family around. Forty, fifty, sixty years ago, most people lived in an area where both sets of grandparents were there - uncles and aunts, cousins, nieces and nephews. And so, therefore, if you couldn't be there, you could always have an aunt — always have somebody who could come along — grandparents who could help you. But, it's not true today. I would plead with anyone who has younger children that if there's anyway, you need to make sure that you are there with that child, especially during the first year of that child's life. It's absolutely vital. As the book brings out here on page 119, "Never before in the history of this country have so many parents been away from home and their children at the most critical time in that child's life. With so many mothers working, just who is caring for the children? Proper bonding and attachment cannot occur when the infant's significant caregiver is not around and the baby has no reliable, consistent, loving substitute caregiver." That there's a loving caregiver who's a substitute - that works. But there has to be that bonding. "Without suitable answers, these problems could result in a national attachment crisis thus putting a future generation at high risk" — the next generation.
So, working mothers is certainly one factor that contributes to it. Another is the feminist movement that has gathered steam where you find today the feminists simply say that marriage is obsolete. You don't need to be married; where you have people saying, "Well, we can rear children in a two-same-sex type of marriage" and the stable family, as we know it, simply isn't there.
Another factor is the lack of support from fathers - from fathers. As I said, fathers also bond. But dads today too often are absent in many families. That can occur through divorce, through death, through war or choice. When I say choice, generally somebody is pursuing a career and men have to work - that's obvious - to support the family. But too often things like money, position, power, prestige become so dominate that they are more important than the family and the family becomes neglected and the career becomes that person's goal, totally. But what you find is that fathers have a responsibility in helping to care for children, also.
Let's go back to Deuteronomy 6:6 — the book of Deuteronomy chapter 6 and verse 6. Now, I want you to notice. Here is a scripture that we read all the time when it comes to rearing children and we generally place the emphasis upon teaching. Let's take a look at this scripture and put the emphasis and focus on time as well as teaching. Certainly, it's talking about teaching our children but notice. It says:
Deut. 6:6 — these words which I command you today shall be in your heart;
Verse 7 — (and) you shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up.
Verse 8 - You shall bind them as a sign on your hands, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes.
Verse 9 — (and) you shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gate.
Notice here, it's talking about teaching children when? Well, when you sit in the house, so that means you are spending time with them. When you walk by the way, so when you are outside.
In other words, in the house, when you are at work when you are at play, when you rise up, it says, when you are eating, all of these different things. In other words, there are many different ways that we have of spending time and it is totally — absolutely vital that we spend time with our children. And it is critical in the first two or three years of the child's development. So we fathers must carry part of the responsibility.
Divorce is another reason why we see this problem increasing today. Half of all present marriages that are taking place end up in divorce today, statistically. Children, many times, are taken away from their chief caregiver. Divorce occurs. The wife is forced in order to keep up standards of living to go to work. Children are put in foster homes, they are put in orphanages, they are moved around and they simply do not have that loving contact.
Another reason why this occurs today in our society is abuse of children in families. We find children are physically abused, mentally abused, emotionally abused and, sometimes, sexually abused within families. Statistically, in one out of four families children grow up in a sexually abusive situation. We need to simply recognize that certain skills, certain talents, certain emotional developments, certain psychological traits begin to develop at certain points in a child's life and you can't skip those stages, those periods of being imprinted. Foundations are laid. They are imprinted. They are stamped with certain proclivities. These are fine-tuned, added to, throughout the rest of their lives, but they are still there. Sins leave scars in our lives.
Exodus, chapter 20, let's go back to the book of Exodus to the Ten Commandments - there is a principle given here. Exodus, chapter 20 and verses 4 and 5. God says,
Ex. 20:4 - "You shall not make for yourself any carved images or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth;
Verse 5 - you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me,
Verse 6 - but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.
I want you to notice as He brings out here that if we break His laws then there are punishments that are passed on to the third and the fourth generation. What I'm trying to emphasize here is that there are penalties that are paid, that are passed on to the next generation. And then they pass them on to the next generation and to the next. Let me give you an example. I remember very early on in our ministry, Norma and I knew of a family. There were three children in that family — two boys, dad and mom — and the father was an alcoholic and he was abusive to his wife. Two boys as they grew up (and we became very close to them) two boys who grew up, both determined (and they discussed this with us) they both determined that they would never do what their father did. They saw the impact it had upon their mother, they knew the impact it had upon them when their dad would get drunk and sometimes beat them or abuse them and they said that they would never follow their dad's path. But when they became adults, one boy did and one boy did not. One of the sons became an alcoholic and repeated the cycle all over again. The other boy carried out the determination and he broke the cycle. So I'm not saying, let me just hasten to add that because some of these things happen to us in the past, when you have God's holy spirit, God's spirit can change us. God's spirit can add to us, but we have to realize that it just makes it more difficult because of what we've experienced and how we've been imprinted from the past. It does make it a little more difficult, but it does not mean that a person cannot change, cannot begin to be different because God's spirit is there. And God, through His spirit, can heal us and God can give us the strength to move forward and to grow and to overcome. But my point is this: that too often the cycle is just simply continued. From one generation, sins are passed on. Those who are sexually abused, in many cases, repeat the cycle with their family, with their children and it's just carried on.
This is obvious in things like sexual abuse. We don't always, though, see the imprint or the damage that is done when it comes to the ability to love, the ability of someone to make a commitment to have a lasting relationship, to have a proper sexual identity. People don't go back and put two and two together from early life or the early life of the child. Again, today we find, you know, this occurring.
Another reason for this problem is the lack of enlarged families — I've already talked about that — of having grandparents, aunts, and uncles around. We've got five sons. The only one to — well, most of you know, Mark is here but he doesn't have children. So, those who do have children are not with us. They are scattered all over the world: South Africa, Seattle, Maryland, Colorado. What chance do we have to really, as grandparents have an impact on their lives? We don't. And that's one of the drawbacks and that's one of the things that we see in society today.
Teen pregnancy is another problem. Children having children and trying to rear those children.
Any type of disruption is another reason why this problem has increased today. Illness, war, famine, orphans - these types of things.
And I would say, another reason is that the values of society today are totally wrong. Values are totally wrong. The emphasis is on material things, on wealth, on money, big homes — houses. Children are no longer important today to people. Now I know that's not an overall statement, to many they are. But to too many people today, children are not important.
Pat Buchanan - many of you have read his book "The Death of the West" — states in his book about the decline in western nations of population. In 1960, just to give you an example, people of European ancestry made up one-quarter of the world's population. In the year 2000, they are 1/6th of the world's population. In the year 2050, not too far off here - the middle of this century — people of European ancestry will only comprise 1/10th of the population of the world. We, as his book brings out, are becoming a vanishing race of people. The next 50 years in Europe there will be something like 160,000,000 people disappear of European ancestry. That means that most nations are not having enough children to reproduce themselves. It takes 2.1% children in order to reproduce yourself. So that means that for every ten families, one of them has got to have three, the rest have got to have two and then you have enough to begin to replace yourself. But you find that that is not happening in the west. But think about other countries. In the Third World every year there is another Mexico added — 100,000,000 people. In the west, we are dying off. Many of the nations in the west have become socialistic, have become — you know, you look at Europe and you find that religion is no longer there, they are irreligious people. The same thing is becoming true in this country even though we profess to be religious.
I want you to notice what Pat Buchanan says in his book and I'd like to quote. "One of the reasons why it's stated why this has happened to western nations, if everyone has a promise of a state pension, children are no longer a vital insurance policy against wants in old ages. If women can earn more than enough to be financially independent, a husband is no longer essential." So you don't need a husband. "And if you can have sex and not have babies, why marry? You don't have to worry. By freeing husbands and wives and children of family responsibility, socialists have eliminated the need for families." And so we find today that there is a de-emphasis upon family and consequently upon having children. When you study the birth rate charts you will find that something happened in the '60's in this country that has facilitated women in the western world from having babies. "Contraceptives halted the population growth of the west, especially the pill, with abortion as a second line of defense against the unwanted children." So take the pill and if you happen to get pregnant, have an abortion. Since it became legal in the United States to have an abortion, there have been 40,000,000 abortions in the United States. What if all of those pregnancies came to term? We'd have something like 40 million more people in this country. Today, 30% - round it off — 1 out of 3 pregnancies end up on the tabletop in an abortion clinic. One out of three! Those of you who can remember back to the '50's know that at that time abortion was a crime. Not only was it a crime, it was a shameful act to have an abortion, but no longer is that true. It is accepted. We no longer believe that the good life lies in bearing children, raising children, sending them out into the world to continue the family and the nation, to pass on traditional values. We are no longer passing on Christian values to the next generation. Cherishing children is the mark of a civilized society and today we no longer cherish our children. The proper bonding helps a child to be well adjusted, responsive, loving and trusting.
Okay, what does this have to do with all of us who have had our children? We are sitting here; we are past that age. We can't have children anymore. Let me ask you a question. Have we bonded with our spiritual Mother and with God as our Father? What kind of bonds do we have with the body of Christ and with God as our Father? Early in our conversion, early on there should have been a bonding take place, an attachment, a bond, a link, a tie, a union, a connection — whatever you want to call it. Let's notice in Ephesians, chapter 4 beginning in verse 11. Eph. 4:11 This whole section here down through verse 16 describes the type of bonding that should take place. I want you to notice why God has set the ministry in the church. The ministry is here as caregivers to care for the body, to love the body. It says:
Eph. 4:11 - He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers... Why? Well, to help the children, that's why! ... for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ,
Verse 13 - till we all come in the unity of the faith and the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the (fullness) of the stature of the fullness of Christ;
This is a scripture I read quite often and I have to think about as a minister or as a church pastor or an elder in God's church: that we have been set there to help the family of God just like parents are placed in a family to help their children to grow emotionally and psychologically and to develop spiritually. The ministry is there to aid that family, to aid the spiritual family in its development, in its growth, to go on to perfection, to become as Christ is. And we have to realize when we start out that we are not like Christ, are we? We have to grow in that nature, in that character.
And notice verse 14 - that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness by which they lie in wait to deceive,
Verse 15 - but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head —Christ.
Now verse 16, let's notice. Verse 16 is talking about the body. It's talking about all of us, but in particular, it's talking about the members within the body. And notice what all of us are supposed to supply also.
Verse 16 - from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies... Every one of us, every member of the body ... supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share... So, every one of us has a part. We all do our share. ...causes... what? ...growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.
So the ministry is here to help us relate to the church, we are to care and love God's people, but the responsibility to care for one another also falls on the shoulders of every one of us. We all share that responsibility.
It's like Romans 12:15 that says, I'll just quote it to you. Rom. 12:15 — We rejoice with those who rejoice, and... we ...weep with those who weep.
Those who are going through problems, who are weeping, who have difficulty, we sympathize, empathize, are there to help, are there to give aid. It would be wonderful if somebody is going through a problem and they find they have to shut the door, lock and put a sign on "I've had enough people. There's been enough people to come by to help, to serve and to do whatever they can that there's no need for any other help." That's not normally what happens. How often is someone offended or doesn't show up simply because others have neglected them?
Another thing that we have to realize, though, that ties in with this is that you cannot be a loner in the church. You can't be a loner. You can't be an individual Christian. You can't just go off here and neglect the body. The body is to edify itself. It's to build itself up. And how can you help the body build if you're out here in Timbuktu and you never associate with anyone else? We all have a responsibility to help one another. We need to be developing strong connections and relationships with one another and by so doing it will help to hold us within that body. It will help us to bond and have the proper attachment and love for one another. We can commit spiritual suicide, become killers by leaving the body and just going off and going on our own, getting bitter or resentful.
You see, the church is described as our mother or caregiver. What happened to that mother in the '90's? In the '90's that bond, that trust was shattered, wasn't it for many people. It had a devastating impact on many members within the church — what happened through the '90's. They no longer had any trust in the mother, the church, or the body as a whole. How do you — how do you regain that trust? We as a group, the members, the ministry must show love a care for one another because the one thing that is going to attract and help bring back people is that they will see John 13:35 being experienced by the mother. And that is, "By this all will know that you are My disciples if you have love one for another."
You see, if people see that love, that care, that attention then they will know. You and I have to learn to trust our Father. The real bonding that God wants us to have is with Him. He is the one who initiates it; we are generally the ones who break it! Let's go back to Romans 5, verses 3 through 5. I want you to notice here Romans chapter 5 beginning in verse 3. It says,
Rom. 5:3 - Not only that but we also glory in tribulation, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance... The King James Version says 'produces experience'.
Verse 4 - and perseverance... (or experience) ...character; and character, hope.
Verse 5 - Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts...
The word here for experience or for perseverance is, in the Greek, dokime and Vince says of this word that experience — he wouldn't translate it experience, he would translate it 'the process of trial or proving' — the process that we go through, of a trial, in proving. It means 'put to the test for the purpose of a proving' and Denny makes a comment on this. Says, "It produces approvalness, it results in a spiritual state which shows itself proved under trial. This approved character produces and increases hope." It says, "The experience of what God can do or rather, what He does for the justification amid tribulation of their lives animates into a new vigor of hope with which the life of faith begins." In other words, what he is simply saying is this: you and I, as we go through this spiritual life and we trust God and we have experiences with God, and we go through trials and tests and God intervenes upon our behalf, God heals us, God answers our prayers. These experiences begin to develop within us that trust, that reliance, that confidence in God. And God gives us faith so that we can rely upon Him. And brethren, if we are going to be in the Kingdom, we have to have that bond with God; that trust in God; that reliance upon Him; that proper relationship with God. A big part of what God is doing with us is to help us to develop a right and a proper relationship with Him. As I said, this has to occur early on and should be continuing to occur throughout our relationship with God. There must be an attachment, a bond, a link, a connection with God as our Father and with the body of Christ as our mother. Let me read again the definition of what attachment is. "It is an affectionate bond between two individuals that endures through space and time and serves to join them in motion."
Well, brethren, there's going to come a time when you and I will be in God's kingdom. And that attachment, that bond that we have with God will go right on over into the kingdom of God. And you and I will not only just say, well this is our Father. God will be our father, Christ is our brother and there will be a bond emotionally, spiritually in every way that we will have with God and it will transcend space and time. Bonding is of utmost importance to the complete health of the child. It will determine if he is able to express love and affection when he physically grows up. Spiritual bonding is critical for spiritual attachment to God and to His church. Brethren, the spiritual well being of the body depends upon it.