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Sep 25, 2020 08:00am
Why Have Parents Abandoned Their Responsibilities?
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As I write this, we are starting to feel a change in the air in our part of the country. Summer 2020 is quickly becoming a memory and Fall 2020 is becoming a reality. It has certainly been a summer to remember. Or better yet, a summer to forget.

As I look back, the most troubling scenes and stories to me this summer have been those of young people brazenly committing acts of violence in many of our communities.

Those images and stories seem to me to be blatant examples of lawlessness and godlessness. Blatant images of lives being lived without respect to moral codes or boundaries.

I understand that there are arguments on all sides of the violence issue. I understand that there are long-term underlying problems. I understand that there are feelings of hopelessness and frustration. But I do not understand out of control violence, and I do not understand officials that are allowing it to continue.

We do not do these young people any favor with our tolerance of this behavior.

Unfortunately, violence is an addictive behavior. It never stops on its own. If tolerated, it only grows. In the book of Proverbs in the Bible, the incredibly wise Solomon refers to “the wine of violence”.

“They eat the food of wickedness and drink the wine of violence!” (Proverbs 4:17)

So nightly we see these young people drunk on this wine. Juveniles that are not even allowed to legally drink alcohol are conspicuously and publicly drunk on the wine of violence.

And as with most addictive behavior, more always calls for even more in both quantity and intensity.

You don’t have to have the wisdom of Solomon to know that this will not turn out well for them — or us.

So how did we get here?

How did we allow these young people access to this wine of violence? How did this addiction gain a foothold? How has it grown into a stronghold in entire communities?

In a word, influence. Or better stated, lack of influence.

PARENTAL INFLUENCE

Over several generations, we have steadily seen a decline in the influence of stable, let alone godly, parenting in the lives of many children. We have seen the consequences of some parents who place little or no priority on equipping their offspring to live productive, disciplined, or godly lives.

We see the vicious cycle of parents who did not receive appropriate parental and godly influence in their younger years now becoming parents themselves. And many are totally unequipped to provide appropriate influence over their kids. And the spiral continues.

Let me pause a moment here and say that I am not criticizing parents who are giving a good-faith effort. Parenting is the hardest job on the planet. But I am criticizing those parents that have abandoned, or never accepted, their responsibility. 

When we allow young people to live their lives without supervision or accountability, the outcome is predictable:

“They eat the food of wickedness and drink the wine of violence!” (Proverbs 4:17)

CHURCH INFLUENCE

Obviously, God created and ordained the family as the primary source of influence in the life of a child. But he also created another entity designed to partner with the parents in that influence. That partner is the church.

And for several generations, we have also seen a steady decline in the influence of churches in the lives of families and children. Even with the vast availability of content today, there are entire communities of young people who are not hearing the message of the gospel on any consistent basis. 

In fact, there are some that have never been exposed to the message and teachings of Jesus at all.

Here we also see the vicious cycle of a generation or more not being influenced by the church. Now we are seeing the total irrelevance of the church to their offspring. For many, it does not even exist in their mind. And again, that spiral also continues.

Throughout the Bible, we see God’s heart and instruction concerning care for the orphaned. I am not a biblical expert, but my understanding of the term “orphan”, as used in the Bible, is a child lacking a guide and teacher. It seems to me that covers many of those that I see and hear about that are creating the chaos in the news.

So maybe we who are followers of Jesus have an opportunity and an obligation to step up our influence for God among those young people who are lacking parental influence. Maybe we have received clear instructions in Scripture to do so. Perhaps we as the Church have an opportunity and obligation to expand our influence into these troubled communities right now and to boldly bring Christ into that chaos.

If we fail to influence these youth for Christ, we can rest assured that there will be others that will continue to influence them in the other direction and will succeed:

“They eat the food of wickedness and drink the wine of violence!” (Proverbs 4:17)

EXPANDING OUR INFLUENCE

If you’ve read this far, I assume you agree that there is a big problem and maybe you agree with some of my explanation of how we got here. Maybe you understand that indeed there is a pressing need for us to step up our influence.

But what increased influence can we have as individuals or collectively as churches have?

I wish that I could give you a twelve-step program to improve the influence of parents and churches in these communities. Influence that would eliminate this culture of godlessness and violence in our society.

If I could do that, I would be asking for your campaign contributions right now.

The truth is that the only answer I have is Jesus. The only hope that I see is to influence these youth with the message and teachings of Christ.

And to be very honest, right now the task is so overwhelming that I don’t see a clear way to do that. But I know that God specializes in creating a way when we see no way. 

So right now, it seems to me that we need a massive crying out to God to show and provide us and our churches a way to influence both the parents and youth in these communities racked by violence. A way that goes beyond anything that we have done before or are now doing.

And we need to be urgently receptive when God shows and provides us those ways. 

Because right now, it seems to me that the stakes have never been higher.

“They eat the food of wickedness and drink the wine of violence!” (Proverbs 4:17)

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