Many times we all look around our society with dismay at what we see. I know I do. Listening to the news is more like listening to a funeral announcement of a friend that has died. The high rate of crime all around the country, and all the political shenanigans by all the parties on every side, the lack of discipline among our children in the schools and lack of a respect for authority by people both young and old, all lead us to think there is no hope for anything left in the world. It makes one not even want to see or listen to the news any more.
It is a simple and a logical conclusion that the future of our great nation depends on our ability to instill in our children and young people today the ideals, morals and ethics that we hope to see survive in our society tomorrow. We have to understand one important premise; we are never more than one generation away from oblivion, from a society totally different from that which most of us have known in the past and with which many of us are comfortable with today.
I remember growing up listening to the music my parents were accustomed to and liked, and hearing them and the parents of my friends talking about how horrible the music was that we teenagers were listening to at the time. I also remember hearing the music my children listened to and wondered how music could go downhill so fast. And so it is. Things change around us in so many different ways and we all wonder how can this be?
That great Baptist pastor, Dr. Wayne Dehoney illustrates this point vividly:
“Over in the Middle East lies a country known as Jordan. Amman is its capital. Twenty-five miles north of Amman is a place called Jerash. I have been there many times. There are the most magnificent ruins of a New Testament city we have anywhere in the world. For a whole mile there is a colonnade of giant columns, baths and public houses. In this city there also are the ruins of 14 Christian churches — a magnificent display of the glory of Rome at its peak during the days of Jesus.
“I remember my first visit in 1955 with Dr. Bill Morton, then professor of archaeology at Southern Seminary. As we stood amid those ruins, he told us this was Jerash of the New Testament — one of the ten cities of Decapolis, the league of 10 cities mentioned in the New Testament.
“Christianity came early to this city’s 200,000 population. It became a flourishing Christian Center. And by the Byzantine era, this whole country was solidly Christian with huge churches. Dr. Morton said this was true not only in this area, but stretching down into the Sinai and Arabia, and upward into present-day Syria. This whole fertile crescent became solidly Christian!
“Then he pointed to the modern town of Jerash, with about 15,000 people. Today there is not a Christian church in Jerash and probably not a single Christian in the whole population. This whole country is now Muslim. Remember this was the cradle of our faith where Christianity flourished and exploded and conquered. It is now a non-Christian world and has been for 15 centuries.
“I asked how this could be. There came those armies out of Medina and Mecca under that prophet Mohammed in the seventh century. They swept down into Egypt and into Asia Minor and even knocked at the door of Europe. This country, in one single generation turned from being Christian to being Muslim. It was no longer the center of Christianity — the cause of Christ was gone, wiped out, obliterated!”
How could such a thing happen? Because the bottom line is this: We are never more than one generation from oblivion. The knowledge of the fathers must be passed on to their children, yes we all agree with that. But what we are missing is that the high standards, morals and ethics upon which our nation was founded must also be passed on to our children. This is where we are today. There is a generation that is rising up today that doesn’t know or even remember how things were 20 or 30 or more years ago because they were never taught that.
I remember hearing just a couple of years or so ago about young people in college needing a room to go cry in because they were so upset about an issue that was important to them that didn’t go how they wanted or expected it to go. I don’t even remember what the issue was, only that the college provided them a “safe place to cry” because they were upset. I remember when young men 18 or 19 years old were being drafted to go fight in Viet Nam. There were protests back then but no safe crying rooms. Men died on the beaches of Normandy on June 6, 1944 during the Allied invasion of France during World War II. Most of those young men that died were 18 – 19 year olds. No crying rooms there either.
Many parents have failed to do their due diligence in teaching their young people today that they have to take responsibility for their own actions. No one owes them anything, they have to earn whatever it is that they want or need themselves. Every person has to take their own responsibility as has always been the case throughout history. Our society is paying the penalty today for this lack or fault of many in the previous generation not taking the time to instill in our own children this concept. The only thing that has saved us so far is that there are still some parents who do take the time to pass on to their children the high standards that they themselves had. We can turn our society around, it is not too late. We must do it, for we have to know that if that link is broken, if we lose just one entire generation, then all is lost!
We cannot depend on the public schools or colleges or even the government to do this for us. It is the parent’s responsibility. The Bible says in Proverbs 22:6 KJV, “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” Many parents interpret this only as religious training and as a retired pastor I would agree whole heartedly. But it also is speaking about everything your child needs in life to make right decisions and to do what is right, even outside of the church or the realm of religion. Teach your children how to live righteously, but also teach them how to live and do the right things. And don’t forget to teach them to pray.
Brad Morris, a retired minister, originally from Georgetown, served as a pastor and then as a missionary in Costa Rica and Ecuador, can be reached at email@example.com. He has been in ministry for 50 years and a columnist for 17 years, 13 of which have been for the Times.