Evangelicals & Values
I have been blessed to serve as stewards for three young people. These three individuals are my two daughters and son. I understand my role as a father is to raise them in such a manner that they grew to be positive contributors to society. This is not even a theological principle, it can be better understood to be a sociological principle. As a result, this is a discipline applicable to theists and atheists alike.
Today, I want to focus on my youngest daughter, Constance. Constance enlisted in the U.S. Army last year and she is currently serving at Fort Carlson, Colorado. I will not attempt to romanticize my portrayal of Constance. Though I love her dearly, she was born foremost as a retched sinner in need of a Savior. Unfortunately, this was her lot in life. She inherited a sinful nature from me as I did from my parents. Thankfully, by God’s grace, Constance came to eventually postulate faith in Christ and display fruits worthy of repentance but I want to make clear I am not one of these parents who see their children through rose-colored spectacles From the moment of Constance’s conception she was never just a little precious Angel, she was a Viper in a Diaper.
Why do I draw attention to my youngest child in this public forum? Well, I believe it illustrates a very helpful teaching moment. A revealing poll was released by the Wall Street Journal (WSJ)/NBC New this week. The WSJ/NBC poll measured the perceived values in American. The result revealed Americans held the following three concepts in the highest stead: Patriotism, Religion and Having Children..
As a social construct, we used to champion the virtues ofembracing morals but now the new approach is to embrace values. Sociologists report this cultural shift took place after WWII. Whereas morals are primarily based on truth outside of oneself, values are basically whatever the current culture embraces, principally decided by the majority. One (morality) is objective while the other (value) is subjective. Basically, morals are stable in that they do not change significantly over time. Murder is a great example. All civilized cultures viewed “murder” (as opposed to killing, which is permissible under the right conditions) are always and everywhere morally wrong.
Not surprisingly in each of the three areas measured the younger generation revealed they hold each of the three areas in lower regard than older Americans. The area I want to draw your attention to is the value of having children. It is here where the intersection between my daughter Constance, and the value of having children become crystallized.
Thankfully, Constance seems to be adjusting well to military life. As I expected the depth of her language and conversation have changed, even over the short period of time she has been away. She has recently spoken of going to college and earning her bachelor degree. She also just found out this week she will be deploying to Afghanistan early next year. Based on the myriad of things happening at a maddening pace, as a father who served in the military, I attempted to give her some counsel on the different options that are available to her.
I was sharing with her the ability to serve on active duty while attending college. The Army calls their version of this option: Green to Gold. Since Constance expressed a desire to attend college I wanted her to know of this option. I will share Constance’s response verbatim: “I have thought about green to gold. But I’ll be 26 this year, at this point in life I’m focused on being a wife and a mother. I can honestly say I don’t want to have kids and be in the Army. Plus I want to adopt 1-2 kids if I get my radiology tech before I get out so I can make a decent living.”
In God’s providence I became aware of the WSJ/NBC report just this week. One day I received Constance’s text response, the very next day I become aware of the poll. Twenty-one years ago a similar poll found Americans placed having children in their top four values they understood as vital to the nation flourishing. Hard work, commitment to religion and patriotism rounded out the top four values. Twenty-one years later patriotism has decreased 9% points, religion is down 12% while having children is down 16% points while hard work seems to still be a value most Americans at least publicly proclaim is still important.
As a result of this new polling data, I believe America has two problems:
We have replaced morals which are basically immutable (they do not change because they are objectively based) with values which change as the culture changes
The values we do embrace are sliding in the wrong direction. Less and less Americans, especially those under the age of 21, feel them less and less important
Concerning the decrease of values for having children radical feminism is a large culprit. Once upon a time females who yearned primarily to get married and raise a family was considered to be a noble pursuit. There was something honorable, something honorable in women actively seeking to “stay at home and have babies.” I know as some females read this they will reflectively chafe. I expect this response from secular females but why do I have the sneaky suspicion professing Evangelical females are having the same response.
Let me draw your attention to the Apostle Paul’s admonition while writing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit to Titus as he ministered to the Church in Crete. Paul writes, “Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanders or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children [emphasis mine], to be self-controlled, pure, working at home [emphasis mine], kind and submissive to their own husbands, that the Word of God may not be reviled“ (Titus 2:3-4).
Again, it should not register as a surprise when secular females grate against such a supposition but what about females Evangelicals? Why is there a disconnect between what the Bible reveals as the worldview Evangelicals are supposed to embrace, supposed to delight themselves in because they seek to delight in what delights Almighty God. Lest one miss the why of Paul’s admonition it is that the Word of God may not be reviled. It should be no wonder the Evangelical Church is losing more relevance and standing in the marketplace. When we lose our saltiness, we will be good for nothing other than to be trampled upon.
I was delighted when Constance expressed such a traditional feminism worldview. Instead of seeking to grab the brass ring because that is what the culture embraces and promotes Constance desires to settle down, get married and have children. In that order, that is a blessing all by itself. As a father committed to a Theo-centric worldview I am humbled that God seems to be at work in Constance’s heart as that embrace does not come naturally.
This radical feminism rejection of traditional feminism is yet another self-inflicted wound perpetuated by society. One of God’s first command was to be fruitful and multiply. Having children is one of God’s marvelous gifts to humanity. Instead of being celebrated, it is now increasingly being viewed as a negative.
I rejoice in Constance’s understanding of God’s design for human flourishing. She might not express it in those theological terms (that is my job) but I believe as she continues to mature she will eventually. Train up a child in the way they should go and when he is old, he will not depart from it (Proverbs 22:6). While this is not an absolute promise it is still true in general terms as God provides the requisite grace.
I close with the sober reminder, despite my best desires, Constance was raised by two retched sinners. Constance, along with her elder sister and brother, were born slaves to sin. They were doomed from the womb but each of them came to trust Christ as their personal Lord and Savior. The Kyles family has much to be thankful for!!!
I emphasize this to only make crystal clear I do not regarded myself as one of those parents who sees their children through jaded eyes. I do not because that view is not consistent with the Biblical revelation. Yet, display our innate sinfulness, God has poured out His bountiful grace upon my entire immediate family as well to many members of my extended family.
As an aside, recently there has been a yearning burning in my spirit to become a grandparent. Monique and I celebrated our 31st wedding anniversary this past weekend. As we discussed our plans for the next five years or so we both expressed our eagerness to welcome grand-kids into our lives.
Again, I see the providence of God all over my life. I become exposed to the poll, revealing the decline of young people embracing parenthood. At the same time, Constance expressed her heart desire to settle down and have a family. All of this happens in the midst of our wedding celebration where both Monique and I express a desire for grand-kids.
While the world continues to slide into a moral abyss, we are told by God He always has a remnant who will NOT bend the knee to Caesar. I solicit your prayers for Constance and all the Constances of the world. Not because there is anything fanciful or uniquely majestic about Constance (that is why I have labored to speak so plainly about her depravity). Without the supernatural intervention of God all of us would do whatever is right in our sight.
Our young ladies are being confronted with a radical feminism agenda where motherhood is viewed by many as an intrusion; an annoyance more and more. I began by speaking about being a steward. More and more I understand this concept. Ultimately Constance is God’s child, I am only the human vessel who has been tasked with being a good steward, a good household manager of what the good Lord has entrusted to my care.
As long as breath remains the stewardship continues. Roles change, but the task ever confronts us. It is part of a self-imposed mandate I have to finish my fourth quarter strong. While I will remain a father, the role, Lord willing, will eventually expand to that of grand-dad. I will confront that stewardship with the same goal: to see the next generation raised in the fear and admonition of Almighty God.
Thank God for His grace. Thank God for His provision and thank God for His protection. It is easy to be lulled into thinking it is the neighborhood we live in or the devices we use to secure us, our loved ones and our property. Evangelicals do not trust in chariots or horses we trust and rely on Christ. Whatever He decrees to lay ahead of us the Kyles family will accept, enabled by God’s Spirit.
As always, let me know what you think. I solicit your prayers for Constance as she continues to grow in her walk with Christ. I also solicit your prayers for this generation of Evangelicals females to be bulwarks who push back against the radical feminism that purports hostile opposition to the things of God.
Until the next time keep your hands to the plow and serve for an Audience of One.