HEADlines: No Other Way

Published in the Mustard Seed Sentinel, Saturday, April 23, 2022

“And he will turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the land with a decree of utter destruction,” Malachi 4:6 (ESV).

“A society based on ‘agape’ [sacrificial love] alone is all very well, but it will not reproduce itself: nor will it produce the crucial relation–that between parent and child–which is the basis on which we can begin to understand our relation to God. Hence, the redemption of the erotic lies at the heart of every viable social order.” Roger Scruton~

Charles J. Chaput includes the above Scruton quote in his book Things Worth Dying For: Thoughts on a Life Worth Living. Earlier in the book, Chaput explains that the word sacrifice “derives from the Latin sacrum facere–to make sacred; to set aside as holy.”

In his chapter on the family, “The Ties that Bind,” Chaput provides four factors that work against the process of strong families forming a strong society.

The first is political: The Christian view of what a family is–mom, dad, and the kids–is “a magnet for ill will” in a society informed by a “pervasive and permissive mass media–permissive toward some causes; bigoted toward others.” Chaput asserts that the independent-mindedness that democratic government fosters ultimately leads to this ill will since the “biblical authority of the Christian family is, finally, undemocratic.”

A family that functions with father and mother, equal in status, wielding authority, and filling different roles, is anathema to today’s liberal thinkers. Even so, the institution of the family is the primary factor in societal stability.

The second factor is economic: “Globalism has served America’s wealthy top tier quite well. But as lower-skilled jobs disappear, middle- and working-class wages have stagnated–or worse, declined . . . [forcing] both parents out of the home . . . [and keeping] many families from saving even for emergencies.” In such an environment, “the liberty and power of most individuals has declined.” We are now “free to make very few significant choices.”

The shift from local production to worldwide manufacturing has made the American Dream, family-sustaining independence, a memory for many.

The third factor is technological advances: “[C]oncern for electronic diversions and their impact on the mental health and development of children is now widespread.” Addiction to screens, addiction to porn, and mental passivity result from our devotion to daily screen time.

Even more concerning are “family-related technology issues” such as “mitochondrial replacement therapy–i.e., in vitro fertilization (IVF) with genetic material from three different adults.”

Chaput quotes Brendan Fohr: “The willingness of the fertility industry to use experimental technologies like three-parent IVF to satisfy the kinship desire of prospective parents, even when it means putting the health of the child at risk, bodes ill for how they will use the even more powerful technologies of genetic engineering now on the horizon.”

We have embarked into a Brave New World in which sex and reproduction continue to lose connection. That connection is the primary tie that binds, the “crucial relation” Scruton cited as a foundation for our understanding of God. The melding agape to eros (romantic, physical love) in families is how God created us to reproduce–physically and spiritually.

Finally, the fourth factor circles back to the first and echoes the third–hostility toward the family and pursuit of increased distance between sex and reproduction. Nineteenth-century “revolutionaries, like Marx and Engels, wanted their economic policies to dissolve the need for traditional families. Where they failed, feminists like Shulasmith Firestone (1945-2012) have not.

She explains: “The end goal of feminist revolution must be, unlike that of the first feminist movement, not just the elimination of male privilege, but the sex distinction itself.” She proposes artificial reproduction–“Children born to both sexes equally, or independently of either,” eliminating “the dependence of the child on the mother,” and thereby breaking “the tyranny of the biological family.”

Over the last few decades, society has deprived innumerable children of their fathers. Firestone would remove the influence of mothers as well leaving children to an institutional parent or a set of parents distorting the family model designed to point us to God.

Chaput: “Eros produces the family. Agape sustains it.” Western culture wants to sweep married eros under the carpet, telling us that only our desires matter. Our responsibilities to each other are secondary–perhaps not even worthy of consideration.

Firestone’s radical ideas have become more deeply entrenched as we find ourselves battling public entities over sex education, especially for young children. We’re watching this battle play out as politicians and “educators” sometimes demand the power to overrule the influence of parents.

Roger Scruton tells us that “a society based on ‘agape’ alone” is not enough to turn things around. His statement implies that agape is necessary, but more is needed. Chaput provides this answer:

“Renewing family life will require a healthy skepticism toward the secular culture that surrounds us, an appropriate caution regarding its tools, and an active, convicted Christian witness of courage, intelligence, and love. And that demands a faith rooted in one thing that finally matters: a living relationship with Jesus Christ.”

That relationship often requires sacrifice–something many of us with our independent-mindedness, economic struggles or standing, technological comforts, and aversion to necessary conflict with those who hold “ill will” against our faith would prefer to avoid.

Committed marital physical love forms families. Sacrificial love builds and sustains families. Both sanctify families.

Each generation builds or destroys the foundation of society. We build by committing to pure eros and sacrificial love. We destroy with a sledgehammer of selfishness.

There is no in-between. There is no other way.

Photo Credit: Unsplash

Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered is out in paperback! Get your copy here!

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Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. Restoring the Shattered is published through Morgan James Publishing with whom I do share a material connection. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

28 Replies to “HEADlines: No Other Way”

    1. So true, Melissa. Remember Solzhenitsyn quoting his grandfather: These things have happened to us because we have forgotten God. Thanks for reading and commenting. God bless!

  1. These are the realities of what we undertook in the 1980s, raising our own kids, becoming proficient and receiving instruction in homeschooling. Carrying that out with all six kids. Launching children who love and marry and have families and know how to manage their children’s education and lives in ways they feel is best. The COVID lockdowns we’re no big deal for those with kids in school. They knew how to educate as they had been educated. This generation must now make wise decisions.

    1. Stayed tuned, Melinda. A post focusing on education is in the works. Parents who are engaged and involved are the best solution to our education woes–the best way forward for the next generation. Thanks and God bless!

  2. Amen Ms. Nancy. It seems in so many ways, our world has decided to leave God on the wayside of history. What they fail to understand is that it’s HIStory. God’s blessings ma’am. Thank you for speaking truth into our world ma’am.

  3. It seems so logical, yet our culture has intentionally blinded themselves to the obvious – not because they CAN’T see it, but because they WON’T see it.
    Reminds me of the quote by John Heywood: “There are none so blind as those who will not see.”

  4. God established family for a reason. The order of family is what holds society together and when it degenerates and holds no honor, the culture also degenerates. This is one of satan’s weapons, to decimate God’s order.

  5. Great and informative post. “Each generation builds or destroys the foundation of society. We build by committing to pure eros and sacrificial love. We destroy with a sledgehammer of selfishness.” So true.

  6. This is excellent. I was not raised with a traditional family model, and it affected me negatively. But reading the Bible, I understand how God knows how our families and our cultures function best … all with the Lord at the head. We can save ourselves so much heartache and poor cycles from just heeding God’s word!

  7. We are in Dangerous times because so many seek to destroy the Godly family unit. I shutter to think where the world is headed without God.

  8. So much important information in your post, Nancy. Although technology and advancement in science and medicine have brought about much good, we need to be aware of and concerned about practices which are not ethically or morally right. Like you, I am concerned about the hardships of maintaining a family and the strain that economic crisis brings to families struggling to hold it all together. Much prayer needed. Thank you for addressing the challenges.

  9. Nancy, you’ve stated the current situation in our culture quite well. We truly can trace many of the cultural issues of our day back to the time when sex and reproduction were uncoupled. I will share your warning with others.

    1. It is often difficult to look at where we are now and realize how we got here–where the turning points happened, where we might have chosen more wisely. Thank you, Annie. God bless!

  10. Interesting insight and topic here, Nancy. I think most of us wrongly assume the greatest love, sacrificial love, could indeed turn a society around. But reading this in its entirely has certainly proved crucial points like, Chaput: “Eros produces the family. Agape sustains it.”

    With the modern age of devices and new and inventive fertility means, a new kind of family is being defined more and more every day.

    1. Yes, Karen. And those new definitions are not good for us. People see God as someone trying to keep us from enjoying life. He’s instead showing us the abundant life in following Him. Thanks for reading and commenting. God bless!

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