Sunday, February 14, 2021

Not a few institutions are unhealthy. . .

On this day traditionally devoted to romance and love, it might be offensive to bring up the sad reality of the unhealthy state of our cultural and societal institutions.  Yet that is exactly what we must do.  Very few of our cultural and social institutions are healthy.  Almost all are broken or wounded.

While we might want to lament and therefore blame bad laws and political policies for these failures, the laws and policies have followed rather than led the way of the corrosion and decay of the social and cultural institutions.  Every law passed in the last 60 years and nearly every judicial decision that has had to do in one way or another with sex, marriage, and family has struck a blow at the very institutions that the law thought it was preserving.  With short sighted vision we have judged the past faulty and set forth to repair and replace what we thought were failing institutions and instead have undermined and contributed to the very destruction of those institutions and relationships.

We have ended up robbing our children of their childhood and placing upon them the burden of adult sized decisions -- not about what they want to be when they grow up but the existential questions of their very identity.  What child is prepared to decide the parameters of their identity, sexuality, and future and what child would choose to focus upon these questions in place of having fun, learning about the world around them, and playing?  Only the child whose life has been hijacked by adults who live with such anxiety about their own lives they insist upon sharing the weight of their own uncertainties with the children they were supposed to protect.

As a parent and a father, I have struggled with the consequences of our social tinkering.  Wondering where my daughter would find a good man and if my sons would be the good men who would fulfill God's design for marriage and the family.  That is the problem.  Men do not grow up untended from boyhood but taught, nurtured, and guided into adulthood.  In the same way, girls do not naturally become women without the same teaching, nurture, and guidance.  That is the second most important gift we give to our children (after faith).

Look around you.  Romance has been replaced with shallow relationships of sex or deception or control.  Families are foundering upon the impossible demands placed upon them without the direction of God's Word and the strength of the home to pass on to the child what he or she will need to become a real adult.  Competition has taken over the nature of our relationships and independence means we neither seek nor desire what marriage truly offers.  Friendship has become a victim of subtle or overt sexual play.  Children have been robbed of their childhood.  Children have become an accessory to those who wish them and a burden to those who think their lives better without them.  It is no wonder that the pews are filled with gray hair.  The empty and failing social and cultural institutions among us have been gutted by our anxious ridden lives and by our pursuit of a pure past and a sanitized present.  And it could be exactly because we have neglected to raise boys to be husbands and fathers and girls to be wives and mothers.  You reap what you sow says the Scriptures.  While it could be an aspirational statement, it has become for us the condemnation of our failure.  Happy Valentine's Day!

1 comment:

elizabeth said...

This book, "A Time to Build: From Family and Community to Congress and the Campus, How Recommitting to Our Institutions Can Revive the American Dream"
Yuval Levin has an interesting premise that we have moved from seeing our institutions as formative to thinking of them as performative — from viewing them as molds that shape our character to viewing them as platforms that enable us to be seen.