I’ve never really been into Halloween. And as horror movie images become more connected to real-life happenings, I find it harder to be lighthearted about macabre murder scenes and bloodied faces. And while I’m not a doomsday kind of guy, I have to confess that our current culture is getting to me a little bit. Every day, terrible stories dominate the news . . . violence, people paying bribes to get their kids into college, dirty pictures of a congresswoman, constant charges and countercharges of dishonesty, manipulation, greed, and power-mongering. Add the dilution of marriage, the breakdown of the family via pervasive divorce, the impact of vaping, drug use, porn, sex and sexuality issues . . . it’s obvious (at least to me) that our culture is a hot mess.
Attorney General William Barr recently delivered a speech at Notre Dame University’s law school. Barr, a devout Catholic, told faculty and students . . .
“We are told we are living in a post-Christian era, but what has replaced the Judeo-Christian moral system? What is it that can fill the spiritual void in the [heart] of the individual person? And what is the system of values that can sustain human social life?”
Every month, I sit around a table with younger men whose children are neck-deep in post-Christian culture. “What can I do?” they ask.
Here’s my answer . . . study current culture, but don’t give into it. Instead, create new culture in the kingdom of your family.
John Ortberg defines one’s “kingdom” as their effective reach. The effective reach of a parent is their family. There might be influence into their work environment, their kids’ school or neighborhood or sports team or small group, but your effective reach . . . where you set the tone, cast the vision, and define the rules, is the culture of your family. It’s where you decide what to celebrate and what to shun. Your effective reach determines who and what enters your home, what gets viewed on screens or listened to on earbuds, and what gets praised and rewarded.
Engagement is critical if you want your spouse and kids to buy-in to your family culture. It takes being creative and making your family’s culture attractive to your kids (and maybe even their friends). Create a family value system to document what your family is for, not just what it’s against. Invent traditions that you do together regularly, especially if there’s an element of service to each other and others.
The Judeo-Christian value system has served us exceptionally well. It enabled the creation of our country and our society. If we want to perpetuate (and even enrich) that culture for our children and our children’s children, it will happen in our homes and with our families, not in the public square. Fight a culture war you can win . . . the one that matters most to the people you love the most.
Don’t curse culture, create new culture, beginning with your family.
Prayer: Father, convict us to focus on the culture of our family and to do all we can to make it loving and healthy. Show us creative and effective ways to disciple our kids toward righteousness and good deeds and to lead our families well. We love you and trust you, and we pray in the beautiful, matchless name of your son, Jesus. Amen.