Judeo-Christian Culture: Passing on Gospel Teachings to Next Generation

Dinner Topics for Monday

Judeo-Christian Culture:

Passing on Gospel Teachings to Next Generation

The Language of the Gospel

By Valeri V. Cordón

No achievement in this life, important as it may be, will be relevant if we lose the language of the gospel in our families. Powerful teaching is extremely important to preserve the gospel in our families, and it requires diligence and effort.

After being called as a General Authority, I moved with my family from Costa Rica to Salt Lake City for my first assignment. Here in the United States, I have been blessed to visit wonderful people of different ethnic backgrounds and cultures. Among them are many who, like me, were born in the countries of Latin America.

I have noticed that many of the first-generation Hispanics here speak Spanish as their primary language and enough English to communicate with others. The second generation, who were either born in the United States or came at an early age and attend school here, speak very good English and perhaps some broken Spanish. And often by the third generation, Spanish, the native language of their ancestors, is lost.1

In linguistic terms, this is simply called “language loss.” Language loss may happen when families move to a foreign land where their native language is not predominant. It happens not only among Hispanics but also among populations throughout the world where a native language is replaced in favor of a new one.2 Even Nephi, a prophet in the Book of Mormon, was concerned about losing the native language of his fathers when he was preparing to move to the promised land. Nephi writes, “Behold, it is wisdom in God that we should obtain these records, that we may preserve unto our children the language of our fathers.3

Preserve Eternal Language

But Nephi was also concerned about losing another kind of language. In the next verse, he continues, “And also that we may preserve unto them the words which have been spoken by the mouth of all the holy prophets, which have been delivered unto them by the Spirit and power of God, since the world began, even down unto this present time.”4

I noticed a similarity between preserving a mother tongue and preserving the gospel of Jesus Christ in our lives.

Today in my analogy, I would like to emphasize not any particular earthly language but rather an eternal language that must be preserved in our families and never lost. I speak of the language5 of the gospel of Jesus Christ. By “language of the gospel,” I mean all the teachings of our prophets, our obedience to those teachings, and our following righteous traditions.

I will discuss three ways that this language can be preserved.

First: Being More Diligent and Concerned at Home

In the Doctrine and Covenants, the Lord invited many prominent members of the Church, including Newel K. Whitney, to set their homes in order. The Lord said, “My servant Newel K. Whitney … hath need to be chastened, and set in order his family, and see that they are more diligent and concerned at home, and pray always, or they shall be removed out of their place.”6

Language of the Gospel Must Be Taught

One factor that influences language loss is when parents don’t spend time teaching their children the native language. It is not enough to merely speak the language in the home. If parents desire to preserve their language, it must be taught. Research has found that parents who make a conscious effort to preserve their native language tend to succeed in doing so.7 So what would be a conscious effort to preserve the language of the gospel?

Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles cautioned that “weak gospel teaching and modeling in the home” is a powerful cause that may break the cycle of multi-generational families in the Church.8

We can therefore conclude that powerful teaching is extremely important to preserve the gospel in our families, and it requires diligence and effort.

We have been invited many times to acquire the practice of daily family and personal scripture study.9 Many families that are doing this are blessed each day with greater unity and a closer relationship with the Lord.

When will daily scripture study happen? It will happen when parents take the scriptures in hand and, with love, invite the family to gather together to study. It is difficult to see this study happening in any other way.

Fathers and mothers, don’t miss out on these great blessings. Don’t wait until it’s too late!

Second: Strong Modeling in the Home—Bring the Gospel Alive for your Children

One linguistics expert wrote that to preserve a native language, “you need to bring the language alive for your children.”10 We “bring language alive” when our teaching and modeling work together.

A lesson about Tithing

When I was young, I worked in my father’s factory during vacations. The first question my father always asked after I received my salary was “What are you going to do with your money?”

I knew the answer and responded, “Pay my tithing and save for my mission.”

After working with him for about eight years and constantly answering his same question, my father figured he had taught me about paying my tithing. What he didn’t realize was that I had learned this important principle in just one weekend. Let me tell you how I learned that principle.

After some events related to a civil war in Central America, my father’s business went bankrupt. He went from about 200 full-time employees to fewer than five sewing operators who worked as needed in the garage of our home. One day during those difficult times, I heard my parents discussing whether they should pay tithing or buy food for the children.

On Sunday, I followed my father to see what he was going to do. After our Church meetings, I saw him take an envelope and put his tithing in it. That was only part of the lesson. The question that remained for me was what we were going to eat.

Early Monday morning, some people knocked on our door. When I opened it, they asked for my father. I called for him, and when he arrived, the visitors told him about an urgent sewing order they needed as quickly as possible. They told him that the order was so urgent that they would pay for it in advance. That day I learned the principles of paying tithing and the blessings that follow.

In the New Testament, the Lord talks about modeling. He says, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise.”11

It is not enough just to talk to our children about the importance of temple marriage, fasting, and keeping the Sabbath day holy. They must see us making room in our schedules to attend the temple as frequently as we can. They need to see our commitment to fasting regularly12 and keeping the entire Sabbath day holy. If our youth cannot fast two meals, cannot study the scriptures regularly, and cannot turn off the TV during a big game on Sunday, will they have the spiritual self-discipline to resist the powerful temptations of today’s challenging world, including the temptation of pornography?

Third: Traditions—Combat Worldly Influences with Righteous Teaching

Another way language can be altered or lost is when other languages and traditions are mixed with a mother tongue.13

Disobedience and Unrighteous Traditions cause Loss of Light and Truth

In the early years of the restored Church, the Lord invited many prominent members of the Church to set their homes in order. He began His invitation by addressing two ways we may lose light and truth from our homes: “That wicked one cometh and taketh away light and truth, through disobedience, from the children of men, and because of the tradition of their fathers.14

As families, we need to avoid any tradition that will prevent us from keeping the Sabbath day holy or having daily scripture study and prayer at home. We need to close the digital doors of our home to pornography and all other evil influences. To combat the worldly traditions of our day, we need to use the scriptures and the voice of our modern prophets to teach our children about their divine identity, their purpose in life, and the divine mission of Jesus Christ.

Conclusion: Preserve Language of the Gospel Above All

In the scriptures, we find several examples of “language loss.”15 For example:

“Now it came to pass that there were many of the rising generation that could not understand the words of king Benjamin, being little children at the time he spake unto his people; and they did not believe the tradition of their fathers. …

“And now because of their unbelief they could not understand the word of God; and their hearts were hardened.”16

For the rising generation, the gospel became a strange language. And while the benefits of maintaining a native language are sometimes debated, in the context of the plan of salvation there is no debate about the eternal consequences of losing the language of the gospel in our homes.

As children of God, we are imperfect people trying to learn a perfect language.17 Just as a mother is compassionate with her little children, our Heavenly Father is patient with our imperfections and mistakes. He treasures and understands our feeblest utterances, mumbled in sincerity, as if they were fine poetry. He rejoices at the sound of our first gospel words. He teaches us with perfect love.

No achievement in this life, important as it may be, will be relevant if we lose the language of the gospel in our families.18 It is my testimony that Heavenly Father will bless us in our efforts as we strive to embrace His language, even until we become fluent in this higher level of communication, which always was our mother tongue.

Pass  on the Birthright

Judeo-Christian Culture Bible Quotes: Glory of God

Judeo-Christian Culture Bible Quotes:

Glory of God

Psalm 19:1-3(King James Version)

1The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork. 2Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge.  3There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard.

Culture Wars: Contrasting Biblical Christian Worldview with Secular Humanism, part 2

Culture Wars and Critical Thinking Skills:

Contrasting Biblical Christian Worldview with Secular Humanism

Part 2

Who will we worship?

The winner of the present battle of worldviews in America will have great impact upon everyone in our nation. If the forces of humanism prevail, the fruit will be loss of liberty, increased crime, more broken homes, and less prosperity. Christianity has been the life-blood of America. If the Christian worldview prevails, it will once again nourish every aspect of the life of this nation producing freedom, justice, prosperity, and life for all. ~Dr. Stephen McDowell

Dr. Stephen McDowell

PART 2 OF 2.

June 2017 – Understanding the two views of law and government presented in (Culture Wars: Contrasting Biblical Worldview with Secular Humanism, part 1) reveals why leftists are more outspoken than conservatives about loss of power. Leftists will be more radical and even militant in their opposition to conservatives governing than conservatives would be in the opposite position, because to leftists, government is their “church” and is a primary place where they can execute their god’s (that is, man’s) vision for life. To them, government is the place to advance man’s kingdom in the earth. Government is their highest source of authority, their highest place to appeal. They have no higher power or savior to trust in – no belief in a sovereign God who works in the hearts of men and events in history.

Conservatives only want to get control of government to slow it down, to keep government from trampling upon the unalienable rights of man. Christian conservatives have God as the highest source of power to which they can appeal. They have a savior Jesus Christ who brings positive transformation by changing the hearts of man.

Two warring worldviews


While the worldviews of those people reflected (See red/blue map from Part 1.) vary greatly, the general ideologies can be reduced to two positions: Christian versus humanistic.

In short, a biblical Christian worldview has been the source of liberty in history, while a humanistic, man-centered worldview has promoted tyranny. The founders of America believed, in the words of Thomas Jefferson’s pastor, Charles Clay: “[T]he sacred cause of liberty [is] the cause of God.”1 Those who oppose God and freedom of worship, oppose true liberty.2

On one side of the war is a humanistic worldview. With this religion (and all worldviews are religious), there are no absolutes. Right and wrong are based upon what a majority says or what a minority in power says; hence, law is evolving. Law is whatever the people or courts or legislators say it is.

Humanism taught in Colleges, then High Schools at turn of 20th Century

This view began to be taught in various law schools and colleges around the turn of the 20th century, with state secondary schools following in succeeding decades. Over time, this evolutionary view of law began to impact the courts’ actions. Judges began to see our law as evolving. In the words of Charles Evans Hughes, Supreme Court Chief Justice from 1930 to 1941: “We are under a Constitution, but the Constitution is what the judges say it is.”3

Most people are not aware of how much a humanistic worldview permeates our society. It is predominant in the marketplace of ideas – in movies, newspapers, television, public schools, civil government, and most books, including dictionaries.

Comparing Definitions of Immoral

Christian Definition

As an example let’s compare the definition of immoral from a modern dictionary and from America’s first exhaustive dictionary produced by Noah Webster in the early 19th century and first published in 1828. Webster, as most of our founders, had a Christian worldview, which is reflected in his definitions. Under his definition of immoral, he writes: “Every action is immoral which contravenes any divine precept.” To him, divine precept is the standard to judge immorality.

Humanistic Definition

The “Happy Human” is an icon that has been adopted as an international symbol of secular humanism.

The modern Webster’s New World Dictionary defines immoral as “not in conformity with accepted principles of right and wrong behavior.” Immorality today is usually presented in this light where man determines right and wrong conduct. He is his own god.

Christian Worldview has Absolutes, Right and Wrong

In great contrast is the Christian worldview, where there are absolutes, right and wrong. Since God is the source of what is right and wrong, He is the source of law. To those with a Christian worldview, God reveals His truth in the Bible.

Some would ask, “What difference does it make if we have a Christian or humanistic foundation just as long as I have my freedoms?” We must understand that ideas have consequences.

The fruit we get is determined by the seeds we plant. It is important that we understand the seed principles upon which America was built. If we change seeds, we will get different results. The external state of nations today, as in all of history, has been determined by the foundational principles of the nations. Since these foundational principles are primarily rooted in the religion of the people, we should ask, “In what religion was America’s foundation rooted?”

One reasonable resolution


If you base your answer on what is taught in government schools, you would think we are a product of the secular European Enlightenment. But if you were to examine the laws, the schools, the writings, and the lives of early Americans, you would conclude, as did the U.S. House of Representatives in 1854, that “the great vital and conservative element in our system is the belief of our people in the pure doctrines and divine truths of the gospel of Jesus Christ.”4

This same view was summarized by President Andrew Jackson when he said on June 8, 1845, “[the Bible] is the rock on which our Republic rests.” Early Americans would almost universally agree that the religious, social, educational, and political life of America was primarily shaped by the Bible.5

George Washington: no freedom without God and bible

Our states were colonized by people who desired to freely worship the God of the Bible; our schools were begun so that everyone would be able to read and understand the Bible for themselves; our universities were founded to train ministers who were knowledgeable of the Scriptures; our laws and constitutions were written based on biblical ideas; and our Founding Fathers overwhelmingly had a biblical worldview.6

The winner of the present battle of worldviews in America will have great impact upon everyone in our nation. If the forces of humanism prevail, the fruit will be loss of liberty, increased crime, more broken homes, and less prosperity.

The leftists rage because they have a wrong worldview. We must not only oppose them in the political arena, but we must also teach and demonstrate the principles and ideas that made America exceptional.

Christianity has been the life-blood of America. If the Christian worldview prevails, it will once again nourish every aspect of the life of this nation producing freedom, justice, prosperity, and life for all.  

See Part 1

Culture Wars: Contrasting Biblical Worldview with Secular Humanism, part 1

1 Quoted in Stephen McDowell, The Bible: America’s Source of Law and Liberty, Charlottesville: Providence Foundation, 2016, p. 181. See Chapter 12 for more on “Liberty.”
2 For historic support of this, see Thomas S. Kidd, God of Liberty, A Religious History of the American Revolution.
3 Charles Evans Hughes, speech at Elmira on May 3, 1907, The Autobiographical Notes of Charles Evans Hughes, David J. Danelski and Joseph S. Tulchin, editors, Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1973, p. 144.
4 B.F. Morris, Christian Life and Character of the Civil Institutions of the United States, Philadelphia: George W. Childs, 1864, p. 328.
5 Stephen McDowell, The Bible: America’s Source of Law and Liberty, p. 15. See Chapter One for more on the influence of the Bible in the history of America.
6 See various books published by the Providence Foundation that document the Christian foundation of America, including America a Christian Nation, America’s Providential History, and The Bible: America’s Source of Law and Liberty.

____________________
Dr. Stephen McDowell is president of Providence Foundation and a prolific author who focuses on the Christian roots of the U.S. Find his resources at afastore.net or call 877-927-4917 (toll free). Find more at providencefoundation.com or 434-978-4535.

 

 

Critical Thinking Skills, Bible Study, and Guarding against Self-Deception

Critical Thinking Skills, Bible Study, and Guarding against Self-Deception

You ain’t nothin’ but a hound dog … if you feel like you are.
In a new series from Wretched TV and Radio, the Christian media ministry visited campuses in the nation’s Bible Belt. Untethered documents the delusional thinking of many college students, some of whom say they are Christians.

The following exchange between Todd Friel, host of Wretched’s popular YouTube channel, is typical of students’ beliefs.

Friel: When I die, I am going to go to Graceland and spend eternity with Elvis Presley eating peanut butter and banana sandwiches, if I sing “You Ain’t Nothin’ but a Hound Dog” three times before I die. Am I wrong?

Student: No, it’s certainly a little weird, but …

Friel: Ok, I’m wrong?

Student: No. You’re not wrong.

Friel: I’m not wrong?

Student: What’s wrong or right? There is no wrong or right. That’s what I’m saying.

Friel: So, I’m going to go to Graceland for eternity.

Student: If you feel like you are.

Watch Untethered at youtube.com. Use the search words “wretched untethered.”

Do not be deceived

Ed Vitagliano

AFA Vice President

April 2017 – Well-known celebrities embracing homosexuality. Young people rejecting absolute truth. Widespread biblical illiteracy. And that’s just what’s happening in the church.

For example, one study of the beliefs of members of the Presbyterian Church (USA) found that just 39% agreed that “only followers of Jesus Christ can be saved.” Even worse, the percentage for pastors was still lower (35%).

It should come as no surprise to Christians living in America that there is a war against the Bible and its truth. Satan has always started his work of deception by asking, “Has God said?” (Genesis 3:1).

America is not the sole location for this battle, of course. It is universal. It is also not limited to 2017 – it is timeless and will only end when the Lord completes His triumph over evil.

Within the church, the fight against deception is both a corporate and an individual battle. The corporate war against error depends on church leadership holding fast to the truth and teaching sound doctrine. Leaders must also continually guard the flock against wolves in sheep’s clothing.

beware of false prophets

However, there is a war for the individual Christian to fight, too. The Bible places a lot of emphasis here, with consistent exhortations like, “See to it that no one misleads you” (Matthew 24:4); “Let no one deceive you” (Ephesians 5:6); and “Do not be deceived” (Galatians 6:7, 1 Corinthians 6:9, James 1:16).

At first glance, it might seem rather strange for Scripture to command us not to be deceived. After all, we tend to think that deception happens because someone tricked us. If someone fooled us, it’s not our fault, right?

Well, God certainly faults deceivers for teaching error. Those who are false prophets and false teachers are condemned in the Bible in absolutely frightening terms. As an example of this kind of language, read the Book of Jude.

But there is no escaping the nature of warnings to individual Christians that they not let themselves fall prey to deceivers. For example, in Matthew 24:4, Jesus said to us, you see to it that you’re not misled.

The reason for such exhortations is simple: The susceptibility to being deceived comes from our approach to God’s truth. The Lord expects us to pursue truth – and holds us accountable for doing so. The following are three passages that bear this out.

 

John 3:19-21 (King James Version)

19 And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.20 For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. 21 But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.


Here Jesus makes it clear that, when it comes to God’s truth, there are only two directions: toward it or away from it. There are plenty of contrasts used in these few verses: light versus darkness; evil versus righteousness (implied); and truth versus error (implied).

Clearly, Jesus is the light spoken of here, and light is frequently used as a metaphor for God and His truth. From human experience, we know that we see better in the light, and things can only stay hidden in the darkness.

Even Christians sometimes want things to stay hidden (although nothing is really hidden from God). If we want to hide our sins from the light, we tend to avoid His word – and avoid Him. Evangelist Leonard Ravenhill made a similar observation when he said:

 “A sinning man stops praying, a praying man stops sinning.”

Again, there are only two directions; to move away from the light is to move into darkness. That is a sure path to deception.

Romans 1:21-28 (KJV)

21 Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.22 Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools,23 And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things.24 Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves:25 Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.26 For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature:27 And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet.28 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient;


A similar sentiment is expressed by Paul in this famous passage in Romans. We see the same human stubbornness on the part of pagans, refusing to acknowledge God’s glory and refusing to honor Him. They “suppress the truth in unrighteousness” (v. 18) because they love their sin.

However, there is an additional danger emphasized here. Paul makes clear that the refusal to embrace the truth as God shows it to us only leads to further deception. Rejection of God’s truth sets in motion something like a death spiral into greater and greater darkness. There is no standing still. We are all pulled toward one pole or the other. This is even true for the Christian.

Thus, Paul says, thinking can become a futile exercise; foolish hearts can become darkened; people who see themselves as wise because they reject God’s truth actually become fools; and rebellious minds can become depraved (vv. 21, 22, 28). Deception comes upon those who reject light, even though they do not realize it, and it only gets darker.

2 Thessalonians 2:10-12

10 And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.11 And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie:12 That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness. (KJV)


Smack in the middle of a passage that most commentators believe applies to the time of the antichrist, Paul’s words here are yet another warning about the nature of sin, darkness, and delusion. Once again, we see the same two categories of people.

First, there are those who receive the truth and “believe the truth.” These are people who have a “love of the truth” that supersedes everything else. This love for the truth enables them to be saved, and, for the continuing Christian life, we might say that their love of the truth allows for sanctification to be ongoing.

Paul identifies a second category of people, as those who “do not receive the love of the truth,” but instead “took pleasure in wickedness.” There are consequences for this, too. Sin deceives the sinner – i.e. there is a “deception of wickedness.” Continuing in this darkness leads to further deception – “God will send upon them a deluding influence so that they will believe what is false.”

Now, these three passages are probably best understood as warnings to unbelievers who reject the light of God in Christ altogether. On the other hand, as a general principle regarding both human nature and the nature of spiritual things, there is an implicit warning to Christians as well. It is important how we respond to the light of God’s word. It makes all the difference in the world whether we love the truth in order to be sanctified or prefer to love our sin.

 Christians are to take the danger of delusion seriously.

When Scripture says, “See to it that no one misleads you,” “Let no one deceive you,” and “Do not be deceived,” it is a warning against embracing darkness. Christians are to take the danger of delusion seriously.

On the other hand, there is also a wonderful promise.

For those who love Christ above all other things, we really can walk in the light, as He is in the light, “and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin” (1 John 1:7).

Unless otherwise specified, all Scripture references are from the New American Standard Bible.

 

Judeo-Christian Culture: Role of Fathers in Nuclear Family

Judeo-Christian Culture:

Role of Fathers in the Divine Plan, and Nuclear Family

D. Todd Christofferson

I focus today on the good that men can do in the highest of masculine roles—husband and father.

fathers-matter2I speak today of fathers. Fathers are fundamental in the divine plan of happiness, and I want to raise a voice of encouragement for those who are striving to fill well that calling. To praise and encourage fatherhood and fathers is not to shame or discount anyone. I simply focus today on the good that men can do in the highest of masculine roles—husband and father.

David Blankenhorn, the author of Fatherless America, has observed:

“Today, American society is fundamentally divided and ambivalent about the fatherhood idea. Some people do not even remember it. Others are offended by it. Others, including more than a few family scholars, neglect it or disdain it. Many others are not especially opposed to it, nor are they especially committed to it. Many people wish we could act on it, but believe that our society simply no longer can or will.”1

father-son-cameraEqual Partners

As a Church, we believe in fathers. We believe in “the ideal of the man who puts his family first.”2 We believe that “by divine design, fathers are to preside over their families in love and righteousness and are responsible to provide the necessities of life and protection for their families.”3 We believe that in their complementary family duties, “fathers and mothers are obligated to help one another as equal partners.”4 We believe that far from being superfluous, fathers are unique and irreplaceable.

Some see the good of fatherhood in social terms, as something that obligates men to their offspring, impelling them to be good citizens and to think about the needs of others, supplementing “maternal investment in children with paternal investment in children. … In short, the key for men is to be fathers. The key for children is to have fathers. The key for society is to create fathers.”5 While these considerations are certainly true and important, we know that fatherhood is much more than a social construct or the product of evolution. The role of father is of divine origin, beginning with a Father in Heaven and, in this mortal sphere, with Father Adam.

The perfect, divine expression of fatherhood is our Heavenly Father. His character and attributes include abundant goodness and perfect love. His work and glory are the development, happiness, and eternal life of His children.6 Fathers in this fallen world can claim nothing comparable to the Majesty on High, but at their best, they are striving to emulate Him, and they indeed labor in His work. They are honored with a remarkable and sobering trust.

For men, fatherhood exposes us to our own weaknesses and our need to improve. Fatherhood requires sacrifice, but it is a source of incomparable satisfaction, even joy. Again, the ultimate model is our Heavenly Father, who so loved us, His spirit children, that He gave us His Only Begotten Son for our salvation and exaltation.7 Jesus said, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”8 Fathers manifest that love as they lay down their lives day by day, laboring in the service and support of their families.

Quote-fathersPerhaps the most essential of a father’s work is to turn the hearts of his children to their Heavenly Father. If by his example as well as his words a father can demonstrate what fidelity to God looks like in day-to-day living, that father will have given his children the key to peace in this life and eternal life in the world to come.9 A father who reads scripture to and with his children acquaints them with the voice of the Lord.10

Accountable to teach one’s children

We find in the scriptures a repeated emphasis on the parental obligation to teach one’s children:

“And again, inasmuch as parents have children in Zion, or in any of her stakes which are organized, that teach them not to understand the doctrine of repentance, faith in Christ the Son of the living God, and of baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of the hands, when eight years old, the sin be upon the heads of the parents. …

“And they shall also teach their children to pray, and to walk uprightly before the Lord.”11

In 1833, the Lord reprimanded members of the First Presidency for inadequate attention to the duty of teaching their children. To one He said specifically, “You have not taught your children light and truth, according to the commandments; and that wicked one hath power, as yet, over you, and this is the cause of your affliction.12

Fathers are to teach God’s law and works anew to each generation. As the Psalmist declared:

Father's Blessing by L.A. Olas

Father’s Blessing by L.A. Olas

“For he established a testimony in Jacob, and appointed a law in Israel, which he commanded our fathers, that they should make them known to their children:

“That the generation to come might know them, even the children which should be born; who should [then] arise and declare them to their children:

“That they might set their hope in God, and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments.13

Children want and need a model

Certainly teaching the gospel is a shared duty between fathers and mothers, but the Lord is clear that He expects fathers to lead out in making it a high priority. (And let’s remember that informal conversations, working and playing together, and listening are important elements of teaching.) The Lord expects fathers to help shape their children, and children want and need a model.

father-son-mentorI myself was blessed with an exemplary father. I recall that when I was a boy of about 12, my father became a candidate for the city council in our rather small community. He did not mount an extensive election campaign—all I remember was that Dad had my brothers and me distribute copies of a flyer door to door, urging people to vote for Paul Christofferson. There were a number of adults that I handed a flyer to who remarked that Paul was a good and honest man and that they would have no problem voting for him. My young boy heart swelled with pride in my father. It gave me confidence and a desire to follow in his footsteps. He was not perfect—no one is—but he was upright and good and an aspirational example for a son.

Discipline and correction are part of teaching.

As Paul said, “For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth.”14 But in discipline a father must exercise particular care, lest there be anything even approaching abuse, which is never justified. When a father provides correction, his motivation must be love and his guide the Holy Spirit:

“Reproving betimes with sharpness, when moved upon by the Holy Ghost; and then showing forth afterwards an increase of love toward him whom thou hast reproved, lest he esteem thee to be his enemy;

“That he may know that thy faithfulness is stronger than the cords of death.”15

Discipline

Discipline in the divine pattern is not so much about punishing as it is about helping a loved one along the path of self-mastery.

fathers-matter1The Lord has said that “all children have claim upon their parents for their maintenance until they are of age.”16 Breadwinning is a consecrated activity. Providing for one’s family, although it generally requires time away from the family, is not inconsistent with fatherhood—it is the essence of being a good father. “Work and family are overlapping domains.”17 This, of course, does not justify a man who neglects his family for his career or, at the other extreme, one who will not exert himself and is content to shift his responsibility to others. In the words of King Benjamin:

“Ye will not suffer your children that they go hungry, or naked; neither will ye suffer that they transgress the laws of God, and fight and quarrel one with another. …

“But ye will teach them to walk in the ways of truth and soberness; ye will teach them to love one another, and to serve one another.”18

We recognize the agony of men who are unable to find ways and means adequately to sustain their families. There is no shame for those who, at a given moment, despite their best efforts, cannot fulfill all the duties and functions of fathers. “Disability, death, or other circumstances may necessitate individual adaptation. Extended families should lend support when needed.19

Loving the mother of his children—and showing that love—are two of the best things a father can do for his children. This reaffirms and strengthens the marriage that is the foundation of their family life and security.

father-sonsSome men are single fathers, foster fathers, or stepfathers. Many of them strive mightily and do their very best in an often difficult role. We honor those who do all that can be done in love, patience, and self-sacrifice to meet individual and family needs. It should be noted that God Himself entrusted His Only Begotten Son to a foster father. Surely some of the credit goes to Joseph for the fact that as Jesus grew, He “increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.20

Regrettably, due to death, abandonment, or divorce, some children don’t have fathers living with them. Some may have fathers who are physically present but emotionally absent or in other ways inattentive or nonsupportive. We call on all fathers to do better and to be better. We call on media and entertainment outlets to portray devoted and capable fathers who truly love their wives and intelligently guide their children, instead of the bumblers and buffoons or “the guys who cause problems,” as fathers are all too frequently depicted.

To children whose family situation is troubled, we say, you yourself are no less for that. Challenges are at times an indication of the Lord’s trust in you. He can help you, directly and through others, to deal with what you face. You can become the generation, perhaps the first in your family, where the divine patterns that God has ordained for families truly take shape and bless all the generations after you.

To young men, recognizing the role you will have as provider and protector, we say, prepare now by being diligent in school and planning for postsecondary training. Education, whether in a university, technical school, apprenticeship, or similar program, is key to developing the skills and capabilities you will need. Take advantage of opportunities to associate with people of all ages, including children, and learn how to establish healthy and rewarding relationships. That typically means talking face to face with people and sometimes doing things together, not just perfecting your texting skills. Live your life so that as a man you will bring purity to your marriage and to your children.

To all the rising generation, we say, wherever you rank your own father on the scale of good-better-best (and I predict that ranking will go higher as you grow older and wiser), make up your mind to honor him and your mother by your own life. Remember the yearning hope of a father as expressed by John: “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.”21 Your righteousness is the greatest honor any father can receive.

father-son-grandson_1448787_inlTo my brethren, the fathers in this Church, I say, I know you wish you were a more perfect father. I know I wish I were. Even so, despite our limitations, let us press on. Let us lay aside the exaggerated notions of individualism and autonomy in today’s culture and think first of the happiness and well-being of others. Surely, despite our inadequacies, our Heavenly Father will magnify us and cause our simple efforts to bear fruit. I am encouraged by a story that appeared in the New Era some years ago. The author recounted the following:

“When I was young, our little family lived in a one-bedroom apartment on the second floor. I slept on the couch in the living room. …

“My dad, a steelworker, left home very early for work each day. Every morning he would … tuck the covers around me and stop for a minute. I would be half-dreaming when I could sense my dad standing beside the couch, looking at me. As I slowly awoke, I became embarrassed to have him there. I tried to pretend I was still asleep. … I became aware that as he stood beside my bed he was praying with all his attention, energy, and focus—for me.

“Each morning my dad prayed for me. He prayed that I would have a good day, that I would be safe, that I would learn and prepare for the future. And since he could not be with me until evening, he prayed for the teachers and my friends that I would be with that day. …

“At first, I didn’t really understand what my dad was doing those mornings when he prayed for me. But as I got older, I came to sense his love and interest in me and everything I was doing. It is one of my favorite memories. It wasn’t until years later, after I was married, had children of my own, and would go into their rooms while they were asleep and pray for them that I understood completely how my father felt about me.”22

Alma testified to his son:

“Behold, I say unto you, that it is [Christ] that surely shall come … ; yea he cometh to declare glad tidings of salvation unto his people.

And now, my son, this was the ministry unto which ye were called, to declare these glad tidings unto this people, to prepare their minds; or rather … that they may prepare the minds of their children to hear the word at the time of his coming.”23

That is the ministry of fathers today. God bless and make them equal to it.

Abortion Victim: Fathers

Another victim of abortion

abortion_dadBy Anne Reed
It is a simple fact that conception of a child requires the equal biological participation of a female and a male counterpart – mother and father. The baby is obviously the first victim in abortion. Moreover, the pro-life community has leaned toward spotlighting the mother as a victim – and rightly so. But often down-played or even ignored is the fact that the baby’s father is also a victim of the lies of a culture that advocates abortion.

The Roe v Wade Supreme Court decision of 1973 violently opened the door for widespread legalized abortion in the U.S. The court focused on the woman’s right to privacy while the personhood of the child in the womb was disregarded. So were the rights of the father.

In the immediate years following this decision, 12 states adopted laws protecting the rights of some  men by requiring the husband’s consent before his wife could follow through with an abortion. Unfortunately, in 1976, the Supreme Court evaluated those state laws, and declared them inconsistent with the basis and decision of Roe v Wade and, therefore, unconstitutional.

Confusion and research
Forty years later, millions of men have been affected by abortion. Many knowingly participated through a wide range of approaches, from passivity to coercion. The men who make up these grievous numbers often are boyfriends and husbands. In other cases, the pregnant girl or woman was faced by pressure from her own father, relatives or friends to “get rid of the problem.” Some men abandoned the mother and crisis pregnancy situation altogether. Others responded with indifference, leaving the mother confused and feeling helpless. Others who were uninformed or deceived came to learn about the abortion after the fact. Still other men fought unsuccessfully for the lives of their unborn children.

Catherine Coyle, Ph.D., has done extensive research on the subject of men who have been harmed by abortion. In her book Men and Abortion: A Path to Healing, published in 1999, a man called Dan recounts the inner turmoil he experienced in accompanying his future wife during an abortion (excerpt above). Helplessness and confusion were two common themes expressed by men interviewed in Coyle’s research.

State laws related to abortion disregard the father, thereby communicating that the father has no final influence or authority. He is, therefore, denied the paternal instinct that motivates him to care for his family. One post-abortive father who now counsels post-abortive men wrote, “As I reflect on God’s purpose and role for men found in the Word, I see that because of my choice of participating in this offensive sin of killing my unborn child, I quit life. I taught myself to shortcut life in all decisions in the future (husband decisions, father decisions, job decisions, etc.).”

What makes things worse is that men are more likely than women to go forward in denial about negative emotions profoundly affecting their lives. Vincent Rue, Ph.D., a forerunner in researching the effects of abortion on men, wrote, “Men do grieve following abortion, but they are more likely to deny their grief or internalize their feelings of loss rather than openly express them. … When men do express their grief, they try to do so in culturally prescribed ‘masculine’ ways, i.e. anger, aggressiveness, control.”

Post-abortive men are likely to experience tendencies toward angry and violent behavior as well as an overall sense of lost manhood. Common consequences include broken relationships; sexual dysfunction; substance abuse; self-hatred; ever-increasing feelings of grief, guilt and depression; and dangerous or even suicidal behavior.

Confession and repentance
King David describes the body’s reaction to secret sin: “When I kept silent about my sin, my body wasted away through my groaning all day long” (Psalm 32:3). John’s first epistle stressed the importance of confession: “If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:8-9). James 5:16 takes confession even farther: “Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another so that you may be healed.”

One has to wonder what would happen if widespread confession of this sin swept across the nation. What would happen if mighty warriors, expressing strength through weakness, stepped into the front lines creating a massive wave of confession and repentance? How would marriages be affected in the here and now? How would this culture be affected as a whole? Would the hearts of the fathers be turned back to the children?

What if, rather than hiding the truth of past and present sexual impurity, confession and repentance became an igniting fire in our churches? What about those men living inside a fortress of unforgiveness? How many hearts are hardened by the deceitfulness of sin, self-justification and resentment? Shame, guilt and blame can be so deep-rooted that these wounded warriors more often than not need fellow soldiers and armor bearers to come alongside them in battle.

Perhaps the real question is, “What would happen if men fought back?” Not with weapons of the flesh, but as Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 10:3-4, “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses.”

For a post-abortive father, these steps can light the way out of darkness and despair:
1) Acknowledge your responsibility.
2) Confess to God and at least one other person you can trust.
3) Seek out and use available resources for post-abortion men.

A man struggling with any sin is inclined to keep it secret. However, biblical wisdom tells him not to give in to fear, pride and shame. Forgiveness and healing are attainable. Be a warrior; go after the victory.
An expanded version of this article appears in Patricia K. Layton’s new book Finding Freedom: Healing and Hope After Abortion. It is available at www.surrenderingthesecret.com

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Western Culture Newsletter: Character Education

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