Recently, I was asked to teach at my church, Life Fellowship Church, in the Lake Norman region of metro-Charlotte, NC. We are in the middle of a month-long series called “Home Improvement.” I chose the topic of “Family Discipleship” as found in Deuteronomy 6. The 50-minute talk was transcribed and is now available in addition to the podcast. Here is the introduction to this message:
When I was a kid it was Father Knows Best. I wasn’t watching it when it came on
originally, but I saw the reruns. It was from the 50’s and I grew up in the 60’s and 70’s and you could still see Father Knows Best. I grew up friends with the Cleaver family, Leave it to
Beaver, anyone remember him? And then in the 70’s we got Little House on the Prairie and we had The Brady Bunch. And in those homes, in a variety of ways, we saw reinforced values of what had been parenting and home life for generations in our country.
In the 80’s there was a little bit of a shift that turned into a tsunami of change as to how
we viewed family in popular culture. Some of you grew up and remember The Cosby’s, an
intact family, dealing with the problems of everyday life, with a mom and dad who were engaged in their kids. That was the early 80’s. But by the end of the 80’s we had a show called Married with Children. And that shift was best indicated through the role of the father in the public culture from that time on. You see when you looked at the father in Father Knows Best, even from the title; and then Ward Cleaver
in Leave it to Beaver, and then Michael Landon as he played Mr. Ingles. You had Mike as head of The Brady Bunch’s blended family, and Bill Cosby in his role as Dr. Huxtable. These were men who weren’t perfect, but who led with integrity, doing the best they could.
In the 80’s things shifted and dads became dummies. And whether you are talking about
Married with Children or Roseanne or even today’s, Modern Family, the whole concept of
fatherhood and roles in the home, and how families function in a healthy way, and how they
communicate with each other shifted. Today the communication is rife with sarcasm, rife with bitterness; there is hostility between parents and children, and between husbands and wives. Dad’s a dummy, mom is the smarter one, but you never lift up the role of one by tearing down the role of the other, and that is what our culture seems to have tried to do.
Parenting today is hard. We don’t have the cultural support that we once had. When I
went to Kindergarten, we prayed before we had cookies and milk. We said the Pledge of
Allegiance and we talked about the Ten Commandments and this was in a public school. In the public school in which I grew up, I had the lead part in the Christmas story because I was able to read aloud and I read from the Bible the entire Christmas story. Can you imagine that happening today? It is not going to happen. There would be lawsuits so fast it would make your head spin.
You see there was a day when kids would even come to church with a basic knowledge
of who Adam and Eve was, and who Noah was, and Moses, and the Ten Commandments and
Jesus and the disciples. Those days are gone. When kids come to our Kid Life many times we
have to start from zero. Many times you have to start from zero. The culture has changed. Now the question remains for us, what are we going to do about it? How are we going to address it?
You know today we have this disparity in America between a culture that values family,
that you might see portrayed on a show like Duck Dynasty. On the other extreme we have
young role models who for a period appeared to be rather traditional in their childhood, who
when they grow up celebrate the worst values that any parent might consider for their child. I can’t think of any better example of that than Miley Cyrus. The fact is this, rearing children has never been super easy. The fact is it is hard. But it is not impossible.
For example, consider Noah. Noah raised three sons who were willing to leave
everything behind and to get on a boat because they believed God. You might want to consider the fact that the children of Israel reared their children in order to give them the land that God had promised them for a forty year camping trip. Now that had to be pretty hard. I couldn’t survive a four day camping trip and they were doing it for forty years. You say well those were some success stories and that is true because you know there are no guarantees in parenting. Jacob, who was a man that God had blessed and honoured, had ten of his sons gang up and sell another brother into slavery. Not exactly a father’s proudest moment when he learns of that, is it? You remember Eli, the high priest, and what happened to him. He raised two boys before he raised Samuel. Samuel was the one we remember, but don’t forget his own two sons who ended up being so vile, so anti-God, that God finally killed them. So even among those that loved and pursued God, there is no guarantee that your kids are going to turn out in the way that you pray and desire.
You say, well, it’s bad today; it’s bad in this time in history, and our generation, and in
America, and so forth. Yeah, you are right, this is a tough time to be a parent, but consider the parents of the early church because those parents were rearing their children in a generation where many parents would take their pre-pubescent children to the local pagan temples and allow them to be used as prostitutes in pagan worship. Now we are bad, but we are not quite there yet. And still the early church was able to parent by good Biblical principles in the midst of a culture like that.
So in other words, there is no throwing our hands up and giving up. There is no saying it
can’t be done. There is no acquiescing to the culture that isn’t of a Biblical stance. Parenting
has never been easy.
Let’s consider Miley Cyrus for a little while. Many of you remember those days of Miley Cyrus when she was Hannah Montana, the sweet little gal of Disney fame. And many, many of our young people, and I will even tell you this, even in my house, Miley Cyrus was considered to be ‘safe enough, vanilla enough’ that from time to time the kids could watch her on the Disney channel. That’s something I quite honestly regret now because you see Miley Cyrus didn’t stay young and innocent. She has now become the poster child of a hyper-sexual worldly child star turned adult, all so she could make more money than she had even made with Disney. And this is a girl who is Billy Ray Cyrus’ daughter, his little girl. I have to think if Billy Ray Cyrus loves his little girl, he is heartbroken today. How did she go from Hannah Montana to Miley Cyrus?
Now, here is the fact of the matter; we ought to pray for Miley Cyrus. I think she knows
better. I think she sold her soul to celebrity. And in our culture today celebrity is purchased
through notoriety. I believe there will come a day when Miley Cyrus, I pray so, will wake up
and be embarrassed, or hopefully even ashamed. And maybe at that point, Christ will use her as a spokesperson for the dangers of chasing celebrity. This isn’t about her, it about our culture. She needs our prayers. The fact is there are a lot of parents today who are willing to offer their children on the altar of fame and success and money and Hollywood and Nashville and New York and notoriety, so they can have the perks and privilege that come in this culture with celebrity. And it is heart breaking.
But now let’s look at the other side. On the other hand you have the boys of Duke
Dynasty. And the fact is this, they are plain spoken, they are earthy, they are oblivious at times. They are rather simple, yet they have struck a chord with many of us, many middle American families, who desire relationships over riches, and values over celebrity. Let’s look at a few of their comments and see if you can relate. (Video is shown)
“[Phil Robertson on video] You got old Papaw here being your chaperone. John Luke,
never touch her below the neck until you sign the dotted line.”
[New scene with Phil Robertson on video.] “Hey, are you there? Can you all hear me;
can you all hear me now? Remove it from your head. What, are you all in a trance? What’s on
the video game? Huh? What’s these modern day girls up there you all fool with now, what do
they think about video games, Cole man? Find fast talking women and that will pick up the
slack on you all’s lack of conversation. You all might ought to go by Walmart and pick you up a personality. Reckon? “
[CNN Entertainment Reporter speaking on video] “You know guys, one thing that really
stood out to me as a mom; I mean this couple is definitely doing something right with their five kids. They have three biological and two adopted and they are involved in this orphanage. And these kids have fame, money, everything at their fingertips, and I said how do you keep those kids grounded? How do you keep them from being a Justin Bieber or a Lindsey Lohan? And bottom line, they love family. And their faith is number one. And you look at those kids and go, wow! They’re definitely doing something right.”
And so you see folks like this, and the sad thing is, in many parts of our culture, they are
the freaks. They are the ones we are concerned about. They are almost abnormal. And I just
have to say, if that is abnormal, give it to me. All right? By the way this isn’t about the
Robertson’s or the Duck Dynasty culture, second amendment, and camouflage, any more than it is about Miley Cyrus and Billy Ray and his one famous song, Achy Breaky Heart,’ and all the other things that go on Disney Channel. It is not about that.
But what I am trying to remind us of is that there is a cultural war that is going on and it
involves our families. And if we want parenting advice let’s not go to Billy Ray for sure, and
let’s not go to the Robertson’s. Let’s go to the book of books, and that is the word of God. So
turn with me if you will to Deuteronomy Chapter 6 and we are going to see a little bit here about what God was using for a plan for his children as they reared the next generation.
To read the remainder of this talk, click HERE. A podcast of the talk is also available at www.lifecharlotte.com.