Christian principles, family are paramount

Posted on December 4, 2017


Who is responsible for teaching good standards among our people? By “standards” I mean good and proper thinking and behavior.

I think it must start within families.

And families need to be founded upon and living according to religious principles. Since the principal religion in this country is Christianity, I’ll use Christianity as my reference point. If you prefer any other alternative, from Islam to atheism, have at it. My truth comes from inside of Christianity.

One morning a few weeks ago while returning home with my dogs after their morning run, I saw a man, probably in his 50s, maybe 60s, in overalls and work clothes, building a brick wall in someone’s yard where a home was under construction.

It was a Sunday morning, and a slender young person was helping the man. She was maybe a 10- or 11-year-old girl who saw my two Standard Poodles, Miller and Dudley, their heads firmly sticking out the window, the breeze brushing their long locks, and she stopped helping her dad or grandad for second to smile at my poodles flashing by.

She was working with — I’m thinking — her grandfather early that morning as he did his current job, building a wall.

The little scene reminded me of how in other times one learned a trade by working as an apprentice with a master craftsman.

As I thought about it, we still depend on the same principle to hand down our skills and, equally important, our work ethic, as well as teaching right behavior, from telling the truth to accepting responsibility for our actions.

Most of these elements and principles of morality were learned at home or church, inculcated at an early age, and nourished by parents, ministers, priests, pastors, rabbis, teachers, relatives (such as the grandfather working with his granddaughter) and friends.

That we as a nation are failing today in the teaching of standards is apparent to all but the most clueless observer. Our jails our overflowing, the opioid epidemic is widespread, suicide is now common among young people, we’re murdering and butchering each other in the towns and cities, everyone is “offended” by someone else, and half the Tom, Dick and Harrys of the world are carrying Glock pistols, ready to shoot someone over a girlfriend or a traffic light.

To expand a bit on one example: suicide. While walking through the University of Alabama campus a few weeks ago, I saw several posters advertising a walk against suicide. A walk against suicide? I thought. Maybe a walk to fight breast cancer, or walk to help the homeless or those displaced by hurricanes. But a walk against suicide?

Then an online “live webinar” ad appeared in my inbox. “Suicide Awareness and Prevention Essential Tools and Practices for Developing Effective Practices and Procedures,” coming to you from Durham, N.C., on Nov. 28.

“The CDC reports that one in six students seriously consider suicide, and one in thirteen have attempted suicide on at least one occasion.”

This is a laudable effort to deal with an issue born in our modern times, but I read precious little in the one-page electronic flyer on “prevention.”

What about the circumstances that transformed this awful phenomenon into an epidemic? The lack of home and church in upbringing? The destructive isolation created, ironically, by social media and the cell phone? Why are kids killing themselves? It’s one thing to be dopey from never speaking or communicating with anyone since you are on your cell phone eight or nine hours a day, but killing yourself?

That we have lost, or at best, misplaced our moral compass and sense of value derived from God is obvious. To answer the problems, our institutions, like government, colleges and schools provide only band aids to cure the hurts.

They expand the prisons, promise to take care of the injured, raped, or unemployed with various “cures,” clinics, palliatives, entitlements and counseling, but fail to meet the challenge head on. How did we get here, and what do we do about it?

We need to restore the primacy of family and Christian principles in our nation, with the emphasis on the latter. Learn what Jesus Christ taught in his short time here on earth.

As the Apostle James so clearly addressed the issue: “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.” (James 1:22, NIV)

I can’t improve on that.

Published as “Christian principles, family are paramount” Sunday Nov. 26, 2017 in The Tuscaloosa News.