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Americans are so shaped and stamped by their legacy of individualism that the concepts of community virtue and moral obligation have been discredited In our popular culture, adulthood is too often defined as doing what you want to do, not what you are supposed to do. Making a baby is a sign of status, while caring for one is not. Right and wrong are old-fashioned, politically incorrect concepts. And sin? Forget it. The problem doesn’t end with ghetto kids getting pregnant and going on welfare. Half of all Americans who marry and have children eventually divorce. For many, marriage is more like a hobby than a commitment, a phase instead of a trust. We are becoming a country of deadbeat dads who don’t pay their bills and dead-tired moms who work two jobs to pick up the slack. Even many parents who pay for their children don’t pay attention to their children. In so doing, they miss out on some of life’s greatest joys: hearing a small giggle or holding a small hand. As Surgeon General Joycelyn Elders notes, it is easier for many children to find drugs “than it is for them to find hugs.” Probably the best thing that society can do for its toddlers is to make “parent” an honorable title again. No job is more important, yet no job is more often taken for granted. We teach work skills but not life skills, how to change a carburetor but not a diaper, how to treat a customer but not a kid. Becoming a parent should be the result of love, not just sex; a sign of a lasting relationship, not just a passing infatuation; a source of pride, and not remorse. Only then will our children be safe.

Steven V. Roberts, in U.S. News and World Report, April 25, 1994, p. 11