Be Not Unequally Yoked

A few days ago in my devotions I was reading II Cor. 6.  The verses were highlighted to me by the Holy Spirit.  

Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers.  For what partnership is there between righteousness and lawlessness.  Or what fellowship does light have with darkness?  What harmony does Messiah have with Belial?  What agreement does God’s Temple have with idols?  For we are the Temple of the living God—just as God said. . . “Therefore come out from among them and be separate, says ADONAI.” v. 14-17

I gave some time for reflection.  We often see these verses as precluding a marriage between a follower of Yeshua and a non-follower.  The verses certainly so apply.  The verse is also often applied to unequal business relationships.  However, it is much broader than that.  The text speaks in general terms and challenges us to reflect on what constitutes an unequal yoke.  I think it best applies to yoking that will tend to bring a person or persons who claim to follow Yeshua into influences that will undercut the soundness of their faith walk with God.  Such a yoke will end up producing weakness in commitment to the biblical worldview and confidence in its teaching.  As a young person I chose an Evangelical College (The King’s College and Wheaton) because I wanted to learn in a context that would bolster my faith/walk.  I did want to be fair and study other views with as much objectivity as possible, but not to be thrown into an ocean to sink or swim without the guidance of godly professors.   

When our oldest children, now 46 and 44, were entering kindergarten, my wife Patty asked if we were going to send our children to the public school.  Seeing where things were going, we had real reservations and started a school that lasted 30 years and whose last principle continues to lead a successor school today.  Our motto was “Raising children who are mighty in Spirit.” 

The issue of how to draw the line of being in the world but not of the world is a constant challenge.  The Amish and Chabad Chasidic Jews lose very few of their young people.  They are growing inter-generationally.  Rabbi Schneerson’s teaching on where to draw the line is challenging and has lessons for us.  The way of these communities is to create alternative societies where the influence of the larger world is very limited and mediated.   I did not conclude that we had to go that far. I will give an example. 

Growing up in the 1950s was such a contrast to today.  The public schools considered it to be their responsibility to never undercut the teachings of the families and churches of their students.  Most were in churches.  Indeed, schools reinforced the moral teachings.  However, though most of my classmates were in churches and synagogues (I was not) by high school there was a great shift.  Most of my classmates dropped out of church in high school.  I attributed it to the teaching of naturalistic evolution in the science classes, especially 9th and 10th grade.  The end of Bible reading and prayer before class (1962) was another loss.  Now the school systems explicitly teach contrary to God’s word.  At that time health classes for teen boys told them to take a cold shower, today they teach how to use a condom.  Socialism, critical race theory which contradicts God’s teaching on sin and reconciliation, gender fluidity, the LGBT movement’s teachings and so much more are intensively part of indoctrination.  Sex education is immoral, even in elementary school.   So how can parents in America today place their children and young people under teachers who are sometimes themselves influenced by the demonic for six or more hours every day, then send them to secular colleges and expect their faith to survive.  The statistics say their faith is not surviving.   So, what is an unequal yoke? It is at least a yoke that is likely over time to destroy faith.  I was pondering all this when a pop up on my computer led to an article from Dennis Prager, one of my favorite Jewish writers.  Here is what he said.  I think quoting him is well worth it.  Perhaps my school in the 1950s was not an unequal yoke. 

“The single best thing Americans can do to counter the left-wing attack on America—against its freedoms, its schools, its families, its children, its governmental institutions, its sports, its news and entertainment media, its medical establishment, the CIA, the FBI, the State Department, and the military—is to take their children out of America’s schools.

Other than in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math), the vast majority of America’s elementary schools, high schools, colleges, and universities teach your child or grandchild almost nothing important; prematurely sexualize them, thereby robbing them of their innocence; and harm them intellectually and morally. They rarely teach them, for example, art or music because they are too busy teaching them race-centered hatred of whites, of America, and of America’s values. Sending your child(ren) to most American schools is playing Russian roulette with their values—but unlike the gun in Russian roulette, which has a bullet in only one of its six chambers, the schools’ guns hold four or five bullets.

In many elementary schools, your child is taught that gender is chosen and that there is no difference between boys and girls (in a growing number of schools, the teachers are told not to call their students “boys and girls”); they are taught about masturbation; and many children from first grade on attend “Drag Queen Story Hour,” wherein an obvious man wearing women’s clothing, garish makeup, and a wig entertains them.

Why do parents send their children to these schools? One reason is they are in denial. Many parents do not want to know what their children are being taught and the consequent damage done to them. They don’t really believe school(s) will ruin their child, let alone their child’s relationship with them.

These parents should speak to any of the millions—yes, millions—of Americans whose children have contempt for America, for free speech, and for their parents as a result of attending an American college or even high school. I meet such people at every speech I give, and I speak to them regularly on my radio show. Ask these parents, if they could redo their lives, whether they would keep their child in school.”

Prager is speaking about values which are largely biblical, but my concern is directly biblical faith.  We are losing the battle and need a mighty move of God for repentence and reformation. 

Toxic Shame 

Recently I read a great book that describes building a truly loving community.   The authors call it a “hesed” community using the Hebrew word that has been translated covenant love, steadfast love, loving kindness and more.  The book is The Other Half of the Church by Michal Hendricks and Jim Wilder.  They call their vision full brained Christianity and claim that Christianity in the West is too left brained; rational, logical and information heavy.  The left brain is important, but the intuitive and the quality of immediate response habits are built in the right brain, from depth of relationships and love.  This is foundational to discipleship. I am not a materialist so I would rather call this the other side of the soul or mind that is connected to these spheres of the brain. The relationship of the mind/soul to the braine is a deep philosophical issue that I cannot unpack here.  Building upon the great books by Dallas Willard on discipleship, they argue that only loving community with mutual correction, humility and openness can disciple most people.  It must be modeled by the leaders of the community. Their case is very strong.  They put into new language something I have believed and taught now for more than 40 years.  

One of the more salient parts of the book is their development of the concept of shame.  They distinguish between toxic shame and healthy shame.  All sin carries a degree of shame, but God and healthy brothers and sisters meet us with restorative correction.  They come along side, not with an accusative you, but identification, showing the person that their behavior is not in line with the “we” of the community and the example and teaching of Yeshua.  In this way the person who sins does not slink away in isolation but repents in the context of restorative love.  In such community restoration and growth takes place.  Shame is temporary in a context of love; deliverance takes place in repentance and forgiveness.  Such a community requires loving, humble and vulnerable leaders.  

The authors contrast a healthy community to congregations led by dominant leaders who use toxic shame to cow others into submission and to remove themselves from correction, questioning or challenge.  Toxic shame leaders have a narcissistic part to their personality, not in the full psychiatric sense, but in a broader sense of meaning whereby self-centeredness and ego is too much a part of their personality and style of leadership.  Such leaders can build large congregations or gatherings, but not quality community.  These leaders, who do not live an open life, sometimes fall into serious sins.  People are shocked, but if we would look at the narcissist aspect of such leaders, we would be less surprised.

The issue of toxic shame is not only relevant for the Body of the Messiah, but to life in the sphere of politics, education, corporate life and family life.  In the book Good to Great, Collins et. el, describe a healthy corporation and its leadership.  It is one where the employees want to work.  It is a corporate community whose leaders do not operate though toxic shame.  However, there are corporations where leaders keep order and obedience while fostering resentment though the use of toxic shame, calling out others in a terrible way.  This is now so prominent in our present social culture.  Cancel culture is an explicitly enjoined method (see the writings of Herbert Marcuse) to use shame to shut down debate and assert power to gain the ends of the people who cancel.  It is an amazing power tool.  Shaming vocabulary is unmistakable.  Those who are not racists are called racists, others are called homophobes and others called transphobes.  This shuts down reasoning and good debate.  It is not possible, and people, in fear of being canceled and shamed back down.  Questions about global warming? You are shamed as a science denier.  Questions about naturalistic evolution? You are a fundamentalist flat earth devotee.  Question critical race theory?  You are a racist. 

In the political sphere today toxic shaming in rampant.  Chuck Schumer regularly says of his Republican opponents, they should be ashamed.  Usually it is really just cancel move, a power assertion to preclude policy disagreements.  Our former President, for all the good policies his administration implemented, engaged in toxic shaming at a terrible level.  This has been a continues pattern.  Think of his shaming of Carlie Fiorina, Mark O’Rubio and others in the primaries.  The name calling was very disturbing.  It continued with shaming those who formerly worked for him like James Mattis, or other colleagues, Paul Ryan, John McCain and many others.  Yet is it so common in politics on both sides.  

Toxic shaming is way for a person to remove himself or herself from vulnerability and correction. It is a way of self-protection and a blunt instrument of power assertion and domination.  We see it as the left seeks to shame the police in general or diners who will not stand up and shout Black Lives Matter. 

Most people do not even understand what is happening when this goes on.  They may see a strong leader or say it is just politics or being New Yorkish.  However, it is very destructive. 

I believe that we would do wall to raise consciousness on this issue, name it as a gross and unacceptable sin, and push back against people who engage in it; at schools, businesses, in politics, family and in all spheres where toxic shaming is used.  Can you imagine how our politics would change if toxic shaming was called out eliminated?  Can you imagine social debates without such toxic shaming?  I have actually had to defriend Facebook friends for engaging in this.  Social media is rife with it.  But I will push back and hard from now on.  Toxic shaming should have no part in our behavior as followers of Yeshua.  We may severely disagree with the sinful life of others, but will speak in redemptive love. 

Part Two: Critical Race Theory

When some looked at the catalog of sins against Black Americans from the first arrival of the slaves in 1619, through the Civil War, and then Jim Crow, a wrong conclusion was reached.  That conclusion was that there was something inherently wrong with white-skinned people. In spite of postmodern teaching that there is no essential human nature, that sexual all roles are socially constructed, which includes the embrace of gender fluidity, an LGBTQ, etc. orientation to sexual identities, yet in one place an essentialism is asserted.  That essentialism is that there is an inherent evil in white people, an original sin, something that is part of their nature, for which they must always walk in humiliation and sorrow.  This is their explanation of the white exploitation of other races, and especially the black peoples.  This essentialism of white evil, an original sin nature, is foundationally contradictory to the teaching of the bible on the equal worth of all human beings and the equal level of original sin in all people. It is an antichrist doctrine. 

Some misunderstand those of us who push back against Critical Race Theory as not facing the terrible evil of racism and the effects of that racism to this day, including continuing racism and discrimination that still takes place.  We do not misunderstand this though we think it is much less than in the past and progress has been made.  We accept the fact of the problem of racism, however, and want to fight for the black underclass.  In our view, and that includes some of the greatest black leaders who argue against Critical Race Theory, this theory and the prescriptions that follow from it will foster hatred, division, and a continuation of poverty.  It is an anti-Christian view and as such will certainly bring great pain and failure.  Critical Race Theory is a formulation from atheists and is an extension of the Critical School of Thought, a Marxist movement going back to the University of Frankfurt in Germany in the late 1920s.  It came to its great practical application in the movements of the New Left and the philosophy of Herbert Marcuse, the philosopher of the New Left in the late 1960s. His writings on revolution seem almost like a playbook for those supporting Critical Race Theory, including cancel culture, the manipulation of language (in almost Orwellian terms), and the power of intimidation to gain control in society.  These tactics are shared by the LGBTQ movements as well.  Fostering CRT in our public schools is corrupting our children and building division in corporations, the workplace, and government. White children are being made to feel bad that they are white.  The goal of many is the end of free enterprise and replacing it with the more just system of socialism.  It is about revolution.  

Here are some keys for understanding Critical Race Theory, from now on just noted as CRT, and why we know it is an anti-Christ system.  The CRT begins with the inherent sin of whites versus the biblical declaration that all have sinned. Whites as a race are to engage in a kind of secular Maoist self-criticism and repentance.  Yet biblically, repentance can only be enjoined for real ethnic groupings, governmental entities (nations), and individuals.   Being white is not an ethnicity that can repent.  Nations, ethnicities, and individuals can repent in the bible, but repentance is never a matter of a skin color grouping.  One great thing in all of this is not admitted.  That is that the great majority of whites today do not believe in black racial inferiority and desire that blacks attain parity equal to whites in the society. This is amazing. 

Every ethnic group, family, and tribe has a natural tendency to identify their people as the superior ones and are suspicious of all the outsiders who are different as also lesser.  One can see the same behavior in the historically warring African tribes, the genocide practiced in India and China, and the oppression from Japan toward Korea and other Asians.  This is part of the sin nature of all people and blacks carry as much of this sin nature as whites.  The issue of prejudice is not a white issue and the enslavement of others is a world-historical issue in most cultures. 

The analysis of why blacks are not succeeding is wrong.   CRT points to white privilege as the primary reason for black’s being held back.  Yes, there is a degree of such privilege, but not so much that a black cannot break through the barriers.  Nigerian black immigrants do not experience this at significant levels and are very successful. Indians from India, a non-white people, are the most successful income per capita group in the United States and Asians in general now outpace whites in success.  Teaching blacks that their situation is to be blamed on whites and that they are victims will produce a terrible defeatism.  Somehow the idea of CRT people that shaming whites for their privilege and dumbing down the curricula will help is amazingly wrong-headed. It will perpetuate more failure.  So, the idea that math and precision is racist, etc. is a recipe for failure.  Of course, imagine the disaster of applying this to brain surgeons like Dr. Ben Carson, or to bridge builders.  Reality is not so forgiving to errant engineers.  

CRT fosters the idea of systemic racism, that the system created by whites is biased against non-whites.  But this is not true for Nigerians and Asians. Why so?  The CRT sees the marginalization of the black underclass as stemming from subtle language issues that were developed by whites that are microaggressions.  A whole new way of language has to be developed that is not from white culture from the west.  Precision itself is a white value. So is a meritocracy.  Again, this will lead only to more failure.  One of their key issues is police prejudice. That is not a primary reason for black marginalization.  

No amount of change in language signals or the demonization of whites will produce success in the black underclass community.  That success can only come from gaining ability and marketable skills.  Nor is police prejudice in treating blacks unfairly a key to seeing black success. The percent of danger in an unarmed blacks being killed by police is minuscule though that is the big issue today for defunding the police and in Black Lives Matter (BLM).  Fostering anger at whites for past racism will have no effect in making blacks more successful.  Pouring money into failed public schools will have no effect.  Getting whites to feel ashamed for being white and for white privilege will have no significant effect lifting the poor black community.  Without the blood of Jesus, such repentance will lead nowhere. The CRT is wrong in identifying the roots of the sin problem and is wrong about the very vague solutions they offer.  Black Lives Matter partners with CRT to overthrow the existing social order for socialism.  This also will fail since socialism simply fosters a more equal poverty for all. This has been demonstrated again and again.  So, what is the answer?  There is systematic racial disparity in outcomes, but it is not based on systems that are identified by CRT.  The systemic problems are clear in what I list as solutions. 

  1. The Gospel is the greatest means of change.  Any person who is in the Messiah is a new creation and is delivered from failure and sin.  A black person who really knows Jesus the power of forgiveness for his oppressors and an ability to succeed through the power of God that cannot be defeated.  This the key systemic issue. 
  2. The Gospel also brings reconciliation. Real reconciliation is power.  We know that all have sinned.  Those who were prejudiced and those who were uncaring repent and are forgiven and those who were angered and hated due to their mistreatment are thereby also delivered from the self-defeating power of bitterness.  Power in real-reconciliation and the forgiveness of real sin before God enables cooperation between ethnic groups for mutual success. Both can enter into mutual appreciation knowing that God created ethnic varieties for mutual enrichment. This is the solution to a systemic problem. 
  3. The repentance of the churches for their lack of engagement and focusing their ministry as Jesus taught in Luke 18 to the poor, marginalized and imprisoned, is key. The whole Church needs to redirect its priorities of ministry focus. 
  4. The restoration of the black family is a foundational issue.  Blacks were making significant progress before Civil Rights Legislation, were gaining in real income and education.  The black family was mostly intact.  Something happened.  What? Two things.  The design of poverty programs incentivized fatherless families, and the teaching of the new morality (really the old immorality) had its greatest negative effect on the black community.  Many black pastors were ill-prepared to deal with the breakdown, offered forgiveness through the Gospel but not the power to reverse the trend.  Welfare needs to be reformed to incentivize marriage and family restoration.  This is another systemic problem.
  5. The reformation of education is crucial.  I am one that believes that choice is crucial and that through voucher and charter schools blacks must have a choice and be given a way out of the bondage of failing public schools.  How can this be paid for?  There should not be discrimination according to skin color in government programs (another error of BLM and CRT).  Rather the poor should receive per-pupil education equal to wealthy school districts.   Since the blacks still have a disproportionate number of the poor, they will get the lion’s share of funding.  Government and private foundations should pour in money to see the poorly educated. Contrary to CRT and BLM, reparations are unjust since they counsel making payment by skin color, not economic need. This is discrimination and pernicious.  It requires recent immigrants to pay for reparations that are said to be rooted in slave owners, but most Americans today had no connection to slave-owning. Rather, help for the poor is the way forward. All education institutions, public, private and charter must prove success or lose funding.  This means breaking the pernicious power of teachers’ unions.  Education is another systemic problem but again the solution is opposite of CRT and BLM>
  6. A massive police presence is needed in poor communities.  This police should have a large representation of black officers.  They must be well trained. The gangs must be defeated, and their guns were taken.  The drugs and their dealers need to be off the streets. This will cost a lot, but one can make the areas where the poor live safe.  This is a systemic problem, but the very opposite of the BLM and CRT solutions. 
  7. Enterprise zones, job training and more must come from corporations and tax incentives.  Also, vocational and technical schools are important.  Placing black at Harvard and dumbing down Harvard will not help.  Attainment will take time.  The systemic lack of opportunity is clear and has to be overcome.  
  8. Mentoring programs are crucial, and the Church should invest people and funds in such mentoring. 

These prescriptions, which are argued for as well by black leaders such as Robert Woodson are far from what CRT and BLM are fostering.  We do not deny the horror of slavery or racism but pouring fuel on the fire of mistrust and anger between black and white by CRT will lead to great failure and pain.  

As the culture goes crazy right now with transgenderism, defending promiscuity and going for socialism, I fear that good solutions will not be attempted but that the country is moving into a national dystopia.  May we give ourselves to prayer for revival and healing of the divides. Luke 4:18 is the key text, that the Spirit would be upon us to preach good news to the poor and deliverance for the captives.  

Critical Race Theory and the 1619 Project

A little Essay for a Friend on Critical Race Theory and the 1619 Project

Two great interpretations of America from the radical left culture formation influencers are constantly in the news, one is The 1619 Project and the other is Critical Race Theory.  The two are logically distinct but work together and have overlapping content.  

The first, The 1619 Project argues that America was born and built on slavery.  This project is not about the treatment of Native Americans in American history which is a scandal for which only total repentance and restitution can somewhat mitigate the terrible injustice, but nothing can ever be enough for the sin.  Healing can be found in the Gospel. The 1619 Project says that American history began with slavery and then, amazingly, that the Revolutionary War was fought to maintain slavery.  This is a strange claim since the British were not opposing slavery at that time, but many from the Northern Colonies like John Adams were very anti-slavery.  It could be said that an independent America would be more a danger to the slave owners. However, the Constitution enshrined states’ rights at a level where slavery was secure for the states that wanted to practice it, south of what was known as the Mason Dixon Line.  Because some northern people owned slaves, it is claimed that the whole society was built on slavery.  This is not true, but the North was in part built by indentured servants who gained passage from the United Kingdom through indentured servitude, and they were very abused.  The problem with The 1619 Project is that it evaluates America totally through the lens of slavery for which America paid a huge price in the Civil war.  In my view, the project is bad history since it oversimplifies a very complex battle between rapacious greed (the Kingdom of darkness) and the Kingdom of God. This has always been the struggle in the United States.  One can read Howard Zinn’s Neo-Marxist People’s History of the United States and compare it with the Patriots History of the United States, which opposes Zinn, to get a good idea of two different approaches.  The second does not sugarcoat the great sin of slavery.  

I think no one has written an adequate history from Biblical norms though there is a Christian history in print that was used in conservative Christian schools and homeschooling.  A true Bible-based history would look at how the Kingdom of God influenced and intersected in the history of the United States along with the kingdom of darkness and its greed and evil. Also, the key figures of influence Christians in bettering life in the United States needs to be part of this. This is mostly ignored by secular historians.  Some who were Post-millennialists like Jonathan Blanchard, the founder of Wheaton College, who was a great abolitionist and supported the underground railway for escaped slaves, and the great revivalist Charles Finney, believed that the government and laws of the United States could be brought into conformity to the Law of God and demonstrate a Kingdom of God civil order.  This was a common view from the Puritans in the 17th century and prevailed until the beginning of the 20th century.  Not all were Post-millennialists, but it was a common view that Christians were to work to bring the nation into conformity to the will of God as expressed in his Law.  

When I speak about Kingdom influence, I speak about those who fostered Kingdom values even if they were not committed Christians due to the influence of the Bible in the Western World and upon their values.  

The clash of Kingdoms can be seen even in one person.   One can read great biographies, like Flexner’s of George Washington, or McCollough’s of John Adams to gain more insight. For example, Washington was a man of incredible character and worked hard to develop his Christian character.  Yet he did not free his slaves during his lifetime though he was conflicted about it.  When Washington had the power and popularity to become the King he instead retired after two terms for the good of the nation.  On the other hand, Washington sought to gain great land possessions and wealth at the expense of the Native Americans and the lower white classes who were closed out of farm ownership. The Pilgrims and Puritans sought a new order of civil government based on Biblical norms as they fought for their right to Christian liberty.  Yet, Puritans did not allow for decenters but required conformity to their doctrine and polity.  After a few decades, they also mistreated Native Americans.  They built a great society but then ended in the great injustice and hysteria of the Salem Witch Trials.  It would be left to Roger Williams, a Baptist, to create freedom of conscience in religious matters in Rhode Island.   With regard to native Americans, one finds those who treated them well and genuinely cared, such as David Brainard, the son-in-law of the great Jonathan Edwards.  However, in general, those who cared about the Native Americans were the minority and did not prevail. 

While the Pilgrims and Puritans came to the Colonies to practice a more pure Christianity, the Virginia settlers and those after in the South were motived by financial opportunity. Slavery greatly increased their ability to gain wealth.  Again we see the influence of the Kingdom of Darkness. 

The Revolutionary War was fought over unjust government and the unnaturalness of being ruled from across the sea.  Was it justified?  It can be debated. One can read the founders’ own words about their motives and what they wanted to build.  Preserving slavery was not the motive of most.  Yet, the South that was building an economy based on slavery, did have motives to see that the profits from slavery would not be compromised by the British government rule.  When the Constitution was written, the issue of slavery was a hot one.  One cannot see the Constitution as a document fostering slavery.  The compromise on representation in the House of Representatives was that the Negro would count as 3/5 in the population count for apportioning representation.  The North would not let them count for more southern representatives if they could not vote and did not have full citizenship and liberty.  The south wanted to count them so they would have more power but would not give them representation.   The 3/5 rule was to mitigate the power of the South due to its slavery system. It was not saying that the Negro was 3/5 of a man as some have falsely argued. This battle for and against slavery continued throughout the years before the Civil War, with those like John Quincy Adams, son of John Adams, fighting against slavery and others like Senator Calhoun fighting for it.  Compromises were made so the nation would not break apart.  To see the United States as just based on slavery, is really such a simplistic slander.  Rather it was a nation in strife over this institution, with many Evangelicals in the forefront seeking its abolition. 

So, one finds a nation always in conflict but with a greater Kingdom of God influence on it than perhaps any other nation on Earth.  Maybe this was also true of Britain in revivals.  In the Declaration of Independence, we read that “All man (human beings) are created equal” and are endowed with rights from the Creator.  This statement is only possible from the Biblical influence of the doctrine that all people are created in the Image of God.  The Declaration and Constitution require the consent of the governed.  There is great antipathy to the concentration of power in a King or a few.  Checks and balances and decentralization of power through both the separation of powers, legislative, judicial, and executive, plus the power of state governments was to prevent tyranny.  This is again an orientation in accord with Kingdom values which notes well the danger of unbridled political power.  The separation of the Church government from the civil government was not intended to say that the civil government was not accountable to God and his law.  Most state constitutions acknowledged that accountability.  Yet despite all this decentralization, the nation developed in ways that empowered its own oligarchy who found ways to gain wealth and political control at the expense of the ordinary citizens.   When labor was exploited, it was not only Communists that fought for labor rights but Christians who fought against child labor and for fair wages for the workers.  The development of unions mitigated labor exploitation, preventing a tyranny of power in a Communist dictatorship.  The United States developed an extraordinary ability to absorb immigrants and to see upward mobility toward prosperity never before seen in any other nation.  My ancestors from Romania and Norway were examples of such ability to succeed.  Never has a nation produced such prosperity for so many.  Yet, a poor and exploited underclass was a continuing problem.  The Church was called to identify with the poor but often failed and ministered instead to the more successful.  

Though a Civil War was fought, slavery abolished, and new Congressmen and Senators were elected from the Black citizens of the South, within a generation the Federal government caved to political pressures, and Jim Crow segregation was accepted for the next 80 years.  

Never was a country formed on higher principles that were consistent with biblical values.  It was a nation to be based on common values, not on ethnicity, tribe, or old European national identities. All men were created equal and on the basis of the new vision, it was “Out of Many One.”  There was unprecedented freedom to spread the Gospel.  Only the United States allowed hard money to be shipped overseas to support missions without limit.  The idea was that the state had no business regulating the Church which was a divine sphere.  Hence the greatest missions movement in history spread from the United States to the nations. Was this freedom for the Gospel one of the reasons for the prosperity of the nation?

Yet again the forces of greed gained in the rapacious monopolists who exploited their workers as near slave levels, but then were reigned in by Theodore Roosevelt, the great fighter against monopolies.   The United States spread the vision of freedom to the world, checks, and balances, and constitutional government at the same time its corporations exploited less-developed nations.  

Today as the Church is in decline through compromise and worldliness, the United States is the greatest exporter of pornography.  Criminals exploit women with prostitution, human trafficking, and almost insane ideas that have gained currency like gender fluidity, trans-genderism, and homosexual marriage. Part of the Church is tempted to compromise and get behind the cultural trends. Can there be a revival or will the United States head for judgment?

We should close this article on one more battle.  It is the issue of the condition of the black underclass. Since the civil rights movement, many blacks have made great gains, but others remain in poverty in much higher numbers than their proportion as citizens. Crime and murder in the inner cities, inadequate policing in number and quality is endemic. From the promise of civil rights came the disappointment of continued failure.  Racism still exists, but liberal programs have produced dependency and added to the destruction of the black family and more poverty.  Public unionized schools, some with great per pupil funding, totally fail the students and graduate those who cannot even read.  The response is to claim that “abelism” is racism.  Hence their failure is not really failure.  

Today there is a dangerous concentration of wealth in the hands of a few. Such obscene wealth concentration contradicts the idea of the decentralization of power since this wealth brings frightening power for the control of others.  Witness social media for an example.  This is a great danger since with such power speech is controlled in media and there is an ability as well to enforce their view on the population, a kind of social engineering.  The new direction is a type of oligarchic corporate socialism. 

The question is, will revival bring gain?  There have always been three approaches to the relationship of Christians to government and social formation.  Great Christians have argued for all three positions.  One is the quietist approach of the Peace Churches (Mennonites, Amish, Peace Brethren) that have no hope for any attainment of godliness outside of the Church in this life.  They produce a counter-culture and do not engage the larger culture.  The Dispensationalist Fundamentalists also were part of this first response.  For them, since this earth is a sinking ship, the goal is to get people into the lifeboat so they can go to heaven or be taken out (raptured) before the Great Tribulation.  

The second view is that of the zealous Post-millennialists who believed that Christians were to take over the whole world and rule it before the return of Jesus.  Charles Finney and Jonathan Blanchard were great examples of this fervent faith.  Their colleges, Oberlin and Wheaton were founded for this goal.  It became the dominant post-Civil War Evangelical view.  It died out with World War I. 

Then finally is the third, the classic Reformed view. Influencing society toward greater justice and righteousness in all spheres was part of Christian witness. We are to “occupy until he comes” and to care about all the spheres of human life, making a better world for our generation even if in the future the Antichrist will come to power.  I fit into this category, but when the culture is too far gone, I recognize the Mennonite option.  Indeed, even in this third option, we are to know that good and evil will continue to battle until He returns.  Those in this view know we cannot idolize any nation, but patriotism and loyalty must be secondary by far to the Kingdom of God.  The best of nations will show good but also great evil. 

My purpose in this essay is to steer clear of both the idolization of America as if it is the chosen and righteous nation and the other view, to see America as only the nation of exploitation and evil as in The 1619 Project and mostly in Zinn’s history text.  They can write history as a catalog of the sins of the nation and that catalog is based on real evils. The proper understanding of the history of the United States is a great saga of the battle of the Kingdom of Light and Darkness.  And both are present in great degree.   Demonizing the United States will bring division and not progress and healing.  Idolatry will also have the same negative effect.  Loyalty to America is based on fostering Kingdom values.  A Christian should reject both the demonization and the idolization and be salt and light, a balanced patriot fostering Kingdom values in the nation.  

Part two will continue with Critical Race Theory

Marriage as the Key to Discipleship 

Many years ago, Bob Wright, an apostle leading a network with which we were close in the 1980s, gave some profound insights into training people for congregational leadership.  Previous to this time, I did come to the conclusion that I Timothy 3 and Titus 1 standards for elders required them to have a good marriage and family life.  If I did not have any candidates that fit that criteria, I would then have to embrace a discipleship mentoring involvement to see a good and happy marriage established.  Only from that would we see a healthy family established.  Bob added one more dimension.  When he was working with a couple, he and his wife Mary Jane would ask the wife if she was really happy in her marriage.  Bob found that husbands are less in touch and would oftentimes say the marriage was good when the wife was very dissatisfied.  They would sometimes have to probe to find the dissatisfaction.  Then they would have work to do in mentoring the couple.  I say charge husbands to act and invest themselves to make their wife feel that she is the delight of their eyes and the most wonderful person on earth.  Leaders should be mutually accountable and keep short accounts on marriage check-ups to see that the marriages of leaders remain joyful and growing. 

This was 40 years ago.  This was before divorce became repent among Evangelical believers of all stripes.  However, the most troubling thing is the divorce, immorality, and pornography among leaders.  Bob taught that you reproduce what you are.  Leaders with strong and happy marriages, covenant loyal marriages, can reproduce such marriages if they give themselves to couples and mentor them.  Then when there is an eldership of happily married people, they lead home groups and reproduce the same in their small groups.  Shamashim, Deacons, also then are mentored.  The standard for marriage and family in our noted texts is the same for them.  Following this pattern has been amazing.  My closest partners of 40 years are all delighted in their spouses and so joyful that they are married.  They learned to practice mutual deference, forgiveness, servanthood, and humility.  Around them is a network of pastors of some 40 congregations who are as a rule, to my knowledge, joyful in their marriages.  No pastors in Tikkun or in my Chicago leadership before that, have ever been divorced.  Somehow this has led to memberships with very rare divorces. 

However, for this to happen, it is crucial that we get back to discipleship and make marriage and family life a center of that discipleship.  It is not how big or small the congregations are, or the charisma of the preacher.   God’s evaluation will be, “Did you make disciples?”  Then I say as a rule that two people in a marriage that grow more and more into the image of Yeshua will love each other more and more.  

Systemic Racial Disparities

The abuse of the Black underclass is rampant today. Before the civil rights movement, the black family was mostly intact. Despite the terrible segregation laws, Blacks were making educational and economic gains, though not enough. Then we had great hope when Civil Rights Laws were passed. We were stirred by the speeches of Martin Luther King who was a classmate of one of my theology professors at Wheaton, Morris Inch, who was a great fan of King. So here we are almost 60 years later. What is the picture? A proportion of blacks have made great gains, from holding high political offices, to corporate leadership, and as leading surgeons and more. However, too many are in an underclass that is self perpetuating. I won’t repeat the analysis of why this happened and keeps happening. Leading blacks like civil rights leader Robert Woodson explain it well. Part of it was the government incentives that destroyed the black family. Part was the failure of unionized schools, some having great financial support (some not so supported) but still graduating illiterates. Part is the whole cycle of black crime, gangs and drugs. Part is that the Gospel preached has been only about going to heaven and not about personal transformation and a whole different mentality where one can not be in Jesus and still a victim since in Him we are more than conquerers. Choosing victim status is incompatible with the Gospel. 

Today there is an attempt to explain this as systemic racism. The solution is to be found in white guilt and repentance for hard to pin down crimes of whiteness and privilege. Critical race theory argues that white privilege sets up structures to keep blacks back. Yet, I know of know of no whites personally who do not want blacks to achieve and prosper. Yet the thought is that deep examination and the reeducation of whites will find these little indications, clues and ways of thinking that are racist. Critical race theory and systemic racism as theories are like the old example given about an unfalsifiable theory in philosophy. “The universe is shrinking at a uniform rate.” There is no way to prove it or falsify it. CRT is propaganda and can not be proven but seems to be falsified. If something explains everything it probably explains nothing. 

The thrust of the left from Herbert Marcuse is to use the blacks as pawns for the socialist revolution. Corporate socialists go along to cement their own power. Yet the prescriptions from the left will not lift the black community but will perpetuate the problem. Getting groups of whites in corporations or the government institutions to self flagellate will do nothing to lift the black community. Telling schools to lower standards because standards are the manifestation of racism through “ableism” will result in blacks not achieving and being kept down. Most of the directions from the left in my opinion will perpetuate poverty. We see the disconnect in regard to policing. The community of underclass blacks does not want to defund the police. They want more and better policing due to crime, drugs and killing. The media tells us that blacks are generally in fear for their lives over being killed by the police. This is a media driven fear. Some .00x number of unarmed blacks are killed by police. The absolute number of whites so killed is larger, 24 compared to 18 for blacks last year. The chances of so dying are minuscule, though tragic and bad cops need to be punished. The real danger is black on black crime that does not just kill 18 but thousands. But facing this does not lead to the revolution. So it is largely ignored by the left media. The socialist revolutionaries do not care about black lives per se but want a revolution for what they think will be a more utopian order. They were willing to foment racial division toward this end and the media fans the flames. Again, the program of division, the redefining of words (phobia as a primary case in point), and the media and the elite going along all fits the playbook. Cancel culture fits right in as well. 

So who will ultimately be more hurt? It will be everyone, but primarily the black underclass. The super rich will do just fine. The black underclass needs family restoration and government programs with incentives for that, real educational choice, policing that stops the carnage of crime, and more than anything else a transforming Gospel with signs and wonders, real power. Camila Harris argued that George Floyd was a sacrifice for racial justice. He was a sacrifice, but not in the way she is thinking. He is a symbol of the black underclass, all of which is being sold out or sacrificed for the woke leftist revolutionary agenda. They are all being sacrificed for the ridiculousness of critical race theory and a claim of systemic racism. This last term is one I reject. Rather I speak of systemic racial disparities. That systemic problem can be laid at the feet of secular liberalism and more so today at leftism that will perpetuate the problem. The liberal structures are the systemic problem. There are ways out of the problem as I noted, but the left solutions are non-solutions and perpetuate and lead to more despair, anger and hate. We should all know for sure that these theories are from the devil, satanic inspirations. Why? Because they pit races against one another and reject the primary truth of the Bible on humanity, that all people, all races and ethnicities, are created in the image of God and are to be loved and valued as God’s image bearers. White racial guilt ideas are contrary to the Bible at the most profound level and keep the black underclass down. All are to be reconciled in love through the Gospel of reconciliation. 

Blindness and the Direction of Western Culture 

I have been grieved at the direction of Western Culture and the acceleration of the deterioration I am now seeing in the United States.  These struggles are also part of Israel.  When I was a young philosophy student at Wheaton College, I was introduced to the idea of cultural apologetics by Francis Schaeffer.  He presented an amazing week of lectures.  Schaeffer argued that the direction of culture apart from God and biblical norms comes to dead end and a very depressing world picture.  This causes a revulsion to the very dominant culture that is produced by the anti-biblical world view.  He asserted that the “mannishness of man” finds that he cannot live within the world view of his creation.  Many examples were given in art and literature to show implications, though the artist thought that there was no way out.   I give a summary of cultural apologetics in my book The Biblical World View, An Apologetic.  Why if their world view leads to such despair, do we not see people turn back to God and a hopeful and meaningful life provided by the teaching of the Bible?  I am convinced that the reason is rebellion in the heart.  In spite of the evidence, human beings simply want to live the way they want to live and choose their own ways of life without the interference of an omnipotent/omniscient being who requires that we live within his rule-norms.  

Recently a history scholar was celebrating the decline of religious affiliation in the United States. For the first time in many decades the number of Americans affiliated with a church, synagogue or mosque was below 50%.  Just 20 years earlier it was 70%.  He pointed to the secularization of Europe and argued that a secular society is more tolerant and compassionate.   This is naïve, and there has not nearly been enough time for us to draw that conclusion.  Giving up the idea that all persons are created in God’s image and are to be treated with the respect and love that is requisite to their value, will not lead to a good outcome in the long haul.  I noted in a previous article that the British Historian Tom Holland argued that the values of Western Culture, based on the equal worth of all human beings, is based on biblical influence. Though an atheist, Holland wonders if the values will survive the abandonment of the world view that gave these values to the world.   Rodney Stark also shows the vast difference from the biblical value set and what was extant in the Roman world.   Immanuel Kant, the great German philosopher of the late 18th century, argued that ethics is based on treating every person as an end and not as a means, to be deeply valued treated well.  Kant believed in God and biblical values, but not the Gospel.  His ethics, however,  obviously was based in the biblical world view.   For Kant, civilization requires God, freedom and life after death.  They are intertwined.  God as the one who will reward and punish according to good and evil after death, and freedom to assure that we really are moral beings with moral choice and hence responsible.  For Kant, a gracious civil order required such beliefs.   

However, human beings are in rebellion and denial, professing that they can create a humane and fulfilling life without God.  A huge part of this denial is based on the rebellious assertion of the right to order one’s own sexual arrangements without reference to historic norms.  The abortion rights movement is really rooted in sexual libertarianism.  This is the root of the push against marital fidelity as the best foundation of raising secure and healthy children.  Study after study has shown that a stable marriage of a man and a woman raising children is the greatest predictor for success and avoiding poverty in the future of the children.  However, Marxists, such as the founding leaders of Black Lives Matter, see the traditional family as an impediment to Marxist equality.  So, all sexual arrangements by consenting adults, all the arrangements embraced by the LGBTQ movement and all new models of the family are to be embraced.  All these arrangements are equal.  This will not produce well-adjusted individuals with high ethical standards and compassion for others.  If not in the immediate future, It will eventually produce self-centered barbarians. For the lower classes such a philosophy is a disaster.  For the ideologues, the empirical studies simply are ignored.  The New York Times in 2019 reports that religious people in committed marriages have a sexual satisfaction that far supersedes the rest of the population.  Such a marriage is a key to the children and their adjustment in life.  Also the biblical view of everlasting life with God and our loved ones forever produces a hope that sustains in difficult times.  

The rebellion against God is so great.  The blindness and denial are amazing.  We can see a world devolving into greater violence, crime, depression, suicide, euthanasia, child abuse, sex trafficking, pornographic addiction, and more and more government spending and subsidy to mitigate the problems thus created.  Yet the rebellious declare the world has gotten better!!  Of course, the societies that most rebelled against the Biblical world view, slaughtered millions. I speak of Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union.  Today the atheist Chinese engage in genocide.  The blindness of the self-deceived atheist amazes.  They even still, against all evidence, claim that our world could be just the product of chance.  Also, the evidence of the historicity and the truth of the Gospels is as great as it has ever been.  Confirmed miracles in the name of Yeshua are amazing today and more than ever.  Yet believing in chance gives the atheists the foundation for a total rebellion against traditional morals.  The traditionalists are called haters and “phobes”, but far from running from those in aberrant lifestyles (phobes run from or avoid) Yeshua lovers want to run toward those in these destructive life styles and provide the healing that comes from the Gospel.  We are not phobes and afraid, but bold in offering a way out. Only the Gospel delivers from blindness and rebellion.  Good arguments are not good enough 

My book The Biblical World View, An Apologetic presents the options and argues that we can find our rest and peace in a loving orientation to life only on the basis of the Gospel and the teaching of the Bible.  

 

The Woke Radical Left Creed

The woke radical left is having an influence we would have never dreamed even a few years ago.  It was only recently in Obama’s first term that he said he did not support gay marriage.  The radical woke left views are now the prevailing politically correct views and some of its terrible nostrums like gender sensitivity training and radical Critical Race Theory are taught in schools, government, and corporations.  Some states are seeking to ban it or stop it.  It appears that President Biden is supporting it. The power of the woke left to influence is amazing.  Georgia recently passed voting laws.  This has been blatantly lied about.  Even the Washington Post gave four Pinocchios for some claims of opponents. The law both expands voting opportunity and integrity.  The Wall Street Journal summarized it well.  Yet corporate leaders are vilifying the law which is more expansive in opportunity than Delaware or New York. Some call for moving the baseball All Star Game from Atlanta.  We have never seen such raw brutal power exercised.  However, the woke radical left is now a creedal religious confession, not based in evidence, with enforcement like the Catholic Church in the Inquisition of the 15th century.  Here are the key confessional points.  Note that the term phobe is the term of preference to accuse those who are traditional moralists.  We would all ourselves moralists not phobes.  The term phobe is used to avoid the term moral and morality.  Of course, you will see that the creed is the opposite of the creed drawn from the Bible and its moral teaching. 

The New Woke Radical Left Orthodox Creed

  1. All sexual identities and self-definitions of gender identity are to be embraced, supported and fostered in society.  This includes the self-identification of children.  Those who reject this are defined as phobes. 
  2. All sexual arrangement by consenting adults are to be embraced and supported.  This includes homosexual relationships, bi-sexual involvements, polyamorous arrangements, and promiscuity.   All are to be accepted as long as chosen and agreed to by the participants. 
  3. All families are to be embraced as of equal value and ability in raising children.  The hetero-normal marriage and family must be deconstructed to varieties of family arrangements.  
  4. Racism in America is systemic and based in something essentially deficient in whites.  We must embrace Critical Race Theory as the basis for this understanding, and whites must undergo re-education to work against their inherent defects. 
  5. Abortion is a woman’s right and all resistance to the right to abortion is to be defined as evil.  This right is to be embraced as at least up to the point of the birth of the fetus in the 9th month. 
  6. All religions and non-religions and atheist orientations are equal and to be embraced unless they make absolute claims like Orthodox Judaism and classical forms of Christianity.    
  7. There is no after life judgement of hell for anyone.  

Discipline for the heterodox

  1. Those who reject this creed are to be branded as phobes, haters.  They are to be publicly vilified.  
  2. All means of pressure should be used to marginalize them.  This includes social media banning, book censorship, firing them, boycotting businesses that do not follow the creed, outing non-conformists by giving their personal information, where they live and their contact information.  Non-profits who do not conform should lose their status; agencies like their adoption agencies and social services agencies should be banned. This is the essence of cancel culture.  

Now here is a dream.  I desire that God would raise up thousands of public preachers of righteousness that proclaim the law of God and the way of the Gospel in the death and resurrection of Yeshua as the only way of salvation.  Is the Gospel powerful enough for this?  Yes, but only if we do not shrink back and proclaim the whole truth.  People have rebelled against God’s law and are in danger of Hell. Yeshua died for our sins. The way to avoid Hell and to have eternal life is to repent and embrace Yeshua as Lord and Savior.  My worry is more that believers in Yeshua keep quiet and go along under the social pressure. Let’s not do this!!

Critical Race Theory and Black Lives Matter: The Challenge to the Church

We can rightly complain about the very bad philosophy and anti-biblical thinking behind the leaders of Black Lives Matter and Critical Race Theory.   They dismiss the importance of intact traditional families, define people as inferior or superior according to the collar of their skin, and present precious little in the way of real solutions that would work while trying to get all whites to go through re-indoctrination on how they are all really racists.  We can push back against this because it rejects the Bible’s teaching on the equal worth of all created in the image of God and the only way of salvation and full reconciliation through the crucifixion of Yeshua.  I have done so. 

However, I again want to affirm the existence of these movements is an occasion for deep repentance in the Church, for if the Church had done as Yeshua commanded, then we would have fostered a godly black lives matter movement, police reform, prison reform, and Gospel programs to lift the black underclass.  We would have discovered programs that unlike many government programs are not counter-productive in perpetuating the problems. 

Here are some Biblical principles.  First, the Bible shows in the Torah, on page after page of the prophets and the New Testament that God overwhelmingly identifies with the poor, the orphan, the widow, the oppressed, the prisoner, and the marginalized.  The Gospel and work of the ministry should be first focused on these.  These were the subject in the first announcement of Yeshua of his ministry (Luke 4) than in the Sermon on the Mount, then in his parables and literal teaching. It is not a matter of primarily of race, but the condition of the people to be our focus. The focus on the black underclass is legitimate because of the extent of the need.  Again, this is not primarily a matter of race since Nigerians or Ethiopians in America are not so suffering.  If the poor and marginalized were whites, Chinese, or Indians from India, then they would be the focus. One minister said that God had called his church not to the down and out but to the up and out.  I cannot see that as Biblical.  Text and context, please!  Of course, we minister to the up and out.  All are subject for our ministry  But as we see in the progress of the Gospel, the up and out came along with the progress of the ministry to the down and out.  One great Christian sociologist at a meeting of the International Coalition of Apostles described the situation in the black underclass.  Others at that conference said that the credibility of Evangelical Christian Church was contingent on her providing solutions to systemic poverty.  We can analyze the reason for it, and many would argue one point of view or another; racism, family breakdown, public education vs. private education, government spending, etc.  However, this is beside the point for this essay.  The first priority is seeking God in repentance and asking him for his plans for us to be fully engaged.  What is his vision and program for that He will reveal?  It is crucial that there be massive repentance on this matter and that the hearts of Church leaders first be turned to this matter.  Black Lives Matter and Critical Race Theory are an indictment. 

The Nuclear Family, Critical Race Theory and Black Lives Matter

I was quite pained when a professing follower of Yeshua pushed back on me and questioned my support for traditional marriage and family values and its importance to lifting people from poverty.  The arrogance of some of the young woke so-called Evangelicals is quite astonishing to me.  They asked what is a traditional family?  It was as if this is a simplistic idea and as if I am a simplistic thinker.  One of the tenants of the “work movement” today is to decry the favoritism for the hetero-normal marriage and family.  This comes from Marxist roots and for those who desire greater sexual freedom and even promiscuity.   It is from the spirit of the Antichrist.  Hence some Critical Race proponents and the Black Lives Matter founders despise the traditional family.   Every study done in the last 50 years shows that an intact marriage with children is the greatest predictor of the future of those children with regard to crime and poverty.  So, it should be the work of the Church to foster solid marriages and families.   However, I never mentioned the nuclear family and the nuclear family is not the traditional family, though the father, mother, and children define a good chunk of it.  Let’s, therefore, go to definitions and explanations. 

Throughout history, the traditional family was not only the husband, wife, and children, but included grandparents, uncles, aunts, and cousins.  Children were raised primarily by their parents but also and secondarily by their extended family.  When tragedy struck, as when my father died when I was nine, the extended family filled some of the vacuum.  There was also the importance of local congregations in supporting families.  Also, there was a village, the local neighborhood.  Hillary Clinton said it takes a village, but she meant the support of the federal government, whereas the village was the small town or neighborhood.  When I was growing up, we had the playmates of our neighborhood.  The neighborhood parents looked after all the children who would roam from yard to yead and to playfields.  We were free-range children but watched.  It is probably difficult for people today to comprehend being raised with such security.  Of course, when there was a family breakdown, divorce, or death, then the cushion of the extended family, church, and neighborhood was very important.  However, embracing family values made divorce very rare in that era. 

However, we should not overlook the recognition of what was called the immediate family and downplay father and mother and children.  One of the great Christian philosophers of the 20th Century, Herman Dooyeweerd in Holland,  called the immediate family an individuality structure, a social structure that had to be respected as having its own authority and laws rooted in the biblical law.  Thus, it was important to recognize that the primary authority in the family is the parents, not grandparents or uncles, or aunts.  They are important supporters but must respect the final authority dynamics of the parents and children.  Genesis shows that there must be a leaving and cleaving when the marriage takes place. 

The nuclear family was the creation of the economic domination of large corporations in the lives of many.  Such corporations had multiple centers all over the country.  The idea as that the nuclear family was portable.  The economic motive then became the dominant motive for where one lived, and for multiple moves, loosening the ties of the extended family, church, and neighborhood. IBM was humorously said to stand for “I’ve Been Moved.”  Many Christians went along with this economic domination.   Alvin Toffler and Vance Packard wrote profoundly about this.  Things have not much changed.  The constant change for economic motives would produce the future shock Tofler spoke about and both argued that shallow relationships that do not last would be the prevailing situation.  To counter this in my early pastorate and on, I sought to encourage people to give up the dominance of the economic motive and to build stable lives in a neighborhood around a congregation.  Israel, a small country, is much more extended family-oriented!  

The idea of the traditional biblical family is based on a lasting marriage between a man and a women and was profoundly taught by Yeshua (Matt. 19).  The man and women are to leave their fathers and mothers, the two are to become one and divorce should be precluded.  What God has joined together no man should divide.  One man and one woman in the exclusive sexual bond was the clear and absolute teaching of Yeshua.  From this bond come children.  The extended family is traced to the ancestors who had this bonded marriage.  The state saw it as in its interest to foster strong families by its policies.  This has broken down as well. 

We should know that the push against the importance of marital fidelity and the traditional family will foster much wounding, pain, trauma, and poverty.  Those who care about lifting people out of poverty should be concerned to evangelize and then to disciple into the values of fidelity in marriage and in building traditional families.  Let no one think that we are not to care for those who have failed in this ideal; to surround them with love and support their children as well.  God can redeem these painful failures for those who turn to Him.