At the turn of the New Year, we set out to spend several months to reflect upon the challenges we face today as it relates to womanhood, fatherhood, family, and motherhood (special thanks to our friends who contributed!). Though our world is under great conflict, we who are in Christ are to be a people of great hope. We believe in a Savior who has conquered sin and death, and through faith in Him we experience love, mercy, grace, forgiveness, newness, adoption, transformation, and one day, future grace in His kingdom to come. These words have been sweetness to my mouth and renew my passion to love and serve Him till He shall come again – “You make known to me the path of life; in Your presence there is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore” (Psalm 16:11, ESV). The path of LIFE… fullness of JOY… and PLEASURE forevermore. Is this not the longing of every human heart?
As we conclude this series, I want to call out to you men. In our low-income community, beyond a need for adequate housing, supplemental education for youth, and jobs, a far greater need plaguing all US communities is the breakdown, or should I say, non-existence, of the family unit. In speaking of millions who are homeless or on welfare, Marvin Olasky of World Magazine writes:
“…few programs acknowledge one of God’s chief anti-poverty devices, marriage… One result of such proselytizing for singleness: Over the past 15 years the percentage of births to unmarried women has continued to increase, from 5 percent in 1960 to 32 percent in 1996 and over 40 percent in 2010. Children raised in single-parent homes are six times more likely to experience poverty than children raised in stable, married households” (World, February 12, 2011).
Significant research further supports the claim that ‘marriage’ and the ‘family unit’ are far more effective in combatting homelessness and poverty than any traditional program. Though there are many factors that contribute to the annihilation of the traditional family, I venture to say that at least one significant factor is the lack of godly men; men who love and follow the teachings of Christ. Glenn T. Stanton says this well when he says,
“Marriage and family are declining so badly in nearly all American communities because, as a society, we have forgotten how to manufacture good men. Good men do what’s right, and they respect and care for the women in their lives. They work hard, they don’t make excuses, they know what their duties are, and they do them without complaining. They fight for what is right and hold accountable those who do wrong, including themselves.
If women can’t find good men to marry, they will instead compromise themselves by merely living with a make-do man or getting babies from him without marriage. Unfortunately, this describes exactly the new shape of family growth in Western nations by exploding margins: unmarried cohabitation and unmarried childbearing by twenty-, thirty-, and even forty-something women far outpace any other family formation trend in terms of growth over the last ten years. Women want to marry and have daddies for their babies. But if they can’t find good men to commit themselves to, well… Our most pressing social problem today is a man deficit” (Secure Daughters, Confident Sons, Glenn T. Stanton, p. 112).
Considering why it seems so rare for men to heed the call of discipleship, I am convinced it is ultimately a matter of pride and pleasure. At the core of all sin is the desire to ‘be made like God’, or rather, have the world evolve around us (in short, we want to be God!). If I am incredibly honest with myself, such pride drives me to do much of that which is contrary to the command to love God and love my neighbor. Second, we are driven by pleasure and immediate gratification. We are lured to the big job in order that we may make more money, gain greater prestige, one-up the next guy, and buy more toys. But even if we are successful in doing so, this amazing thing happens – we realize that we are still not satisfied and we quickly move on to the next big item.
In a recent time with the Lord, I was greatly encouraged by this word from Jesus: “If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full” (John 15:10-11). How I love the words of Christ! He has spoken, and so demonstrated the way of living a life of submission to God, in order that His joy may be in us and that our joy may be made full! Do you hear it men? The intention of God is that in following Him and His example (one of abiding in the Father and keeping His commandments), that we would find JOY. The deep longings of the restless heart finally satisfied, in Him and Him alone!
I pray that the Lord do a great work in our community, city, and nation this day! I pray that He awaken the hearts of men to the despair of their fruitless endeavors. Lots of money, good looks, big muscles, a fancy truck, a good-looking girl… these things will never satisfy, but Christ will. Let us look to Him as the way of LIFE, fullness of JOY, and PLEASURE forevermore. I trust that as men (and women) heed this call, not only will lives be changed for all eternity, but so will this new life in Christ cause a ripple affect impacting individuals, marriages, families, children for generations to come, communities, cities, and nations around the world. O Lord, for the sake of Your good name, please do this work in our hearts!
Eric Basye, July 2014