Thursday, May 28, 2009

Patrick Henry: Fatherhood Personified

Patrick Henry is famous for his eloquent statesmanship, a powerful force in the founding of our nation. His “give me liberty or give me death” speech is one of the best known in American history; his fiery oratory was one of the factors God used to fan the flames of liberty.

But Henry was more than a zealot for freedom. He understood his God-given responsibilities as a father and strove to fulfill them with excellence. Indeed, as the father of seventeen children and grandfather of seventy, some have humorously suggested that he, not George Washington, should be considered the father of our country!

Beyond the bearing of sons and daughters, Patrick Henry took upon himself the task of preparing them for life and eternity to come. It was his habit to devote Sunday evenings to a time of family worship. He would read portions from the Bible or favorite sermons, along with accompanying the family in singing sacred music as he played the violin.

Henry served as the principal teacher for his school-age children, inspiring them to learn and apply themselves for life. He further tutored his sons in law, one of them becoming a lawyer like himself while another served as a county sheriff.

Beyond academics, he counseled his children for marital success: “My Dear Daughter: You have just entered into that state which is replete with happiness or misery. The issue depends upon that prudent, amiable, uniform conduct which wisdom and virtue so strongly recommend on the one hand, or on that imprudence which a want of reflection or passion may prompt on the other.”

Patrick Henry knew that a stable society must rest upon the foundation of strong homes. He sought to lead by example, understanding that the authority a man “exercised within the larger society was rooted in the authority exercised at home.”

There is a dearth of engaged fathers today. As you celebrate Father’s Day 2009, be inspired by the actions of Patrick Henry.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Dr. Spock vs. the Bible

The seventh best-selling book of all time was published by Dr. Spock in 1946, The Common Sense Book of Baby and Child Care. Having sold over 50 million copies and been translated into more than 40 languages, it is hard to overestimate the profound influence his theories have had on our civilization.

Dr. Spock advocated a permissive style of parenting catering to children’s whims and preferences instead of a more directive approach requiring adherence to established standards of behavior. Indulgence, rather than discipline, was the methodology he promoted, ultimately producing defiance toward authority and a self-centered “me-first” approach to life in general.

The fruit of the Spock influence is painfully apparent. The violent crime rate has tripled since 1960. The sexual revolution rages unabated. Today 25% of teenage girls are infected with a sexually transmitted disease. There has been a 318 % increase in sexual assault. Lack of self-control and restraint of passions is the unmistakable consequence of indulgent parenting.

The Bible, in stark contrast, warns parents of the need to deal firmly with the sinful inclinations of their children. Proverbs 22:15 declares, “Foolish is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of correction will drive it far from him.” Elsewhere, Proverbs argues that a parent who refuses to exercise proper correction actually “hates” his son, whereas the “loving” parent “disciplines him promptly.”

Too frequently we are shocked by news stories of violence perpetrated by children and youth. Ever since Cain murdered Abel there has always been a violent minority in society. But one cannot miss the overwhelming tide of brutality and profligacy sweeping our society today in a manner unheard of 50 years ago.

While we cannot lay all of the blame at the feet of Dr. Spock, it is inarguable that his seminal book started a revolution that has been promoted by countless other “experts.”

Consistent discipline through the loving enforcement of established boundaries and standards is God’s method. It works.