By Don Hawkins, D. Min.
“It’s frightening, Don. I don’t know of any other way to describe it.”
Those were the words of pioneering Christian Apologist Josh McDowell as we discussed an upcoming Encouragement Live radio broadcast, during which we were planning to discuss grandparenting. Josh is the author of over 150 books, including More than a Carpenter, labeled one of the 40 most influential books of the 20th Century. A grandparent himself, Josh has devoted his life to addressing cultural issues from a Christian perspective. We featured a number of his videos in our 16-part GrandCoaching™ online course which we recently developed and published.
As we talked about some of the toxic threats facing our grandchildren today, I thought back to the time when I was a teenager visiting my grandparents. In those days, one of the biggest threats to teenagers was polio. I remember a close friend of mine came down with it, and was confined to an iron lung. Mumps, measles and whooping cough were also considered threats.
In the last few decades, social and moral dangers have begun occupying a place of much greater influence in the lives of our grandsons and granddaughters. In an Internet on “The Stand,” American Family Association president Tim Wildmon wrote, “Modern America… is woefully morally adrift, having become unmoored from its biblical anchors under the faithful influence of godless secularism. “
Following my conversation with Josh, I determined to take a survey of our Master Life Coach Training Institute team to ask their input on what they considered to be the threats of greatest concern to grandparents related to Johnny and Susie. Some of what you’re about to read, you will likely find shocking!
Threat #1: No absolute truth
I wasn’t surprised to learn that a majority of our team agreed with the number one threat identified by Josh McDowell. He noted, “When I began writing books on apologetics and defending the Christian faith, people accepted evidence that was rooted in absolute truth. Today, there is no objective truth, only ‘my truth’ and ‘your truth.’ This originated in a shift in thinking 25 to 30 years ago, and the result was the conclusion that belief should be based on personal opinion. In other words, everything is subjective.”
As I thought through the hazards my own grandchildren face, it seems like every one of them is an outgrowth of this particular threat. This perspective runs against the grain of mathematical absolute such as 2 plus 2 equals 4, and E=mc2. To some degree, as Josh noted, this danger required a different approach, one in which he explained, “I need to listen to the other person carefully and creatively, and ask clarifying questions. This will result in the likelihood that they will listen to me.”
Josh had just identified two of the foundational Christian life coaching skills we present in our GrandCoaching™ course: active listening, and asking cultivating questions.
Josh went on to note, “I frequently ask, ‘what is true for you?’ Then follow that up with, ‘Could I show you something true?’ That often opens the door for me to share the objective truth of the Resurrection using almost anyone’s criteria for truth.
Threat #2: Gender confusion
One of the most shocking developments in recent years has been the effort on the part of the activist LGBTQ minority to insert their viewpoint into virtually every area of life, from politics to education to social and other media. Recently my wife and I made a list of network television programs we had decided to remove from our ‘watch list’ due to their flaunting characters and relationships that did not fit the biblical model of a man and a woman united in marriage based on the record of Genesis and the words of Jesus. (Mark 10:6) Today elementary school boys and girls are being told in many instances, “You can choose from multiple genders…”, many more than the two that have distinguished the human race from the beginning of time. In a meeting earlier this week a colleague reminded me that he had attended a meeting of concerned parents last week to protest against a group of 10-year-old boys being given a book describing perverted homosexual intercourse.
A recent round-table article in Politico featured a group of liberal commentators ridiculing conservative concerns over trans males sharing a bathroom with young teenage girls, and participating in female sports. And the American Library Association has come out in favor of Gender Queer books in elementary school libraries.
According to The National Center for Fathering, the new definition of men by the American Psychological Association, men are now considered toxic to society. Yet according to the Center, families without a father are 44% more likely to raise children in poverty. Children raised without a father are twice as likely to commit suicide, and 70% were likely to wind up in juvenile correctional facilities. The National Center for Fathering concluded that, since men are toxic and not needed, that explains why four out of every ten children are born to unwed mothers, nearly two thirds are born to mothers under the age of 30, and today one child in six under the age of 18-- about 12.7 million-- are being raised without a father in the home.
Threat #3: Undermining parental authority over young children
My wife and I were shocked the other evening when Fox News raised the question “Do parents have a right to know if a child is changing his or her gender identity.?” They reported on the case of one fifth- grade girl who lived at home as a female, but who had chosen to identify as a male at school. The parents were incensed to find out they had not been told anything about this, and the case went to court. According to a district court judge, the United States Constitution does not give parents authority over their children. Such a radical interpretation of the United States Constitution, one in stark contrast to what both the Old and New Testaments assert, is absolutely shocking.
Yet, that news story went on to report that 17,000 schools in 37 states will not allow schools to notify parents about any psychological issues, including those involving gender identity.
Threat #4: The politicization and socialization of public education
When you and I went to school back in the day, we studied ‘readin’, writin’ and ‘rithmetic.’ And at times it was taught to the tune of a hickory stick, or a paddle. Recently I heard that the Chicago teachers’ union had shifted from an educational organization to a political organization. According to Ted Dobrowski of Wirepoints, the organization’s stated goals involve social justice issues. As he put it, “They don’t really seem to care about education anymore.” To back that up he cited the fact that they had contributed $2.2 million to the Chicago Mayor’s political campaign, 20% of the total raised.
As Tim Wildmon wrote in the article cited earlier, “Modern America…[has] become unmoored from its biblical anchors under the faithful influence of godless secularism. Through the confiscation of public education, the schooling system has turned into a breeding ground and grooming hatchery of prepubescent and adolescent boys and girls, priming them for a life of unmitigated discontent and distress.”
I remember my first year after graduating from college, an opportunity opened for me to teach seventh and eighth grade math and English in an Alabama high school. The principal told me early in the year, after observing my Bible on my classroom desk, “I won’t be patrolling the hallway outside your classroom between 8:05 and 8:15 in the morning.” I interpreted that to mean I was free to read to my homeroom students from that Book. And I did so.
Sadly today, in Wildmon’s words, “Secular government bureaucrats remain fixed on barring spiritual values from public schools, and the Ten Commandments from courthouses and government buildings.”
Threat #5: A society-permeating sense of entitlement
I’ll discuss the next five threats more briefly, but that doesn’t make them any less of a hazard.
For weeks the White House trumpeted a plan to ‘forgive’ nearly half $1 trillion in student loan forgiveness, a move identified by many as an attempt to attract voters in the coming election. However, the Supreme Court ruled 6-3 against the plan, which prompted the announcement of a $39 billion ‘forgiveness’ plan. Like its predecessor, it will likely wind up before the Supreme Court.
This is but one example of many that could be given of a strong predisposition that our society to entitlements of all kinds.
Threat #6: An epidemic of drugs such Fentanyl and cocaine
In the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex, three children in an area public junior high school died as a result of fentanyl poisoning, a scene which is been replicated in communities across our nation. From the Texas border to California, fentanyl and other drugs continue to pour into our country. Rare is the middle school or high school today where Johnny or Susie can readily make a connection to purchase what they believe to be the ticket to a ‘high,’ but what could lead to death.
Threat #7: Social Media
A number of government and other entities in the US and other countries have banned Tik-Tok, the Chinese-owned social media giant which is taken young America by storm. According to “The Indiependent,” the platform’s format of short videos has been linked to decreased attention spans when the app is used for more than 90 minutes a day.” Tik-Tok’s Chinese presents a major issue in terms of both the sites content and the potential use of data by foreign entity.
Facebook, according to an article in The Atlantic, has been shown to produce significant rates of depression, anxiety, and self-injury in teenage girls. Instagram, according to the article, has had a negative impact because of girls’ heightened self-awareness about their changing bodies and social insecurities.
According to my colleague, certified life coach and psychology professor John Coleman, social media has led the way in the development of two familiar modern concepts which are part of the risk for our grandchildren, Woke and Cancel Culture. The term ‘Woke” comes from a root word that means to be awake and aware of certain things, including cultural issues. It originated in African-American English and gained popularity in 2014 as part of the Black Lives Matter movement. Cancel Culture refers to the practice of boycotting arch meaning individuals who have been interpreted as having made offensive or controversial statements. Examples of Cancel Culture range from the removal of statues of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln to efforts to “cancel” JK Rowling, the author of the Harry Potter series, and Mike Lindell, the CEO of MyPillow.
Additional threats to our grandchildren
In my non-scientific survey of colleagues about the Hazards modern life presents to our grandsons and granddaughters, I noted a pervasive attitude of disrespect for authority, easily-available pornography and the re-writing of our history in an attempt to make it more politically correct. The removal of statues of Abraham Lincoln and George Washington provide but one example of a callous disregard for individuals who left a significant mark on our country.
What can we do?
As I read back through what I had just written, I became even more convinced that, as a Christian grandfather, I need to be praying specifically for each grandson and granddaughter. For Kathy and me, that also extends to our great-grandchildren.
But I believe Josh McDowell put his finger on an important part of the answer when he said, “We must communicate truth in the context of relationships. Only in relationships can we build a foundation for the truths to be accepted and believed.”
Truth in the context of relationships. That’s what our 16-part online GrandCoaching™ course is all about. Why not check it out at www.grandcoaching.org.
Don Hawkins, D. Min. is the Chief Content Officer for The Master Life Coach Training Institute and the President/CEO of Encouragement Communications. He hosts the Saturday evening call-in program “Encouragement Live,” and has authored over 25 books including Master Discipleship Today, Friends in Deed, and Never Give Up.