(Bob Shillingstad) Jane and I grew up together in Montana and married just out of high school and now have four married children, 24 grandchildren and 4 great grandchildren. What has become especially more difficult is to relate to our grandchildren is what it was like to grow up in America in the 50’s and 60’s. Nearly everyone we knew lived in a 1,000 square foot house with one bathroom and maybe a garage in the alley. I can’t recall knowing anyone that were rich enough to have two bathrooms. Most moms were at home and divorce was nearly unheard of and only approved by the courts with evidence of adultery or physical abuse.
I worked in high school at a supermarket, but of course we had Sundays off because nearly everything in town was closed on Sunday and churches were well attended. No cable, but three TV stations that went off the air by midnight with a ritual of playing the national anthem. All movies were “G” rated and any profanity or nudity strictly prohibited. School teachers all wore a suit and tie at school and we had a strict dress code that required all girls to wear a dress or skirt – no pants. Many of our male teachers were veterans of WWII and were real men that we respected.
Going to college was an option but tuition cost was not a barrier. The local state supported college was $90 a quarter and the private college was $300 a semester. Even with teenage wages at a $1.00 an hour it was no problem to earn enough to go to college. Our first child born in 1963 cost a total of $320 for doctor and hospital. The involvement of the federal government and “Great Society” in the later ’60’s changed medicine and education.
In 1969 California became the first state to pass “no-fault divorce” and other states quickly followed. The divorce rate in 1964 was .24% and by the end of the 20th century the U.S. had the sixth highest divorce rate in the world with nearly half of all marriages ending in divorce. In the Spokane/CDA area today about half of all children do NOT live with their biological father. The number one cause of poverty is single parent families. Some statistics seem to say that the divorce rate is going down but they also admit many couples now live together outside of marriage.
In 1962 the Supreme Court ruled in Engel v. Vitale that prayer was officially banned from schools and this was reaffirmed by subsequent case law. Birth control pills were approved in 1960 and abortion was struck down by the Roe v. Wade decision in 1973. This had a major effect on sexual freedom effectively turning it into a recreational activity instead of within the bounds of marriage. The 60’s introduced us to the first drag ball, gay community center and gay campus group. Even under Bill Clinton, we had the Defense of Marriage Act. However, with the new millennium came a doubling down on immorality and the moral decline. In the 2008 election Barack Obama stated that marriage was between one man and one woman and now no Democrat…..or Republican would publicly state that! Now we have Drag Queen Story Hour in libraries and schools. Grooming of children in the stems to legalize pedophilia. The first was the National Education Association, which has a long history of advocating extreme, sexually progressive ideology in schools, such as, for instance, advising teachers to hide transgender students’ name and pronoun changes from parents. In November, the NEA tweeted: “Educators love their students and know better than anyone what they need to learn and thrive.”
This brings us back full circle – how do we explain to our children and grandchildren what is important in our lives? What we have lost and how our culture has corrupted us? Materialism can blind us to thinking we don’t need God. Pornography and culture twists our view of love and marriage. Matthew Henry said it this way, “If therefore our houses be houses of the Lord, we shall for that reason love home, reckoning our daily devotion the sweetest of our daily delights; and our family-worship the most valuable of our family-comforts… A church in the house will be a good legacy, nay, it will be a good inheritance, to be left to your children after you.”
Political leadership on the national stage has been sadly lacking and even our state government seems compromised with domination by liberal forces. We are told to focus on local change – city council, school boards and county government. I have no argument with that except to say we need to be more “local” than that. With the Christmas season upon us start with the foundation of our republic – the family. G.K. Chesterton said, “The family is the test of freedom; because the family is the only thing that the free man makes for himself and by himself.” What a challenge we have.
Read the Christmas story out of the Bible. Pray for each other as a family and pass the blessings of family to each of your children. Pray for our country and our leaders. Pray for churches that we would raise up leaders to lead us out of this morass. Be bold in your witness, it is “revival or bust”.