Publication: One-to-One, Autumn 2012
There are two subjects generally frowned upon in polite dinner conversation: religion and politics. However, I’m about to suggest violating that rule, at least with your own family around your own table.
We live in a society that aggressively working to shape our children’s values on a host of issues. Sadly, the prevailing culture today often holds values that are contrary to our values as Christian parents.
And so, in schools, in movies, in music, on television, on the web, and in advertising, children are being told that “god” is whoever or whatever we want it to be, that our sexuality is in a state of flux and should be explored in every combination and form, that abortion is simply a choice of whether or not to dispose of an .anonymous blob of tissue, that t e government should decide how we spend our own money, and should forcibly confiscate and redistribute our money as it sees fit.
In the United States, the history of America is regularly revised, re-defined, and twisted to suit current agendas that directly contradict the intents of our founders. And all of this is aimed squarely at the emerging generation. Whoever wins the youth wins the future.
THE POWER OF THE TABLE
However, I still believe that with all of the billions of dollars that secular humanism has at its disposal and the millions of mentors it seeks to place over our children, none of that has the powerful potential that the family dinner table has. Or the family prayer time.
In the face of all that opposes our families and our family values, it is vital that parents actively engage in prayer and discussion with our children about what matters most to us, and why. We must not sit passively by while an antagonistic world seeks to form the hearts and minds of the children God has entrusted to our care.
It is in times of family time together that truth can be taught and modeled. I can remember many times around the table, listening to my parents and grandparents discuss the great issues of our day, what they meant to our nation and our family, and what the Bible had to say about those issues.
It was at the dinner table where I heard the truth that resonated in my heart, and I learned the names of great authors, preachers, philosophers, thinkers, and doers. My parents and grandparents had earned my trust through their own love, behavior, and integrity towards me and those around them. If they said they valued the opinions of a particular person, then that caused me to value that person.
I didn’t do most of the talking, but sometimes I would ask questions. They would take the time to explain to me, or hear follow-up questions about these issues. I saw that biblical principles and ideas could actually be applied to what was happening in our nation and government.
PRAYER AND ACTION
This principle transcends party politics. At our home, it was never simply about ‘Vote Democrat” or ‘Vote Republican”-and our family voted for both-but it was about why to vote for a particular person. Party, or policy. Furthermore, when we would gather to pray before bedtime, it was not unusual in our house to pray for our nation or our leaders. Or pray about issues happening around the world. We prayed for the poor and the hungry, for the lost and the dying, for the oppressed. And for the military personnel who were defending freedom.
My parents were always reading, and we had Encyclopedias and Almanacs in our house. Yes. This was pre-internet, although it was post-dinosaur! They made sure I knew about the Judea-Christian values of our Founders and the way that faith had affected our history. I knew about the First and Second Great Awakenings, and the impact that these had on great events like the American Declaration of Independence and the abolition of slavery.
We lived in the South in the 1960s, and my parents taught me by example and instruction to love all God’s children and make them welcomed in our home. People of different colors and ethnicities and nationalities were often guests around our table and even stayed overnight with us. A few of our neighbors were not happy about this, but my parents were not deterred.
In this age of instant information and a 24-hour news cycle, there is a flood of data flying at our families at the speed of light. It’s important for parents to be informed, not just with random bits of trivia, but with a cohesive worldview that can help our children process all they are seeing and hearing.
Next time you sit down at the table with your kids, ask them what they see happening in the world around them, and pray for wisdom and peace to help them process it. Let them know what the issues are out there that you see. Tell them about your voting, and why you plan to vote that way. Watch and pray together that God will raise up righteous leadership. If Christian families across this nation will do that today, it will bring a great blessing tomorrow … not only for our nation, but for the world.
STEPHEN SIMPSON is the Editor of One-to-One Magazine and the Director of CSM Publishing. In addition to publishing ministry, Stephen has served in leadership for churches and ministries in Costa Rica, Florida, Mississippi, Texas, and Michigan, as well as being the Senior Pastor of Covenant Church of Mobile (2004-2013). He continues to travel in ministry across North America and in other nations.