On Manliness And Fatherhood

 by Tom Wacaster

The title for this week’s article is derived from a piece that appeared in the Weekly Standard, May 25, 2015, entitled, “A Dad’s Life,” by Jonathan Last. Though not written from a religious standpoint, I found myself not only agreeing with what he said, but seeing in his thoughts Biblical principles that are the very foundation of what he considered common sense observations. His thoughts triggered some thoughts of my own; which by the way is how I get a lot of my ideas for bulletin articles, sermons, and personal conversations. Originality is often saying something that has been heard before, but saying it in a little different way. But I digress.

In recent sermons I have shared with you the staggering statistics regarding the breakdown of the American family. We can place a lot of the blame on our educational system, the entertainment industry, and affluence. But it comes down to this one undeniable fact: fathers are not being the kind of fathers God wants them to be! Mr. Last points out that “the single worst thing men have done over the last two generations is abandon their families: Today, 40 percent of children in America are born out of wedlock—that is to say, without a father standing there, committed to help raise them.” Seems like I have heard that somewhere before. If Mr. Last’s information is up to date, the full impact of the abdication of fatherly responsibilities is worse than you might think. “In America, only about 69 percent of kids live in a home with two parents” (Jonathan Last). How do we measure up to other nations with other countries that make up the vast majority of the world’s population. Are you ready for a real shocker? “The percentage of children who live with two parents is 88 percent in the Netherlands, 85 percent in the Philippines and Indonesia, 83 percent in Germany, 78 percent in Canada, 76 percent in Nigeria, 74 percent in Ethiopia, and 72 percent in Bolivia. With our 69 percent, the United States sits in 32nd place” (Jonathan Last). Satan is fully aware that if he can destroy the family he can destroy the nation and thereby destroy more souls. Too bad 31 percent of our families with children don’t realize this undeniable truth.

With the breakdown in the family comes a corresponding increase in societal ills. Behavior has consequences. Look at recent headlines; what do we see? Unrest has run its ruinous course in Ferguson Missouri, Baltimore, Maryland, and now tempers are simmering in Cleveland, Ohio. Riots are the reaction to perceived injustices by those who, themselves, never seem to take justice into consideration when it comes to destroying the property or running rough shod over the rights of others. I used to watch the villain on some TV show or some movie, and I would comment facetiously: “That boy did not have a proper upbringing at home!” I think I can say, without fear of contradiction, that those who riot in the streets of our large cities (and not so large cities) would fall into that same category: “They did not have a proper upbringing at home.”

Mr. Last focuses on this complete breakdown in societal behavior. I share with you this lengthy quote from his article in the Weekly Standard:

Take a look around modern America. With each passing year our society becomes more callow, nasty, and unpleasant— predisposed to juvenilia, ephemera, and self-centeredness. Look at our politics. Look at our entertainment. Look at Twitter. Now, this isn’t the sort of thing you can measure precisely, but ask yourself this: Does America feel like a happier, more contented place than it was five years ago? Ten? Twenty? This is a subjective question, but if you’re the kind of person who likes confirmation, the data are there. The General Social Survey finds that over the last generation, the percentage of Americans who identify themselves as being “not too happy” has nearly doubled. Economists and sociologists have spent years trying to figure out why this is. It isn’t a question of money—in real terms, per capita GDP has increased by 37 percent in a generation, so we’re a lot richer. It isn’t a question of education—more people go to college and graduate school than ever before. It might have something to do with marriage and family, though. For decades, surveys have consistently shown that married people are happier, on average, than people who aren’t married. And today, the percentage of married people in America is at an all-time low. People stay single longer, get divorced more often, and have fewer children to boot. The American decline in happiness has occurred at the same time as the collapse of the family. All of which is to say that if we are failing as a nation, it may well be because we’re failing at manliness. And if we are failing at manliness, it’s almost certainly because we’re failing at fatherhood” (Jonathan Last).

After reading Mr. Last’s article it dawned on me that successful fatherhood relies on men being men, and, as leaders of the family, exercising the kind of manliness that it takes to be a good father. Perhaps this is why Paul (i.e. the Holy Spirit) put that responsibility of raising children in the hands of fathers: “And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but nurture them in the chastening and admonition of the Lord” (Eph. 6:4, ASV). Manliness is that indispensable character trait that enables us to face up to our duties, lead as we should, and refuse to abdicate the responsibility of raising our children to anyone, be it the public school system, the government, or a “village” (as some are now calling for). I’ll close with one last quote from Mr. Last with regard to this manliness of which I speak: “Manliness bring change or restores order at moments when routine is not enough, when the plan fails, when the whole idea of rational control by modern science develops leaks.”

A Study Of The Prophets

by Tom Wacaster

It is unfortunate that many members of the Lord’s church have missed the value of a good study of the prophets. I have observed in my own personal studies that even some of the pioneer preachers of the restoration era either neglected, or deemphasized the value of a study of the books of prophecy. Thankfully, the last thirty years or so there has been a resurgence of interest in a study of the prophets, and entire lecture series have been devoted to the subject. I have in my library at least six lectureship books that focus on a study of the prophets. So when it was decided by the elders that we would spend this summer studying the prophets I was excited about the prospect of such a study. As far back as I can remember, my mentors in the work of preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ have challenged me to “preach like the prophets!” I made it a point in the early years of my preaching to concentrate on the style and substance of those prophets of old. My own preaching has been influenced by their fidelity to God’s word, and their undaunted courage in addressing the sins of the nation of Israel while doing so with great patience and compassion for the people. The preaching of the prophets was balanced preaching. We need more of that today.

In 1993 the Brown Trail congregation conducted a lecture series titled, The Spirit of the Prophets. They produced a book which I have read multiple times, and from which I have drawn some rich material for writing and preaching. I want to draw on three points that brother Avon Malone made in his lesson, “The Spirit of Prophetic Preaching,” and make some brief remarks relative to those points.

First, the prophets preached with audacity. The Encarta Dictionary defines ‘audacity’ as “daring or willingness to challenge assumptions or conventions or tackle something difficult or dangerous.” Does that not describe the preaching of the prophets? The prophets were not men pleasers. The Old Testament prophets disturbed their audiences with bold preaching so uncommon to the preaching of our day and age. It was not an audacity of self serving arrogance, but one that grew out of a complete abandonment of  self and a full surrender to God.

Second, the prophets preached with awareness. They were aware of the world around them, aware of the mission assigned them, and aware of the God Who commissioned them. They were aware of the sins of the people, the holiness of God, and message needed by the masses to turn them from sin back to the Father. The did not live in palaces, but neither did they hide themselves in monasteries. They loved the souls of men, though oft times that love was not apparent to those who heard their preaching. Like the prophets of old, we must preach the truth in love (Eph. 4:15). I like the way brother Malone put it: “We, like the prophets, need awareness of God, His greatness and glory, His holiness and His hatred of evil, His authority and the consequent authority of His word. In addition, we need the prophet’s sensitivity to human need and nature. It may be that the hurting prophet is the one who can most help.”

Finally, the prophets preached with accuracy. They may not have been successful by human standards, but there is no doubt that they fulfilled their commission to speak the word of God faithfully (Jer. 23:28). Jeremiah is just one example of the prophet who, even in the face of physical persecution, preached only, and all, of what God commissioned him to preach. When preachers preach as did the prophets they will get results as did the prophets; either in the form of persecution, or repentance. My heart aches when I see once faithful preachers who have compromised the truth for personal gain. Carl Sandburg tells of the chameleon who got along very well adjusting to his environment until one day he had to cross a scotch plaid—and he died at the crossroads heroically trying to relate to everything at once. Brethren, out nations stands at a crossroads, and it is not the time for cowardly compromise in our preaching.

I’ll close with the precise words brother Malone used to close his lecture: “May the spirit of prophetic preaching become our spirit and may Paul’s passion become our pattern and may we be done with professional time—serving and superficial speech making. May our consciences cry out against the trivia and, worse still, the error and diluted half-truths which sometimes plague the pulpit. May we ‘preach the word’ - ‘the word of the cross’ to dying men who have no other hope.”

Homosexual Marriages

by Tom Wacaster

Times have certainly changed since my childhood days. In some ways that change has been for the better. Socially, medically, technologically, and educationally, we enjoy a far greater standard of living than did our grandparents. But with the advancements in our living conditions there has come a corresponding collapse in our moral living. One area that has suffered from this moral collapse has to do with the family. In the 1950’s we saw an increase in the divorce rate, an increase that has yet to peak. In the 1980’s society gave up on marriage and began to move toward “live-in” partners. Universities sponsored co-ed dormitories, with little if any supervision of what goes on after classroom hours. The 1990’s saw the push for “homosexual rights.” Every imaginable attempt has been made to make the vile practice of homosexuality look legitimate. “You were born that way,” or “What the homosexual does in the privacy of his home will not affect you,” were the initial volleys that were fired over the bow of the societal norms. Like the proverbial camel that was allowed to push his nose through the door, eventually the entire camel has managed to push his way into the tent. Government leaders have coddled, cooed and compromised to the point that the very fabric of our society is now threatened. What started in Vermont, found acceptance in Hawaii, and has now been declared “constitutional” by the high courts in a dozen or more states. We are speaking of the acceptance and legitimization of homosexual marriages. Our Supreme Court cracked the door more than 30 years ago when it legitimized abortion on the grounds that what one does in private in no way affects society. The Supreme Court overthrew the Texas anti-sodomy law on this same flimsy argument of personal “privacy.” My friends, if this “camel” is allowed to get into the tent, then I humbly suggest to you, “there goes the tent!” Consider the following concerning homosexual marriages.

First and foremost, homosexual marriage is completely contrary to God’s divine law. Marriage was instituted and defined in Genesis 2:24: “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall become one flesh.”  This first marriage serves as a pattern for successive marriages, as implied by Jesus in Matthew 19:4-6. If homosexuality is condemned in the scripture (and it is, Rom. 1:26-27, Gen. 19:1 ff.) what makes us think that God will smile on the “union” of two homosexuals? He will not!

Second, homosexual marriage harms marriage in general. Proponents of gay marriage frequently argue that allowing it would have no effect whatsoever on the institution of marriage itself. Former Harvard anthropologist Stanley Kurtz, writing in the Weekly Standard (August 4, 2003), reports on various European studies that challenge this argument. Kurtz reports that in those countries where full homosexual marriage rights have been granted, marriage and indeed concrete family structures have been considerably weakened. Mr. Kurtz writes that “same-sex marriage has locked in and reinforced an existing Scandinavian trend toward the separation of marriage and parenthood instead of encouraging a society-wide return to marriage gay marriage has driven home the message that marriage itself is outdated, and that virtually any family form, including out-of-wedlock parenthood, is acceptable.”

Third, homosexual marriage fosters immorality in society in other areas. Sweden, Denmark, and Norway-all of whom have incorporated full gay marriage rights over the past ten to fifteen years-have seen jumps in out-of-wedlock births since they legalized homosexual marriage. This deterioration of the traditional family structure has ushered in an era where the majority of children are born outside of marriage. What makes us think that legalization of homosexual marriage is going to strengthen the family? To the contrary, it will weaken the family unit and usher in more radical departures from the Biblical definition of marriage. Is it any wonder that some sociologists are declaring that marriage is an outmoded, outdated, and obsolete institution?

Fourth, homosexual marriages give a false impression of respectability of homosexual unions.  I wonder in my own mind, why does the homosexual even bother with marriage?  What do they hope to accomplish if it is not to give some sense of respectability to this sorted and sinful behavior?  If the homosexual rebels and ridicules God’s law on homosexuality, what makes us think they respect God’s law concerning marriage, commitment, fidelity, etc. that comes with the union of two people in marriage?

Finally, homosexual marriage is not just a political issue; it is a moral issue. In fact, it is first and foremost a moral issue. Liberals have attempted to move the issue of homosexual rights and now homosexual marriage off the moral table and classify it as a “civil rights” issue; purely political.  But the child of God realizes that this is a moral issue.  What is shocking is that some members of the body of Christ will support, encourage, and stand by political candidates that have made it known that they favor homosexual activity and/or marriage.

Dear friend, homosexual marriage runs contrary to all that is right and decent. It is a slap in the face of God.  The homosexual community is laughing at God-fearing people in this country.  Let’s not be taken in by this devil’s lie that homosexual marriage will not affect you or me. To believe the lie is deadly.

Letter To The Supreme Court Of The United States

by Tom Wacaster

Supreme Court of the United States
First Street, NE
Washington, DC 20543

To the Honorable Justices of the Supreme Court Of The United States of America:

It is with great respect for the office you hold, and the awesome responsibility that rests upon your shoulders that I pen this letter. On Tuesday, April 28, 2015, you listened to arguments from both sides regarding the issue of whether or not it be deemed within the confines of the Constitution of the United States of America to allow marriage to include the union of same sex couples. I downloaded a copy of that court hearing and read it in its entirety. I was disappointed to note that not once was a reference made to God, the Bible, or the moral uprightness of such a union. The arguments focused instead upon the “dignity” of same sex marriages, the violation of their civil and/or constitutional rights, and whether or not a long held tradition of the definition of marriage should be upheld or set aside for those seeking to enter into a union that essentially redefines marriage so as to include those of the same sex.

The Constitution of the United States of America stands as a monumental demonstration of man’s ability to draft a body of legislation that can produce the greatest degree of freedom, while at the same time providing justice for the greatest number of people living under a single law system. History tells us that those men who framed our Constitution did so with the full realization that whether or not their great experiment in human freedom would succeed depended upon the power and providence of God. The American Revolution was the result of their appeal to a higher law than that of England. They fully recognized that there is a law that transcends all human laws. Interestingly, the international community, and civilized nations have, on numerous occasions, appealed to that law in an effort to bring justice to those oppressed throughout the world. Consider just two examples.

First, following WWII the international community sought to bring Nazi war criminals to justice. Those trials were held in Nuremburg, Germany. To what “law” did the international community appeal in their efforts to prosecute the war criminals? It was not German law, American law, Russian law, et al. It was an appeal to a much higher law, and a much higher Law Giver. There are some actions that, by their very nature, violate a much higher law than any law system that men might devise. By your own admission in the court hearings this past month, you recognized that the proponents of same sex marriages are seeking to redefine the marriage institution. The question is not how we, living in this century, might redefine marriage, but how the Great Law Giver has already defined that institution.

Second, rogue nations have, for decades, been denied entry into the commonwealth of civilized nations because of their violation of what we consider “basic human rights.” To what law does the international community appeal when it calls for punishment of those nations that have violated the human rights of their citizens? Certainly it cannot be that nation’s law, for according to their law no injustice has been committed. When we plead for human rights, whether here in the United States of America, or any nation, we are appealing to some higher law, whether we recognize the Law Giver, or refuse to acknowledge His existence.

I appeal to you, as you make your final judgment on the matter of what constitutes marriage, and more specifically who can enter into that institution, that you realize that there is truly a higher law to which all of us must now appeal. That higher law set forth the boundaries of marriage from the very beginning of the human race: “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh” (Gen. 2:24). The same Law Giver, and the same law upon which our Constitution was established, declares unequivocally that marriage is a divine institution consisting of one man and one woman. If the Allied forces following WWII could bring war criminals to trial for violating that higher law, and if nations today can call for rogue nations to exercise basic human rights as established by some higher law, why cannot you, as the highest court in our land, appeal to that higher law to define marriage. Failure to do so will set a precedent for future generations to ignore that higher law, and depend solely upon the whims and dictates of men to direct their course in life. Should that happen, I fear what shall become of our nation.

May God give you the wisdom and insight in order that you might look beyond what men might think legal, and consider whether or not this is a time to appeal to that greater law as you deliberate on this important issue.


Tom Wacaster