My oldest son, age 10, recently told me, “Mom, I kinda feel sorry for my friend. I think he has a hard life.” He explained that his friend is always sad since his parents got divorced and he is not doing well at school. We discussed how he might help his friend. For some reason, I couldn’t stop thinking about this boy – one of a million or more children in similar situations. These are not lives of material or physical hardship but emotional and familial distress – sufferings of the soul. How can we keep our children safe from the modern-day plagues of anxiety, loneliness, and nihilism?
Traditionally, children have been protected by a stable family structure and religious values. But increasingly these values are questioned and often discarded. Our culture is now experiencing moral chaos, old norms are going the way of the typewriter and powdered wigs. Concurrently, mental health diagnoses increase, opioid addiction skyrockets, and STD rates rise. The biggest influence on our psychology, morality, and perspective is our childhood home. As the typical home experiences the turmoil of shifting values, we see suffering in our society’s youth.“Over the previous half-century, an overwhelming collection of research studies in sociology, psychology, biology, child development, and medicine has pointed to one great and common truth: children predictably do best when raised by their two natural parents who are married. Any deviation from this model raises the likelihood of physical, mental, and social difficulties. This is why every healthy polity encourages the creation and maintenance of married-couple homes.”
“Over the previous half-century, an overwhelming collection of research studies in sociology, psychology, biology, child development, and medicine has pointed to one great and common truth: children predictably do best when raised by their two natural parents who are married. Any deviation from this model raises the likelihood of physical, mental, and social difficulties. This is why every healthy polity encourages the creation and maintenance of married-couple homes.”
— Allan Carlson
How do we go about saving our children and a society experiencing moral entropy? In order to fight against our sinking culture, we need to adopt the proper plan of action – Open Rebellion. There is a quaint belief going around that there is a “Silent Majority” that still believes in reasonable and long-held positions of morality. Frankly, the Silent Majority is useless; it is so quiet it might as well not exist. It is either imaginary or it is submissively allowing the wolves to drive us like sheep off the cliff – but more of that later.
“Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.”
— Mark Twain
Sometimes we look at political and social polls – tracking what the majority feels on a certain issue, as if it were a gauge for its appropriateness. In a world that has abandoned its core values, the majority can no longer be trusted. The unhappy truth is that the majority of Germans supported the Nazis; the majority of politicians lie; the majority of high school students cheat. As we read history, we often picture ourselves in the role of hero, but chances are we would have been one of the “wicked majority”. Perhaps we would not have actively participated in evil acts – but our silence, immobility, or submission would have allowed wickedness to thrive.
“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”
— Edmund Burke
Parents and children must realize the reality of the “wicked majority”. If we want our children on our side, we must tell them the truth. Children have a strong desire to conform and be “normal” – life seems easier that way. The dark potential of conformity is not initially obvious. Kindergarteners don’t form gangs. Children are hopeful and innocent to human malevolence. We may not want to darken their view of the world by telling them of the evil proclivities of the crowd. But as children age, the power of peer pressure grows. They must recognize the tendency to justify immoral behavior rather than risk diverging from the norm. A naive view of human nature will not help our children avoid destruction – it may push them towards it.
Uncovering a Monster
“You don’t have the strength of character to be good until you understand just exactly what sort of monster you can be.” Jordan Peterson. When we recognize our own potential for evil, the monster inside us, we begin to understand why the majority often chooses darkness. Our own potential Monster, foreshadowed by our daily vice, must be uncovered. It must be recognized and rejected – or we will begin to rationalize our immorality and the parallel degeneracy of our society. We may become so accustomed to our collective vice that it will no longer be a monster to us, but a friend.
“Vice is a monster of so frightful mien
As to be hated needs but to be seen;
Yet seen too oft, familiar with her face,
We first endure, then pity, then embrace.”
— Alexander Pope
The majority is an increasingly dangerous place to be. The monster is now out, and roaming the halls of the typical high school – casual sex, pornography, and recreational drug use are all “normal”. We need to stop “hoping for the best” and arm our kids for battle. Our children are inundated daily with evidence of the destructiveness of the crowd and immorality. Their conscience directs them to choose right over wrong; they simply need the proper perspective so they choose to follow it, rather than the crowd. They need to know that they are capable of treading a new path, one more fulfilling than conformity.
“The person who follows the crowd will usually go no further than the crowd. The person who walks alone is likely to find himself in places no one has ever seen before.”
— Albert Einstein
Foreshadowing in Rome
Morality is what holds society together. Throughout time most societies have come to similar norms of right and wrong. However, as societies age, they begin to degenerate and virtues are replaced with vices: materialism replaces humility, lust replaces fidelity, ambition replaces service. The fall of Rome was blamed by Roman historians on a collapsing social structure and morality.
“A great civilization is not conquered from without until it has destroyed itself within. The essential causes of Rome’s decline lay in her people, her morals, her class struggle, her failing trade, her bureaucratic despotism, her stifling taxes, her consuming wars.”
— Will Durrant
An example of the moral blindness of Rome is shown in their treatment of children. Before Rome’s fall their birth rate plummeted. Pedophilia and child abuse were common. Roman citizens did not place value on infant life. They would “expose” unwanted babies – leaving them on trash heaps to die. The Christians, refused to accept this norm. They believed in the sacredness of human life and began saving these children – taking them into their own homes. The idea of “charity” was virtually unknown in the pagan world before Christianity. The new but growing sect of Christians drew the ire Rome.
“Christians followed the example of Jesus, who had compassion for the powerless… Christian writers openly criticized Roman society for its superstition and hedonism. This, combined with Christians’ refusal to participate in traditional Roman religion, meant that to pagan Romans, Christians seemed rigorously intolerant.”
— Mike Aquilina (Seven Revolutions)
Today many pushing progressive values have resurrected the Roman claim of the “intolerant Christian”.
Resisting temptation will often make our lives more difficult – the road less traveled is less traveled for a reason. Any engaged young adult attempting to be abstinent until marriage knows how difficult resisting temptation can be – justifying premarital sex is much easier. Any recovering alcoholic knows the misery of resisting a drink. Any high school student knows it’s easier to cheat than to study.
The early Christians, including Paul, understood what was required of those breaking from the majority. They were burned at the stake or torn apart by lions as a reward for their intolerance and refusal to deny their beliefs. Disciples are called upon to suffer as a direct result of their attempts to be “good”, especially in times of moral degeneracy.
But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed.
— 1 Peter 4:13
It is crucial that our youth expect that difficulty will come when they diverge from the majority. This path won’t help them be the “cool kid”, but their shining example could bring hope to the hopeless. They may not march in the crowd – but in attempting to model a virtuous and moral life they will bring back an Ideal lost to many. They must be willing to suffer and face their own monster, and be ready for a fight. They must understand that this battle is much more important than the trivialities of school and friends.
Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.
— Ephesians 6
My five-year-old daughter REFUSES to wear her hair in pig-tails. But she is so stinking cute with her hair in pigtails that some days I will invoke my own stubborn nature and hold her still while I put her hair up. I quickly tell my other kids to heap praise upon her. Despite this flattery, after a few minutes she will have inevitably taken her hair out.
I always wanted to raise obedient children. But, unfortunately, as toddlers each child has come to that crucial realization, they have their own will. A new existence of stubborn obstinance begins. However, now, as I recognize the degeneration of our culture, and people’s proclivity for conformity, I appreciate my children’s willful and independent natures. Who wants obedience to such a world? We need rebels! We need to encourage our children to rebel against the culture and defend truth and goodness. If my daughter can resist the pressure of pigtails, maybe she can reject the pressuring of a teenage boy; maybe she can resist the temptation to smoke pot or to tease the new girl.
The Opposition is Already Waging War
As I was researching for this post I wanted to see if the title I was planning, “Raising Rebels”, had been used previously. I did a quick internet search and the top listing was of a podcast, with tens of thousands of views, with the following description: Raising Rebels: Raising trans and queer babies is a fundamental survival strategy for all possible futures.
Considering my core thesis is that we need to raise children willing to rebel against the destruction of traditional morality, I found this quite ironic. However, it also highlights something very important. We are losing this battle, and for one main reason – the opposition see themselves as Rebels, while we are lulled into a false sense of security. They are engaged in cultural warfare while we eat grapes like the Roman aristocracy. They know that the Silent Majority is theirs for the taking if they make enough noise and appeal to our self-righteous, fearful and naive nature. Now, I am not saying the producers of the above podcast are to be hated or that they are not sincere in their beliefs. However, I am saying that they are, in fact, wrong. Their “strategy” to dismantle the traditional family will not help society’s “survival” but instead hasten its destruction. We should be compassionate, but we must not acquiesce. We must continually oppose their agenda. If we stay in the zone of no resistance we will continue to be pushed left – right off the cliff.
“When the whole world is running towards a cliff, he who is running in the opposite direction appears to have lost his mind.”
— C.S. Lewis
Enemy Tactics – Appeal to your desire for tolerance
A powerful tactic of any invading force is an appeal to the desire for peace. We don’t want the conflict an insistence on morality may bring. Women particularly fear being accused of intolerance. Almost weekly, I am bombarded on social media with another viral blog post stressing that “we not judge” others based on some moral decision. I agree that God is our judge, we need not concern ourselves with the lives of others because we are not aware of their particularities and should be primarily concerned with our own lives. But in reality, the accused we, by and large, don’t actually care about other people’s private lives – the cry “don’t judge me” is based on the presumption that someone was. It is more often the case that we are all too busy thinking about ourselves to worry what others do.
“You wouldn’t worry so much about what others think of you if you realized how seldom they do.”
— Eleanor Roosevelt
But nonetheless, “Don’t Judge”, is the standard method of deflection whenever someone opposes the normalization of a previously stigmatized behavior. It is another way of saying, “Stop talking, you just think you are better than me.” Nope. We just don’t want our culture to slide into the abyss. We can stand up for doctrine or morality without ruminating on your particular love life, or outfit, or health choice. Love the sinner, hate the sin is still a thing, right? Perhaps you aren’t as concerned about our judgement as you are with rationalizing your own choices? Here’s the solution: First, stop caring what other people think. Second, care what God thinks.
My son’s friend is suffering because of his parents’ divorce. I am not judging his parents – I have no idea what the situation was that led to the decision – it is none of my business. But just because this is his reality, does that mean we pretend divorce is not a negative for children? Do we instead, to spare feelings, pretend that divorce is just as good as parents remaining married? You are not going to trick a child saddened by divorce into thinking he is living the good life. But, in discounting his natural reactions to break up of his family, you may convince him that there is no good life to be found. In our attempts to avoid judgement we are throwing out the ideal and lying to our children.
Those that want to dismantle traditional values often come to us in sheep’s clothing. We should treat everyone with empathy and understanding – but staying silent and passive in the face of cultural disintegration is not kindness, it’s cowardice.
Enemy Tactics – Use the Lukewarm
Christ tells us that who is “not with me is against me”. But how do we know which side we are really on? Surely it is enough to attempt to live morally and avoid conflict? As a mother, I simply want my family to be free to live out our beliefs in peace. However, the unfortunate truth is that increasingly the fight is coming to us whether we like it or not. The question is, when the time comes, will we stand or lay down? The Romans came for the early Christians, the fame of their integrity before Roman immorality helped demonstrate the truth of the gospel; Christianity grew exponentially. The Romans, on the other hand, fell easily to the Visigoths, they had no strength to stand.
I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.
— Revelation 3:6
This seems harsh. Why such a rejection of lukewarm water? It could never harm anybody. Exactly. Before their fall, prophetic Romans warned that their moral decay would lead to destruction.
“More savage than war, luxury burdened (Rome) and avenged the conquered world.”
— Juvenal, Satire 6
The Silent Majority is the biggest asset of the opposition. Material ease and comfort have made us lazy and complacent. We need not struggle, we have even forgotten how to. The majority’s lukewarm nature ensures a non-confrontational march to wherever the progressive leaders desire.
“Indeed, the safest road to Hell is the gradual one-the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts…”
— 2 Chronicles 2:15
The loud and aggressive minority quickly controls the Silent Majority into submission. Children of the Silent Majority are left with no way of deciphering their parents true moral beliefs. They learn only from their parents’ words and actions– the willing acceptance of the dismantling of their culture. Yes, they may not have fully engaged their inner monster – but weakness is not goodness. Lukewarm water will never become warmer – it will only grow cold and quiet.
Conclusion – A Dangerous Minority
“A harmless man is not a good man. A good man is a very dangerous man who has that under voluntary control.”
— Jordan Peterson
Better to transform our monster into a destroying angel – capable of defeating evil and doing God’s work. But how? By living out the values we are attempting to preserve. Anyone that resists vice and attempts to live a moral life is capable of defeating our cultural Monster, for they have faced their own before. Those that immediately submit to temptation and the demands of the enemy, will remain naive and weak.
“No man knows how bad he is till he has tried very hard to be good. A silly idea is current that good people do not know what temptation means. This is an obvious lie. Only those who try to resist temptation know how strong it is. After all, you find out the strength of the German army by fighting against it, not by giving in. You find out the strength of a wind by trying to walk against it, not by lying down. A man who gives in to temptation after five minutes simply does not know what it would have been like an hour later. That is why bad people, in one sense, know very little about badness — they have lived a sheltered life by always giving in. We never find out the strength of the evil impulse inside us until we try to fight it: and Christ, because He was the only man who never yielded to temptation, is also the only man who knows to the full what temptation means — the only complete realist.”
— C.S. Lewis
If we want to prevent another ‘sacking of Rome’, we must bravely rebel against a culture which is allowing our collective-Monster to corrupt morality and cast aside our children. Increasingly the act of simply living-out a Christian life is an act of rebellion. We must refuse to lose our souls to the Lukewarm Majority as it descends into moral entropy. We must boldly live out our beliefs, stand against degrading values, and teach our children to do the same.
Truth will win in the end. We may not know what “the end” will look like, or what sufferings will be required to achieve it – but heroes are always on the side of truth.
This is what the Lord says to you: ‘Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s.
— 2 Chronicles 2:15
This essay was originally published on The Philosophy of Motherhood. Thank you to Allyson for letting REALM republish this piece.
Cover image: Thomas Cole, The Course of Empire, Destruction, 1836, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, USA.
Rather than outline evidence of the negative impact shifting values have on children, relevant resources are found below. I highly suggest the book, Seven Revolutions: How Christianity Changed the World and Can Change it Again, for an in depth look at Early Christianity and Roman Times.
Be Kind to Children: https://www.touchstonemag.com/archives/article.php?id=29-04-003
Divorce Effect on Kids http://www.marriage-success-secrets.com/statistics-about-children-and-divorce.html
Premarital Sex Increases Divorce Risk Two Reasons Why Premarital Sex Increases the Risk of Divorce
Pedophilia in Rome https://allthatsinteresting.com/pederasty
Excellent talk by Attorney General William Barr on religious freedom.