Donald D Schroeder  

While being engaged in a PLAIN TRUTH assignment overseas, I've asked my long-time associate, Don Schroeder, to submit the following "change of pace" topic in my stead this week.

Gene Hogberg


Over thirty years ago, George Orwell wrote the book, 1984, describing the horrors of a thought-controlled totalitarian state. Over 100 of Orwell's 137 predictions about the future have already come true. Some of these include the development of think tanks, defoliants to strip the earth barren, helicopter gunships voice analyzers, data banks, etc.

Orwell also predicted the breakup of the family and the dissolution of emotional ties between men and women and their children.

Already only one U.S. household in three consists of parents and their children (if we consider people living alone or apart from parents as a household). An increasing number of homes are already one parent, and they are growing much faster than two parent families.

One of the most perceptive articles on the alarming trends in the modern family unit was written by Armand M. Nicholi 11, faculty member of the Harvard Medical School and on the staff of Massachusetts General Hospital. He writes in Christianity Today, May 25, 1979: "Early family experience determines our adult character structure, the inner picture we harbor of ourselves, how we see others and feel about them, our concept of right and wrong, our capacity to establish the close, warm, sustained relationships necessary to have a family of our own, our attitude toward authority and toward the Ultimate Authority in our lives, and the way we attempt to make sense out of our existence. No human interaction has greater impact on our lives than our family experience."

Nicholi emphasizes, "What has been shown to contribute most to the emotional development of the child is a close, warm, sustained, and continuous relationship with both parents. Yet certain trends in our society make this most difficult today."

A major fracturing element is the trend toward quick and easy divorce [in some states, a ''no-fault" divorce] and the ever-increasing divorce rate which subjects more and more children to physically and emotionally absent parents. The divorce rate has risen 700% in this century and continues to rise. Over a million children a year are involved in divorce cases in the U.S. alone.

As a result of this high divorce rate, two Census Bureau analysts predict that 45% of all children born in 1978 will become members of one-parent families, at least for a period in their lives, before they reach the age of 18 years. This is a rate that already applies to black youngsters.

Then there is the increasing number of married women who have joined the labor force and work outside the home — especially mothers with young or preschool children. In 1948, around 18% of the nation's mothers worked outside the home. Today it is over 50%. Many colleges and universities, and the feminist movement in particular, pass on the notion that the role of wife and mother is passe, and to settle for such a role in life is to settle for second-class citizenship.

Lack of proper family upbringing is also reflected in the following grim statistics. The number of illegitimate births in the U.S. is over a half million a year, half of which are terminated by abortion. Teenage pregnancies have increased by 33% in the last five years. Of the teenagers that marry, 50% end in divorce within five years.

Nicholi points to studies that indicate that absent or non-influential fathers contribute to their child's low motivation for achievement, inability to defer immediate gratification for later rewards, low self-esteem, susceptibility to group influence, juvenile delinquency, and in some, passive effeminate or dependent sons.

Nicholi predicts as family life fractures, society will have a higher incidence of mental illness than ever before. We can expect the assassination of people in authority to be more frequent, and also violence "just for the fun of it." As battered children (if they survive) produce children, we can expect violence within the family to increase exponentially. And he says we will continue to witness changes in the expression of sexual impulses. "AS sexuality becomes more unlimited, more separated from family and emotional commitment, the deadening effect will cause more bizarre experimenting and widespread perversion," predicts Nicholi. He predicts society will see much more experimenting with homosexuality.

As the home and church in society have declined in influence, child care and training has shifted to other agencies or social groups. But, concludes Nicholi, professional or peer relationships "can never give us the emotional sustenance and support that the close, warm, personal relationships within the family ought to provide."

Never was the need for the fulfillment of Malachi 4:6 greater than today!

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Pastor General's ReportJune 25, 1979Vol 3 No. 24