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Born to Win with Ronald L. Dart


How Freedom Is Lost

Friday, June 22, 2018

Ronald L. Dart

As I watch the way our government is changing, I can’t help thinking back to a time when man enjoyed maximum freedom under God. The story is in the Bible, of all places, and it describes, of all things, a theocracy. Many nowadays worry that Christians want to establish a theocracy in this country, but they needn’t worry. You can’t establish a theocracy in a country that doesn’t recognize God. In the Bible, the story of the theocracy (and its end) is told through the books of Joshua, Judges, and Samuel.

It began, ironically, with another freeing of slaves—in that case, the children of Israel from slavery in Egypt. If you think about it very long, you’ll know that you can’t just grant men Liberty by setting them free. Merely freeing the slaves leads only to anarchy. To really be free requires an internal commitment to the rule of law, and the only law that can guarantee Liberty is the Law of God.

So, God brought Israel out of Egypt and 50 days later, spoke to them all from the slopes of Mount Sinai. What did he have to say? He gave them what the Bible calls his “testimony”—Ten Commandments. The people were frightened beyond measure at the display of power, but they agreed to the words of the Ten Commandments and voluntarily entered covenant with God as their king. It was this law, and God, that guaranteed their liberty, and that is why James, in the New Testament, calls it the “Law of Liberty”. It is a long and difficult story through the conquest of Canaan and the establishment of the nation. But fundamental to the nation and the economy were the same principles that guided the fathers of this country.


Standing at the Edge - Thursday, June 21, 2018

After some recent reading, I now think we are standing closer to the Abyss than I thought we were, and that the tipping point is not what I thought it was. Let me explain. I have long been aware of the closing verses of the Old Testament (you may know them):

“Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD: And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse” (Malachi 4:5–6 KJV).

For some reason, most of commentators I’ve heard focus on the coming of Elijah (and more than one prophecy nut has claimed to be a reincarnation of that prophet). But the last verse is where I am today: “And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.”

I’ve heard various explanations of this, but none of them seemed to draw out the truly shocking statement that is there. And I’ve come to understand something that was slower to come to me than it should have been: God does not have to lift a finger or press a button; the curse follows on our own action. Yes, I know God says through the prophet, “lest I come and smite the earth with a curse”, but the act of God comes before we have passed the point of no return. In other words, the curse that God sends is an intervention to prevent the continuing slide into oblivion.

Now that is a sobering thought as we find ourselves standing at the edge and staring into the Abyss. What does our future look like, short of divine intervention? For I cannot see a way we can turn this around ourselves. We are too far down the slippery slope to hell. Malachi’s solution was that we should remember the law of Moses. How much chance do we have of that ever happening? So, let’s follow the idea of this “curse” to see where it leads…

Expectations of Marriage - Wednesday, June 20, 2018

When on vacation, celebrating our 50th wedding anniversary, my wife and I happened to notice a magazine article entitled, "Marriages that Last (Is Yours One?)". That was irresistible under the circumstances. Our marriage seemed to be one of those that had lasted, and would continue to last. Since we were now "authorities" on a marriage that had lasted, we thought it might be interesting to compare notes.

There were some surprises in the article. One of them was the cost of the average wedding in the U.S.—$22,360. It took my breath away. That seems like a lot of money to pay for something that only has a 50-50 chance of making it. Would you pay $22,360 dollars for a car that only had a 50% chance of lasting? Would you pay 22,360 dollars for a car and then not change the oil? Because a lot people seem to think that a marriage requires no preventive maintenance. We figure our wedding cost something between $350–$500. Now, 50 years later, couples in the US spend $50 billion a year on weddings, and $25 billion of that is a bad investment.

Along with a lot of sobering statistics, the article had a couple of important insights. We are no longer content with a reliable partner. We want a spouse who will make us happy. And there is no one who can do that. You can have a partner who is as dependable as sunrise, who will be there for you come hell or high water. But if this partner can’t make you happy, you will leave him and take the children with you, right? Well, that is what people are doing every day. All this helped me understand why the divorce rate keeps on climbing. People are entering marriage expecting something that no partner can provide. Happiness is a will of the wisp. It comes and goes with circumstances and has more to do with what is inside you than it does with what your partner does or doesn’t do. If you enter marriage with unrealistic expectations, you haven’t got a chance.

Lifestyle Generation - Tuesday, June 19, 2018

(This program is not about abortion. It's going to sound like it is, for a few minutes, while I set up what I want to say.) Polls say that Americans claim to oppose what they call “lifestyle abortions”. The favor abortions only in unusual circumstances: rape, incest, and to save the life of the mother. But the vast majority of abortions are not for that. Out of 1.3 million abortions, only 14,000 were for any of those three reasons. Of the other 1,296,000, 3/4 say that a baby would interfere with work, school, or other responsibilities, 2/3 say they cannot afford a child, and 1/2 say they don’t want to be a single parent, or are having problems with their male partner. In the “war within the Western conscience”, lifestyle now has the upper hand.

“It’s not a matter of monolithic, time-honored religion versus itty-bitty, flighty lifestyle. It’s religion—marginal vestige, subculture, private matter—versus lifestyle—the engine, the symbol, the central organizing principle of the most powerful nation in the history of mankind. […] Indeed, lifestyle as a values system grows steadily more powerful as capitalism grows steadily more beneficent.” I follow the news pretty carefully, but nothing I have read in years—absolutely nothing—has given me as much cause for concern as this paragraph.

Historians have long known that it was lifestyle (although that word had not been invented yet) that brought down the Roman Empire. It was excessive leisure and prosperity that led directly to a loss of meaning and purpose for the nation. And we all know that the biblical prophets connected Israel’s estrangement from God to wealth and prosperity. But there is something new under the sun. In our country today, we have gone beyond wealth. What happens when a society goes beyond wealth and prosperity? It is uncharted territory.

Planned Parenthood - Monday, June 18, 2018

I know said this in another program, but it bears repeating. I think the kids of my generation did a better job of teaching sex than schools are doing today. I have empirical evidence for my side of this. In modern times, the number of children born to single, teenage women is seven times what it was when I was in high school. It is three times as great in the under 15 cohort of little girls. Over all, 1 out of 3 newborn babies in this country are illegitimate.

In my generation, we learned most of what we learned about sex from other kids. The rest we picked up on the fly from movies, with a very small smattering from parents. Now I will admit that we didn’t get a lot of technical information. But how much do you need to know at age 15? We knew we weren’t supposed to engage in sexual activity, and that was a very important part of the curriculum. The girls knew they would get pregnant and the consequences of that were dire enough that very few were willing to risk it. We knew something else important. We knew that sex and love were connected somehow, and that you were only supposed to have sex with someone you were in love with. Sometimes I think today’s kids, coming out of high school, may know more about sex than I do. But on the evidence, I would have to say that my generation did a better job of conveying the essential information for having a good life. At least we had a lot better numbers. But all that seems to have changed, somehow. There's an entirely different philosophy at work.

I used to think that “planned parenthood” was about birth control. That is, that planned parenthood was about planning when you were going to have your children, how many you would have, how far apart you would have them—things like that. It was something for people who planned to be parents, but didn’t want little accidents running around the house. That’s what I used to think—a long time ago. Today, it’s another story. So, what’s Planned Parenthood all about?

A Father in the House - Friday, June 15, 2018

Several years ago I knew a young woman who was frustrated in her marriage and wanted a divorce. Her family pleaded with her not to do it, to seek counseling, and to try to work things out. “So many couples”, they said, “tough it out during the hard times and later they find themselves with good, strong marriages.” Her husband did not want the divorce and was prepared to do almost anything to keep the family together. They said, “Think about your little boy. He needs a father in the home.” But she had married young, felt restricted, and wanted to spread her wings. Her reply considering the little fellow was dismissive, “Oh, he will be all right.” You know, I don’t think she knew the risks she was taking.

Children without fathers in the home are almost twice as likely to be hyperactive as kids in homes with two parents. I don’t think she knew that 63% of youth suicides are kids who grew up with no father in the house. I don’t think she knew that 90% of all the runaways and homeless kids out there grew up in fatherless homes. Or that 85% of the children with have behavior disorders, 71% of high-school dropouts, 70% of juveniles in state operated institutions, and 85% of youths in prison grew up in homes without a father.

Fathers who abandon their children and mothers who take their children away from their fathers have no idea of the price the kids are going to pay. But I think, it is because they don’t want to think about it. It is not because the information isn’t out there. At the same time a full 92% of Americans believe that our nation can only go forward if American families are made stronger. A solid majority realize that the institution of the family is weak and getting weaker. Over 25 million children today, right now, are being raised with no father in the home. The most reliable predictor of crime is not poverty, it is not race, it is growing up without a dad. What is really odd about all of this, is that while there’s a very strong consensus among American people about the importance of the family, no one really has any idea what to do about it. And may not have the will, even if they knew.

Everything Is Beautiful - Thursday, June 14, 2018

I used to wonder at the decay of popular music in all of its forms. Why wasn’t anyone writing beautiful music? It seemed almost as though they had lost the ability. And then I read what Robert Bork wrote about the “music” in question in Slouching Towards Gomorrah: “The obscenity of thought and word is staggering, but also notable is the deliberate rejection of any attempt to achieve artistic distinction or even mediocrity.” And suddenly, it all became clear to me.

It is not merely that they can no longer write music as such. It is even that they will not.The problem is that they have come to hate beauty, to despise art. There is a spirit of pure hatred in what is called art and music today. For decades now, artists and musicians have tried to shock the bourgeoisie with trash only to find the bourgeoisie adapting its taste to trash and becoming, now, nearly unshockable. The objective is not to advance art. It is to trash art.To make art ridiculous.

Rollo May said that when men lose the power to love, they often substitute what he called “power over” or dominance. And there can be no doubt that many have lost the power to love. And everything that was beautiful, we have come to hate. It doesn’t take a very vivid imagination to grasp what is going on when an artist wants to urinate on Christ, to throw dung at the mother of Jesus. There is a hatred there of staggering dimensions. And it is a hatred that is very old. A hatred that probably predates man’s presence on the earth. Whence cometh this chaotic, destructive, hateful, violent, excrement-obsessed spirit? More important, where is it going?

Covenant Marriage - Wednesday, June 13, 2018

For the first time in our history, married couples are in a minority. Married couples now only comprise 48% of the households of this country. Back when I was a junior in high school, going to the prom, and dating the girl who would become my wife—back in 1950—that figure was 78%. And as my wife and I approach our 49th anniversary, it is sobering to think that a marriage like ours belongs on the endangered species list. Lifetime, permanent marriage is rapidly becoming a thing of the past.

And even marriage isn’t what it used to be. Since the advent of "no-fault" divorce in the 1970s (which sure seemed like a good idea at the time) divorce has increased four times over. For many people today, it's not very different from cohabitation; it just has some legalities at the beginning and some legalities at the end. And increasingly, many couples are just forgoing their legalities and shacking up. We're evolving as a society, but I'm not sure we're going to like the "brave new world" we are creating. The effects of these changes on children are beginning to show up as they become adults, and no one knows how this is ultimately going to play out. It isn't that we didn't know the effect it was having at the time—that the information was available to us. The problem was that no one really wanted to know.

There are now some efforts being made to turn back the tide. Some states have introduced something called "covenant marriage". The idea is to give couples the option of creating a much stronger marriage contract. It features things like pre-marital counseling, waiting periods, established grounds for divorce, and even a trial separation to see what it feels like. Another thing that covenant marriage is bringing to the fore is that marriage is a contract—and a very unique one, at that.

Love & Sex - Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Now, I have the greatest admiration for the teaching profession. It’s an honorable one. But there’s a lot of experimentation going on in schools led by educators who are long on idealism and short on common sense. The objects of this experimentation are your kids. And the law of unintended consequences has seen your sons and daughters expecting babies, infected with disease, or carted off to the abortion clinic.

The image of a couple of high-school girls in a science lab struggling to put a condom on a banana tells me that some wisdom is missing from the system. We should take more interest in what is going on in our schools, whether we are parents or not. These are good people teaching your children, but they need your help and involvement—giving the educational process a good dose of common sense.

Meanwhile, from a parent’s perspective, is there something that might be taught alongside sex education that could make a difference? I have two important ideas from a biblical perspective—one for sons and one for daughters.

Love & Marriage - Monday, June 11, 2018

If you think marriage is tough, try divorce. At least that’s what a friend of mine told me after about a year of divorce. Divorce is a nasty business, and especially nasty for the children. Back in the ’70s some states started passing no-fault divorce laws in a well-intentioned effort to take the acrimony out of divorce.

Divorce rates rose steadily until, by 1990, about half of all marriages ended in divorce. The increase in divorces has leveled off, but only because the number of marriages has dropped off. People just don't bother with marriage; they shack up instead.

Marriage and relationships have become, for many people, a market relationship. People enter the relationship for the benefits, and when the benefits are no longer there, they end the relationship. If I use one long-distance company, and another one comes along and offers me a better deal, I switch. People are doing the same thing with husbands and lovers. Now guess who wins and who loses in this situation?

Lectionary Calendar
Saturday, June 23rd, 2018
the Week of Proper 6 / Ordinary 11
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