America’s Pied Piper: Culture vs. Covenant

The legendary children’s poem, The Pied Piper of Hamelin, by Robert Browning, tells the story about a town named Hamelin, which was overrun with a plague of rats. A strange-looking man with a pipe, in brightly-colored clothes, who gave his name as the Pied Piper, came to the town's officials; for an agreedupon fee, he promised to rid Hamelin of its rats. The Pied Piper took his pipe and played enticing music, which lured all the rats to follow him. The Pied Piper led them on and on, right into the River Weser, where the rats drowned. When Hamelin’s mayor would not pay him the negotiated fee, the Pied Piper played alluring music on his pipe once more, charming all the children of Hamelin to march after him. They followed the Piper right out of the town of Hamelin into the side of the mountain, never to be seen or heard from again. Only one child, who was lame and could not keep up, was left to tell what had happened to all the other children.

In this poetic story, the children were led away from the town and their parents by the intriguing music of the Pied Piper. I believe there is a “Pied Piper” in present-day America, luring Christian family members away from one another and from their covenant God namely, the powerful influence of our culture. 

God’s promise to be our God and the God of our children comes with the responsibility that we are to love God, keep His commandments, and teach them to our children. God’s promise does not change, but the influence of culture, whether it be a friend or foe, makes a big difference, both for parents who must carry out their part of the covenantal requirement of teaching their children and for their children, who must accept God’s covenant for themselves. In this article, I plan to point out how a number of factors in our culture are enticements to God’s people and are diametrically opposed to God’s covenant; therefore they become a “Pied Piper” in antithesis to God’s covenant declaration to Abraham: “I will establish my covenant as an everlasting covenant between me and you and your descendants after you for the generations to come, to be your God and the God of your descendants after you” (Genesis 17:7). In Galatians 3:29, we read: “If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise.”

Population Controls

One factor in American culture that opposes God’s covenant is the urgent propaganda of population control. A number of years ago, at a meeting held in a covenant-teaching church, I heard population control stressed and promoted as a Christian responsibility. The speaker recommended and urged only two and at the most three children per family. This was not only a strong recommendation, but it was promoted as a moral obligation. One way God’s Bible message is perpetuated is through parents telling it to their children. Less covenant children means less people learning about God and His way of salvation. When Christian couples practice population control of only two or three children in a family and others do not, God's number of followers on this earth decreases in ratio to false religion or non-Christian population.

U.S. News and World Report, September 12, 1994, in an article entitled “Population Wars,” states: “Islam has no fixed doctrine on population growth. But some Islamic groups proclaim that Muslims should be seeking to increase their population highest level possible ... ”

That same article, under subheading, “The Real Threat,” says: “Recent scientific studies confirm that the earth’s basic resources are vastly greater than what are needed to feed even the 10 billion people who are almost certain to inhabit the planet by the middle of the next century. The real threat is not that the earth will run out of land, topsoil, or water, but that nations will fail to pursue the economic, trade, and research policies that can increase the production of food, limit environmental damage, and ensure that resources reach the people who need them.”

In the Grand Rapids Press, September 11, 1995, an article entitled “Big families, once the norm, get second looks today,” by Kenton Robinson, quotes Allan Carlson, president of the Rockford Institute:

It’s pretty clear that it happened in the late 1960s. “Paul Ehrlich's book, Population Bomb, I think, is the single most important factor in this. It got wide publicity and became staple reading material on most campuses. The book was terribly wrong about most everything it said, but it had a tremendous influence.”

“I was on campus at the time, and I can remember the powerful effect it had on a whole generation of young women and young men, convincing them that to have a child is not natural and a fulfillment of things...but in fact a selfish act.”

Abortion is another practice in our culture that is a foe to God’s covenant. It not only breaks God’s command, “Do not kill,” but also, when a Christian woman aborts her baby, it is a covenant child that is being killed; and this devastating act affects the mother's relationship with her covenant God. Abortions performed on Christian women, like population control, affects the Christian and non-Christian ratio in our country and the world.

A recent Grand Rapids Press article states: “A Jewish prophet once warned: ‘Woe to those who call good evil and evil good.’ We’ve called abortion ‘choice’ and marriage an inconvenience” (Cal Thomas).“Charles Reese, in his editorial in the Grand Rapids Press of June 20, 1995, wrote: "Support for legalized abortion has grown from two sources. One is the population control movement—an elitist movement, by the way, that originally wanted to curtail the growth of humans that the elitists considered undesirable and inferior. The other is the feminist movement.”

Radical Feminism

Radical feminism has not only been influential in promoting abortion, but it has also been a powerful enemy to God’s covenant in our culture through its philosophy of the woman promoting herself, her desires, and her career before her marriage and/or family. When marriage and family are not considered callings by the Christian woman, the home suffers more easily from divorce, home breakup, and lonely, rebellious children, none of which fit well into God's plan for His covenant.

In his book Lost Daughters, (p. 83 and 88), Reinder Van Til writes:

Given the degree to which the new radical feminists have demonized men, it is quite understandable that they tend to take a dim view of marriage and the traditional family. Persuading women that they are oppressed and victimized often appears to be the first step in the new radical feminist consciousness-raising.

Relevant quotations from Slouching Towards Gomorrah, by Robert H. Bork, (p. 208 and p. 217), are the following:

There are now more than 600 undergraduate and several dozen graduate programs in Women’s Studies in American colleges and universities. [These institutions are essentially the centers of feminism’s power.]

So alienating are the messages of the women’s studies programs that Professor Sommers writes that she would like to see some of the more extreme institutions (e.g., Wellesley College, Mount Holyoke, Smith, Mills, and the University of Minnesota) put warning labels on the first page of their bulletins:

We will help your daughter discover the extent to which she has been in complicity with the patriarchy. We will encourage her to reconstruct herself through dialogue with us. She may become enraged and chronically offended. She will very likely reject the religious and moral codes you raised her with. She may well distance herself from family and friends. She may change her appearance and even her sexual orientation. She may end up hating you (her father) and pitying you (her mother). After she has completed her re-education with us, you will certainly be out of tens of thousands of dollars and very possibly be out one daughter as well.1

Robert H. Bork, in his book, Slouching Towards Gomorrah, (p. 213), also explains the effed of radical feminism:

As one might suspect from their hostility to men, marriage, and family, radical feminists are very much in favor of lesbianism. This involves more than the demand that lesbianism be accepted by SOciety as just another “lifestyle.” They want not only lawful lesbian marriages but “reproductive rights” for lesbians. That means the right to bear children through artificial insemination, and the right to adopt one's lesbian partner’s child. Since sperm is sold freely in the United States, much more freely than in other nations, there are lesbian couples raising children. It takes little imagination to know how the children will be indoctrinated.2

Cal Thomas, in his article, “Vermont court plays role of morality police,” (Grand Rapids Press, December 24, 1999) writes:

...In publications, conventions, and speeches, gay right activists for at least three decades have sought to undefine the family. One gay newspaper (Quicksilver Times, Washington, D.C., November 24–December 4, 1970) reported on a lesbian workshop in Philadelphia that demanded the “destruction of the nuclear family,” calling it “a microcosm of the fascist state, where the women and children are owned by, and their fates determined by, the needs of men in a man's world.”

Divorce

Divorce, a mounting factor in societal breakdown, is not only a defiance of God's institution of marriage, but it also conflicts with parents carrying out the parental obligation to perpetuate God’s covenant promise, God's directive to Christians to teach His commandments to the next generation. It is extremely difficult for the parent who is not even living with his/her children. In addition, the parent living with the child(ren) is left with this task alone, able to carry out the teaching only with one person's time and ability. Children, in turn, experience a lack of stability and security due to the leaving or absence of one parent whom they loved.

Malachi 2:15, in speaking about marriage and divorce, says:

Has not the Lord made them one? In flesh and spirit they are his. And why one? Because he was seeking godly offspring. So guard yourself in your spirit, and do not break faith with the wife of your youth.

Busyness

Busyness in the home today—with father and mother working, the sports craze with its many events, and the numerous school and church activities and programs—is leaving a multitude of homes without ample time or energy to teach the children their covenantal responsibilities by word and example. The frenzy of family schedules, the telephone, computer, e-mail, Internet, beepers, and parents away from home for business, work, or pleasure are leaving children alone or with the TV far too much. All of this can prevent adequate time for leading devotions and teaching; but it can also cause the lack of proper communication and rapport between parents and children, causing children to develop the necessary respect for their parents, which is crucial if they are to want their parents' values and their God.

Mothers with careers outside the home are giving much of their responsibility for covenantal instruction to someone else. Parents made a vow in the baptism of their covenant children, yet many such children are getting a huge amount of their instruction, training, and discipline from day care staff, baby-sitters, and TV.

Dr. James Dobson, in his answer, “Mother plays an essential role in developing mentally healthy kids” (the Grand Valley Advance, March 3, 1998), gave the results of the “renowned Harvard University’s Preschool Project. A team of researchers, led by Dr. Burton White, studied young children aged 8 to 18 months over a 10-year period, hoping to discover which experiences in the early years of life contribute to the development of healthy, intelligent human beings.” One of the observable results of this important study is this: “The single most important environmental factor in the life of the child is his or her mother. ‘She is on the hook,’ said Dr. White, ‘and carries more influence on her child’s experiences than any other person or circumstance.’”

Dr. James Dobson, in the Grand Valley Advance, January 13, 1998, answers the question: “Do you agree that the quality of time you are with your kids is more important than that quantity?” by saying: “We won’t accept that forced choice in any other area of our lives. So why is it relevant only to our children? ...both quality AND quantity are important in many areas of our lives, including how we relate to children. They need our time and the best we have to give them. My concern is that the quantity vs. quality argument might be a poorly disguised rationalization for giving our children neither.”

A headline in an article by Kathleen Parker in the Grand Rapids Press was: “TV raising kids for absent parents.” The article tells about two polls: The first was the Public Agenda poll. The second—conducted jointly by Nichelodeon cable network and Yankelovich Partners, Inc., a marketing and research firm—found that children are getting much of their information from television rather than from parents.
In the book Choose to Love Again: Restoring Broken Relationships (p. 39), Dr. Gary Rosberg writes the following two paragraphs:

Some studies have shown that television shows provide role models for young people. Several months ago, the Brown University Family Therapy Letter described an Australian study that found 50 percent to 75 percent of Australian children said their ideal role models were media figures rather than their parents.

The authors noted that in a 1956 study, before many Australians had television sets, parents and surrogate parents were chosen as the people the children most wanted to emulate.3

In USA Today, November 18, 1999, in an article entitled “TV grabs biggest share of kids’ time,” Peter Johnson writes:

The average kid in the USA spends 5 hours and 29 minutes, seven days a week, watching TV, listening to music, or working on a computer at home. And most of that is done in isolation—in bedrooms that are fully media-equipped with no parental supervision.

That’s according to a study of more than 3,000 kids, ages 2–18, released by the Kaiser Family Foundation.

The article, “TV continues to dominate kids’ media diet, study finds” (Grand Rapids Press, November 18, 1999), also reports on the Kaiser Family Foundation study:

Two-thirds of children 8 and older have a TV in their bedrooms, as do one-third of children 0 to 7, and one in 10 has bedroom Internet access, the study says. Kids’ bedrooms “are becoming media central,” said Vicky Rideout, director of Kaiser’s Program on the Entertainment Media and Public Health.

The article, “Why Americans are afraid of their kids,” by Donna Britt (Grand Rapids Press, November 22, 1999) states:

More disturbing than media content, which parents can’t control, is the unprecedented number of moms, dads, or other caregivers who leave kids alone with its messages. Increasingly, there are no grown-ups around to filter, interpret, or react to what children consume. No one to teach them how to respond.

Roberts’ (Donald Roberts, the Stanford University professor who co-authored the Kaiser survey) advice: Get TVs and computers out of your child's bedroom and into a location where you have a prayer of responding to them. “I cannot comprehend why 25 percent of 2 to 4-year-olds have TVs in their bedrooms,” he says.

The survey’s saddest suggestion may be its least surprising: Kids who use the media the most tend to be less happy. A child’s continuing dispute with parents, unhappiness at school, and behavorial troubles are “strongly associated” with high media use.

Misuse of the Lord's Day

A lack of Sunday observance today among many church-related families in America is a contributing factor in parents leading covenant children away from faithful church attendance and their keeping the Lord’s Day holy. “To keep the Lord’s Day holy” means to keep the day dedicated to God. (Webster defines “holy” as “dedicated to religious use; belonging to or coming from God; consecrated; sacred.”) Due to the pressures and the influence of the present-day culture, too many parents, by example, are teaching their children to dedicate Sundays to self, choosing to spend their Sundays in their own houses or away from home rather than in God’s house, and dedicating the day or much of it to their own and their families’ fun and activities rather than making it a God-centered day. This affects the individual’s and the family’s relationship with God and their respect for and obedience to God’s commandments. In Ezekiel 20:20, God says: “Keep my Sabbath holy, that they may be a sign between us. Then you will know that I am the Lord your God.”

(Continued in next month's issue)

Mrs. Jan Groenendyk was a Christian school teacher for 27 years.She is the wife of Rev. Marion Groenendyk and a member of Bethany United Reformed Church, Wyoming, Michigan.

Footnotes

1. Christina Hoff Sommers, Who Stole Feminism?: How Women Have Betrayed Women (New York; Simon and Schuster, 1994), p. 91.

2. Sandy Rovner, “Mental Health Group Seeks Changes in Way Soap Operas Deal with Anger,” Des Moines Register, April 14, 1991, p. 8E.

3. Carey Goldberg, “On Web, Models Auction Their Eggs to Bidders for Beautiful Children,” New York TImes, October 23, 1999, p. All.

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