The Value of Family

By: Jim O'Brien 

Waiting for my car to be serviced I sat next to a police officer from Sharonville, Ohio. It's a quiet suburb of Cincinnati that borders a conjunction of expressways.

The conversation started easily as I asked him about his work. I was surprised when he told me about the high volume of crime in what I thought was a pretty safe neighborhood.

As he described the overwhelming challenge of trying to stem the tide of crime that threatens our society, he stopped and said, "America has got to do something if we are to continue as a civilized nation."

"What is the cause of this problem?" I asked.

"It's the heroin," he replied. "So many people are addicted to drugs that stealing is the only way to get money to support the habit." He went on, "Probably 30 percent of the crime is drug related."

I sat in silence for a while processing this information. Finally I asked, "What has failed? Is it the schools, churches, families or something else?"

"It's the breakdown in family," he replied. By way of illustration he said, "I was called to a home recently where the mother wanted me to punish her 10-year-old-son for not helping her fold laundry!" Really?! A mother called the police to discipline her son for not doing a household chore? I can imagine my parents rolling over in their graves wondering about the changes in our world.

"Well, if the mother was so unwillingly to accept the responsibility of being a parent, where was the father?" I asked.

"That's the point," he said. "He's non-existent. He's in jail for a drug violation."

What an irony. Congress can legislate everything from how much fat is allowed in a Big Mac to how many vaccinations are required for a child to enter the first grade, but it can't make a man be a father.

Something the police officer said rang true to a familiar scripture. To paraphrase, he said our nation had to change to continue existing. When God gave Moses the Ten Commandments, He said, "Honor your mother and your father, that your days may be long on the land which the Lord your God is giving you." (Exodus 20:12)

It's a conditional statement. The continued existence of a nation depends on parents of integrity teaching their children to honor them. It starts when a father can discipline himself to avoid drugs and when a mother can discipline her 10-year-old son to fold the laundry.

No police officer can replace the discipline of a loving mother and no government can substitute for the effective leadership of a responsible father. It's a law written in the eternal order of things.

Until next time,

Jim O'Brien

Pastor, Church of God Cincinnati

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