We have a huge problem with crime in our city, Indianapolis. Just this past weekend—the first weekend of February 2023—three homicides were reported in our metropolitan area. Sadly, the out-of-control crime wave is not plaguing our city alone, as most major cities across America report the same problem.
It’s not for lack of money, nor for lack of concern. City leaders are exhausting storehouses of ideas and programs and grants from the Federal government in hopes of finding the secret of checkmating crime locally, statewide, and nationally. The more money, marches, and marathons focused on curbing crime, the less crime seems to abate. What is the answer?
In a word, the answer is wisdom. And the wisdom which is from above, God’s wisdom, is found in the Bible. (James 3:17,18) I know that sounds very simplistic, but has anything else worked?
A Harvard doctor, some years ago, said what now sounds like a prophecy come true: “For several years now, social scientists have warned us the family is disintegrating and will not survive this (20th) century. Is there danger that the American family will cease to exist? I do not think so. We do, however, have serious cause of concern—not that the family will disappear, but that certain trends prevalent today will incapacitate the family, and cause its members to suffer such crippling emotional conflicts that they will become an intolerable burden to society.” (Quoted in Our Dance Has Turned to Death by Carl W. Wilson)
Is the family disintegrating? A recent Census Bureau report showed that one American youngster in four lives with just one parent. More than 40 percent of children are born out of wedlock. Sixty percent of today’s children will spend at least some time in a one-parent household. It is not difficult to understand, then, that with these trends only ticking upwards, it is becoming increasingly difficult for children to grow up in today’s world properly adjusted socially, emotionally and spiritually.
Patrick Fagan of the Heritage Foundation delivered a speech at the Center for Constructive Alternatives in which he said, “None of this is to say that fighting crime or rebuilding stable families and communities will be easy. But what is easy is deciding what we must do at the outset. We begin by affirming four simple principles: First, marriage is vital. Second, parents must love and nurture their children in spiritual as well as physical ways. Third, children must be taught to relate and empathize with others. And, finally, the backbone of strong neighborhoods and communities is friendship and cooperation among families. These principles constitute the real root solution to the real root problem of violent crime.” (Quoted in IMPRIMIS, Oct. 1995)
Before the turn of the century, evangelist and counselor Sammy Tippit wrote of the dilemma that faced America when he spoke of the “Culture Killers of the Family.” He listed the following: (1) Institutionalization of Selfishness—Boomers spoiled by unparalleled prosperity; marriage severely damaged, with children suffering from the effects; (2) Success syndrome—less time for family; (3) “Everyone’s doing it”—divorce can’t be that bad; living together is OK, as is gambling; (4) Psychological and emotional baggage—sexual impurities; (5) Pornography; (6) American mobility and (7) Television. Today Tippit would probably list Tik Tok and other social-media platforms along with television.
When I was a young seminary student back in the early 70’s, one of my professors said to a room full of future pastors, missionaries, and Christian workers: “Your home is not apart from your ministry, it is part of your ministry.” (Howard Hendricks)
My wonderful wife and I have been married now going on 58 years. On or about my 29th anniversary of marriage, I penned the following notes under the heading of, “If I were starting my marriage over:” 1. I would love my wife more; 2. I would develop feelings of belonging. 3. I would laugh more with my children. 4. I would be a better listener, and 5. I would do more encouraging. I cannot tell you now what went into the thinking process for each of those points as I was preparing the message in January, 1994, but I am sure that they are still pertinent for a solid marriage.
I began this post by speaking about crime, and it looks as though I am going to finish it by speaking about marriage and the home. There is, unquestionably, a direct correlation between the disintegration of the home and the unprecedented rise of crime in America. I said earlier that God’s wisdom, as revealed in His Word, is the key to curbing crime. Listen to what God says: “Hear, O Israel. The Lord our God is one Lord. And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart. And, thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.” (Deut.6:4-7)
Again, hear what God says about instructing our children: “For He established a testimony in Jacob; and appointed a law in Israel, which He commanded our fathers, that they should make them known to their children: that the generation to come might know them, even the children which should be born; who should arise and declare them to their children: that they might set their hope in God, and not forget the works of God, but keep His commandments.” (Ps. 78:5-8)
Crime problem solved! But we need families. Two-parent families with a father active in the process of rearing children, teaching them God’s laws (right from wrong), all the while supported by a loving wife and mother.
“To our forefathers our faith was an experience; to our fathers our faith was an inheritance; to us our faith was a convenience; to our children our faith is a nuisance.” Selah.
“And ye, fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.” (Eph.6:4)