Bringing the Text to Life

The Family Ideal, Not Idol Genesis 12:1-4a

The church must lead in protecting and valuing the family without letting "family values" become an idol.


The family in America is in crisis. The American family is at risk.

Don't believe me? Or tired of hearing it? Then listen once more to one of America's leading political philosophers and public intellectuals, Jean Bethke Elshtain, the Laura Spelman Rockefeller Professor of Ethics at the University of Chicago. In her widely touted new book Democracy on Trial (New York: HarperCollins, 1995), she explores the enigma of why, just when democracy is triumphing around the world, our American democracy is in such trouble. Her conclusion?

If democratic society is to be sustained in the future, she insists, it requires strong families, much stronger families than we have seen in this country for more than a generation. "Over the long run, stemming the tide of family collapse is the best protection we can offer a child against becoming either the victim or the perpetrator of violence - or, as it turns out, poverty" (8).

We have either too many parents who are having children with little...





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