Mrs. Groenendyk, in her first article (June, 2000), discussed factors in our culture that are enticements to God’s people which draw them away from their covenantal relationship to God. In this article she adds to that discussion and calls readers to a biblical response to today’s culture.
Psychology and Psychotherapy
Two fields of study which have a great influence in our culture and have been “Pied Pipers” to covenant people are psychology and psychiatry. Our culture promotes both fields of study which often begin with the premise of the innate goodness of the human race, denying a child’s total depravity and need for salvation, and promoting permissiveness and toleration of sin. Regretfully, these are two fields of study that Christians accept too uncritically, and use without analyzing the philosophy and beliefs behind their findings and teachings. It is from these two fields of study that much humanism has crept into the church and the Christian community.
John F. MacArthur in his book, Our Sufficiency in Christ (p. 30), says this about psychology:
Yet the widely accepted ideas of modem psychology are theories originally developed by atheists on the assumption that there is no God and the individual alone has the power to change himself into a better person through certain techniques.
In the book, Lost Daughters (p. 154), Reinder Van Til says this about current psychotherapy:
An overwhelming anti-parent bias is evident in many of the most popular schools of psychotherapy. The key assumption is that if we as adults feel depressed, inadequate, anxious, or tense or generally have difficulties with relationships, it is because our parents did not give us adequate nurture and freedom when we were growing up.
Spock, Freud, and others have been accepted as authorities, even by Christians, resulting in a humanistic influence on diScipline and training in the home, school, and church; our nation’s justice system; and current psychotherapy.
Childhood autonomy resulting from humanistic philosophy and psychology is in opposition to God’s covenant. When children rule the household rather than the parents, the child will have little respect for the parents and their beliefs or values. After a visit to America, the Duke of Windsor was quoted in Look magazine (March 5, 1957) as saying: “The thing that impresses me most about America is the way parents obey their children.” Childhood autonomy and permissiveness prevent children from growing in godly wisdom through discipline and correction. Lack of loving discipline encourages lack of respect for parents and their teachings, and for all those in authority. In addition, many TV programs, movies, books, and music in American culture defy or mock authority in the home, the school, and the church—the essential teachers of God’s covenant.
Robert H. Bork, in his book Slouching Towards Gomorrah (p. 126), writes: “Popular entertainment sells sex, pornography, violence, vulgarity, attacks on traditional forms of authority, and outright perversion more copiously and more insistently than ever before in our history” (Emphasis mine-JG). In the Grand Valley Advance (November 16, 1999), the Ask Dr. Dobson by Dr. James Dobson is entitled: “Today’s music filled with anti-family venom.”
In the fields of psychology and psychiatry, more Christians are going to counselors than ever before. Dr. Gary Rosberg, in his book Choosing to Love Again: Restoring Broken Relationships (p. 42), writes:
But the problem doesn’t rest only with the voice of the non-Christian counselor. It also rests with many Christian counselors. Why? Because often when they purport to conduct counseling from a Christian perspective, there’s actually little emphasis on a biblical or spiritual orientation. Some of the methods for resolving conflict taught by secular counselors are good; some are not. One ingredient that’s often missing is forgiveness…forgiveness is a key step in resolving conflict from a biblical perspective. Yet this step is often ignored altogether in the secular world.
I believe that quote is very accurate. There is so-called “Christian counseling or therapy” which is helping children go against parents and their teachings by seeking to prove sexual abuse as blame for every adult emotional problem, accusing without collaborating evidence, and then making the patient believe that the only way for healing to occur is to cut off all contact with the accused perpetrator, which is usually one or both of the parents. (Usually the patient is a woman.) False accusations through “recovered memory” therapy have become so common, the label “False Memory Syndrome” is now used. Also, some counseling today, labeled as “Christian,” is incorporating much secular feminism, hurting marriages and families.
In working with a covenant family, my husband and I were very disappointed to find that a counselor employed by a Christian organization was using and following the book The Courage to Heal by Ellen Bass and Laura Davis. The book promotes radical feminism, has New Age teaching, and encourages much anger, hostility, and revenge; and it does not teach forgiveness as the method of healing, but rather it promotes total withdrawal from the accused. Revenge and hatred against an accused parent, whether justly or falsely accused, results in turning the patient against the parent or parents and their teachings, causing the person receiving that kind of therapy to distort or forsake God’s Word, His covenant, and the people who taught the patient about God and His covenant. If you want to better understand the serious dilemma in current therapy, I recommend reading the book Lost Daughters by Reinder Van Til.
Another dangerous opponent to God’s covenant in American culture is the prevalent use of reproductive technology. The following are some article headlines concerning this subject which appeared in the Grand Rapids Press:
• “Doctors charged in egg theft scandal”
• “Lab goof gives white mom biracial child”
• “Price of human eggs doubles, troubling ethicists”
• “Growing fertility industry multiplies multiple births”
• “More people bank on future life by harvesting sperm after death”
• “Unclaimed embryos to be destroyed”
• “Sperm taken from man just after death leads to pregnancy”
• “Couple in court to fight over embryos”
On the TV program, “20/20” January 19, 1998, the story was told of a family who had used donated sperm for their three children from two different donors. The children now wanted to find and meet the donors. The donor for one of the children answered in his reply that he likely had children all over the world so did not want to meet the child.
The magazine Focus on the Family, July 1999, (p. 2–4), tells the story of a baby born to infertile parents as a result of their getting a frozen embryo from another couple which was then implanted in the woman, producing the child called Grace, with Grace having a genetic mother and a biological mother. It was an embryo adoption.
The magazine gives the following information about frozen embryos:
…But doctors frequently fertilize as many as 30 eggs at a time during in vitro procedures. The remaining 20-plus embryos are then either destroyed or, more frequently, frozen. According to many doctors, theologians and medical ethicists, those frozen embryos are fully human.
U.S. News and World Report (April 12, 1999), in an article entitled “Mothers with another’s eggs,” relates:
…In another city, a couple lined up two donors and produced twins, with each child having a different genetic mom. The donors visit for holiday dinners.
…Already, doctors are freezing eggs of young women in the hope that they can later thaw them to have children. And Jamie Grifo, director of reproductive endocrinology at New York University Medical Center, has been experimenting with a technique that would insert a woman’s DNA in a donated egg, which would make the baby the recipient’s genetic offspring.
This same article has one subheading entitled, “Making a baby, 10 different ways” and then it proceeds to list the ten ways.
In the publication, Family News from Focus on the Family, January, 2000) Dr. James Dobson states:
Further tampering with God’s reproductive design appears certain. Perhaps you’ve read recently about a fashion photographer named Rod Harris who began offering eggs from models for a fee up to $150,000. Apparently, would-be parents hope to fertilize the eggs with sperm from handsome males to produce gorgeous children. As justification for his wacky business venture, Mr. Harris claims that his egg sale is an outgrowth of humans’ natural urge to mate with genetically superior people and produce babies with “evolutionary advantages.”3
The article states that “Mr. Harris’s melding of Darwin-based eugenics, Playboy-style sensibilities, and eBay-type commerce struck some infertility specialists as the most worrisome sign yet of where the partly unregulated field of assisted reproduction may be going.4
Fertility drugs and in vitro fertilization are causing many more Christian parents as well as non-Christian parents to rear children in multiples, and some large number multiples. Animals can be raised in litters because they have mainly physical needs which have to be satisfied. Children need their physical needs taken care of but also the nurturing of their spiritual and emotional needs. It takes exceptional parents, even with much help, to carry out their covenantal responsibilities toward a large number of children born at the same time.
In vitro fertilization is being used quite freely today. I believe it generates some serious questions and has difficult ramifications to consider, the way it is done today. What is done with the number of extra embryos left after the procedure? Any embryo could possibly develop into one of the couple’s children. Is it right then to deliberately destroy an embryo? If the embryo is frozen and not used, then what? After the couple’s death, what happens to an unused embryo? Does donating or selling, buying or receiving an embryo become justified by calling it “embryo adoption”? Does calling it “embryo adoption” make it easier for people to accept as does the term “choice” rather than abortion? Does choosing the lesser of two wrongs justify doing the lesser and labeling it congenially? I believe the making of a number of embryos outside the womb poses some very serious considerations for the Christian couple, regardless of how great their desire is to have children.
Are some Christian couples who desire children setting up an Abraham and Hagar situation for themselves? Today many newly-married couples do not want children, so they use the available means to prevent pregnancy for as long as they desire. Then, when they are ready and want to start a family, they want pregnancy soon. If it’s not soon enough, they turn to fertility drugs or in vitro fertilization in an attempt to bring it about. (A physical problem needing correction is an entirely different situation.) God says much in Scripture about the barren woman and how God opens the woman’s womb in His time. Is our culture trying to dictate God’s time today rather than waiting on the Lord? Is it too old-fashioned to pray and let God take care of it like Isaac did (Genesis 25:21)? God does provide means for us to use according to His wilt but Christian couples have to be very careful that they do not try to make their time God’s time, rather than vice versa.
In vitro fertilization; donor insemination; surrogate mother; cloning; sperm and egg selling, donating, and destroying; and embryo selling, destroying, donating; and adopting—how do these affect God’s covenant for the Christian? If someone else controls the sperm, egg, or embryo of a Christian and sells it, destroys it, or uses it, where does the Christian donor’s responsibility begin and end with God’s covenant? A Christian may have a covenant child (or children) known or not known to him or her, with little or no possibililty of contact to carry out the covenantal responsibilities as a parent. All of this raises some serious ethical, moral questions today.
A final insidious covenant enemy I wish to discuss is the “new tolerance” penetrating and infiltrating our culture. To better understand and guard against this movement, I strongly urge that every Christian adult, every high school, college and graduate student read the book: The New Tolerance with the subtitle, “How a cultural movement threatens to destroy you, your faith, and your children” by Josh McDowell and Bob Hostetler. Here are four thought-provoking quotations from their book:
• Remember, the goal of the new tolerance is not only to achieve acceptance of those persons who are different or who behave differently, but to force all others to approve of and participate in their attitudes and activities. But what about those who refuse to follow the pied piper of the new tolerance? What happens to people who stop short of approving and participating in others’ beliefs, behaviors, and lifestyles? Such people (including you, if you are a Christian) are likely to be branded as narrow-minded bigots, fanatics, extremists, and hatemongers and be subjected to public humiliation and indoctrination…(pp. 31 and 32).
• …The new tolerance, because it is based on the view that all truth claims are equal because they are culturally created and conditioned, must not only oppose but squelch any proclamation of absolute truth…(p. 54).
• As the new tolerance increasingly displaces all other virtues in our schools, government, society, and churches, it will become increasingly difficult to impart biblical, Christian values to succeeding generations (p. 57).
• As a direct result of the postmodern influence, parents’ rights to guide and influence their children’s lives are being systematically undermined and overthrown (p. 129).
Parents are a key element in God’s covenant. The book Choosing to Love Again: Restoring Broken Relationships by Dr. Gary Rosberg (p. 46), conveys some of the importance and impact parents have on their children.
During my years as a counselor, I’ve come to appreciate the incredible power parents have to mold the lives of their children. Whether you realize it or not, many of the patterns of your life—the decisions you make, the way you react to certain situations the way you relate to others, your unconscious needs and drives—were shaped by your parents, your parents’ parents, and so on. We tend to pass the legacy from generation to generation.
In Hosea 4:6, God warns Israel with the words:…my people are destroyed from lack of knowledge. Because you have rejected knowledge, I also reject you as my priests; because you have ignored the law of your God I also will ignore your children (Emphasis mine-JG).
The spiritual legacy we pass on to our children should be the first priority for the Christian parent here on earth. Our covenantal responsibility is to teach and pass on eternal truths and values to the generations following us. “The truths and principles of the Bible, taught with time, perseverance, effort, wisdom, diligence—that’s what to give our children” “Our Daily Bread” devotional, November 5, 1999). In her book, Celebrating the Wonder of Motherhood (p. 20), Bobbi McCaughey, the devoted mother of the well-known septuplets and Mikayla, says of her children: “They may be ours for a time, but we want them to be His forever.”
Is our modern American culture “a friend to grace, to help me on to God?” Quite to the contrary! God gives us His covenant promise: “…to be your God and the God of your descendants after you” (Genesis 17:7b) and “The promise is for you and your children …” (Acts 2:39a). Our present anti-Christian culture does not change God’s faithfulness to His covenant promise. However, our culture, when accepted uncritically, detracts and undermines many Christians’ wholehearted faithfulness to God’s covenant and often disastrously weakens or eliminates their children’s response. Are you allowing “America’s Pied Piper” to lead you and/or your children away from God and His covenant?
Ponder the important words Psalm 78:4–7:
We will not hide them from their children; We will tell the next generation The praiseworthy deeds of the Lord, His power, and the wonders He has done. He decreed statutes for Jacob And established the law in Israel, Which He commanded our forefathers To teach their children.
So the next generation would know them, Even the children yet to be born, And they in tum would tell their children. Then they would put their trust in God And would not forget His deeds But would keep His commands.
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.
3 Carey Goldberg, “On Web, Models Auction Their Eggs to Bidders for Beautiful Children,” New York Times, October 23, 1999, p. All.