Dr. Ed Young - Family Values
Open your Bibles, if you would, to Jeremiah, Chapter 17. I'll begin reading with Verse 9. Then I'll skip and read to Verse 13 following: "The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick. Who can understand it"? KJV, "The heart is wicked; deceptively evil. Who can know it"? "I, the Lord, search the heart. I test the mind, even to give to each man or woman according to his or her ways, or according to the results of his deeds". Verse 13: "All who forsake You", that's the Lord, "will be put to shame. Those who turn away on earth will be written down because they have forsaken the fountain of living water, even the Lord. Heal me, O' Lord, and I will be healed. Save me, O' Lord, and I will be saved".
I am going to ask everybody to lift your hands in the air, if you would, everybody. Hold your hands straight up-look up. Repeat after me: "Heal me, O' Lord... and I will be healed. Save me, O' Lord... and I will be saved". Put your hands down. Two families lived side-by-side for over 20 years. They were as close as, as I am to that column. Children about the same age, same economic condition; little gravel driveway between the two little houses. Children went to the same church, same school, listened to the same music, played together until they got to be in their teenagers-were intimate friends. Two families side-by-side-any sociologist would study this family and that family, they would say, "You know, they're almost identical". But the outcome of one family, and I know both of these families intimately, was absolute disaster.
Child after child, son and daughter, lives that would break the heart of anyone-disaster, tragedy, poor choices, disease, violence, criminals-one family. You read about that family, you would say, "I just never heard of anything quite as tragic as this". The other family, their sons and daughters, my goodness! Magnificent. Every one almost an Horatio Alger story. Man, how, how they made good choices; how they married the right person, and, and the grandchildren came up, and all the legacy left behind of joy, and fun, and celebration, and worship-just a, a fabulous mom and dad, and children, and grandchildren, and, and that family, you'd say, "Boy, that's the family, I would like for my family to be like that family! Boy, what a tremendous outcome"!
Two families, side-by-side, economically, socially, educationally, vocationally, any way you look at them, all alike. One outcome, chaos! Another outcome, magnificent! What's the difference? Somewhere, it boils down to family values. Family values... Somewhere, it comes back to parenting. Parenting... Now you can talk to anybody in the western world, and you ask them, "What needs to take place in our culture to change it from the mess in which we find ourselves right now in history"? And they will tell you, "Well, we need a return to family values". The left will say that. The right will say that. The middle will say that. Anthropologists will say that. Sociologists will say that. Counselors will say that. Everybody-theologians will say, "We need to return to family values..." and some people even put in "traditional" family values. Every politician, every person in public life, every person in every endeavor will tell you, "Oh yes! We need to return to traditional family values".
Now the problem becomes in when you begin to ask "What values? Where do you get those values"? Now let me do something that is foolish and bold; exceedingly foolish, and exceedingly bold. I'm going to try to trace through western civilization the transmission of values from the 1st Century, all the way until today. Now I don't want someone to say, "Well, you left out..." Well, hello! How long would you like to be here today? To trace the transmission of values from the 1st Century all the way til' today, here we go! From the 1st Century, for hundreds of years, no one doubted of any significance where you get values, where you get ethics, where you get what is right and wrong. You look up! That's where you get it. You look up to God! You look up to transcendence, because values were absolute.
Now, people did not follow them perfectly. There were some little minor debate, but nobody of significance really doubted what the source of values were-what was right and what was wrong, that was not in the discussion. The Jews looked to the Old Testament, the Torah, there as values. Christians looked to the New Testament and the early church, taught by Jesus and Paul, and Peter, etc... there as values. Even the philosophers, the Greco-Roman world-they looked at natural law and said by the givenness of creation and nature, you can see transcendent values that come from the Almighty.
So you have hundreds of years from the 1st Century forward that it was built into the western civilization, what was right and what was wrong. You look up, and that's where you got values, ultimate meaning and principles of life, and that is what you would teach and transfer from generation to generation with enthusiasm, and with confidence that if these values were lived out-that life would make a difference, and the whole society would move in the right, and proper, and godly direction, for hundreds of years. We came up with that, so many of us. All the myths that we would read, they had a hero and a heroine. All the folklore had heroes and heroines. And we were familiar with all the Bible stories a couple of generations ago: the parable of the prodigal son, the greatest story ever told, by the way.
The good Samaritan-oh, we, that was a part of the culture, part of the vocabulary. The parables of Jesus, those little pithy stories that had a bam! A punch right in the middle of morality, and what was right and what was wrong. That was a part. We we'd read, our parents would read nursery rhymes to us. They had moral principles. We had heroes, and we had heroines! And a lot of them were Biblical, and Moses, and Joseph, and Samu... we would read these, and that was a part. It was inculcated. It was taught. It was passed on... That was the culture for hundreds and hundreds of years in western civilization, until the 18th Century. The so-called "Enlightenment" when there were a group of scholars who said, "You do not get values by looking up. That's not where you get values. You get values by looking within".
Let me present three of these scholars. Listen carefully: Immanuel Kant. Immanuel Kant said, "You don't look up; you look within and you decide what is right and what is wrong; what your ethics are. What you do and what you do not do by looking to your mind. You can figure it out. You're a human being. Just think it through. Look all the premises down. You can decide, and you'll come out right every single time if you simply use your mind. Look to your mind..." And so that was proposed. That was written about there in the 18th Century. You say, "Well what does all this have to do with us"? Let me tell you something, ladies and gentlemen, if you haven't figured out yet, what is in the classroom today will be on the streets in just a few years. Don't forget that. Say, "Well these are just ancient philosophies..." Oh no! Oh no... stay with me. That was the beginning of rationalism. Look to your mind. That's where you find values, and ethics, and what's right and what's wrong.
Then another guy came along-Rousseau. Rousseau came in the picture, and Rousseau said, "You know, Kant is right. You don't look up to transcendent values from the Almighty, or, or Biblical values that are written down..." He said, "You don't look up. Man, that's, that's old fashioned! We are enlightened..." but he said, "Don't really look to your mind to figure out what's right and wrong". He said, "Look to your heart. Your passions. If it feels good, it must be okay". Have you heard that? "It must be alright! Look to your heart..." And, and, and Rousseau taught that a child was born, a baby was born with a pure heart, a beautiful heart, a clean heart, and parents and others that try to influence that child, corrupt that child, just let that child express themselves all the way through the years, all the way through and just let them go the way they want to go, using their emotions and their feelings and their heart, and it will be a pure rose that will be formed, a beautiful life.
That's what Rousseau taught. Modern education! Somebody said Rousseau didn't have any children-heh, heh, heh! Ohhh yeah! He had four-he had four by a peasant girl who was illiterate, and he systematically disinherited all four of them because of their lives. Follow your heart! Don't look up. Look within. Don't look at your mind, but look at your heart. Look at your feelings, and this is romanticism. Then a third guy came along beginning of the 20th Century. He came along there and said, "No, no". Nietzsche! Frederich Nietzsche came along and he said, "I'll tell you here, these 17th Century's not right". Then the 18th Century Nietzsche, he came along and pushed us to another area. He said, "Look to your will to decide what's right and wrong". And he talked about the superman, or as the Germans said, "the over-man".
The superman, the superwoman. To decide what's right and wrong, you just assert yourself. You just show your muscles. That's how you decide. And might makes right! This was the philosophy of Adolph Hitler. He was a Nietzsche follower down to the core. And Hitler adopted the, the saying that you'll see on your screen, of Nietzsche. Look at it: "The strong have the right to rule any way they see fit". It is might makes right, and it is the doctrine of perfectionism. If you assert yourself, you decide what you want; if you're strong enough to get your way and to do it, that makes it all right. See, I didn't break any law. That's what the German criminals at Nuremberg said. "I didn't break any German law... I just used the might of the Third Reich". So you have these three guys saying, Hey! Don't look up! Look within. Look at your mind-rationalism. Look at your heart-romanticism. Look at your will-perfectionism-the superman, the superwoman, and you decide.
And you see, Nietzsche-you see all of these philosophers, their seeds have been spread all the way through our culture. Talk to somebody who's a humanist. Talk to somebody who's away from God, and away from the church. Ask them how they determine what is right and wrong. They say, "Well, I just, I just use my mind". And you know, "I just follow my emotions. You know, if, if I can get away with it and do it and nobody finds out-man, I'll just assert my will..." right? What is the results of this? I don't know about you, but my moral compass is broken. I will confess that to you. My moral compass is broken. I look to my mind; I look to my feelings; I look to my strength-all of that and decided ethics-what's right and wrong, my compass is broken, and ladies and gentlemen, your compass is broken too. And the compass of America is broken too. And we are in a catastrophic mess.
You see the erosion of adopting portions of this kind of thinking that's taught in our colleges and universities, and some high schools all across America. It has come down to us today, and we see the rationale of where we are in our culture, in our America. It comes right down to this-right down to this moment. It was a gradual thing, you know-erosion. It was gradual, and it went all the way, you know... We could see a little decline into the 1960's, the 1970's. Some of us remember have read about Haight-Ashbury, a little section of, outside of San Francisco, 1960's. The summer of love, remember it? The summer of love-free drugs, free love, free food-man! Over 100,000 young people gathered there in Haight-Ashbury.
Man, let the good times roll! It's party 24/7! Oh, that was it! And the music was the Beatles. Oh, the Beatles-oh man! And John Lennon became a superhero of the culture of love. But notice what his son wrote about John when he had left the family, his initial family and had begun to live with his mistress, Ono, and look what his son wrote about him, Julian Lennon. He said, "How can you talk about peace and love and have a family in bits and pieces? No communication. Adultery. Divorce. You can't do it, not if you're being true and honest with yourself. He was a hypocrite. Dad could talk about peace and love out loud to the world, but he could not show it to the people who supposedly meant the most to him-his wife and son".
Julian Lennon, who was abandoned by his father, John Lennon when he was 5 years old. Be careful who we honor in the music world, in the political world, in the religious world, in the business world... Where are the heroes? Where are the heroines? Oh, it just continues the slide... Look at a study recently by UCLA, no citadel of conservatism... They surveyed teenagers from 1997 to 2007. In 1997 teenagers, and they surveyed thousands of them, incidentally. This was the order of values, priorities in their life: Community feeling, benevolence, image, tradition, self-acceptance. Ten years later, look at our teenagers. What's their order? Fame-oh! Achievement, popularity, image, financial success.
What happened in 10 years to our teenagers? U-Tube, Twitter, Facebook, social media. All of a sudden, all the values of our kids were turned right side up because mom and dad basically were asleep, because dad says, "Man, I want to be a corporate man, a company man..." and he strives, and he works, and he neglects the wife and children and gives them the leftover of their time, and then when he reaches some kind of area of success in his chosen field when he's 40 or 50, he looks back and said, "Oh, I would give everything I have if I could go back and have time with my kids and not neglect them as I did". We don't need more company men; we need more family men.
Let me introduce you to two fathers. Some of you know them. Let's look at 'em at a different light than maybe you have ever seen them before. I Samuel, we have a father by the name of Eli. Eli was a prophet, was a priest. He's an old man. He has two sons, Hophni and Phineas, and someone came to Eli in this passage and says, "Eli, your sons are sleeping with women in the house of worship". Somebody had to tell Eli that. These sons are grown men. Eli goes to his sons, and look what this says in Verse 25, led apart, "But they would not listen to the voice of their father..." Here's an old man, didn't know the condition of his own sons, he'd been so busy doing good, fine, wonderful things in his calling, in his vocation; and not he spoke to them, and they did not listen to the words of their father. Is it any wonder?
I want to introduce you to another father in Scripture, a man by the name of Mordecai. He was a step-father, incidentally... and Esther, his step-daughter whom he'd nurtured and loved and modeled and taught the ways of God; she is now queen of the land-beautiful, wonderful, reigning queen of the land. And now she has a chance to do something for God and for God's people, and Mordecai went to her, and look at the latter part of Esther, Chapter Number 2, Verse Number 20: "For Esther did what Mordecai bid her as she had come, as she had done when under his care".
Esther listened to Mordecai, though she was a grown woman in a high position. Eli-sons didn't pay any attention to him. He hadn't built the right stuff in those boys. He turned his back on them. He must have looked within and let them look within and determined their own destiny. Mordecai had built the right stuff in Esther, and Mordecai gave counsel, and she listened to Mordecai, just like she had when she was brought up in that home. As a step-father, he disciplined her and loved her. What a difference! What a difference....
Now I want to show you something that I didn't pick up on until Saturday, yesterday. I looked back at our Scripture. This will stagger you. Our Scripture, Jeremiah, Chapter 17-look at Verse 20. It says, "I, the Lord, search the heart..." Huh... He's already said the heart is deceitful, deceptively wicked. Who can know it? We agree with that. Your heart and my heart. Then he says, "I search the heart". The heart-I mean, people who make decisions with their heart and their feelings-Jeremiah is talking about the same thing that-Oh, we've already looked at him. That's what Rousseau was talking about, wasn't he? You get your morals and your ethics by your heart? Oh! Jeremiah pre-dated Rousseau. Ho!
Look at the next Verse... "I test the mind" says the Lord... Oh me! It seems like Jeremiah has pre-dated Kant, who said the way you get your ethics is look at your mind, rationalism. Oh... He'd already anticipated that. Oh, and look at the rest of the Verse. It says, "Even to give to each man according to his ways, or according to the results of his deeds..." Well that sounds like Nietzsche. "Ahh! I just assert myself. I decide what is right by my own power"!
Isn't it something right there in our Verse, God has already dealt with the rationalism, the romanticism, and with the absolutely demonic idea of asserting your own life and living it out your own way? He's already dealt with it in our Scripture. And look at the answer... Now the Verse comes alive that we read in our Scripture. Look what he says, Verse 13: "All who forsake You will be put to shame. All who look within and do not look up will be put to shame. Those who turn away on earth will be written down... (Now you get it) because they have forsaken the fountain of Living Water, even the Lord". And then we have the climactic Verse, and it is "Heal me, O' Lord, that I might be healed. Save me, O' Lord, that I might be saved". Pray it again. Look up. "Heal me, O' Lord, that I might be healed. Save me, O' Lord, that I might be saved".
Our Heavenly Father, this is our prayer for America. This is our prayer for our lives. This is our prayer for our homes. This is our prayer for our families. Forgive us when we have been gobbled up and swallowed whole in a broken culture.