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Looking Ahead

with Al Mohler | September 21, 2016

What will the future hold for Bible-believing Christians? Seminary president Dr. Al Mohler shares his thoughts about what the future will be for Christians in a culture that's increasingly secular. Dr. Mohler encourages parents to teach their children biblical truth and to prepare their children for what they likely will face.

Show Notes and Resources

Audio MP3 version of Dr. Al Mohler's talk at FamilyLife's 40th Anniversary Celebration (19.5 MB)
Video version of Dr. Al Mohler's talk at FamilyLife's 40th Anniversary Celebration

What will the future hold for Bible-believing Christians? Seminary president Dr. Al Mohler shares his thoughts about what the future will be for Christians in a culture that's increasingly secular. Dr. Mohler encourages parents to teach their children biblical truth and to prepare their children for what they likely will face.

Show Notes and Resources

Audio MP3 version of Dr. Al Mohler's talk at FamilyLife's 40th Anniversary Celebration (19.5 MB)
Video version of Dr. Al Mohler's talk at FamilyLife's 40th Anniversary Celebration

Looking Ahead

With Al Mohler
|
September 21, 2016
| Download Transcript PDF

Bob: Now more than ever, as parents, we need to be the ones passing on a legacy of spiritual vitality to the next generation. Dr. Al Mohler says we ought not be intimidated by that assignment.

Al: We don’t need to be an absolute information authority on all these things, because we don’t have to come up with it. What we, as Christian parents, have to do is to say, “Our first question has to be, ‘What does God say about this?’” If we’re unsure about our convictions, then we have to turn to God’s Word and get those convictions clarified.

Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Wednesday, September 21st. Our host is the President of FamilyLife®, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine. What are you doing, deliberately and intentionally, to make sure your children are hearing the truth of Scripture and are embracing a Christian worldview? That’s the topic we’re talking about today with Dr. Al Mohler. Stay tuned.

And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us.

1:00

I’m just curious whether you think we can get our guest today to go on record—because what I’d like to do is—I’d like to listen back to today’s program in 20 years, and I’d like to see what Al Mohler predicted our culture will be like 20 years from now and see how close to right he was. I’m not trying to see if he’s a prophet—

Dennis: Well, I was getting ready to say—[Laughter]—you know, if he’s not right—he may not be alive in 20 years—so you wouldn’t have any stones to throw at him. Well, let’s do that!

Al is the author of a brand-new book called We Cannot Be Silent. It’s about the LGBTQ, same-sex marriage, all the gender issues that this culture’s facing. He’s, in essence, giving single people, married people, parents, and grandparents courage to stand on the truth of Scripture and know how to answer some of the most difficult questions that are being thrown at us today.

2:00

So here we are—we’re now at the year 2036, Al. What does it look like?

Al: Well, I would quickly acknowledge I’m not a prophet, but I am an observer. I would say one of the things we need to note is that America has been on something like a 20- to 30-year delayed fuse from where Europe has been on so many of these issues. So, look where Europe is now. You can, at least, see what is a likelihood of where the United States will be.

What you need to know, more than anything else, is the secularization of that culture, at warm speed, such that Christianity is now just really not a part of the landscape any longer, in terms of the way Europeans think. There’s an intentional effort to try to create distance behind that Christian worldview and what Europeans now think enlightened, modern people ought to think.

Bob: Now, there’s a remnant in Europe, just as God has a remnant everywhere.

Al: Exactly.

Bob: You imagine we will be a remnant people 20 years from now?

Al: You know, Bob, I think we are right now. I think it’s just not so apparent to us.

3:00

I think we have to recognize that—with the pace of change, morally/demographically—I mean, look at the people aging. Look at how the pew studies indicate how much more likely it is for younger Americans to have no religious affiliation, just compared with the generation before them. The generation before them was already significantly discounted from the generation before that. That’s what we’re looking at.

Dennis: I’m kind of smiling about how we’re starting this broadcast, going out 20 years. I want to go back some 40 years to when you were a boy/young man. What would it have been like to have been Al Mohler’s dad? What did your dad do?

Al: My dad was a grocery store manager. He was a wonderful, faithful Christian father. He modeled hard work, and he loved his family. He was deeply involved in the local church. So much of my life—I can say almost the entirety of it—I simply wouldn’t know who I am without being Dick Mohler’s son / I am Richard Albert Mohler, Jr.

4:00

My dad died suddenly just about three years ago, and I will be eternally thankful to God for him.

Dennis: So, he made a major mark on your life, as a young man?

Al: Oh, absolutely! I mean, the first time I ever taught the Scripture is because he was the director of Sunday school. He came in one Saturday night when I was 16 years old and said, “I’m a Bible teacher short.” I thought, “Boy, dad, that’s a tragedy.” The next thing I knew, I was teaching first graders in Sunday school. He didn’t ask me if I would do it—he simply told me I was going to do it.

Since then, there have been very few Sundays I haven’t been teaching the Word of God. I go back and say, “I now know why.” People say, “Who called you into ministry?” The Holy Spirit, yes; but my dad did when I was 16 and he said, “You’re going to go teach the Scripture.”

Dennis: You said some of the most important conversations occurred with you and your dad in the car, not making eye contact.

Al: Yes; absolutely. My dad understood this intuitively. He had three boys and one daughter. I was his first-born son.

5:00

I knew that, when I was in the car with Dad / just the two of us alone, it was possible we were going to get into a conversation that I would never have willingly asked for. Yet I look back at it and say: “Boy, my life was changed in so many points, because my dad just knew how to get his son in the seat beside him. We were both at the traffic, and the horizon before us, when eye contact was at a minimum and truth was at a maximum. He just laid it on.

You know, I don’t think he really cared at that moment whether I got out of the car happy, but he knew that I got out of the car having heard what he thought he needed to say.

Bob: Were most of those conversations about sex, or were they about a variety of topics?

Al: Oh, I’ll be honest—I was a teenage boy. He was talking to me about sex, he was talking to me about girls, he was talking to me about how I would relate to my mother, he was talking to me about how I would be at work on time, and he knew whether I was or not, because I worked for him. [Laughter] So, I mean—no; it was just all those conversations a dad needs to have with a boy.

Dennis: And he was intentional.

Al: You know, at the time, I didn’t see that so much; but now, yes, I fully understand, having been a father myself. Being a father and now a grandfather, I fully understand.

6:00

He understood that he had me in that car, and that I was not going to jump out. He had me for the duration of the ride. I now recognize he just kept driving until he made his point, regardless of whether we were where we wanted to be or not.

Dennis: Right. He was preparing you for life.

Al: He was.

Dennis: And frankly, that’s why you’ve written this book, We Cannot Be Silent. You’ve written this for adults and young men and women, as well, to know what they believe around these thorny issues of gender identity, of same-sex marriage, homosexuality.

Bob, that’s also why we created Passport2Identity, to give dads and sons / moms and daughters a chance to have some of those conversations, looking at the horizon and talking about meaningful things.

Bob: Well, actually, we created Passport2Purity®so a lot of moms and dads talked to their sons and daughters about the birds and the bees, and dating, and all kinds of subjects through Passport2Purity, right before the young man or the young woman entered adolescence.

7:00

Then we realized: “We need to come back and revisit some of these subjects and explore some new subjects with a son or a daughter, when they’re 14 or 15 years old, to help them understand what their identity is, understand what it means to be in Christ, what it means to be a boy and not a girl or a girl and not a boy, what it means to be on mission, what it means to make your faith your own and not just hitchhike off your parents’ faith. Those are the subjects that get unpacked if you and your son, or you and your daughter, go off for a Passport2Identity weekend, staring at the horizon; right? [Laughter]

Dennis: It’s safe!

Bob: As the car is going along, it’s safe and you’re listening to the audio, and then you can pause it and you can say: “What do you want to say about that? Do you have any thoughts about that?” You have a travel journal / there are some questions. It really does set up a mom and a dad to interact with a son or a daughter.

Al: And I recognize, by the way—that can be different for boys and girls—it is. TIME Magazine did a cover story about a decade ago now; because TIME Magazine, all of a sudden, discovered that boys and girls are different. Evidently that was a new thing for TIME. [Laughter]

8:00

You may remember that the experiment they talked about was—I think they had two 12-year-old boys / two 12-year-old girls, and two chairs in an empty room—they put the two boys in. They put the seats facing the same direction; and the conversation started out with, “I don’t know—what do you know?” [Laughter]

They put the two 12-year-old girls in the same room. They arranged the chairs facing each other. They locked on and there was no silence until they took them out of the room.

Dennis: Yes—never stopped talking.

Al: That’s alright. God made us differently—

Bob: That’s right.

Al: —as men and women / as boys and girls—and you need to relate differently. That’s why I’m so glad you have two editions of this new program—one for fathers with sons and one for mothers with daughters—that’s really important.

Dennis: What I want to talk to you about today—because there are undoubtedly listeners, right now, who are going: “I never had those conversations with my parents. I waffle in my beliefs sometimes. I’m not sure how to handle all these issues that are being thrown at me.”

So here’s the question for you, Al. I want you to become a coach.

9:00

I want you to coach those, who are listening today, who are uncertain of their convictions on these issues of homosexuality, same-sex marriage, gender identity, transgender. They’re feeling the pressure to conform, and they just—you know, they want to do the right thing, Al. I don’t think they want to be people-pleasers at the core / they want to please God. Coach them in what they need to do to move to the right beliefs.

Al: You know, I so appreciate the way you asked the question, Dennis, because the first thing I want to say is: “Parents don’t need to be ‘sexperts.’” In other words, we don’t need to be an absolute information authority on all these things, because we don’t have to come up with it. What we, as Christian parents, have to do is to say, “Our first question has to be, ‘What does God say about this?’” If we’re unsure about our convictions, then we have to turn to God’s Word and get those convictions clarified.

Part of the reason why I wrote the book, We Cannot Be Silent, is to tell people what they need to know about what the Scripture says about why God made us in His image as male and female—what it means to be a man / what it means to be a woman—

10:00

—how we then come to understand what marriage is, and then how we think through the issues of the day, from same-sex marriage to the transgender issues—not informed by making ourselves experts—but informed by knowing that the Word of God is the sole authority by which we are to think and then to live faithfully.

Dennis: And not be ashamed of representing what the truth of Scripture represents.

Al: Absolutely. You know, here’s one of the things that just gets me—and you see this amongst so many Christians when they’re thinking about the popular culture—when they think about going to the college campus or think about talking to their neighbor—they’re afraid to know anything from the Scripture. Well, where else are you going to know anything? What other authority are you going to cite? You know! Why would we be intimidated against people whose ultimate authority is the latest edition of TIME or Vogue

Bob: —or BuzzFeed.

Al: Exactly. You know—in other words, we, of all people, ought to feel none insecure in going into that conversation; because we can say: “Here’s the truth of God—eternal and unchanging.

11:00

“I don’t know it because I’m so smart but because God loves us enough He spoke to us. Yes, I’m going into this conversation because I actually know something.”

Bob: I have friends who have a young son—he’s 18 years old—he’s in his senior year in high school. About a year ago, they started picking up clues/signs on his social media or on his text messages. There was interaction with other guys that looked like it was, not just two pals; but there was romantic interest between their son and another boy. He has since come out—declared himself to be gay—and has said: “I just don’t believe what you guys believe about God and the Bible. This is who I am.” These parents, Al—they are brokenhearted—

Al: Sure they are.

Bob: —don’t know what to do. They want to love their son / they want to point him in the right direction. He’s saying: “I’m just not interested in all these beliefs. I reject that.” What do they do?!

12:00

Al: Well, I think, first of all, we need to recognize that something new has been entered into here in terms of our experience, as parents, or even dealing with young people; and that is, that the society tells them that they are who they think they are right now. Let’s just remember the German words, Sturm und Drang, about adolescence. In other words, we should expect 16-, 17-, 15-, 18-, 19-year-olds to be confused about who they are at any given moment. That’s a normal adolescent experience. And yet, what’s happening now is that society’s saying, “Whatever you think you might be right now, you need to be that to the fullest; and this is what it is.” There is no judgment upon that.

One of the things we have to recognize is that, when we talk to an 18-year-old son that way, every other authority in society is telling him: “If you think this is who you are, then celebrate it. Be it! Go for it!”

Bob: And they’re also making that young man a heroic figure: “You’re so courageous. You’re so bold, and we’re so proud of you.” It’s affirming—who wouldn’t want to come out?

13:00

Al: You know, Paul McHugh, who was at Johns Hopkins University—a leading doctor and psychiatrist—he said, “You know, most young people who were in early adolescence, struggling with transgender identity—they move out of it on their own.” And yet we have society now saying that, if you’re 12, and you think you might be—

Bob: —a girl.

Al: —a girl or a boy, regardless of your biology—then that’s who you are; and if your parents are telling you otherwise—that they’re just oppressing you.

I want to go back to that parent and simply say: “Look. Understand what you’re up against, but also know that God gave you this son for His glory and because you are there for him in a way no one else can be there.” We cannot be silent—you can’t not say what you believe—not just because you know it to be true—but because truth is redemptive. You can’t possibly love someone and not tell them the truth when you know what the Bible makes clear is at stake.

Yet truth—First Corinthians 13 tells us that love never fails; that it’s patient and it’s kind.

14:00

Truth-telling, in the Christian understanding, has to be patient and kind—always truthful. Genuine love means we’re there to have the same conversation again and again; because at the end of the day, no one is going to love our children as we must—no one—no bureaucratic agency, no psychotherapist, no friend in college or in high school, no teacher. No other influence is going to love children as we are called to love them. You know, that’s tough stuff.

Dennis: I’m just curious—if you had a moment to speak directly to moms—and then turn to the dads and speak to dads—what would you exhort moms to do today, as you look at what’s taking place in the culture? You’re a seminary president; you’re also the president of a major university. You see kids coming from Christian homes all over the country. You’re making some observations, frankly, that we need to glean the best from. What would you say to them?

15:00

Al: You know, I will simply tell that I think I can now greatly predict within the first few minutes of a conversation whether a young man, coming in at 18 as a college freshman, has had a decisive, healthy relationship with his own father. I can pick that up very quickly. I don’t want moms to “mom” any less. I just want moms to understand that they have to honor the fact that their husband needs time with their son, alone, to have the kind of conversations that will only take place if they are alone.

That means, by the way, that certainly there are times when dad needs to take son off in order to have the kinds of conversations you have over a weekend in a cabin, or something like that; but that also means that times, when dad’s going to run an errand, son needs to be in the car with him. Mom and sister need to have the understanding, “We just need to let them have their time.”

Because I think, by the way—that in retrospect—I know that my father knew some of the most important conversations were unscripted and unplanned, but we were in the car together. That’s all that was required.

Bob: You said you can tell the difference with an 18-year-old?

16:00

Al: Yes; yes.

Bob: What can you tell?

Al: I don’t want to be absolutist in this—but if a young man comes up to me, sticks out his hand, knows how to look me in the eye and talk to me, has at least the understanding of how to begin a conversation, has something interesting to say, looks like he’s not scared to be there, and looks secure in himself and can relate to others in that way, I’m pretty sure that there was a dad in this picture; because he’s been watching dad—how a man speaks / how a man relates.

Not only that—but he’s had dad looking over his shoulder, and he wants dad pleased with him. Dad’s told him: “That’s not how you shake a hand; this is how you shake a hand. When you shake a man’s hand, look him in the eye. When you look him in the eye, smile, not goofily; but look like you’re not scared to be there.” You know, “Be ready to enter into conversation. When he asks you, ‘What are you up to?’ have something to tell him!”

Bob: So, in a culture where 40 percent of the kids are growing up without a dad there to help raise them, we’re headed for a crisis in manhood.

Al: We’re not headed for a crisis—we are in a crisis.

17:00

I mean, just look at the fact that the New York Times ran a major article on the fact that all the social pathologies are now beyond debate. This is not to heap guilt upon moms trying to raise boys on their own—God bless you! We want you to have more [blessing], not less. But it is to say that we have allowed this to take place. We’ve—in terms of social policy in this country—encouraged it to take place.

You know, this is where the church has to come back and say: “We understand the importance of a dad and mom / a husband and a wife in the family. Where a dad or a husband is absent, somebody in this church needs to be the father to the fatherless for that boy.”

Bob: “There’s a covenant community here—

Al: That’s right.

Bob: —“and we can step in where there are absences and deficits and say, ‘We’re here to help fill in those gaps.’”

Al: Yes. So I should qualify what I said to you by saying, “I know that someone has been either the dad in that boy’s life or someone has been like a dad to him.”

Dennis: You’re not a parent today, raising teenagers / raising elementary age kids.

18:00

You’re a new grandfather, and you have adult children who have left the home. But if you were—if you and your wife were in the thick of elementary age, junior high, high school age children—how would you use the dinner table?  I just want to go back to a fundamental / to a basic, Al, because I think sometimes we need to be reminded we do have a captive audience around food.

Al: Absolutely.

Dennis: We can deliver a whole lot more food for the soul in the midst of feeding them nutrients for their bodies.

Al: You know, that requires slowing down the meal. It requires everybody sitting down together. It requires parents leading a conversation. It requires parents understanding: “Look; here’s a rare opportunity. Everybody’s sitting around the table.” Big brother, little brother, big sister, little sister—they’re all sitting around. Some of them are going to understand parts of this conversation; some of them are going to overhear parts and they’re not going to get it. But this is where we have the conversation.

This is where parents need to say, “What happened to you today?” Not just in terms of, “Did you get a double or a triple or did you strike out?” but: “What happened to you? What are you thinking today?”

19:00

“Look; this is what’s going on in the culture—here are the headlines”—without saying that, you just simply say, “You know, what are we supposed to think about this?”

Also, let mom and dad talk at the table and let the kids hear and observe the way that is supposed to take place. Jesus gave us a memorial meal as one of the two ordinances, because something happens around a meal that doesn’t happen in any other context. So use it to the fullest.

Dennis: And there’s nothing wrong, saying: “I don’t know the answer to your question, but you know what? I’ll go find out.”

Al: Yes. It’s so important you finish that the way you did. There’s something wrong with saying, “I don’t know the answer to that question; so that’s where we leave it.” No! Humility is saying: “Okay. I don’t know the answer to that question, but we’re not going to bed tonight til we find out.”

Dennis: Yes.

Bob: I asked you earlier about where you think we’ll be in 20 years. You said: “Look at Europe—it’s increasingly secular; the church is minimized, Christianity in that culture is essentially marginalized.”

20:00

If that’s where we’re headed, I guess the first question is, “How do we prepare for that?” and the second question is, “Is there any hope that that’s not where we end up?”

Al: Well, I have very little hope that that’s not where we end up, in terms of the sociology of it; because there’s no reason to believe that’s not going to happen here in more or less the same way. We can, as Christians—in other words, I don’t think there’s much we can do about the culture at large, at least, in terms of these big, seismic changes in the landscape.

Dennis: You’re speaking, at that point, about a revival / a spiritual awakening of a nation.

Al: Yes. It’s going to take a fundamental reshaping of the entire society—that only God is going to be able to do. We will know if it happens and God has done it.

Dennis: Right.

Al: But what I want to say—we can learn—is how we can look at the Christian church in so much of Europe and recognize missed opportunities that we ought not to miss—especially that is in the generational transfer—that’s the most important thing.

21:00

What’s most important is whether or not our children are actually standing in the faith when we are no longer, operationally, their parents—when they make their way into the adult world and when we pass from the scene. If the Christian faith, in terms of a living faith, passes with us, then it’s going to look like Europe.

Dennis: Your dad did a great job of passing on his faith to you. You talked about that earlier in the broadcast. I want to ask you to do something.

Bob: I know where this is going. Let me, before you ask him—

Dennis: Tell them how to get a copy of Al’s book. [Laughter] I want to tell Al what I’m going to do—

Bob: Okay.

Dennis: —so he can think about this while you’re telling our listeners how to get a copy of We Cannot Be Silent.

Al, what I’m going to do is—I’m going to seat your father across the table from you. Now, I know he’s been gone three years; but I’m going to ask you, to the best of your ability—you are a tender man and an eloquent man—I want to ask you to look him in the eye and to honor him.

22:00

Speak to him about what he meant to you.

Bob: Well, and while you’re thinking about what you want to say, let me point our listeners to our website, FamilyLifeToday.com, where they can get more information about your book, We Cannot Be Silent. There’s also a link to the message that you shared with our staff recently, which is an outstanding message. I’d encourage every listener to either download the audio and listen to it or watch the video—great message. You’ll find it at FamilyLifeToday.com.

There’s also information about Passport2Purity® and Passport2Identity—the resources we’ve talked about here today. Go to FamilyLifeToday.com for more information about these resources, or call us at 1-800-FL-TODAY if you have any questions. We’ll be happy to get the information for you.

Also, “Happy anniversary!” today to our friends, Scott and Sherry Jennings, who celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary today—Scott and Sherry live in North Carolina.

23:00

They have hosted more than three dozen Art of Marriage® events; they’ve been to I Still Do; and they’ve shared, here on FamilyLife Today. Great couple / great story of God’s work in their lives; and we want to say, “Happy anniversary!” to them.

And we want to say, “Thank you,” to our listeners; because you guys make anniversaries like this possible. God used FamilyLife Today in Scott and Sherry’s lives / He used the Weekend to Remember getaway in their lives—you guys made that possible through your support of FamilyLife Today. We appreciate each one of you who support this ministry. Thanks for your partnership with us.

Dennis—

Dennis: It’s been a great privilege to have a good friend back on the broadcast. Al, you’re our good friend. You may not be now, after I put you on the spot with this assignment here; but I think those who are listening—are still in the process of being a mom, a dad, a grandparent—have forgotten the centrality, the power, the nobility, the impact they can have on a child’s life.

24:00

Speak to your dad in first person—that he’s seated across the table—tell him what he meant to you.

Al: This is going to be very hard to do, emotionally; but I would simply say:

Dad, I had an understanding of how secure I was in your love, and how God graced me with your love, and with your guidance, discipline, teaching—just the relationship—your love for me, your love for my mom, and your love for my brothers and sisters.

But I want to tell you that just in recent days I’ve come to understand how much I love you for being so well thought of by others, especially in the local church. When at your funeral, so many teenagers and young men came up to me and said, “Your father was the most important influence in my life.” It’s not just my life, Dad—but many others. I thank God for you.

FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas.

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