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Moral Majority to Moral Minority

with Al Mohler | December 28, 2016

Forty years ago, a so-called Moral Majority came to national prominence, as vocal Christians resisted gay-rights advocates in Florida. In the ensuing four decades, the moral norms of our nation have shifted and eroded to the point that Christians now find themselves a definite moral minority. What happened, and can we reverse the slide? Dr. Al Mohler provides crucial insights on the next FamilyLife Today.

Show Notes and Resources

Dr. Al Mohler spoke to FamilyLife staff during our 40th Anniversary Celebration in July of 2016.

Forty years ago, a so-called Moral Majority came to national prominence, as vocal Christians resisted gay-rights advocates in Florida. In the ensuing four decades, the moral norms of our nation have shifted and eroded to the point that Christians now find themselves a definite moral minority. What happened, and can we reverse the slide? Dr. Al Mohler provides crucial insights on the next FamilyLife Today.

Show Notes and Resources

Dr. Al Mohler spoke to FamilyLife staff during our 40th Anniversary Celebration in July of 2016.

Moral Majority to Moral Minority

With Al Mohler
|
December 28, 2016
| Download Transcript PDF

Bob: In the 1960s and 1970s, America experienced a cultural revolution. Dr. Al Mohler says the seeds that were sown during those decades have borne bitter fruit in our lifetime.

 

Al: You look back to that—and you think about the 40th anniversary of FamilyLife—and you realize—if you tried, it would be very difficult to come up with 40 more crucial and critical years in terms of the issues of marriage and family, not only in the United States, but in the world.

 

Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Wednesday, December 28th. Our host is the President of FamilyLife®, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine. Is it time for a new, quiet cultural counter-revolution on issues related to marriage and family? We’ll hear a message from Dr. Al Mohler about that today. Stay with us.

 

1:00

And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us on the Wednesday edition. You know, how this time of year—newspapers, and TV, and social media / everything—everybody is listing their top movies of the year, top sporting events of the year, all of the—

 

Dennis: —top book.

 

Bob: —top ten this and that. I’ve been thinking about my highlights of the year / my top ten highlights. I’ve got to tell you—one of them / maybe top three was sitting and listening to Dr. Al Mohler at our 40th anniversary celebration, back in the summer. When he got up and spoke for about 45 minutes about marriage and family, it was riveting. Do you remember?

 

Dennis: It was! It was electrifying. I sat there, next to Barbara. I leaned over to her and said, “You know, I would like to have thought I could have given a message like that.” [Laughter] But it would never happen! He didn’t look at a note, Bob, for 45 minutes!

 

2:00

 

Bob: No; the notes were in his head, and it was just masterful.

 

Dennis: It was a great apologetic for the power of a family, in the church and in the culture, impacting the generations to come.

 

Bob: And so this week, we thought—as we wrap up 2016 with our listeners, what has been our 40th anniversary year—we thought, “It’s time for you to hear Dr. Mohler’s compelling message about where we are and how far we are from where we’re supposed to be, according to the Scriptures, when it comes to marriage and family.”

 

Dennis: And if you’ve already heard it, you need to listen to it again. It is that good!

But before we listen to Dr. Mohler’s message, 2017 is upon us. In just a few days, we’ll be there; and we’re going to be celebrating 25 years of FamilyLife Today.

 

Bob: That’s right! Our birthday comes up. We started in 1992—so 2017 is 25 years. That’s right.

 

3:00

 

Dennis: It is 25 years. What I want to challenge our listeners to do—here at yearend—is: “Help up celebrate our 25 years of broadcasting by giving a generous gift, here at the end of the year.” Some of our listeners have listened for years. I ran into a young lady in my travels, back last fall, who said, “Are you Dennis Rainey?” I said, “I am.” She said: “I listened to you as a little girl with my parents. [Laughter] They made me listen to your broadcast, but I really liked it, even though I pretended that I didn’t with my mom and dad.”

 

Bob: Yes.

 

Dennis: She said: “I just want to thank you. I received a good bit of my training and my thinking about marriage and family from FamilyLife Today.” A little girl like that generally is not a donor to FamilyLife Today, but you can be.

 

Bob: Yes.

 

Dennis: Would you like to be a financial stakeholder—stockholder/partner—in a transformational ministry that is making a difference in all 50 states across the country?

 

4:00

Well, if you would, now’s the time; because over the past few months, we’ve been running behind the number of donors and friends who need to stand with this ministry to keep us on the air. It’s that simple. This ministry is a donor-supported ministry. Would you give today? Would you give generously? Would you give on behalf of the little girls who are listening / the boys—maybe some other folks, who are in financial straits, where they can’t participate in this ministry? Now is the time, here at the end of the year, to step up and say, “I stand with you guys in what you’re doing.”

 

Bob: We recently had to make the difficult decision to go off the air in a couple of communities where FamilyLife Today was heard. It’s because we hadn’t heard from folks, and we have to be good stewards of the resources that are available. Now, the good news is—when you make a donation today your donation is going to be tripled. We have not yet met the matching gift fund that was made available to us this month. There is still money available so every donation you make today makes it possible for us to receive actually three times the amount you donate thanks to the matching gift fund.

5:00

You can donate online at FamilyLifeToday.com or call 1-800-FL-TODAY—you can make your donation over the phone. Or, if you’d like to mail your donation, our address is FamilyLife Today at PO Box 7111, Little Rock, AR; and our zip code is 72223. We want to say, “Thanks,” in advance, for whatever you’re able to do here at yearend. It will make a difference.

 

Dennis: It will. I just want you to know—Bob and I are not asking you to do what Barbara and I, or he and Mary Ann, aren’t doing as well.

 

Bob: Yes; we made our yearend donation a couple of weeks ago.

 

Dennis: Barbara and I have as well. Would you stand with us right now? We need you!

 

Bob: Right.

Let’s get to Dr. Al Mohler and the message I was talking about earlier. I think you will find this to be a highlight of your year—one of the most profound messages you will have heard this year.

 

6:00

 

[Recorded Message]

 

Al: Milestones are important—40 years! That’s a big milestone—especially in a ministry—and especially in a ministry with consistent leadership and such vitality over 40 years.

In 1976, I got my first job that I thought was really big and important. I worked for Governor Ronald Reagan in his campaign to be elected President of the United States. As a 16-year-old, I got hired to be the high school coordinator for Dade and Broward Counties, which was a big job! I learned, as a 16-year-old, about ideas.

At the same time, I was so concerned, as a young Christian, to try to understand what was going on around me. I had been introduced to the works of Francis Schaeffer—they were then being published / they were new back then.

 

7:00

I started reading Francis Schaeffer, and started studying apologetics, and started trying to figure out the times—and tried to understand, as Schaeffer would later write in the title of one of his books, How Should We Then Live?—I was trying to figure that out in a world in motion.

Nineteen seventy-six was a big year for the country—Jimmy Carter was elected President of the United States and would take office January 20th of 1977. When Jimmy Carter was elected, he was a Southern Baptist deacon. This looked like something of a corrective to what had gone on. As a matter of fact, a lot of the ‘70s looked like something of a corrective to the 1960s.

The sexual and moral revolutions of the 1960s had been so unsettling to the entire nation. It appeared that, perhaps, in the 1970s, there was more of a reversion to the norm—maybe there was a new normal on the other side of all of this. But it quickly became apparent that that was not what was happening. Indeed, it was not a reversion to the norm; it was, instead, a more disguised acceleration of that revolution that had taken place in the 1960s.

 

8:00

In the 1960s, that revolution mostly took place on America’s college campuses; but all of that began to change in the 1970s. President Carter actually established what was to be known as the White House Conference on the Family in the late 1970s. At that point, there was recognition that something had gone wrong in the American family / there was a deterioration of the status of the American family. There was increasing evidence that the family was itself in jeopardy.

In the 1960s, the family was still pretty much taken for granted—so much so that the moral revolutionaries had a fixed object against which they were trying to advocate. They were suggesting that we no longer needed marriage and we no longer needed the nuclear family—that this was not something that was divinely ordained and necessary for civilization. It was, instead, a repressive prison in which persons were trapped.

 

9:00

Betty Friedan would write about the institution of marriage and the nuclear family as a “domestic concentration camp.”

Well, you know what happened. The hippies actually did graduate; and then they got hired to teach, and then they got tenure. [Laughter] Over time, that revolution that had begun on America’s college campuses began to spread; and it began to spread just about everywhere—so much so that, by the time you reached the mid-1970s, the fact that the family and marriage were now in jeopardy was, at least, being acknowledged by some.

One of the most prophetic voices during that time was a sociologist by the name of Daniel Patrick Moynihan. He began to look especially at minority populations—and, in particular, the African American population in America—trying to answer the question as to why certain sociological problems—especially socioeconomic problems—were so entrenched. He came back and said that the economic questions cannot be separated from the family structure question.

 

10:00

Daniel Patrick Moynihan pointed out what, to him, was obvious as a sociologist—and that is—where you do not have stable marriage and you do not have stable parenthood, and you do not have stable families, you cannot have a stable economic system, you cannot have a stable social system / you cannot have a stable civilization.

There was an immediate response to Moynihan. He was denounced as blaming the victim; and yet, you look back now, and it becomes increasingly clear that Moynihan was right. But he wasn’t just right about the African American minority population in the United States. Without knowing it, he was right about the entire population of the United States. All of the pathologies he pointed to in one population, in the 1960s and the early 1970s, are now multiplied, many times over, throughout the entire United States. Out of wedlock births among Americans in the 1960s were under 5 percent. By the 1970s, they were over 7 percent; by the year 2012, 42 percent.

 

11:00

Moynihan pointed out something. He was in an interview in 2001, looking back at his report and what had happened. He said that he had been influenced by a sociologist in London by the name of Bronislaw Malinowski, who said that the first law of anthropology is that no civilization can survive in which young males do not have an acknowledged male parent who is parenting them. If you find a thriving society, its first mark is that young males have an acknowledged male parent who is parenting them. Moynihan then asked the question, “Has human nature changed?”

In 1976, as I mentioned, President Carter was elected. Toward the end of his term, he announced the White House Conference on the Family. It was to bring together all kinds of experts—sociologists, family experts, psychologists, psychiatrists, politicians, economists—you name it.

 

12:00

It was supposed to bring people together from the left, and from the right, and from the center in terms of America’s cultural conversation. But it began to break down when the White House, in an unannounced fashion, changed the name of the conference from the White House Conference on the Family to the White House Conference on Families.

Conservatives immediately understood that something had fundamentally changed. There was a great protest against the name of the conference; but the Carter administration pressed back saying, “There is no longer one normative definition of the family.” Even in the late 1970s, they were already arguing that there are many different forms of families, and it would be judgmental to privilege one form of family over against others—so: “It’s not going to be the White House Conference on the Family. It’s going to be the White House Conference on Families.”

In 1976, I was a high school student in Pompano Beach, Florida. I would graduate in June of 1977.

 

13:00

That very year, when I was a senior in high school, the Dade County Commission passed what became known as the first major gay rights ordinance in America. In 1976/1977, that was like a vast thunderclap out of the blue. No one could really believe this had happened. Most people were unprepared to know what to do in response.

One woman, who lived in Miami, decided she was going to do something about it. She was married to a local businessman; they had several kids. She was very well-known as the spokesperson for Florida Citrus Mutual—so people all over the country saw her. She was actually from Oklahoma, where she’d been Miss Oklahoma. Her name was Anita Bryant. She called together a meeting at the Miami Beach Convention Center in 1977 to figure out what we would do in response to this; because now it was clear there were social movements in America that were beginning—not only to make a lot of noise and to make arguments—but to make changes in laws. Thus, there was called together this big meeting.

 

14:00

I went with my parents. I point to that, because we’re talking about 1976/1977. If you tried, it would be difficult to come up with 40 more crucial and critical years, in terms of the issues of marriage and family, not only in the United States, but in the world.

Fast forward from 1976 to 2016—and in 40 years / in what just, basically, sociologists would describe as one human generation—you talk about such a vast transformation in the way people think, and live, and conceive, and operate—in terms of the way they relate to one another and establish romantic relationships, in terms of what their expectations are about their own lifespan, in terms of whether or not they expect to marry or whatever they think marriage is in terms of how they define marriage, if they even have any concern for the family at all. You start to look at this and recognize we’re living in a different world than existed then.

 

15:00

We’re living in a time in which it is impossible not to recognize what has happened now in terms of the institution of marriage and the natural family. When you come to the year 2016—across America’s political spectrum, on the right and on the left, in both political parties and across almost all academic disciplines—there is now a very surprising consensus about the fact that the breakdown of marriage and the family has been disastrous for this society and would be disastrous for any other.

There’s been a series of books written by some of the most prominent academics in the United States. What’s interesting about this is—the majority of them are writing from the left and not from the right. They are, themselves, now recognizing that the redefinition of marriage and the vast growth, for instance, in heterosexual co-habitation, at the expense of marriage—

 

16:00

—by the way, here’s what we’ve learned in the United States / that even secular sociology now recognizes—the argument was that co-habitation and sex before marriage would be the way people would get into marriage. It is now clear that, in the United States, it isn’t that at all! As a matter of fact, it’s co-habitation rather than marriage. Co-habitation is not, in the United States, leading to any stable, marriage-like mode of living, but rather is leading to vast atomization and the fracturing of society. Again, you point to that 42 percent, in 2012, of children born outside of wedlock—it has led to an explosion of children who belong, not to a mother and a father married together, but to someone, somewhere.

The interesting thing about 2016 is, though—that almost every one of these observers will make this massive argument—but every single one of them, when they get to the last chapter, says, “But of course, we can’t recover what has been lost.”

 

17:00

Usually, interestingly, there’s even an ideological surrender. Usually, by the time you get to the end of the book—especially the books that are written from the left—they’ll come to the end and they’ll say:

But of course, all the critique of the ‘60s against the nuclear family and against marriage—they were all valid. There’s no going back to that! No going back to Ozzie and Harriet!

—they’ll lampoon.

Instead, we’ve got to find a new way to try to make human civilization possible. We’ve got to find a new way / some kind of new structure that will enable us to try to put together what’s been torn asunder. We’ve got to find a new way that we can raise children successfully without heterosexual marriage. We’ve got to find a new way to try to create more lasting relational and social norms. We have to create something new.

And, of course, we are creating something new. As a civilization, just on the issue of marriage—it’s not just the legalization of same-sex marriage in 2015.

 

18:00

Just think how unthinkable that would have been in 1976—to the fact that we now fully recognize that’s just a beginning of a process of the radical redefinition of marriage, from which it appears, in this civilization, there is no avenue of return.

Let me tell you something that haunts me when I look back at the evangelical movement in 1976. It’s very hard to find much literature from that day. It’s hard to find much emphasis from that day about the goodness of marriage and the family that wasn’t just written in response to someone else’s critique. That is to say: “I think, as evangelicals, we’ve got to point to ourselves and recognize we really weren’t thinking as Christian-ly and as biblically as we should have been in the midst of all of that.

Let me give you one key example.

 

19:00

When we think about marriage, do we ground our arguments for marriage, first of all, in terms of sociological or anthropological arguments? We could do that; because those arguments are conclusive, and they are expanding in number. We now know a lot of things—just in terms of anthropology, psychology, psychiatry, and sociology—we had no clue of in 1976.

For instance, we now have an entire documented, irrefutable body of evidence about the fact that boys who are not raised with fathers are far more likely to have contact with the police; far less likely to graduate from high school; far / far less likely to graduate from college; far more likely to be involved in some kind of criminal activity.

We now know things, even medically, that we didn’t know. We now know, for example—and this is just a secular perspective—we’re just thinking in secular terms here—trying to wonder if we should make this argument in, basically, a secular form.

 

20:00

We now know, for example, that the time in which girls—in the period between childhood and adolescence—the time in which they go into puberty is greatly affected by whether or not they live in the home with their biological father. We now know, medically, that the presence of a biological father in the home has a hormonal influence through the environment on his teenaged daughter, delaying the onset of puberty over what happens when the biological father is not in the home.

Now, let’s just put a little footnote here—let’s just imagine that we don’t know anything about God / creation—humanity made in God’s image. What are you going to do with that? What are you going to do with that when medical doctors say: “You know, it’s really interesting that we have this early-onset puberty issue with a lot of girls; and it turns out that’s tied to whether or not they live in the home with their biological father”? 

 

21:00

Does anyone have, then, the inferential wisdom to say, “Maybe, then, that’s the way it’s supposed to be!”?

I mean, you can look at all kinds of evidence that’s now irrefutable and growing and—frankly, even more openly agreed-upon in terms of consensus than I would have believed possible, even just four or five years ago—and yet, the secular world doesn’t know what to do with it; because they’ve got nowhere to go with it, because they’re far too committed to their own idea of personal autonomy and their own idea of moral relativism to be able to say there’s an ought in terms of marriage or in terms of family.

[Studio]

 

Bob: Well, we have been listening here to Part One of a message from Dr. Al Mohler. I hate to break in in the middle of the message, because the second half is just as compelling as what we’ve just heard; but I think his point there is so profound, Dennis. We are so committed to personal autonomy in our culture today—

 

22:00

—the idea that we should do anything for anyone else or that anyone should impinge upon our freedom—that is so foreign to modern thinking. And yet, Jesus said, “If any man would be My disciple, take up your cross”—deny yourself—

 

Dennis: Right.

 

Bob: —“and follow Me.”

 

Dennis: And that’s why marriage and family are, not just important to a nation—they are the key to the survivability of a nation. Now why is that? Because God designed marriage and family to be the birthplace of Christianity and where morality and a relationship with God are first taught and caught by children from their parents. He’s just pointing out what all of us feel in our chests: “Family is important, because God designed it. We need to get back to the truth of the Bible about what God says about how a marriage and family work.” That’s what we do, here on FamilyLife Today.

 

23:00

I just want to remind you—if you haven’t given, here at yearend, I just want to encourage you to be as generous as you can. Obviously, your commitment needs to begin with your local church; but, after that, I’d like to encourage you to stand with us—and stand with us strong—to keep this broadcast coming in this community and in more than a thousand other communities across the country.

 

Bob: You can donate, online, at FamilyLifeToday.com; or you can call 1-800-FL-TODAY to make a yearend contribution. You can also mail your contribution to us at FamilyLife Today at PO Box 7111, Little Rock, AR; and our zip code is 72223. Again, we do appreciate your standing with us at the end of 2016.

I also want to mention—if you’d like to view Dr. Mohler’s message in its entirety, the video is available on our website at FamilyLifeToday.com. You may have a Bible study group or a group of friends that you get together with / maybe just you and your spouse or you and your teenagers would want to go through this message—

 

24:00

 

Dennis: Or send it to some adult children, who may need to watch this just to bring some hope to their lives and a biblical perspective about marriage and family.

Bob: —go to FamilyLifeToday.com. You will find Dr. Mohler’s message available on video there.

Now, tomorrow, we will hear Part Two of what we heard today—Dr. Al Mohler talking about the state of our unions in the United States and in the world. I hope you can tune in for that.

I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, along with our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine. We will see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.

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

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