Standing Strong for the Family
About the Guest
When Dennis Rainey started sounding the alert back in 1976 that marriage was in trouble, some folks thought he was overstating the problem. Almost 40 years later, speaking at a conference of leaders dealing with gay marriage and the church, Dennis continues to sound the alert - and this time, far more are listening for the Biblical answer.
Dennis RaineyDennis Rainey cofounded FamilyLife®, a ministry of Cru®. Since the organization began in 1976 through 2017, Dennis’ leadership enabled FamilyLife to grow into a dynamic and vital ministry in more than 109 countries around the world helping families discover the joy God intended for their relationships with God, spouse, and kids. Dennis has authored or co-authored more than 35 books, including best-selling Moments Together for Couples and Staying Close and has received two Golden Medallion...more
At a recent leadership conference to develop strategies to deal with gay marriage, Dennis Rainey winsomely delivers a timeless Biblical solution to the issue.
Standing Strong for the Family
Bob: That’s right.
Dennis: What’s happened since is—men have started pulling on this video series and they’ve pulled it into businesses, into neighborhood Bible studies, into prisons. Now, more than 20 prisons have got Stepping Up Bible studies started. Men are beginning to assume their responsibilities.
A lot of the guys in prisons—you know where they’re starting? They’re starting to disciple their sons, who are at home. They’re doing it over the telephone when they get a chance to talk / writing letters. Some have actually bought the Stepping Up video series to send to their sons / their friends to have them go through it so they, too, can learn what it means to be a godly man.
Bob: We are, this month, encouraging some of our FamilyLife Today listeners to consider taking the next step with us and becoming monthly supporters of the ministry by becoming Legacy Partners, investing in the work that God is doing through this ministry. We really have our Legacy Partners to thank for the kinds of things you’re talking about here.
Dennis: We do. A Legacy Partner keeps us on this station, coming strong, and across more than 1,100 other outlets across the country, bringing the truth about marriage and family from the Scriptures. A Legacy Partner I talked to this morning, Bob—he said: “You know, I decided it was time for me to get off my duff; and I needed to do something. I needed to be a light.” I thought: “You are! You are light.” When you become a Legacy Partner, you’re partnering with us to make a difference in marriages, families, and generations. I have to tell you—if there’s ever been a time in the history of our nation when that needed to happen, it’s right now.
Bob: Well, we do want to thank those of you that stand with us as Legacy Partners and encourage regular listeners to go to FamilyLifeToday.com and click in the corner of the screen, where it says, “I CARE.” Find out about becoming a Legacy Partner—join the team. Help us with the cost associated with this radio program, and help us with the other outreaches of FamilyLife Today as well.
Alight, we need to get into this message we were talking about.
Dennis: You’d forgotten about the message I was going to give.
Bob: This is Part One of a message that you shared, back last fall, at the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission event, The Gospel, Homosexuality and the Future of Marriage. Here’s Part One with Dennis Rainey.
Dennis: Dr. Carl Zimmerman—Harvard professor, sociologist, researcher, and author of the excellent book, The Family and Civilization, spent years researching what took place in the great empires of history. He studied what happened as they rose in power, then began to decline, finally disintegrating and falling apart.
His research was unique because he studied what took place in the family as the empire rose to power and declined. He found there were three phases—the last of which was described by more than a dozen descriptors of attitudes and behaviors that surrounded the family and came from the family. I’ll share with you eight of those factors:
- An increase in causeless divorce. In 1960, America had no no-fault divorce laws. Today, all 50 states posses it.
- Marriage loses its sacredness and the meaning of the marriage ceremony is lost.
- Pseudo-intellectuals theorize, in order to save marriage, that it must be redefined.
- Women lose their inclination for child-bearing and child-rearing, resulting in what he called “population decay.”
- Adultery is celebrated in the culture.
- Parenthood becomes increasingly difficult for those who try to raise children.
- There is a rise—a rapid rise—and spread of juvenile delinquency.
And finally, and remember I am quoting him:
- There was the common acceptance of all forms of sexual perversions.
Zimmerman offered his chilling conclusion: “This generally marks the final stage of societal disintegration.” If I told you Zimmerman’s book was released this past year, you’d probably accuse him of stealing headlines and using fear to sell books.
His book wasn’t written last year. It was written in 1947. Baby boomers were about to enter a golden era in America, but we are no longer in the golden era. We all feel it—we all experience it.
Our country is in serious trouble because its families are in trouble. Its families have traded their moral and spiritual backbones for the wishbone of politically-correct thinking and compromise. We have reached what Malcolm Gladwell described in his book as “the tipping point.” He writes: “When the little things, that are sticky, all add up to make a big difference, we have finally reached the boiling point.”
There is a prevailing mood of hopelessness, among old and young alike today, because of this tipping point. I come to you this morning, not wringing my hands pessimistically or calling you to do the same, but, instead, suggesting that this moral and spiritual tipping point represents an unprecedented opportunity for the church and followers of Jesus Christ. Why don’t we begin to pray and ask God how we can leverage the moral and spiritual needs of our nation to declare the gospel and start another sticking point?—people’s lives who have been transformed by the infectious love of Christ / their sins forgiven.
There was a tipping point—many of them—in the New Testament. Perhaps you remember the story of the Samaritan woman in John 4. She met him at the well, not because she came to meet the Messiah, but to get a drink of water. In the process of getting a drink of water, she found out she had a real need for the living water. As a result, her life changed so dramatically that she became sticky. She went back to her town and brought the entire town out to meet Jesus. John 4:39 records many Samaritans in that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony.
For millions of Americans, the un-met thirst for a good marriage / a solid family represents a need we must address, as followers of Christ. In order to take advantage of this tipping point, I would like to suggest three ways that the church can do this.
Number 1: I believe we need a rally cry of a family reformation. Just as the reformers brought about a return to Scripture in the first reformation, the church must reform our families according to the Creator’s design and blueprints—calling them to repent and calling them to be obedient. Ladies and gentlemen, this Book begins with a marriage—it ends with marriage. From Genesis to Revelation, it’s about how imperfect people experience the grace of God—how they built a marriage and a family.
The family is a harbor in the storm—a place to go home to. It’s where the love of God and the fear of God are first taught and caught. It’s the most powerful institution in all of our earthly existence. And it’s a place—listen, carefully—it’s a place where God can show up and show off.
If we are to restore the soul of our nation, we must do it by returning to the truth of this Book, one home at a time. To do this, the church must reject the popular notion of being a wedding factory. Instead, it should set its sights and standards on unashamedly becoming the biblically-based marriage- and family-equipping center in their community. Your cities are crying out for it. The people that you rub shoulders with in the market place are desperate for hope and help. They need to think about your church providing that.
When people in your community think about preparing for a marriage—growing a strong marriage and family / finding help and hope—they need to think of the church. They need to think of your church.
To do that, we have to preach, teach and exalt the noble purposes of marriage and family. We must create a culture of marriage in the church that elevates and celebrates marriage, as God designed it. This will be good, not only for those who are married, but for the singles that are losing hope that it can be done.
A number of years ago, I married a couple in Houston, Texas. Both sets of grandparents were alive / both sets of parents representing the bride and groom were alive. I had them stand—one of the grandparents had been married for 58 years / the other for 53 years. The parents had been married for 28 and 33 years. Almost 170 years of marriage was standing, as they gave away a young man and a young woman. Do you know what the audience did? They applauded / there was an ovation. That was 25 years ago.
What’s happened since then? We have to preach, teach, and keep the most sacred pledge and promise two human beings, a man and a woman, ever make with one another—the marriage covenant. We have to challenge people in our churches to stop using the “D” word; instead, use the “C” word. Don’t ever threaten divorce in your marriage. If you have, repent. Ask your spouse to forgive you. Get down on one knee with a child—look him in the eye and weep—and say, “That’ll never happen again.”
I still remember, as a young lad in 1954, an argument my mom and dad had. I shook, out of fear, that my parents might get a divorce—that was 1954. We must repent of our cavalier attitude about divorce; while, at the same time, loving those who are divorced. The church has to be a place where all of us, as broken people, can gather as redeemed people.
Bob: Well, we have been listening here to Part One of a message from Dennis Rainey given at the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission National Convention back last fall. You were speaking to pastors, primarily; but you are convinced that the hope for the church does not solely rest in the lap of the pastor.
Dennis: No, I think it’s in the pew. I think, if we could call the army of God—the laymen and woman—and I don’t like the term, laymen; Barbara doesn’t either—but those who go to church, those who profess to be followers of Jesus Christ, those who are disciples of Jesus Christ—if we were to arise and build, let’s build the wall of the family around our nation. Let’s get rid of movies like the one that was made from a bestselling book—a pornographic book.
Bob: The one that’s out right now—
Dennis: Yes. We care more about our streams than we do our children! We have to do something, as moms and dads, on behalf of the next generation. This is about the future generation of children, for goodness’ sakes! You can’t pollute the stream of the family and expect it to be sweet water, downstream, in a couple of years—10 years, 20 years, 30. We have to say, “Enough is enough,”—and decide what our part is. I think what every person listening to this broadcast—whether single or married, divorced, blended-family—doesn’t matter where you are or what you have—
—if you’re a follower of Christ, you’re redeemed / you’re forgiven—you’ve been given a message. What’s your part? Let’s go!
It’s time for businessmen, moms and dads / grandparents to go to a movie theater—and to kindly and graciously—because, trust me, I’ve done this. The movie theater manager has very little to do with what’s on his screen. So, you can’t go and beat him up and use your Bible to beat him up. You’ve got to go in there—what I did is—I took my three daughters with me. So, I was sane / I was smiling. I was kind; but I was firm to say: “I don’t want this stuff in my neighborhood because the young men are going to date these girls—may watch this movie. He may get ideas about what he can do with my daughters. Do you want that happening to your daughters? Is that what you want for them?” Just appeal to him.
Here’s the thing Bob—this was like 25 years ago. There were like 50 of us who went to the movie theaters, here in Little Rock, Arkansas—not a big city. Hollywood sent a team out here to find out what was going on because “so many of us” pushed back against what was then NC-17 movies.
Now, that’s just one little brushfire we’ve got going on in our country. There’s a hundred other brushfires, but pick your fire. Graciously represent Jesus Christ and do it in a winsome, loving, compassionate way. Refuse to allow this stuff just to continue on like, “This is business as usual.”
Bob: One way that we have seen a lot of people try to engage in a winsome way with friends, neighbors, co-workers, and even family members, is by inviting folks in to go through some of the small group resources we’ve put together—
—The Art of Marriage small group study, and the Stepping Up study for men. A lot of people are grabbing on to these resources / these tools and putting them to work as a way to say, “Let’s talk about the importance of these kinds of issues in our neighborhood, in our business, in our church.” It’s been encouraging to get the reports back on how these resources are being put to use.
I think, Dennis, we need to say a special word of thanks today to those folks who support the ministry of FamilyLife Today, financially, as donors to this ministry because they’re the ones, who enable us to do the work that is being done here, at FamilyLife—all of the outreaches, all of the resources, and this daily radio program—all are made possible because of the financial support we receive from listeners to this program.
We especially want to thank those of you who are Legacy Partners, who give each month to help support this program.
In fact, during the month of February, we are hoping that many of our listeners will consider joining the Legacy Partner team. Our team has been praying for hundreds of new families to join us and be part of this ministry on a month-in / month-out basis—help underwrite the monthly expenses of this ministry. If you’d like to consider that, I want to encourage you to go to FamilyLifeToday.com and click the link on the top right-hand side of the page that says, “I CARE.”
The information about how to become a Legacy Partner is available right there. We’ve got a welcome kit we’ll send to you when you join the Legacy Partner team. It’s got some resources designed to help strengthen your marriage and your family. We will stay in touch with you throughout the year. We will let you know what’s happening here at FamilyLife—let you know about new resources that are available. Why don’t you check it out today? Go to FamilyLifeToday.com and click the link at the top right-hand corner of the page that says, “I CARE”. See what’s involved in becoming a Legacy Partner.
Maybe talk together as a family about this—about how you can be a part of what God is doing through the ministry of FamilyLife Today.
Tomorrow, we are going to hear Part Two of Dennis Rainey’s message given to pastors a few months back—a message about the importance of reaching marriages and families and building stronger marriages and families in our churches. 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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