The Family Manifesto: What is Truth?
About the Guest
The culture has many definitions of truth. Today on the broadcast, Dennis Rainey tells where a Christian finds truth, and explains the history of FamilyLife's Family Manifesto.
Dennis Rainey explains the history of FamilyLife’s Family Manifesto.
The Family Manifesto: What is Truth?
Bob: There's a lot of confusion in our culture today about issues related to marriage and family. What is a marriage? What makes you part of a family? And it's important for all of us to know what do we believe and is what we believe the same thing as what the Bible teaches? Here's Dennis Rainey.
Dennis: I'm telling you, if there has ever been a time when we, as individuals, need to know what we believe and then pass those beliefs on regularly as you walk in your homes and as you rise up and lie down, and as you run errands and as you talk to your children, pass those biblical truths on to the next generation because you know what? They are going to need them as never before.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Friday, February 25th. Our host is the president of FamilyLife, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine. As important as it is for families to have their own convictions, you ought not to have come up with those convictions on your own.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today, thanks for joining us on the Friday edition.
Dennis: Bob, what if I told you there was a virus that was going to wipe out over half of the population of the planet.
Bob: I'd wonder what you'd heard or have been reading – is this a Tom Clancy novel or something?
Dennis: No, it's a Ted Decker novel called "Black." He has three novels. I think it's "Black," "White," and "Red," if I'm not mistaken. I've only – well, I've not finished "Black" yet, but I'm in the midst of this mythical story that Ted tells of a man who has discovered a virus that could potentially cause over half of the world's population to die, and it's interesting to think about that in terms of someone dying of a physical virus in an age of biological warfare, but we also operate in a time of spiritual warfare, and there are ideological beliefs, viruses, if you'll allow me to use that metaphor, that I think are attempting to poison Christians and their children and future generations.
Bob: You're saying truth is being challenged; it's being attacked. I've heard you quote Isaiah 58, is it, where it says, "Truth has stumbled in the streets today." You believe that some of the foundations are under attack.
Dennis: There has always been a battle over truth since the beginning of time when God first created the planet there has been a battle about what is the truth and who is the one who is trustworthy?
Bob: The serpent was the first to go after that when he said, did God really say?
Dennis: Has God said? And the serpent lied, and we're told that the deceiver, the devil, is the father of all lies. Well, when it comes to the family, we need the truth of God. And I think today the truth about marriage and family according to the Scriptures are being challenged as never before.
Bob: In fact, about 15 years ago, you commissioned a team here at FamilyLife to put together a statement, a set of statements, about issues related to marriage and family that are anchored in truth.
Dennis: Bob, I began to notice in my work with high school students and with families starting all the way back to 1971, that the Christian community didn't know what they believed about some of the major truths that surround marriage and family. In fact, I'll never forget speaking at one of our Weekend to Remember conferences, and I was talking about how children are a blessing, the result of a command that God gave to us to be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth. He commanded us to have children. And a guy came up to me at the end of the message that I gave at the conference and said, "Now, did I hear you right? You said that you believe that the Bible teaches that God has commanded us to have children?" And I said, "That's correct, it's right here in Genesis, chapter 1 and 2." And he said, "I disagree with you," and I listened to him rather forcefully disagree with me.
I kind of left that encounter puzzled and also grieved a bit that that man didn't really know what the Bible clearly taught about children. In fact, I wrote something down. I said, "I concluded that Christians don't know what the Bible teaches and what they believe about children. It's no wonder the Christian community doesn't place a higher value on children and rearing them."
You know, if you don't know what you believe the Bible teaches about a subject, then how can you have a conviction? If you don't have convictions, then how can you pass on truth and standards to your children? And I think right now there are a number of ideological lies and viruses that are floating and circulating within the Christian community seeking to undermine the very divine design of marriage and family.
Bob: There has been some "truth decay" right?
Dennis: Truth decay and in response to the truth decay, in 1991, I commissioned a young man to work with a team of people to develop and craft a series of beliefs or of statements about marriage and family based upon the Scriptures.
Bob: That document ultimately became known as the "The Family Manifesto." You had it calligraphied and parchment, hung on the walls here at FamilyLife. People have signed on to that statement. It's on our website at FamilyLife.com. It's in your book, "One Home at a Time." We've passed out thousands of copies of this document, but the whole aim is to help moms and dads, husbands and wives, come to some biblical conclusions about issues that are being challenged in the culture today related to marriage and family.
Dennis: Right, and what happened, Bob, was I look back to The Humanist Manifesto, which was originally written in the early 1930s, and found that its influence upon educators in America had been profound. I thought you know what? If a group of men and women who do not believe in God and who want to undermine the educational system with a belief system that places all hope and faith in man known as "The Humanist Manifesto" can be written and can be used to infiltrate our educational system, why can't Christians – now think about this – why couldn't we write a Christian response to the same thing that's occurring within marriage and family.
And so we took the better part of 15 months working with educators, theologians, pastors, laymen, in crafting and developing what became, as you just said, Bob, "The Family Manifesto."
Bob: I know you realized you were on to something here when you met with a group of pastors in Pittsburgh a number of years later and when you asked them, "What do you need from a ministry like ours? How can we help the local church?" They said, "We need definition on some of these issues." They were asking us for help around the basic definition of what is a family, what is a marriage, what's a husband's role, what's a wife's role, what's a mom's role, what's a dad's role, what about childless couples? There are a whole variety of issues that are being discussed and debated in the culture today, and we need to look back and say, "What do the Scriptures say about these things?"
Dennis: Bob, I'll never forget that meeting in Pittsburgh, because I was sitting there with my pen in hand, taking notes about what these pastors were saying they needed when it came to marriage and family in their churches, and we just kind of threw the door wide open and said, "If you guys could hire us for $1 a year to help you with the areas that are just knocking the props out of your church, they are weakening the very fiber and spiritual strength of your church around marriage and family issues, what would you hire us to do?" And it's fascinating. They didn't ask for a program, they didn't ask for a new conference, a new book. They said, "Oh, that's very simple. Would you help us hammer out a group of statements of belief and convictions around the major issues surrounding marriages and families today?"
And what happened, Bob, as we began to interact with them, is it became clear that it's at the grassroots level where all these issues of marriage and family breakdown are occurring. All these issues of divorce, blending families, sexuality, same-sex marriage – all of these issues have continued to pound away at the family and most pastors have not been trained in their seminaries with a good, biblical foundation and set of belief statements when it comes to marriage and family issues.
Bob: This document, as I mentioned, was ultimately calligraphied. It hangs in our office, and a number of people have signed their affirmation of these core biblical truths – a number of our staff, our speakers, folks who have been affiliated with us – that actually began at a special celebration that we had right after the document was first drafted.
Dennis: Bob, that document went through 25 drafts. It was revised 25 times. Both men and women have had their fingerprints all over this, and it's not meant to be a comprehensive statement of everything the Bible teaches about marriage and family, but it is meant to represent the biblical basics of what is the truth about marriage and family. And so what we did was, we had a signing of The Family Manifesto, and we invited Dr. Bill Bright and his wife Vonette to come to Little Rock on February 2, 1993, and be the first to affix their names to a document that I actually hired a calligrapher who straddled this magnificent piece of parchment for 40 hours. She had to have back problems by the time she was through with this, but it was magnificent – all hand-lettered. And then a number of places for several hundred people to sign that original document, and I'll never forget, as we began to read our way through The Family Manifesto and then pray for each area, I was on my knees there in that candlelit room with Dr. Bright, and he leaned over to me in the midst of that time, and he said, "I predict that this document is going to influence the family worldwide." And you know what? It's done that.
It has now been reproduced around the world. It's been signed by a number of Christian leaders from, I don't know, probably more than 50 countries have signed this document. And it's meant to be, though, Bob, a solemn statement and declaration of what God declares about marriage and family and related issues.
Bob: Let me read through the preface of this document and at any point that you want to stop me and insert yourself – I know you'll feel free to do that. It says, "During the latter half of the 20th century, the American culture has suffered an unrelenting decline. Although scientific and technological advances have created an outer veneer of prosperity and progress, our inner moral values and convictions have rapidly crumbled. Once, most Americans based their sense of right and wrong on Judeo-Christian principles, which provided them with a solid biblical foundation for life. Today, a growing number of Americans see morality and ethics as relative and subject and have developed their own version of morality with little regard to absolute standards.
This idea of moral tolerance has been eroding the foundation of the American family and society. Many Americans today have little or no concept of how to maintain a successful marriage; how to raise children to become responsible adults. In addition, a growing number of educators, politicians and members of the media are attacking and redefining the family, creating a vast amount of confusion about what a family is. Many people today proclaim that family values are important, but the gradual shift to moral relativism has led to a great debate about what family values ought to be.
Dennis: Bob, I do want to interrupt you here, because I want our listeners to remember this document was written and permanently inscribed in 1993. Now, by comparison, there was no debate about family in 1993 compared to what's happening today. We're not only redefining family, we're redefining marriage. We're going after some of the most basic tenets of what The Family Manifesto represents.
Bob: I remember back then, when Dan Quayle talked about "Murphy Brown," and then "Murphy Brown" talked about Dan Quayle. There was some dialog about what is the definition of a family but, you're right. In the last 10 years, we've seen that dialog escalate to the point where basic convictions that have been held by cultures and societies since the beginning are now being challenged and redefined.
Dennis: I think it's escalated to the point where it's not an overstatement to say there is a virus today, an ideological spiritual lie about the family that is being promoted by the media, trying to undermine the very basic teachings of Scripture about marriage and family.
Bob: Let me continue reading from the preface here. It says, "Abraham Lincoln once said, 'The strength of a nation lies in the homes of its people.' It's our conviction that the family is the backbone of the Christian church and of society as a whole. History shows that if any society wants to survive, it must uphold, strengthen, and continue to build upon the biblical institutions of marriage and family.
The Bible begins in Genesis, with the marriage of a man and a woman, and it ends in the Book of Revelation with the marriage of Christ and His bride, the church. In between God provides timeless blueprints for family life, which, if followed in a spirit of humility and obedience, provide us with the only true way to maintain healthy family relationships. The following document affirms this biblical model and challenges us to consider how we should live within the walls of our own homes. It's offered in a spirit of love and humility not of judgment or contention. Furthermore, it's not intended to be a comprehensive doctrinal statement about what the Bible says about marriage, family, and related subjects. Unquestionably, this document attempts to face critical cultural issues. We invited response from anyone who wishes to affirm the truths of marriage and family from the Scriptures. It's our hope that this document will serve to accurately represent the truth God has revealed to us in Scripture, will provide insight into what a biblical family looks like, and will show how we can honor and glorify Him in our family relationships.
We freely acknowledge that we, like all people, have often denied the biblical truths of family life by the way we live. We desire, however, to live by God's grace in accordance with the principles stated herein and to pass these principles on to future generations so that He will be honored and glorified as our families reflect His character."
Dennis: In Jeremiah, chapter 5, verse 30 and 31, the prophet Jeremiah cries out a piercing statement of judgment upon the nation of Israel. He said this – "An appalling and horrible thing has happened in the land. The prophets prophecy falsely, and the priests rule on their own authority, and my people love it so. But what will you do at the end of it?" In other words, how will you escape God's judgment? Because if you deny the truth of God's Word about anything He creates – matters of life, matters of marriage of family, of children, of generations – the cost and the price of that is not just now, but it will impact families and marriages and children into the future, and that's why what we believe as individuals about marriage and family issues is of utmost importance, and it's why we, as priests, those of us who are in the ministry, pastors and Christian educators, must know what we believe about central issues around marriage and family.
Bob: Over the next several months, we are going to be taking a day each month or every so often to consider a different subject that is addressed in The Family Manifesto, and our desire here, Dennis, is to make sure that our listeners have a properly poured foundation related to marriage and family, because it's going to affect how their family functions.
Dennis: Bob, as you recall, I came to you a few months ago, and I said I think we need to work our way through The Family Manifesto with our listening audience. Why? Because we see far too many Christian marriages and families being influenced by this world system virus – this set of ideological lies. Now, I want you to think about what's happening today. We are now in a national debate about what is a marriage. For the first time in the history of our nation, even within the Christian community, we are having a debate about what God says, what He believes is truly a marriage. Is it just a man and a woman in a covenant relationship with their God for a lifetime?
I’m telling you, if there has ever been a time when we, as individuals, need to know what we believe and then – this is very important, listen to me – and then pass those beliefs on regularly, systematically, as you walk in your homes and as you rise up and lie down and as you run errands and as you talk to your children, pass those biblical truths on to the next generation because you know what? They are going to need them as never before. And if they don't know what they believe, they're going to be overtaken by the virus.
Bob: We've got to know the truth, and we've got to know how to kindly and compassionately speak that truth in love in the midst of a culture that is going to challenge us on every side, and we've got to be humble, and we've got to be kind, as I said, but we also have to be rooted firmly in truth and unwavering from that truth.
Dennis: Bob, there's a statement you read in the very beginning of The Family Manifesto that I want to reread, because the Christian community needs to grow in our spirit of humility and not being contentious. We've really got to be wise. We just can't point our finger at people and, in an angry spirit, tell them that they're going to hell. We've got to be truthful and, yes, forceful, but we have to experience the love of Christ. Let me read that statement again.
"This document affirms the biblical model and challenges us to consider how we should live within the walls of our own homes. It is offered in a spirit of love and humility not of judgment or contention." And you know what? It is possible for us to behave like the Savior. He knew all truth. He knew what the lies of His day were. But you know what? He never sacrificed love on the altar of truth. Truth and love were held in proper tension as He spoke to people, and we've got to do the same.
Bob: We want to invite our listeners to get a copy of The Family Manifesto. As I mentioned, it's available on our website at FamilyLife.com. You can simply go and print off a copy from there, if you'd like. We have it in booklet form. In fact, a number of churches have passed this booklet out to their members or made it available in their church lobby to pass out to folks, anyone who is interested in a basic statement of what the Bible teaches about marriage and family. It's also found in your book, "One Home at a Time," which addresses the core issues we must affirm as a family if we're going to see our families built on a godly foundation.
For the rest of this month, any of our listeners who would like to get a copy of your book, "One Home at a Time," we want to make it available as a thank you gift if you will support us with a donation of any amount here at FamilyLife. You call and let us know that you'd like to support this ministry and help us stay on the air on this station, on stations all across the country, help us move forward with many of the outreaches that are underway here at FamilyLife. If you'll do that, make a donation of any amount this month, when you request the book, "One Home at a Time," we'll send it to you as a thank you gift for your financial support. If you want to make an online donation, you can do that.
There's a little box at the end of your donation form where it says, "Keycode." You just type in the word "Home." That's all you need. Just type in the word "Home," and that will be our trigger to know that you want a copy of the book, "One Home at a Time." Again, call 1-800-FLTODAY, make a donation of any amount and ask for a copy of the book, "One Home at a Time," by Dennis Rainey, or make a donation online at FamilyLife.com and write "Home" in the "Keycode" box.
If you'd like to get a brochure copy of The Family Manifesto or a package of them to pass out in your church, there's information about that online at our website at FamilyLife.com or you can find the text of The Family Manifesto on our website at FamilyLife.com as well.
As I mentioned, in the coming months, we're going to begin to look at the issues that are addressed in The Family Manifesto. We're going to look at what the Bible has to say about family, about marriage, about a husband's role, about a wife's responsibility.
Dennis: The sexual union, fathers, mothers, childless couples, grandparents, church, divorce, work and the family, mentors, marriage education, and, importantly, who God is and how God's character is reflected in the marriage relationship.
Bob: And we hope you'll be able to be with us as we work our way through The Family Manifesto and remind ourselves of what the Scriptures teach about marriage and family.
Well, I hope you have a great weekend. I hope you and your family are able to worship together this weekend at church, and then I hope you can be back with us on Monday. Sharon Hersh is going to join us, and we're going to talk about some of the challenges facing teenage daughters today and what a mom should do when her daughter says, "Mom, I hate my life." I hope you can be with us for that.
I want to thank our engineer today, Kenny Farris (sp), and our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine. We'll see you back tomorrow for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas, a ministry of Campus Crusade for Christ.
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