“Having a family is hard work. Being a parent is hard work. It’s a thankless job with ridiculous hours, but at least the pay is terrible,” quipped the Rev. Lucas Woodford, who spoke on the second day of the DOXOLOGY conference on “Speaking the Truth in Love,” a topic centered around how to care for those who struggle with same-sex attraction.
“The traditional family is becoming a lost virtue, perhaps because it’s hard to raise a family,” Woodford said. “We live in a society that has become hostile to the traditional family.” But “The Gospel fortifies our resolve. . . . Christ adorns His bride. He washes her clean–the church, you, me–so that we can with a good conscience live out our God-created earthly vocations [husband, wife, mother, father, etc.].”
“What does it mean to be a godly woman and a godly man?” he asked, encouraging attendees to read the Table of Duties in the Small Catechism as a place to find answers. “What does it mean to be a Christian parent, and how do I teach this to my children?”
“Sex includes intimacy,” he explained, “but also at times it is to include the mundane: mundane conversation, laughter, worry. . . . Human love is forged more out of the ordinary things in life than sex itself, ordinary things like cooking together or picking up the other’s laundry. ”
If Christians want their children to grow as Christian men and women then, “We must demonstrate to them the fullness of what this looks like and sounds like. We need to love them enough to bring them up from little on in ways that will fortify their biblical, baptized identity and equip them to combat the onslaught of this world.”
“We need to be bold in reclaiming the family as a virtue, a common good for our society and especially for the church,” Woodford encouraged.
“The decline in family sizes has contributed to the decline in the size of the church,” he warned. “The effects of ignoring it are being seen with alarming concern worldwide.” The ramifications affect societies. “Countries without families have fewer children. Fewer children mean fewer workers. Fewer workers mean less money, less production, a smaller economy, a smaller army.”
“Family is not a priority and, therefore, children are not a priority. People in America would rather buy toys for themselves than have children and buy toys for them.” But, he told attendees, “You can be bold about lifting up the common good of family. You can bold about teaching what Christian families stand for and how they contribute to the public, common good. You can be active in providing resources for Christian families in our congregations so they can be confident” in the benefits and blessings of Christian families.
“Morals are shifted. Truth is confused. What is beneficial is disregarded. Meaning is adrift, and human existence has passed into a functioning chaos,” Woodford said, quoting one theologian who says the culture has been “morally obliterated, morally bankrupt.”
“The vocabulary of the church has been forgotten. Our vocabulary is in crisis,” explained Woodford. At the same time, he said, Christians can combat this epidemic by pro-actively “Speaking about the dignity and honor of our God-created bodies with your children.”
The sexual revolution can’t be overlooked in this conversation, Woodford noted. The introduction of the pill had ” a seismic impact on the family. Divorce rates soared” as did children born out of wedlock. This affected the demographics of the church as well: “Family decline helps power religious decline. Faith and family form an interwoven double helix. Where one goes, the other is sure to follow. . . . There’s an apt demonstration of why America is becoming increasingly secular. The family unit is no longer solidified by the Christian message, nor are families passing on the Christian faith as well as its accompanying morals and virtues.”
This, in turn, has led to a rise in viewing pornography. “There are more than 4 million pornographic websites worldwide. . . . Pornography is a socially omnipresent form of entertainment.” For perspective, the “annual revenues of the porn industry exceed 13 billion dollars in the US alone and 97 billion worldwide.” The porn industry’s revenues, he said, are bigger than Microsoft, Google, eBay, Apple and other major software industries combined.
Shockingly, the largest viewers of pornography today are children ages 12-17, and the addictive power of pornography creates, Woodford said, “ever-increasing craving for an ever-diminishing pleasure,” citing C. S. Lewis.
To those who struggle with pornography, Woodford said, there is always hope. “If this is you, remember that you are a new creation in Christ Jesus. If this is you, be sure to see a pastor even if you are a pastor. Speak to him about it. He will have Good News for you. Confession and Absolution are powerful healers. You have been baptized into Christ. The old self has been crucified, and the new self has been raised up in Christ. We are people full of hope and confidence.”
Encouraging attendees, Woodford said, “I know a man. His name is Jesus. . . . ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life’ (John 8:12). You and I have the light of life!”