It doesn’t take much news watching or magazine reading to realize that our society is in a state of moral decay. Usually, there are isolated events where someone does terrible and evil things, and I’m left to feel sad about it for weeks wondering how many other people like him (or her, let’s be fair) are out there living horrible, wicked lives. Then, my faith in humanity is slowly renewed as I see normal people around me loving their children, smiling at strangers, and just being regular seemingly good folks. Occasionally though, I come across something that tells me things may be as dismal as I fear.
I read an article on Yahoo! News last week entitled “Survey sees a drift away from religion in America.” Here are a few of the conclusions in the study:
- Today, 76 percent of the US population call themselves Christians, compared with 86 percent in 1990.
- One in every 5 US adults chose not to identify a religious identity.
- The “no religion” group has gained 20 million adults since 1990 and is the only group to have grown in every state.
- A little less than 70 percent believe “definitely in a personal God,” with 12 percent believing “in a higher power but no personal God.” Some 2.3 percent say there is no God, while 10 percent either don’t know or don’t think there is a way to know.
I don’t have the statistics on hand to back this up, but I think you might agree with me that during this same period of time, there has been an increased acceptance of violence and immorality, and a decline in the numbers of and perceived importance of traditional families.
I cannot even imagine parenting without the knowledge I have that there is a personal God. I know that He is my Father. I know that His Son showed me a perfect example to live by, and through His grace makes my efforts turn out fine despite my own weaknesses and failings. I know that my children are really His; that my calling as a mother is sacred, and I cannot fulfill it adequately without His help. I feel strongly that God must play a role in our families, and that is why this study saddens me. People are leaving Him out of the equation of their lives. I feel more determined to instill faith in my children. Knowing that faith is becoming more and more rare makes it even more important. There are forces at work trying to pull our children to that same faithlessness. I found these quotes from recent prophets and apostles that emphasize why and how to keep faith at the center of our parenting:
Russell M. Nelson: “In this day of rampant immorality and addictive pornography, parents have a sacred responsibility to teach their children the importance of God in their lives. Those evils, so highly destructive of divine potential, are to be strictly shunned by children of God….Do not try to control your children. Instead, listen to them, help them to learn the gospel, inspire them, and lead them toward eternal life. You are God’s agents in the care of children He has entrusted to you. Let His divine influence remain in your hearts as you teach and persuade.”
Robert D. Hales: “We too must have the faith to teach our children and bid them to keep the commandments. We should not let their choices weaken our faith. Our worthiness will not be measured according to their righteousness. Lehi did not lose the blessing of feasting at the tree of life because Laman and Lemuel refused to partake of its fruit. Sometimes as parents we feel we have failed when our children make mistakes or stray. Parents are never failures when they do their best to love, teach, pray, and care for their children. Their faith, prayers, and efforts will be consecrated to the good of their children.”
Gordon B. Hinckley: “If I may be pardoned for suggesting the obvious, I do so only because the obvious is not observed in so many instances. The obvious includes four imperatives with reference to children: (1) love them, (2) teach them, (3) respect them, and (4) pray with them and for them.”
My favorite quote about this topic is from President Spencer W. Kimball:
“As parents read the newspapers and magazines and see what the world is trying to teach their children, they should become all the more determined that their children not be influenced by such sin and error. Parents should then provide the home life, the discipline, and the training that will offset and neutralize the evil that is being done in the world. As children learn of the ugly things in the world, they must also learn of the good things in the world and the proper responses and proper attitudes. If parents understand that many children do not have family prayers and spiritual attitudes and proper teaching in their lives, then those parents should redouble their energies and their efforts to see that their own children receive good, wholesome training.”
Despite the title of this post, I am hopeful. I really do believe that mothering with faithful purpose can and will eventually make good children into good men and women. The scriptures teach that despite mounting wickedness, God has big, successful plans for his righteous followers. I’m confident that many blessings await those who struggle through it all and still remain strong. He helps me believe that, and I’m grateful for it, even if less and less people feel the same way.