Darrow Miller and Friends

Why The Nation Needs the Family

by Dwight Vogt

Here in the US it’s an election year and we’re constantly being reminded that the big issues are the economy (i.e. the health of business) and the role of government.

Recently, a colleague shared a comment he had heard on the radio from Robert P. George. Dr. George pointed out how both government and business are dependent for their success on well-formed citizens. Ironically, neither of them can produce this type of person, yet both government and business are tend to undermine the very institutions we rely on to form these citizens – the family and church.

Dr. George has previously written on this topic:

image of Robert GeorgeFor a variety of reasons, statist solutions to poverty tended to increase and entrench rather than diminish it. And not unrelatedly, governmental expansion tended to weaken the institutions of civil society, above all the family and the church, on which we rely for the formation of decent, honest, responsible, civic-minded, law-abiding citizens—citizens capable of caring for themselves, their families, and people in need. 

Go here to read the entire article.

The next day, I heard a very gifted retired high school band teacher who understood this point. She was leading students in an honorary regional band concert. In her introductory comments to a large audience of primarily parents and family members, she shared how impressed she was with the talent and focus of our children. But then she paused and in a measured voice said,

However, what most impresses me about your children is that they are kind. They have been very kind to me these past two days as we’ve worked together, and kind to one another. For this, we as parents should be proud.

She affirmed and thanked us in our role. I think we all felt a wave of gratitude and inspiration to press on as parents.

That same evening I watched an episode of Blue Bloods(2) in which the producer and writers seemed to get this as well. The story highlighted the role of parents in three very challenging situations. In each case the parent took the more difficult and self-sacrificing path to do what they thought was best for the development of their child. It was easy to identify, and again, I was inspired to press on as a parent.

This understanding of the God-ordained role of “family and church” is core to why DNA exists.

As the church and as families (i.e. fathers and mothers) we need to remember and understand the incredibly important, indispensible role we play in the overall ecosystem of a healthy culture/society, and be equipped to carry it out. If not, who pays the price? The society as a whole. The whole society requires “decent, honest, responsible” citizens, but these kind of people don’t fall from the sky! They are the outcome of God working in and through churches and families who have a vision and a practice of doing their best to equip their children to live from a biblical worldview.

The greatest crisis we face today in every nation, including the US, is the ability of churches and families to form its citizenry. The band teacher gets this and did her part to encourage us. The producer and writers of Blue Bloods get it, and used an episode to encourage good parenting. Dr. George understands it and reminds us to not allow government and business to undermine or weaken the role of the family and church on whom they rely for the formation of good citizens.

What’s my part this week to encourage and strengthen parents and families?  What’s yours?

Dwight Vogt serves as DNA’s Director of International Programs, supporting the work of DNA champions and trainers worldwide. Before coming to the DNA, Dwight worked for over 20 years at Food for the Hungry, including field leadership roles in Bangladesh, Peru, Thailand, and Guatemala.

Dwight is author of Footings: Biblical Worldview for Children. He earned his Master’s degree in intercultural studies and missiology from Biola University. Dwight lives with his wife Deborah and their three children in Phoenix, Arizona.

(1) Excerpt from He Threw It All Away by Robert P. George,  McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence at Princeton University, published in First Things, March 2009.

(2) episode #36

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