Word Magazine September 1980 Page 15
“ENDANGERED SPECIES —THE AMERICAN FAMILY”
Homily by Father James C. Meena
Our American President, Jimmy Carter, said to a group of Federal employees: “I want those of you who are living in sin to go out and get married, and those of you who are separated from your husband or wife go back to your spouses, and those of you who have spent so much time away from your children that they are virtually strangers to you to get to know your children better.” Though he wore his very charming smile and though everyone laughed, I think most of the listeners stood indicted and they laughed the kind of guilty giggle that we will project at a time such as this. I think that Jimmy Carter was sounding a very important moral tone, one that all of us, whether we be particularly religious people or not, should take very seriously.
The history of this nation is based on the strong structure of the family. The earliest settlers brought their families with them and demonstrated that it is the family, working together harmoniously at given tasks, that causes society to be strong. The admonition of the President is intended to remind us that if this nation ever falls it will do so because the family fell first!
When the individual puts himself before all else, his own gratification above the welfare of the community and of the nation then that is the beginning of decline. “You know perfectly well that people that do wrong will not inherit the kingdom of God: people of immoral lives, adulterers, sodomites, thieves, usurers, drunkards, slanderers and swindlers will never inherit the kingdom of God. These are the sort of people some of you were once, but now you have been washed clean, and sanctified, and justified through the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ and through the Spirit of our God.” (I Cor. 6:9-1l) This is what we are supposed to hand down to our children for this is their inheritance as well.
“For me there are no forbidden things; maybe, but not everything does good. I agree that there are no forbidden things for me, but I’m not going to let anything dominate me.” (I Cor. 6:12) That profound statement by St. Paul should be a lesson for all of us. When worldly things dominate us and when we allow our ego to dominate us, then you can bet your boots we have lost our freedom because we have abused it.
St. Paul gives us a formula for the perfect intra-family relationship: “Wives give way to your husbands as you should in the Lord; husbands, love your wives and treat them with gentleness; children, be obedient to your parents because that will please the Lord; parents, never drive your children to resentment or you will make them feel frustrated.” (Col. 3:18-21)
Shall we build our society totally on individualism and personal freedom when it has been proven that the excessive abuse of individuality and personal freedom is destructive to the welfare of society? I point to our own beloved Lebanon as an example of that reality. It is not until members of a community begin to say, “We”, that the health of that community becomes somewhat insured against its own self-destruction.
Consider to what degree you are focusing on the spiritual strength of your family. Analyze honestly whether you are allowing your family to exist by accident or are deliberately striving to mold your family as an image of the living God and for its members to submit totally and completely to Christ. If it is the latter choice that you are making, then your family will be an asset to society. If, on the other hand, your choice is the former, if you are so busy seeking out your own pleasure, so busy with your social and business obligations that you don’t have time to sit with your spouse and your children and deliberately mold a living faith in God and a living unity in Christ’s Church, then you can rest assured that you are contributing to the demise of our society.
We all know that President Carter is a committed Christian and that he brings the essence of his Christian faith to his office. I only pray that his faith will always be an influence in his life and in the decisions that he makes as our leader. Pray with me for that end because Christ teaches us only good. If this statement on the part of our President is an example of the kind of admonition we can expect to hear from him from time to time, then I say bravo! If by his example and by his admonishments he can startle America to the realization that our only salvation is in the restoration of the historical integrity of our families, then he will have succeeded in accomplishing one of the greatest achievements of any President in recent history. You and I must help him by taking to heart the things he said in this particular instance. If you will help strengthen the family of the home, thereby strengthening the Family of God, then we will strengthen our nation, for families are the foundation rock upon which our nation is built.