Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Families in Crisis: Here and There

By Klaas Brobbel

This past August, I was surprised to read in a local newspaper that the Toronto public school system now asks students about their sexual orientation. When I grew up, sexual details like this were simply not mentioned, let alone discussed in school. In fact, back then we would have been hard-pressed to explain what "sexual orientation" even meant. Today, however, educators see public discussion about sexual matters as the only way to be aware of what our youth are thinking about.

I can't help but see the "maturity" of our youth (if you can call it that) as a direct result of the sexual revolution of the sixties-a time when adults were encouraged to rebel against moral conventions and pursue hedonistic lifestyles. Over the past forty years, morality has become increasingly subjective; what is immoral to one person is not immoral to another. This relativistic worldview has caused a great deal of damage to the core building block of our society: the family.

A recent fundraising letter from the Region of Peel Children's Aid demonstrated the broken state of the Canadian family. It contained a fact sheet about the Society's activities for the fiscal year 2005/2006. Here are some of the main facts:

  • The Society responded to 14,190 calls about the safety and well being of children from families, teachers, doctors and concerned citizens, which resulted in 6,718 investigations of suspected maltreatment of children and youth.
  • The Society served more than 7,000 families.
  • An average of 506 children were in the care of the Society.
  • The Region called on 168 foster families to provide a stable environment for those children who need it.
  • The Society has 250 volunteers who gave over 22,000 hours of support during the year.
  • The Society employs 375 full and part-time social workers, child and youth workers.

I have mixed feelings about these facts. One the one hand, I am thankful that so many resources are available for restoring our families. But on the other hand, the amount of resources needed clearly indicates that family problems are large scale-especially when you consider that these scenarios are not only happening in the Peel region but all over Canada.

It's hard for me to grasp the deteriorated state of the Canadian family. As I said to my wife the other day, if most families were like our extended family, children's aid societies wouldn't exist or would, at least, be very small in scope.

But I am careful not to become too smug about the general health of Christian families. We cannot forget that Christian families are sometimes no better than those with painful family conditions and those in need of special aid. Christian families are not without difficult times. But, by the grace of God, we have a way of dealing with them. When we submit ourselves before a righteous God, we find renewal and forgiveness that will sustain us through our difficulties. This submission also enables us to be illustrations of God's goodness working in our lives and allows us to show others that our faith deeply benefits all areas of our lives.

Although VOMC is not an organization that specifically deals with family issues, we are keenly interested in the health and wellbeing of family life. Over the years, our annual Operation Christmas Blessing campaigns have been able to reach out to families living in restricted nations, providing them with limited help and reminding them they are not forgotten. We heartily recommend that you participate in this year's Operation Christmas Blessing campaign to Christian families in Egypt. By doing so, you will also be taking an important step restoring family to its rightful position at the core of our society.

(Klaas Brobbel is the Executive Director of The Voice of the Martyrs.)

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