September 10, 2014

Such cruelty has always been with us, but never, at least to my knowledge, has it been as wide-scale as it is today. Just in my own circle of family, friends, and acquaintances, the following examples have either recently taken place or are taking place as I write this:

A son and his wife are so eager to get the aged mother’s money that they gradually take more and more of it until they reach the point where they even begrudge her continuing to enjoy her health. They move her into assisted living, then openly talk in front of her about how much she is costing them, and tell her that she should hurry up and die! Which she, broken-hearted, proceeds to do.

A multimillionaire begins to fail some in terms of his mental-edge; fortunately, he has a wife who loves him and cares for his needs. The children, however, cannot wait for their father’s life to run its course. They force their father to divorce his wife so they can evict both of them from their home, put him in a “rest home,” where he’s dying with very few people who even come to visit him.

A multimillionaire begins to fail in his mid-nineties; he has plenty of money to pay for care-takers, and plans to eventually die in the home he’s lived in for most of his life. Not content with this, his children fire the caretakers and evict their father, in order to be in position to liquidate his property and use that money for themselves now rather than later.

These are just a few cases to illustrate my point. It used to be the norm that the aged were revered, admired, and looked up to in society. In many societies that is still true today. But in America, all too often, greed trumps relationships, and violates the commandment to honor their father and mother.

I can’t help wondering if the trashing of traditional marriage, epidemic of live-in relationships as the new norm, and skyrocketing divorce-rate, is not resulting in a new House of Horrors for the aged. Some of the cases I’m referring to don’t fall within the disintegration of the home category, but I’d venture to say that most of them do. Since 99% of children pattern their own behavior on that of their parents, if their parents live me-first, my gratification-first, lives, it should not surprise us to discover that life has a way of coming full-circle: as we dish out to others–think children–, so it will be eventually dished back to us.

I haven’t even mentioned another all-too-sad reality: the greed-related animosity and hatred that results when one sibling is perceived to have received more from a parental estate than did another. My father, who was a minister, often told us how monetary value of an item is bad enough by itself, but when you stir in sentimental value, a twenty-five-cent item can result in driving a permanent wedge between two siblings. That’s why my parents kept urging us to choose ahead of time which items we wanted from their possessions while they were still alive so that there would be no relationship-wrecking among us after they passed away. We are doing the same with our children.

I don’t have any answers for all this–only sorrow that it is happening on such a wide scale in America today.


March 27, 2013

The evidence has become overwhelming. Just as the Titanic—once considered unsinkable—plunged to its icy doom, just so marriage and family as institutions, are collapsing before our very eyes. Let’s note a few of the indications:

The traditional nuclear family (man, woman, and children) is no longer the norm in America. It is being dislodged by the new norm: the single-parent household.

It is now estimated that, in effect, one-third of all American children are being raised by their grandparents.

As unthinkable as such a thing once appeared, we are very close to another tipping point: live-in relationships outnumbering married relationships.

Another tipping point: out-of-wedlock births threatening to become another new normal—indeed I have begun to shudder every time I hear the term used, for almost invariably it has to do with another aspect of the continuing collapse of the American family.

Even in the ever more ubiquitous Home and Garden house-hunting shows, more and more unmarried singles are replacing married couples.

As for the juggernaut issue of gay marriage, while I’m certainly not against equal rights for gays, as a historian of ideas, I’m sensing another looming tipping point: the moment whenever the words “marriage” and “family” are referred to, they have to be qualified as to whether the term refers to the traditional meaning or “the new normal” meaning.

Today, pornography is so omnipresent, even in mainstream television, that it is no longer safe for children to have access to TV sets without parental guidance. Same for the worldwide web. And let’s face it, pornography going mainstream represents a huge threat to marriage and family.

Matthew L. Lifflander’s “The Economic Truth About Lying” in yesterday’s Wall Street Journal has to do with perjury becoming another new normal. By extension, when God—however one perceives the deity—is removed from societal relevance, then lying under oath about telling the truth, “so help me, God,” or marriage vows invoking God, and life-long commitment between bride and groom . . . none of these will remain either meaningful or binding. The logical result of all this is an absolute breakdown of our entire legal system, when perjury ceases to be a crime by being reduced to mere misdemeanor status; and marriage is merely a temporary way-station rather than a divine institution sanctioned and blessed by God.


In the Old West, faced with such overwhelming odds against the survival of people traveling in wagon trains, the last resort was to circle the wagons and prepare to fight it out to the very death.

For the Christian community in America, is it possible we’ve reached such a last-resort moment?






May 16, 2012



Suddenly, thanks to President Obama’s open advocacy of granting gays and lesbians the legal right to marry, not much else is being talked about on the air-waves, relegating even the economy to a back seat.  One thing appears glaringly obvious: this year’s election promises to be a defining one, a polarizing one, a stridently divisive one.


Which is both a bad thing and a good thing.  Bad in that the rhetoric is going to be ugly; good in that since a showdown on the issue had to come sooner or later, it might as well come now.


I’m prayerfully sharing these personal thoughts, not because I have any illusions that this blog is likely to make much of a difference in our national debate but because I’ve been convicted that I ought to weigh in on the issue.


The issue, simplified, appears to be this:







In the days, weeks, and months to come, in the midst of a media frenzy, keep in mind the essential simplicity of the issue itself.


Before arriving at any conclusions on the issue, permit me to step back in time with you a little.


Since time immemorial, marriage between a man and a woman has been considered the very bedrock of civilized society.  When that template began to crumble (such as in Greco-Roman times), the collapse of those civilizations soon followed.


Christianity, based as it is on the creation of man and woman by God, with God sanctioning the relationship of Adam and Eve as the divinely ordained foundation of the home itself, has never wavered on its commitment to this divinely ordained marriage.


Until now.


The eroding process has been long but steady.  Long because it began way back during the Renaissance.  The Reformation represented a major course-correction.  But it too weakened as secularization gained momentum over the centuries that followed.  Rationalism and skepticism joined forces with science to question the validity of the Bible and the principles contained in its pages.  Then came Darwinism which ended up challenging creation itself.  Not that it should have, however, because change itself ought not to have invalidated God—but the perception that it did accelerated the spiritual erosion.  Then came psychology, psychiatry, and sociology, in which their practitioners all too often did their best to discredit the spiritual dimension of men and women, and replace it with a template that did all but push God out of the picture.  This development too did not make sense because God created our minds, hearts, and souls to begin with!  And the titans of history (individuals such as Moses, Plato, Daniel, St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Paul, St. Augustine, Luther, Galileo, Tolken, C. S. Lewis, Schweitzer, etc.), tower over time because they intertwined in their lives, speech, and writings both the spiritual and the rational dimensions.


In our time, the Woman’s Lib Movement—which was badly needed because of male disenfranchisement and demeaning of women—had dominated society way too long.  Sadly, however, not content with righting this imbalance between the sexes, many of the movement’s leaders went on to discredit and demean the male sex.  So successful were they that today the male sex it is that is on the ropes, and marriage between a man and a woman is continually disparaged.  Who needs it?  Today live-in relationships and out-of-wedlock births are threatening to become the new norm.  The media (orchestrated by men and women who rarely espouse Judeo-Christian values or attend churches or synagogues) openly trash Christians who dare to speak out about their values.  As a result, they have Christianity cowering and on the defensive.




As I see it, I feel that Christianity comes into the fray with anything but clean hands.  For, I’m ashamed to admit that we have tended to over-react on this issue.  For if men and women who bear the gay and lesbian label are just as much children of God, and created by God, as we, then they are entitled to our love, friendship, and respect.  Since Christ would not have excluded them from His love, why should not we follow His divine example?


But having said this, that does not mean that we should ignominiously turn our backs on the sanctity of marriage between a man and a woman.  If the legal definition of marriage were to be changed to include man and man and woman and woman, the basic foundations of society would collapse.  Inheritance would mean nothing.  Nor would genealogy.  DNA itself validates the man and woman basis for society’s existence.  Since men and men and women and women can not procreate they can not possibly be entitled to be married in the sense that men and women can.  Otherwise, we’d be forced to come up with a new name for traditional marriage!


But this does not mean we should discredit all those who have chosen the gay and lesbian lifestyle and truly love and care for their partners, who set up households, adopt children, and do their level best to live good lives, to serve their fellow man—as untold thousands now do.  They should not be deprived of the right to have their relationships with their cherished significant others recognized and honored by society—which is all of us.


This is why I feel we should recognize their right to be entitled to civil union status.  This way they too can hold their heads up high, knowing that we consider each to be a first-class (not second-class) citizen deserving of our love, friendship, and respect.


But I conclude with this caveat: Should we surrender on the core issue (marriage is between a man and a woman), the American home, family, society, and civilization would be doomed.  “Marriage” itself would immediately become a meaningless word, and the heretofore sacred marriage ceremony a travesty.  There can be no fall-back position.  This must be our final line in the sand!


May God continue to bless the United States of America!

                                                —Joseph Leininger Wheeler, Ph.D. (2012)


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A Trembling World – Part 5

Part Five


For four weeks we have spelled out a litany of woes and bad news; now it’s time to search for both silver-linings and solutions, for doom and gloom alone will merely lead to paralysis and despair.  So it’s time for us to approach the issue from a different perspective.

For three-quarters of a century, we have been born into, lived, and died, within the parameters of the Great Society template.  In short: the promise of cradle-to-the-grave care promised and delivered by generation after generation of politicians.  Now we are discovering that those old assumptions that worked so well for so long are no longer valid.

Let’s quickly look at what we lost during that 75-year period: First, the very backbone of a great civilization—a moral code by which that society lives and acts.  In our case, before the so-called “Great Society,” Americans by and large believed in God and the biblical injunctions about good and evil, right and wrong. For close to a century, our almost universal sources of allusions were three: The Bible, Pilgrim’s Progress, and the McGuffy Readers (or counterparts).  We as a society firmly believed in two things: God and country.  When we swore by the Bible that something was unquestionably true, or declared on the witness stand that our testimony would be true, “So help me God,” it meant something.  It was the bedrock of our entire civilization. Today, both religion and patriotism have been under unrelenting attack by a predominantly unchurched and amoral media that seeks to so undermine and discredit the values Christians live by that they will crumble and cease to matter.  Christians have, by and large, supinely accepted such characterizations as perhaps true, and impossible to refute.  In short, in this respect, we have all but lost the battle.  But now, as the Great Society cracks at its seams, we are all given a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to reaffirm these values.

Second, we have all but lost the home, family—the very bedrock of a great civilization; when it has crumbled, historians tell us that it will only be a matter of time before the civilization itself collapses as well.  When America was assaulted by the Great Depression of the 1930s, America’s families were strong enough to together (intergenerationally, with all three generations circling their wagons) somehow muddle through to the light (paradoxically World War II, fifteen years after the Crash of 1929).  Today; with single-parent households being the norm for the first time in our history, with out-of-wedlock births skyrocketing from one-third towards half (close to 80% in Black families), there is no such familial safety net to fall back on.  If the government can no longer afford to take care of us, and if the family (What family?  What with the discrediting of marriage, ubiquitous live-ins, multiple sex-partners, divorce after divorce, with children tossed back and forth as human frisbees) —where are the children (the adult children too) going to find a life-line?

Recently, a dear friend of mine (an erstwhile millionaire) lost everything: his six-figure position, his wife’s executive job, his home (appraised for a million and a quarter that several  years later dropped so far below its original “value” that it was foreclosed on for a little over $400,000 .  By that time, my friend had been forced into bankruptcy.  Poignantly, he told me, “Because my credit is in such shambles, I couldn’t even buy a junker of a car.  I can only purchase things (including food) with what cash we have.  Belatedly, I have come to realize that in this life, we can count on only three things: God, family (one that still loves and respects us), and health.  With these three, we can make it.”  So it is that now, in an economy that appears unable to find any kind of bedrock, perhaps again we Americans may rediscover the value of marriage, commitment, and family.

Third, 75 years ago, we once had a work ethic that was the envy of the world.  Because the Great Society taught us that we no longer had to give an honest day’s effort for an honest day’s pay (indeed that we were entitled to pay even when we were out of work, providing few incentives to return to work for all too many who abuse the system), there has been an increasing reluctance to work at all.  We refuse, by and large, to accept “menial” work.  We no longer teach industrial arts in our schools and colleges or honor those who keep the machinery of our society in working order.  Work that our text-messaging media-junkies could be doing is now being down by untold thousands—indeed millions—of migrant workers who are delighted to have a job at all.  In offices across the land, rather than contributing to the firm’s bottom line by conscientious work, it is said that untold thousands dither through their days, playing word games with each other, watching Internet porn, text-messaging their friends—and then they wonder why their companies fold!  There appears to be a real disconnect with what it takes to produce enough product to warrant steady pay-checks.  No small thanks to these rampant abuses, pundits are telling us that offices as we know them will, sooner than we think, begin to disappear.  Contract-work (far easier to monitor) will replace nine-to-five jobs in glass and steel boxes.  And that may not be such a bad thing.

Next Wednesday we will continue to search for solutions.