Sam Rohrer: Well the latest research confirms that past threats to fundamentally transform American society are sadly coming to pass. Now we all know that our culture’s flashing warning signs and it has been for a long time in many areas, but when the American family falls apart and the sobering facts are known about the family and how it defines bedrock moral principles such as how many spouses can a person have or attitudes towards abortion or attitudes towards sex before marriage or between unmarried adults or having children outside of marriage, freedom is as we have known it desperately in trouble. Our nation, built on the concept of self-governance under God, is nearing collapse when these norms change.
Well the theme for today’s program is this: the frightening truth, the American family in free fall. With that, I welcome to you to Stand in the Gap today. I’m Sam Rohrer, and I’m going to be joined by Dr. Garry Dull and Evangelist Dave Kistler. Our special guest and recurring guest on this program and the producer of this very latest research being released today across America by the American Culture and Faith Institute is nationally known and respected author and speaker and researcher George Barna.
Now let me just take you back a little bit if I can in history. In 2008, Barack Obama paraded across America promising, if you remember, to fundamentally transform American society, but he wasn’t the first one. Before him, other presidents like Lyndon Johnson ushered in and promised to change America through his Great Society efforts. The Marxists of the Soviet Union of the last century said that they would infiltrate America and transform it and collapse it from within. Now you have the Muslim Brotherhood in collaboration with globalist and Marxist George Soros in our current day threatening to destroy America by using our own system and our people to undermine and destroy ourselves.
So before we get into the details of this latest research I’d like to address for just a few moments what the enemies of freedom and the enemies of God’s design for marriage and family must transform if in order to fundamentally transform American society. With that, I want to welcome in immediately now George Barna. George, thanks for being with us again today.
George Barna: Always great to be with you.
Sam Rohrer: George, before we get into the details of the substance of your research which we’ll do in the next section and the balance of the program, I’d like to get an idea from you relative to the changing American family and those who have said that they would transform America ultimately going after elements within the family. I’d like you to lay down if you could some key markers of what is a solid family. What makes for an intact and strong family unit from a biblical perspective and, if you want to put in there, a historical American experience perspective? What are those markers that are committed, are part of the way we have been that those who want to transform must change if they’re going to fundamentally transform society in America? Could you do that please?
George Barna: Yeah. I’ll try to be quick with that because we could spend days literally talking about that. A lot of us have done that. What we know is from not only a biblical and historical perspective but even from a statistical perspective looking at what does the research say, what does it support in terms of precepts and concepts. What we find is that, certainly biblically, the family is identified as the basic unit for society, for ministry, for life. We look historically at the United States. David [inaudible 00:04:08] and I did this a couple years ago, wrote a book looking at that and really discovered that what made America great initially was a strong partnership between three different entities: church, government, and family. Together they carried out God’s plans and demands, and that’s what gave us the historical momentum that we needed.
Then of course if you look on, okay, but what is family all about really? Well it has to do with marriage which would be a male and a female becoming one. You would have children which are seen as a blessing and a gift from God and they’re a top priority for their parents. You look at sexuality and the Bible is very clear in stating that it’s both for procreation and for pleasure, but it’s to be between a married man and woman. You look at other forms of sexual behavior that are physically possible, but again, the Bible refers to those as a perversion. We look at life itself as a sacred gift, a blessing but also a sacred gift given to us from God which therefore suggests that abortion is an inappropriate behavior. Of course the Bible also talks about divorce as being something that in most cases is forbidden. It certainly breaks our commitment and our promise to God and to our spouse, to our family, to our community.
You put all of those things together and you begin to build that understanding of what constitutes a strong and capable family. As I suggest, the research that’s been done over the years supports that, what is also called a traditional view of marriage: the man and the woman being married and having children; raising them in the fear, love and obedience of God; and that when that happens, those people have more successful lives, they have more fulfilling lives, and they add greater value to society.
Sam Rohrer: George, I mean you did a great job. I know you can spend days and we’ve all been a part of that, but you’ve really boiled that down very nicely here. Church, government, family working according to God’s order, all those things. Marriage, children, human sexuality, all of that kind of things tied into it.
Gary, I want to go to you right now here in the last minute. You’ve been a pastor for 40 years. You’ve done a lot of marriages. You’ve done a lot of funerals. You’ve counseled a lot. Just give a perspective if you could of what you’ve seen over 40 years. That’s a generation biblically. What have you seen over these 40 years relative to families, intact families, strength of families if you could? Just give a snapshot of your view over a generation of working with people in your church and people outside the church.
Gary Dull: Well Sam, first of all, I do thank the Lord for those families that are still strong from the biblical perspective, but unfortunately over the last 40, 45 years, I’ve noticed that there has been a demise of the Christian family as we would like to see it due to the lack of spiritual leadership, the lack of the spiritual desire, the lack of spiritual commitment to biblical truth, and even the lack of a commitment to spiritual ministry. I think all of these things being brought together indicates to us that we have a real issue today to deal with in the church and within the culture. I pray that we can strengthen Christian families as we go forward.
Sam Rohrer: Well it’s rightly said that the family is the bedrock of society. You just heard George Barna repeat that and add more things into it, but you know strong families do make for strong communities and strong communities make for strong nations. On the other hand, you destroy the family, you will ultimately destroy that nation. God and in His word and His pattern for life and living set the model for family a long time ago when He established the pattern of a man leaving his family, choosing and cleaving to his wife, and from that union bring forth children, teaching them and raising them in the ways of God, His truth, and then inculcating God’s moral standards for human sexuality, life and death, marriage and its fulfillments and its duties, and building them into the hearts and the minds of the children.
Well historically we’ve called this biblical construct the traditional family. Yet many enemies of God and many opponents of the traditional family have laid down strategies long ago for breaking apart the American family as a way of breaking apart and bringing down the United States of America. In that end, I would submit that from family destructive domestic policy to altered educational curricula to the complete repudiating of God’s design by our US Supreme Court to a silent and complicit church and pulpits across America. The rules of the game so to speak, the working definition of God’s design have truly been upended, placing the American family in free fall.
To share the startling fact of his just breaking research is George Barna, Executive Director of the American Culture and Faith Institute. Now George, we got to get right into this. You’ve got way too much stuff here for us to go over so we’ll have to just do our best. You’ve broken on this program and elsewhere, George, startling research on a range of critical issues, but this information on the family as I’ve read through this that you’ve just now completed is at the top, I think, in its significance. You’ve simply entitled this research Americans Redefine Family Morality. Now my opinion, you placed a very factual but fairly unemotional title on this astounding, in my opinion, very emotionally impacting research. What I’m going to ask you right now, George, is why did you go to the family here and what were the top line results that you can kind of lay out as a foundation that we can build the rest of the program upon?
George Barna: Okay. Well the reason for doing that particular research is, as I was alluding to in the prior segment, the family really is the basic and essential building block of a society. If you want to understand where a society’s at, if you want to influence or transform a society, you really have to understand the mindset, the heart set, behavior of families.
Of course speaking historically in the United States, families have traditionally adhered to core principles within the framework of the Constitution, and both those principles and the Constitution, it was all based on biblical teaching, biblical foundations. We need to figure out are we still adhering to that. The focus on morality, I think, is important because morality simply means determining what’s right or wrong. Again, if you want to understand the culture, you have to know what they think is right or wrong as well as what they think is the arbiter, the element, the tower, the authority that determines that right from wrong.
In looking at this research, the top line is that America is consistently moving away from traditional American family perspectives, values, and morals which of course then in turn means that we’re moving away from biblical morality. Cases in point, we look at the proportions of people who find the following behaviors to be either morally acceptable or to say it’s not even a moral issue which, to me, is a story in and of itself because people are saying there isn’t even any right or wrong to this. It’s just a matter of personal preference.
People who either say that divorce is morally acceptable or it’s just a matter of personal preference, there is no right or wrong, 77% of American adults. People who say that having sexual intercourse between unmarried male and female adults is either morally acceptable or not even a moral issue, acceptable to 71% of Americans. People saying that having a baby without being married is acceptable, 69%. People saying that intentional exposure to pornography which in the survey was described as intentionally looking at pictures or videos that display nudity or explicit sexual behavior, that was deemed acceptable by 58% of adults. Having an abortion, 48%. Accepting polygamy which was described as being married to more than one person at the same time, almost three out of 10 Americans now say that polygamy is acceptable. That’s 28%.
So you look at all of this and certainly I don’t think anybody could stand back and say “Wow, that’s comforting to see that. Things are moving in the right direction.” Certainly from a Christian perspective, you look at that and you say “We are …” It almost appears as if we’re looking for every opportunity we can find to slap God in the face and say “We know you said not to do this, but as a personal preference, we kind of like it therefore we’re going to do it.”
Dave Kistler: George, even as we’re speaking, there’s a bill that is just passed the California Assembly. It’s a bill numbered 2943 that basically will at some point basically be a bible ban in the state of California. Any communication that would try to take someone from a homosexual lifestyle toward what’s called a straight or a traditional lifestyle is basically going to be against the law. Now that bill’s on its way to the California Senate.
Hopefully it will not pass there, but George, for all practical purposes, the statistics you are giving basically are stating that whether the Bible is officially banned in a state or across the United States, it’s as if we are living as if the Bible is already banned because we’re not living in accord with its dictates. Why have we gotten to this place where the kind of percentages you’ve just given, 77% and 71%, believe that these abhorrent behaviors are okay? How have we gotten there?
George Barna: As you and I both know, there is a lot of reasons for why that’s happened, and it’s not an overnight process. This has been going on for 50 or 60 years now where there’s been an intentional effort to move America away from the Bible, away from Christianity, away from Christ, away from the ways of God. I live here in California. I mean that’s why wacky state that you’re speaking about there.
Why has this happened? Well because people including Christians really don’t read the Bible. We don’t trust the Bible. In so many churches, obviously not all churches but many churches across the country, we’re not being taught the Bible. Just as if not more significant than that are families have essentially abandoned the Bible. There is almost no family Bible reading, no family Bible study, little family prayer time. There’s no … I can’t say no, but there’s very little family-based discipleship that’s taking place.
Well when you take churches and families out of the equation then who is left in that dynamic partnership that created America to be what is to date? Well the government and that’s exactly what the government is doing. It is putting laws and policies in place that absent the presence of churches and families are going to be the new way of thinking and behaving in the land. By extricating ourselves from that process, we have tacitly given permission to the government to say “Look, we don’t know what to do with the Bible. Why don’t you tell us what to do with it.” Essentially as we’re starting to see in California and it’ll wave across the country soon thereafter, the idea is going to be “Well you know what? It’s not good for you so we’re just going to take it out of the equation all together.”
Gary Dull: George, I’ve often said that when we look back into our history here in America, you go back to 1962 and ’63 when prayer and Bible reading was taken out of the public schools. From that particular point until where we are today, we have seen a spiritual deterioration in so many ways. I mean that’s just not speculation or observation, but I think that that can be proven historically. You take the Bible out of the picture and there’s no restraint and sin runs in a rampancy. We are seeing that.
But getting back to this particular survey when I see numbers like 77% of all Americans support divorce or that 71% see no problem with sexual intercourse between unmarried adults and certain things along this line, the question that comes to my mind is how long can the family unit remain. What’s the future for the union between a committed man and a woman? Is it going to endure or is it just going to continue on a demise?
George Barna: Yeah, Gary. I think that’s certainly one of the critical questions that this research brings up because it represents the question of well what are we committed to? What do we believe? What do we think really matters? Or putting it a different way, are we willing and committed to obeying God or simply to pursuing our own desires and ideas or allowing other people to tell us what we ought to be thinking and doing without saying “But wait a minute. I have a set of core values. I have a set of fundamental beliefs that lead me to believe and behave differently.”
The big picture here for me is that Americans, as we’re talking, are essentially rewriting the fundamental principles and commitments of the United States. We are cutting ties with our history, our spiritual commitments, our national values, and we’re substituting new sets of lifestyles that ultimately we’re going to pay for.
Sam Rohrer: When a society or nation once having known God of heaven or embraced a biblical worldview within the institution of marriage and the family, once they have done that and they reject God and His standards which is what George was talking about, that nation is in real trouble. It’s in trouble historically. It’s also in trouble because the Bible says that. Yet the secular societies have long been this way where, without God, have men always done what they have wanted to do. That’s what a depraved culture is about, but God placed Israel as a nation and then he placed Christianity and as coming along there to be lights to point the way to higher moral standards, to greater blessing and fulfillment so that we can enjoy what God designed, that God the creator designed.
So the question is … I’m going to ask and we’re going to talk to George here now. How is the church performing? What kind of differences are we seeing in these mentalities and this definitions of human sexuality and all that between the secular, the unsaved, those who don’t know God as Christ the savior, and those who say they do? Well we’re going to find out more about some of those distinctions right now. George, I want to go back to you and say what you’ve shared earlier was more about the total research in general, but you broke it down and you went into specific areas which we’re going to cover in this segment. What did you find about those who said they were Christians? How did you break it out? Go where you went on the qualifying of that and lay out some of the distinctions. How close to the world are those, for instance let’s put it that way, who say they’re Christian? What are they thinking?
George Barna: Well if we look for instance at the group that we categorized as born-again Christians, we didn’t ask them if that’s what they consider themselves, but these are people who say that they not only have an orthodox view of God, they consider themselves Christians, but after they die, they believe they’ll go to heaven and live with God eternally only because they contest their sins and accepted Christ as their savior. Looking at that group which constitutes about three out of 10 adults in America — and by the way, that number is declining — what we found is that thankfully that group generally is less likely than the other seven out of 10 Americans to embrace this new moral code if you will that we’ve been discussing. On average, there was a little bit more than a 20% difference on seven of these eight moral behaviors that we were looking at.
Now having said that, let me also point out though that the delusion about the acceptability of these new moral perspectives also is deeply ingrained even within the born-again community. The reason I say that is that we found that majorities of born-again adults said that they find divorce and giving birth without the benefit of marriage, sexual intercourse among unmarried adults, a majority of born-again adults said those things are acceptable. So you have 66%, two out of three saying that divorce is either morally acceptable or it’s not even a moral issue. It’s just a matter of personal preference. You have 54% say that having a baby without being married is morally acceptable or just personal preference. Then you have 51% who said sexual intercourse between unmarried adults is morally acceptable.
Add to that … This is one of those where you have to do a double take where about four out of 10 born-again Christians say that intentionally viewing pornography is either morally acceptable or not even a moral issue, just a matter of personal preference. You get the sense that even within the church we’re participating in this process of rewriting morality so that we feel more comfortable rather than we are more committed to and obedient to God.
Sam Rohrer: Staggering.
Dave Kistler: George, there were also some stunning differences between the various categories. I guess I would call it a faith. For example, there were differences between those who identified themselves as Catholics as opposed as those who identified as “Protestants.” What were some of these distinctions and then were you surprised by what you found?
George Barna: Yeah. Well I mean first of all, we can look at the Catholic, Protestant differences. We found that Catholics were more likely than Protestants to accept these behaviors as either moral or amoral behaviors in four out of the eight situations or behaviors that we looked at. They were more likely to embrace divorce, sex between unmarried adults, having birth without marriage, and viewing pornography than were Protestants. The pornography one was, I thought, quite striking where you had 42% of Protestants which is an outrageous number in and off itself saying that viewing pornography is morally acceptable or just a reasonable personal preference, but you have 61% of Catholics who bought into that as well.
When you look at all these, another thing that kind of shocked me in all this, we often here that Catholics are the backbone of the pro-life movement. I’m not challenging that because there we’re talking about individuals, but when we look at the Catholic church overall, more Catholics than Protestants were supportive of abortion. 43% of Catholics said that they found having an abortion to be either morally acceptable or simply not a moral issue. Again, there are a lot of pretty shocking things in here, and of course the Catholic church has been the leading church in the nation perhaps in terms of trying to convince people that divorce is not an option. Yet we found that eight out of 10 Catholic individuals say that getting a divorce is morally acceptable or just a matter of personal preference.
Gary Dull: George, it appears to me and of course we’ve been seeing this take place over the last years, but it appears to me that there is no real proper biblical understanding of morality in the hearts and minds of people in general across the country today as well as in the hearts and minds of the people in churches whether you’re talking about Protestant or Catholic. There are a lot of people who really don’t understand what morality is all about.
George Barna: I think that’s absolutely true. A lot of that comes back to the kind of teaching and instruction and discipleship that people do or do not receive. Every fix, six, seven years we do a particular national study where we look at just very, very, very fundamental Christian precepts and definitions. What we typically find is that American Christians really are not well-schooled in the very basics of our faith. Yeah, I would agree with you that the whole concept of morality when you ask people what that is, they tend to think that it refers more to what we think is politically correct or what we feel comfortable with or the way that we personally think things should be as opposed to going back to some kind of an unchanging source of truth such as God’s word and diving into that and trying to figure out “What does this teach me about right and wrong” because that’s going to be an accurate, reliable, and eternal and unchanging source.
Sam Rohrer: George, there’s so much here. I want to go one other area. I wanted to get some thoughts in here because you also broke down this research generationally. There are differences in views generationally. Give us the high points of those distinctions if you could.
George Barna: Yeah. A lot of different things emerged there. I mean oddly we found that people in their older years, 65 or older, were the ones who were most likely to support divorce. We found that all four generations basically had the same perspectives on the acceptability of unmarried adults having sexual intercourse with each other as well as the acceptability of having a divorce. When you see high numbers and it’s basically equivalent across generations, what that begins to suggest is that this has become a norm in the society. It’s very difficult to fight that because most people no matter what age, no matter what gender, no matter what racial or ethnic background, they’re behind it.
We did find that the two younger generations, what’s often known as Gen X and the Millennials, were the ones that were much more likely to support pornography. They were also much more likely to support polygamy. When you realize they are the future [inaudible 00:27:40] of where our culture’s going, that tells us something about what we have to look forward to.
Sam Rohrer: No matter how you look at it, from a political or economic or cultural or financial or a family perspective, ladies and gentlemen, our nation is in trouble. Now in the book of Deuteronomy Chapter 30 Verse 15, God tells the people in the nation of Israel … He’s taken them into new land. He says this: “I command you this day. Love the Lord. Walk in His ways. Keep His commandments and statutes and judgements. Result, you will live and multiple and I will bless you in the land.”
That was God’s promise to those people in that point in time, but our nation, our national leaders also recognized it. In Verse 19 of that same chapter, God then comes back and I will say that this verse I’m quoting right now was actually quoted by Governor John Winthrop, governor of the first colony of this nation when it was setting things out there. The verse says this: “I call to heaven or I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I’ve set before you life and blessing and cursing. Therefore choose life that you, both you and your seed, your children, may live.”
Well as a nation and as families generally, we’ve not heeded God’s truth. We’ve walked away. According to this verse, we are choosing. This research that George is laying out, we are, by our actions, choosing cursing. Wow. Question is can this march away from God leading to the collapse of the American family and our society, can it be stopped? If so, how much time do we have and what do we need to do about it?
George, it’s an awful lot to cover in the last sections of this program, but you’ve been producing substantive research about the American family, the church, and the culture for a long time. I really don’t know of anybody better than you to be able to just note from your observation these changes over time. You’ve already kind of talked about a little bit, but how long has it taken to get here, George? What are the major contributors, the most significant contributors to this march away from God? Why have we as a people walked away from God?
George Barna: Yeah, that’s a long discussion, Sam. I think you can probably look historically at what’s been going on and say “Well this has been happening for 50 to 60 years.” You could begin to see this. You had the sexual revolution in the ’60s. You had values education in the ’70s. You had the onset of cable television and megachurches in the ’80s. You had subjective journalism rearing its head along with financial recklessness and excess in the ’90s. You had really the gay revolution at the beginning of the millennium. You had political warfare and kind of the socialist uprising this decade. There are many other little movement that have taken place along the way.
I think we have to begin to recognize, wow, this not something that’s new. This has been going on for a long time, and we’ve got to recognize that this is essentially a war of attrition. We’re being worn down because the enemy has a longterm multifaceted plan, and what are we countering it with? Four-week sermon series. I mean come one. We’ve got to get serious about the fact that this is a war. It’s been possible to walk about from God’s plan for us and from His admonitions to us, His commands to obey Him because, number one, only one out of 10 Americans has a biblical worldview. Number two, we’ve got weak leadership throughout the country.
I mean who today are the people that you can identify or anybody listening could identify who are the best representatives of a Christian vision for America, Christian values for our future, who are espousing goals that truly honor Christ, who are holding our different institutions and leaders and families accountable for those things? I mean we’ve been absent in the media. We’ve been absent in the schools. The bottom line on all this is that we’re losing this war right now because our children are being attacked. I mean you look at the media that they’re being exposed to. You look at what they’re being taught in the schools. You look at the laws that are being put in such as the one that Dave was talking about earlier out here in California where they’re trying to back into banning the Bible. They’ve already banned some of its content from speech in public places, from counseling in private places.
You can imagine where this is going to go. I mean it took time for us to get here. It’s going to take time for us to get out of this mess, but we’ve got to make a good start at it.
Dave Kistler: George, let me ask you two things. Number one, we’ve used on this program of late the frog and the boiling water analogy. The frog doesn’t realize the water is boiling him to death until it’s too late. It certainly appears that that’s where we’re headed in the United States of America. You’ve already touched upon it because you talked about the four-week sermon series. It sounds like you want to go somewhere there and I wish you would, but what is the answer to all of this? The pulpit obviously is part of it, but what can be done to stop it? If it is not stopped, how close are we as a culture to going over the moral cliff?
George Barna: One of the things that strikes me is that Americans are sleepwalking. I think we’ve got to start out by taking people by the shoulders — I mean let’s do it with each other — and just shaking each other and say “Come on. Let’s wake up. Let’s think. Does this matter?” I mean the answer to that question right now would have to be, based on the research, apparently Americans think it doesn’t matter because we’re not doing anything to change it. We’re not even aware of what’s going on in many cases.
Rather then simply saying “No, I feel pretty comfortable” or “I don’t want to rock the boat,” it’s like “Hey, buddy. If you’re a Christian, you’re here to rock the boat for Christ. Okay?” Let’s get that in. Let’s recognize it’s a war. Let’s also recognize that we don’t have to bemoan the fact that we don’t have a majority. It doesn’t matter. God’s never used a majority to transform the world. He always uses a remnant.
Then let’s look at the whole idea of what a revolution is and how they work. A revolution is a common set of ideas that people embrace, but they have to embrace them individually first. A revolution happens one life at a time. It starts with me. If I’m not willing to light that match and get this revolution going, it dies right here in my chair. Each one of us has to be willing to say “You know what? I’m going to be part of that revolution. My life is going to change starting right now and then I’m going to look at what I can do.”
What can you do? Families. I mean adults have to make that personal commitment to God’s truth, but then you’ve got to make sure that your kids are being exposed to and taught and held accountable to a biblical worldview. Churches have to embrace the commitment of supporting families. They’re not the ones responsible for families, but they are responsible for giving them the resources, the encouragement, the tools that they need to help put a biblical worldview into practice. We’ve got to change our media diet. The media diet of Christianity in America is no different than any other group in America. So garbage in, garbage out. We keep ingesting garbage, we’re going to keep spitting it out. Finally, we’ve got to elect people whose moral standards set biblical principles. We can’t expect them to pass laws that reflect biblical principles if they don’t buy into those principles themselves.
Sam Rohrer: Well George, you laid out an awful lot. Ladies and gentlemen, we’re at the end of the program here right now, but my suggestion, ladies and gentlemen, if you’re touched by this, look in the mirror. All of us, let’s look in the mirror and ask ourselves “Where are we?” Talk to our children. Talk our grandchildren. Talk to our neighbors. Let’s hold each other accountable. We know the truth. We must stand for that truth now. George Barna, thank you so much for being with us today. Ladies and gentlemen, listen to this program again in archive form. Standinthegapradio.com. Go to American Culture and Faith Institute website, pick up their material, read this research, distribute it, act upon it for the sake of truth and our nation. God bless you. We’ll see you back tomorrow.