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Sunday, January 27, 2008

Our Nation's Greatest Asset

As we approach “Super Tuesday,” which involves primaries or caucuses in 24 states, including Georgia, the political rhetoric is going to reach a level that is almost unbearable. As the candidates talk about domestic issues, such as health care and education, one phrase that will almost certainly be uttered by practically every candidate will be, “our nation’s greatest asset.” The use of this phrase will be in reference to our children. I believe they are just a bit off base with this bold declaration.

I’m not sure if it is appropriate to refer to any one item as a nation’s “greatest asset.” I believe that certainly there are many important factors that support a strong and healthy nation. Children would be on the list; however, ahead of them I would place a few things—foremost would be strong and healthy marriages. (I can’t believe I have to say this, but by marriage I mean the union of one man and one woman.)

I believe that at the foundation of any great nation there must be a healthy view of and a great respect for marriage. That is the best hope for our children. Government programs and politicians’ promises mean very little when children are growing up in homes full of conflict and strife, or in homes where the marriage between their parents has ended.

Strong and healthy marriages lead to strong and healthy families. Strong and healthy families lead to strong and healthy communities. Strong and healthy communities lead to strong and healthy churches, schools, businesses, governments, and so on. Each of these institutions lies at the heart of a great nation.

If politicians want to demonstrate that they care about children, then taking a strong stand for marriage (along with modeling a strong and healthy marriage) would be a great start. In “Marriage and the Law: A Statement of Principles” published by the Institute for Marriage and Public Policy, the authors note that, “Children raised outside of intact marriages have higher rates of poverty, mental illness, teen suicide, conduct disorders, infant mortality, physical illness, juvenile delinquency, and adult criminality. They are more likely to drop out of school, be held back a grade, and launch into early and promiscuous sexual activity, leading to higher rates of sexually transmitted diseases and early unwed parenthood.”

I submit that the single most damaging phenomenon to children in our culture is not poverty, or a depraved media, or poor education, but the breakdown of the traditional family. Too many children are not growing up in homes with their mother and father present and active.

I would also submit that the greatest gift that parents can give a child is a strong and healthy marriage. Recently my wife and I have been participating in a Bible study on parenting. The study is called “Growing Kids God’s Way” from the worldwide ministry of Growing Families International (www.gfi.org).

Early in the study, marriage is referred to as, “the Crown of Creation.” The study points out that the husband-wife relationship “must be viewed as the priority relationship in the family,” with, “all other relationships (functioning) subject to that of the husband and wife.” They added that, “You can never be a better parent than you are a spouse.”

 I believe that after an individual’s relationship with his or her Creator, the “priority” relationship in the universe is the husband/wife relationship. When this foundational relationship breaks down, many suffer. The study also notes (as I alluded to earlier) that chaos in the family equals chaos in society.

If we want to solve the many social ills that plague our culture, changes need to begin at home. Traditional marriage needs the respect and support of government, the law, the church, and individuals alike. Otherwise, our nation as we know and love it is in great peril.

Copyright 2008, Trevor Grant Thomas
At the Intersection of Politics, Science, Faith, and Reason
Trevor and his wife Michelle are the authors of: Debt Free Living in a Debt Filled World
tthomas@trevorgrantthomas.com

Sunday, January 13, 2008

"Peace" Has Been Hijacked

What is the first thing that comes to your mind when you see a person wearing the words “peace” on an article of clothing? What do you think when you see the “peace” symbol stuck on the bumper of an automobile? Sadly, if you’re like me, your first thoughts usually are not something positive. I have a few t-shirts with Christian themes on them. One has a large image of the earth with the words “Peace on Earth” on it. I’ve never worn it out of the house. So, what is wrong with “peace”? Regretfully, I believe the word has been “hijacked.”

Instead of visions of tranquility and harmony, when I see “peace” brandished about, my thoughts go to words or phrases like: pacifist, appeaser, anti-war activist, or political agenda. It’s a shame. Peace should not be a dirty word.

“War is a dreadful thing,” said C.S. Lewis, but he adds, “I can respect an honest pacifist, though I think he is entirely wrong.” Loving your enemy does not mean you allow him to go unpunished. Given that, Lewis concludes, “It is, therefore, in my opinion, perfectly right for a Christian judge to sentence a man to death or a Christian soldier to kill an enemy…All killing is not murder any more than all sexual intercourse is adultery.”

So, if war is sometimes just then peace can sometimes be sinful. Peace for some may mean torment for others. Peace now may mean greater suffering and loss later. Peace may also mean that evil prospers.

Part of the problem is with semantics. Many consider peace to be the opposite of war, or, at least, the absence of hostilities. However, my Dictionary of the Bible states that, “Peace is the presence of God, not the absence of conflict. Christ brought, preached, and is our peace.” Jesus never told the Roman Centurion to lay down his arms. He did say, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you (emphasis on “I” and “my”). I do not give to you as the world gives.” Paul, in his letter to the Ephesians says, “For he (Christ) himself is our peace…”

What has happened with “peace” is very similar to what has taken place with the rainbow. The rainbow, which throughout most of history has been associated with a covenant promise that God made to mankind, now has been “hijacked” by the homosexual movement. Who do we see brandishing the flag with a rainbow on it? If a car or a shirt has nothing but a rainbow on it, my first thoughts do not go to Noah and the account of the Flood. Again, it’s a shame.

To many folks peace begins with tolerance. (Another good word that has lost its true meaning. I use it in this sense.) Tolerance in its corrupted sense has its roots in moral relativism, which, of course, means the loss of moral absolutes. So this hijacked form of peace is rooted in a world in which morality is divorced from God, Who is the giver of true peace. So we have the height of irony: many seeking peace ignore the Author and Giver of peace.

In a world full of evil, where atheistic dictators kill millions of their own people, where radical Islamists call for adherence or death and for the annihilation of a whole nation of people, we cannot afford to follow the philosophy of those who would do little more than chant, “all we are saying is give peace a chance.” As we choose our next president, we would do well to remember this.

Copyright 2008, Trevor Grant Thomas
At the Intersection of Politics, Science, Faith, and Reason.
Trevor and his wife Michelle are the authors of: Debt Free Living in a Debt Filled World
tthomas@trevorgrantthomas.com