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Sunday, July 31, 2016

The Fatherless Effect

Over the last several months—and especially the last few weeks—much has been made of the “Ferguson effect.” The phenomenon is now so widely discussed that it has its own Wikipedia page (though I wouldn’t suggest visiting it for an explanation). St. Louis police chief Sam Dotson coined the phrase in November of 2014, but Heather MacDonald popularized it in a Wall Street Journal op-ed in 2015. In early 2016, she again described the Ferguson effect:

Since the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., in August 2014, the conceit that American policing is lethally racist has dominated media and political discourse, from the White House on down. Cops in minority neighborhoods in Chicago and other cities have responded by backing away from pedestrian stops and public-order policing; criminals are flourishing in the vacuum.

In other words, because of the lies of liberals, many American policeman have taken their nightsticks and their nine-millimeters out of some of the most dangerous areas in the U.S. and criminals are taking full advantage. As I pointed out a couple of weeks ago, given that black Americans typically live in the most dangerous parts of our nation, it is black Americans who are suffering the most from police disengagement from “discretionary enforcement activity.”

In my last piece I barely mentioned the effects of the absence of fathers on black children in America. The current political and moral climate in the U.S. demands that we give this grave issue more attention. Again, out-of-wedlock births in the U.S. are at historic highs, and the vast majority of black children in America are born to single mothers. And just as criminal gangs and other undesirables fill the void of absent police officers in American neighborhoods, the same thing happens—but on a much larger and more destructive scale—when fathers are absent from the family.

There are over 100 cities in the U.S.—from Atlanta to Utica—with populations north of 50,000 in which more than half of the households are headed by single parents. Of course, the vast majority of these households are led by single moms. These cities are the most dangerous places in the U.S. Given the rate of black out-of-wedlock births, and with most black Americans living in large U.S. cities (about 75%), millions of American black children are growing up fatherless in the most crime-ridden places in America.

Among many other sad outcomes, fatherlessness is one of the leading predictors of future criminal activity. Children living with their married biological parents are the least likely to commit criminal acts. On the other hand, children from single-parent homes (almost always without a father) are “more likely to…engage in questionable behavior, struggle academically, and become delinquent.  Problems with children from fatherless families can continue into adulthood. These children are three times more likely to end up in jail by the time they reach age 30 than are children raised in intact families, and have the highest rates of incarceration in the United States.”

As the breakdown of the family has been hotly debated in the U.S. for years now, you’ve almost certainly heard the above stats before. However, long before the rampant disintegration of the family in America began, researchers were revealing what common sense and sound morality always knew. As authors Kevin and Karen Wright point out:

Research into the idea that single-parent homes may produce more delinquents dates back to the early 19th century…. [O]fficials at New York State's Auburn Penitentiary, in an attempt to discern the causes of crime, studied the biographies of incarcerated men. Reports to the legislature in 1829 and 1830 suggested that family disintegration resulting from the death, desertion, or divorce of parents led to undisciplined children who eventually became criminals.  

Fatherlessness is the single greatest cause of poverty in the U.S. As Robert Rector pointed out years ago, “Being raised in a married family reduced a child’s probability of living in poverty by about 80 percent.” In order to further their big government agenda, modern liberals often point to education as the answer to poverty in America. However, marriage is a far better weapon against poverty than is education. Again, as Rector points out, “being married has the same effect in reducing poverty that adding five to six years to a parent’s level of education has.” In addition, a child living in a single-parent home where the parent is a college graduate is nearly twice as likely to live in poverty as a child living with their married parents whose highest level of education is completing high school.

Marriage provides the safest environment for children. In addition to being much more likely to live in crime-ridden communities, children born to single moms face much more danger inside the home than do children living with their married parents. As marripedia points out:
  • The rate of physical abuse is 3 times higher in the single parent family.
  • The rate of physical abuse is 4 times higher if mother is cohabiting with the child’s biological father (unmarried).
  • The rate of physical abuse is 5 times higher if the child is living in a married step family.
  • The rate of physical abuse is 10 times higher if the mother is cohabiting with a boyfriend.
The rates for sexual abuse are even worse than physical abuse:
  • The rate of sexual abuse is 5 times higher in the single parent family and when both biological parents are cohabiting (i.e. unmarried).
  • The rate of sexual abuse is 8.6 times higher if the child is living in a married step family.
  • The rate of sexual abuse is 20 times higher if the mother is cohabiting with a boyfriend.
Contrary to popular belief, the most likely physical abuser of a child in a single-parent home is the mother. Because they lack the financial, emotional, and other support of a husband and a father in the home, single moms are more likely to experience anger, impatience, anxiety, and feelings of helplessness. Additionally, single moms are more likely to be depressed and feel rejected by their children than are women who have a husband.

As tragic as the outcomes of the Ferguson effect are, the fatherless effect is much more wide-ranging, common, and deadly in American society. The good news, though: if we solve the fatherless effect, there is not even an opportunity to experience the Ferguson effect. 

(See this column at American Thinker.)

Copyright 2016, Trevor Grant Thomas
At the Intersection of Politics, Science, Faith, and Reason.
www.trevorgrantthomas.com
Trevor is the author of The Miracle and Magnificence of America
tthomas@trevorgrantthomas.com

Friday, July 29, 2016

NOW AVAILABLE!: The Miracle and Magnificence of America

My brand new book, The Miracle and Magnificence of America, reveals how, from the time of Columbus until the modern era, the Hand, the Word, the Wisdom, and the Blessings of God worked in the lives of individuals, events, and institutions to shape the United States of America into the greatest nation the world has ever known.

Now available in print and on Kindle through Amazon. It will be available soon through Books-a-Million, Barnes and Noble, and other online retailers.


The back of the book reads:


On June 21, 1776, just days before the adoption of the Declaration of Independence, John Adams, wrote to his cousin, Zabdiel Adams, a graduate of Harvard University and a renowned preacher of the Gospel. He said, “Statesmen…may plan and speculate for Liberty, but it is Religion and Morality alone, which can establish the Principles upon which Freedom can securely stand. The only foundation of a free Constitution is pure Virtue, and if this cannot be inspired into our People in a greater Measure than they have it now, they may change their Rulers and the forms of Government, but they will not obtain a lasting Liberty.” 
 Of course, the only source of “pure Virtue” is the Creator who has endowed us with our “certain unalienable Rights.” The Miracle and Magnificence of America reveals how the “Religion and Morality” of Jesus Christ laid the foundation for the greatest nation in the history of humanity and is the foundation for the lasting—but tragically fading—liberty enjoyed by hundreds of millions of Americans for over two centuries. 

Please help us spread the word about this unique and revealing look at American history!

Trevor Thomas

Monday, July 18, 2016

A Matter of Days Now!: The Miracle and Magnificence of America

We are just days away from the official launch of The Miracle and the Magnificence of America.


With 27 chapters, over 450 end notes, and over 95,000 words, The Miracle and Magnificence of America chronicles from the very beginning of this nation--from the time of Columbus--until the modern era, how the hand, the Word, the wisdom, and the blessings of God made the United States of America into the greatest nation the world has ever known.

The back cover reads:

On June 21, 1776, just days before the adoption of the Declaration of Independence, John Adams, wrote to his cousin, Zabdiel Adams, a graduate of Harvard University and a renowned preacher of the Gospel. He said, “Statesmen…may plan and speculate for Liberty, but it is Religion and Morality alone, which can establish the Principles upon which Freedom can securely stand. The only foundation of a free Constitution is pure Virtue, and if this cannot be inspired into our People in a greater Measure than they have it now, they may change their Rulers and the forms of Government, but they will not obtain a lasting Liberty.”

Of course, the only source of “pure Virtue” is the Creator who has endowed us with our “certain unalienable Rights.” The Miracle and Magnificence of America reveals how the “Religion and Morality” of Jesus Christ laid the foundation for the greatest nation in the history of humanity and is the foundation for the lasting—but tragically fading—liberty enjoyed by hundreds of millions of Americans for over two centuries.

The Miracle and Magnificence of America will be available at Amazon, Books-a-Million, Barnes and Noble, as well as other online retailers. Stay tuned for more information!

Copyright 2016, Trevor Grant Thomas
At the Intersection of Politics, Science, Faith, and Reason.
www.trevorgrantthomas.com
Trevor and his wife Michelle are the authors of: Debt Free Living in a Debt Filled World
tthomas@trevorgrantthomas.com

Saturday, July 16, 2016

We Have a “War on Cops” because of the War on the Family

Just so we’re clear, here’s the left’s narrative on the police in America: There’s widespread and institutionalized racism inside America’s law enforcement agencies, and black Americans are especially targeted. This racism has led to the deaths of a disproportionate number of innocent black Americans. In order to stop this heinous activity, we need more gun control legislation, more wealth redistribution, more job and education programs, and thus Americans need to elect more Democrats.

Heather MacDonald (more than once), Larry Elder (more than once), and a host of others have provided mountains of evidence that prove beyond any reasonable doubt that there is no widespread special targeting of blacks by U.S. law enforcement. In addition to the crime statistics, consider: Of the 50 largest cities in the U.S., 30 percent have a black police chief. Of the 50 largest sheriff’s departments in the U.S., 12 percent were led by black Americans. (Remember, blacks are about 13 percent of the U.S. population, and sheriffs are usually elected.)

Barack Obama, the U.S. President and Commander-in-Chief of the U.S. military—the largest, most powerful military in the world—is a black man. The U.S. Attorney General—the chief law enforcement officer and chief lawyer of the U.S. government—Loretta Lynch, is a black woman. The previous U.S. Attorney General, Eric Holder, is a black man. No doubt there are racists within U.S. law enforcement—as there are in almost any agency, institution, or organization in America—however there is no way a nation achieves the racial diversity detailed above if widespread, institutionalized racism exists.

In spite of this information, whenever the national conversation turns to confrontations between white cops and black suspects, the narrative at the beginning of this piece—the narrative of Black Lives Matter—dominates the mainstream media. Remember, the Black Lives Matter movement gained national attention because of a lie. Black Lives Matter was founded after the acquittal of George Zimmerman in the killing of Trayvon Martin. However, the movement became known nationally after the death of Michael Brown at the hands of police officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson, Missouri.

After Brown’s death, the supposed gesture and words of surrender by Brown—“Hand’s Up, Don’t Shoot!”—became a frequent rallying cry for those protesting Brown’s death. However, after a U.S. Department of Justice investigation, it was concluded that Brown didn’t have his hands up and didn’t cry “Don’t shoot” when Officer Wilson shot him. Even liberal apologist Jonathan Capehart had to admit that, “‘Hands up, don’t shoot’ was built on a lie.” Nevertheless, as we see today (scroll about one-third the way down), the narrative continues.

One of the reasons the deceptive liberal narrative about black lives is so doggedly defended and regularly repeated is that the truth about the very real suffering in the American black community runs counter to modern liberal dogma. The biggest reason for the rampant lawlessness and poverty that is so prevalent in the black community is the breakdown of the family.

It has been widely reported for years now that the out-of-wedlock birth rate among American blacks is over 70 percent. Almost always, mothers are left to raise their children alone. In U.S. cities, where the violence and poverty among U.S. blacks is most pronounced, the out-of-wedlock birth rate is even worse. For example, in Chicago about 80 percent of black children are born to single mothers. Today, only 17 percent of American black teenagers reach age 17 in a family with their biological parents married to each other. In no state in the U.S does black family intactness exceed 30 percent.

Social science is finally revealing what sound morality and good common sense always told us: Children of single mothers do worse in almost every metric measured: school achievement, poverty, crime, emotional well-being, drug use, delinquency, violent behavior, and so on. These negative outcomes are even worse for black children born to single mothers. Millions of black youths—because of the frequent absence of fathers, especially black males—are growing up poorly disciplined, poorly educated, and poorly churched.

Thus, gangs and crime have become far too common in the black communities of America. Sadly, these broken and vulnerable black families typically live in the most dangerous parts of our nation. From the beginning of the Iraq war in 2003, until the U.S. troop withdrawal in 2011, there were 4,485 U.S. casualties. The city of Chicago alone had 4,265 murders during the same time period. Perhaps the most shocking statistic of all when it comes to black Americans and violence is that black men in the U.S. are half as likely to die if they are in prison than if they are not.

However, easily the most dangerous place for a black child in America is the womb. This is horrifically sad when one considers that a mother’s womb should be one of the safest places in the universe. Since the Roe vs. Wade ruling in 1973, abortion has killed more black Americans than crime, accidents, cancer, heart disease, or AIDS. Since 1973, abortion has taken the life of more black Americans than any other single cause of death. Again, in U.S. cities, these numbers are even more staggering. In New York City, in 2012, more black children were aborted than were born.

As Mother Teresa warned us, “the greatest destroyer of peace today is abortion, because it is a war against the child, a direct killing of the innocent child, murder by the mother herself. And if we accept that a mother can kill even her own child, how can we tell other people not to kill one another?” Thus, we should not be surprised that, where there is rampant abortion, there is also rampant violence. In spite of all of this, Black Lives Matter and their liberal apologists refuse to stand up for black children in the womb.

As I have often said, after our relationship with our Creator, the most important relationship in the universe is the relationship between a husband and his wife. Any other type of union is a perversion of one of the oldest truths in the history of humanity. Such a conclusion is in direct opposition to the pro-homosexual, pro-abortion, pro-big-government—which could all be summed up as the anti-family—agenda of today’s American left. For decades now, modern American liberals have waged war on the family. They have lied about sex and sexuality, about the importance of mothers and fathers, about marriage, and about life in the womb. The rotten fruit of these lies is widespread death and destruction. It is the politics, policies, and practices of liberalism that have robbed America’s black communities of peace and prosperity and turned our police officers into targets.

(See this column at American Thinker.)

Copyright 2016, Trevor Grant Thomas
At the Intersection of Politics, Science, Faith, and Reason.
www.trevorgrantthomas.com
Trevor and his wife Michelle are the authors of: Debt Free Living in a Debt Filled World
tthomas@trevorgrantthomas.com

Sunday, July 10, 2016

The Law is Dying because Morality is Dying


Tuesday, after FBI Director James Comey spent about 15 minutes laying out the legal case against Hillary Clinton, and then spent about three minutes declaring that he was going to ignore the evidence and recommend no legal action against Mrs. Clinton, the Blaze’s Matt Walsh declared that “The Law is Dead.”

Walsh writes,

July 5, 2016. 11:15 a.m. One day after America’s 240th birthday. 
When historians conduct their autopsy on Lady Justice, that will be the time of death. That is the precise moment when Justice drew her last labored breath, cursed our ridiculous country and our hopelessly corrupt government, and collapsed. Sure, she’d been in bad shape for a while, but there was no surviving the final blow. When it is explicitly announced and made public that the wealthiest and most elite and most liberal are indeed above the law, the charade of “law” cannot continue. There is no law. We are living under the rule of men, not of law. We are subject to the whims of petty tyrants and bureaucrats. They are subject to no one on Earth.

I don’t think Comey’s presser heralds the end of law in the U.S., but he surely did put another nail in the coffin. Like the Supreme Court rulings on abortion and marriage, few should be surprised at this outcome. America has been on a long ugly road when it comes to law and justice, reason and logic, morality and truth.

Two days prior to this year’s Independence Day, noted Christian apologist Ravi Zacharias asked, “Whatever happened to the American Soul?” He continued,

We are truly at the cliff’s precipitous edge and the fall could be long and deadly. Why? We have a deep crisis of the soul that is killing us morally and we have no recourse. We have no recourse because the only cure has been disparaged and mocked by the elite and the powerful. And those very ideologies are now presiding over the slaughter of our citizens while the abundance of speeches is inversely proportional to the wisdom they contain and Reason bleeds to death before our eyes… 
How many families will be shattered and offered up at the altar of our foolishness?...I propose to you that multiple killings have preceded the horrors with which we now live. Those killings prepared the ground for the literal burial of our own people.
Three killings in particular are as real as the carnage we see when suicide vests are detonated: the death of morality, the death of truth, and the death of reason.

To illustrate the death of morality, Dr. Zacharias recalls the comments of Robert Shapiro, the famous attorney who helped represent O.J. Simpson in Simpson’s murder trial. While being interviewed by Megyn Kelly, Shapiro was asked if justice had been served in the Simpson trial (Simpson was found not guilty of murdering his wife Nicole and Ron Goldman). Shapiro utters a “pathetic answer,” telling Kelly, “There is legal justice and moral justice. Legal justice was served.” Thus, as is common among those corrupted by liberalism, Shapiro divorces law from morality.

When it comes to the disconnect between morality and the law in the U.S., we have long been warned. As I pointed out years ago (and as I've suggested often), and as Ben Franklin declared, “Laws without morals are in vain.” Additionally, in 2003, after the Supreme Court foolishly reversed itself and legalized sodomy across the U.S. (Lawrence vs. Texas), the late, great Antonin Scalia warned, “State laws against bigamy, same-sex marriage, adult incest, prostitution, masturbation, adultery, fornication, bestiality, and obscenity are likewise sustainable only in light of Bowers’ (the 1986 Supreme Court decision upholding Georgia’s sodomy law) validation of laws based on moral choices. Every single one of these laws is called into question by today’s decision; the Court makes no effort to cabin the scope of its decision to exclude them from its holding.”

Scalia continued, “The Court embraces… the fact that the governing majority in a State has traditionally viewed a particular practice as immoral is not a sufficient reason for upholding a law prohibiting the practice.” He concluded that, “This effectively decrees the end of all morals legislation.”

In other words, over a decade ago, no less than a justice on the U.S. Supreme Court warned us that liberals were “amputating” (to borrow from Dr. Zacharias) the law from morality. However, instead of an “amputation” what we are really seeing is more of a transplant. On November 18, 2003, just four and a half months after the Lawrence decision, the Supreme Court of Massachusetts ruled in favor of legalized same-sex marriage. Thus Massachusetts became the first state in the U.S. to grant marital rights to same-sex couples.

Writing for the majority, the Chief Justice of the Massachusetts court, Margaret Marshal, referenced Lawrence in the ruling: “Our obligation is to define the liberty of all, not to mandate our own moral code.” But of course, the only way to redefine the oldest institution in the history of humanity is to “mandate our own moral code.”

The biggest obstacle to writing one’s own moral code is Christianity. As The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (of the Southern Baptist Convention) recently put it, “in the twentieth century, more and more people began to see Christian morality as standing in the way of a new moral code: the morality of self-fulfillment. Throwing off burdensome traditional mores, people began to imagine life without a bothersome God standing watch.”

Recent Barna research “highlights the extent to which Americans pledge allegiance to the new moral code.” As Barna summarizes, this “morality of self-fulfillment” can be summed up in six guiding principles:



As we sadly see, this “morality of self-fulfillment,” otherwise known—as I noted last August (referencing philosopher Michael Novak)—as the “theology of self,” has crept into the church. This “morality of self-fulfillment” or “theology of self” is nothing new. As Genesis chapter 3 reveals, the desire to “be like God”—to rule our world—is nearly as old as humanity itself.

What is new, at least for the United States of America, is that such a wicked philosophy has now become deeply embedded in U.S. law. Again, all law is rooted in someone's idea of morality. We either are going to be governed by the morality of the Law Giver or the “morality of self-fulfillment.” Americans must simply decide, by whose morality we wished to be governed.

(See this column at American Thinker and The Patriot Post.)

Copyright 2016, Trevor Grant Thomas
At the Intersection of Politics, Science, Faith, and Reason.
www.trevorgrantthomas.com
Trevor and his wife Michelle are the authors of: Debt Free Living in a Debt Filled World
tthomas@trevorgrantthomas.com

Friday, July 8, 2016

Liberals Fiddle While Black Communities Burn (UPDATED)

I don't yet know the complete story of the MN or LA shootings where black men were killed by police in what some are calling suspicious circumstances. Few do know the complete story. If the police acted criminally, let justice be done. However, we do know that institutionalized police violence is FAR from the biggest problem the black community in America faces. As many U.S. cities have suffered from the "Ferguson effect," the real problems in the black community become more clear. As Heather MacDonald reveals:
Violence in Chicago is reaching epidemic proportions. In the first five months of 2016, someone was shot every two and a half hours and someone murdered every 14 hours, for a total of nearly 1,400 nonfatal shooting victims and 240 fatalities. Over Memorial Day weekend, 69 people were shot, nearly one per hour, dwarfing the previous year’s tally of 53 shootings over the same period. The violence is spilling over from the city’s gang-infested South and West Sides into the downtown business district; Lake Shore Drive has seen drive-by shootings and robberies. 
The growing mayhem is the result of Chicago police officers’ withdrawal from proactive enforcement, making the city a dramatic example of what I have called the “Ferguson effect.” Since the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, in August 2014, the conceit that American policing is lethally racist has dominated the national airwaves and political discourse, from the White House on down. In response, cops in minority neighborhoods in Chicago and other cities around the country are backing off pedestrian stops and public-order policing; criminals are flourishing in the resulting vacuum. (An early and influential Ferguson-effect denier has now changed his mind: in a June 2016 study for the National Institute of Justice, Richard Rosenfeld of the University of Missouri–St. Louis concedes that the 2015 homicide increase in the nation’s large cities was “real and nearly unprecedented.” “The only explanation that gets the timing right is a version of the Ferguson effect,” he told the Guardian.)
Like across the rest of the U.S., the vast majority of the victims in the Chicago violence are black Americans. The vast majority of the perpetrators are young black males from broken (read: "fatherless") homes. For decades now numerous liberal policies have undermined the family in America--especially the black family--and just as is the case with terrorism and Islam, liberals across the U.S. ignore the real causes of the evil that plagues us and continue to play their foolish political games.

Maybe liberals will tell us that we need more abortions of black children. After all, Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger's vision has only been partially realized: Only about half of the black population in the U.S. has been wiped out by abortion.

And now it seems, those political games have again turned deadly. Late Thursday evening, at a Black Lives Matter Next Generation Action Network protest in Dallas, TX, four five police officers were killed and 11 7 more injured. Again, few details are in. Stay tuned.

UPDATE: A self-described "black power group," has claimed responsibility for the Dallas cop murders. "Black Power Political Organization" wrote on its Facebook account that it was behind the attack and that "more assassinations are coming".

We are NEVER going to solve the problem of violence in the black community, we are NEVER going to solve the problem of the "War on Cops" until we stop waging war on the family.

Trevor Thomas

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Johnny Needs Jesus

Johnny Manziel’s life reeks of sin.

In case you are not familiar with Johnny Manziel, statistically, Manziel is one of the greatest college football quarterbacks of all time. After earning the starting quarterback job at Texas A&M in the fall of 2012, Manziel went on to have an historic season. Along the way to becoming the only freshman (though a redshirt freshman) ever to win the coveted Heisman Trophy, Manziel broke Archie Manning’s 43-year-old SEC record of most yards total offense in a single game. He became the first SEC player ever to pass for 3,000 yards and rush for 1,000 yards in a single season.

Among many other notable records, Manziel holds the NCAA FBS (formerly Division I-A) freshman record for total yards offense and rushing yards by a quarterback. In 2012 he was virtually everybody’s First-team All-American. In other words, in the world of college football, “Johnny Football,” as he became known, was a big deal.

Waiving his junior season at Texas A&M, in 2014, Manziel entered the NFL draft. He was drafted 22nd by the Cleveland Browns. In June of 2014, Manziel signed an $8.25 million contract that included a $4.3 million signing bonus. With millions in disposable cash, “Johnny Football” was not “Johnny Be Good.”

In fact, it seems that Manziel has become as famous for his off-the-field antics as he was for what he did on the field. Manziel has fallen so far that he is no longer in the NFL. After two disappointing seasons, Cleveland released him in March of this year. In addition to that, in this year alone Manziel lost the representation of his marketing agency and his endorsement deal with Nike, and he was fired by two NFL agents, including the renowned Drew Rosenhaus. It was the first time in Rosenhaus’s 27-year career that he’s ever fired an NFL player-client.

In a nutshell, what Johnny Manziel has done is party himself into unemployment. There were plenty of signs that Manziel was a bit “out of control” long before the Cleveland Browns invested millions of dollars in him. Just prior to the 2012 season, Manziel was arrested on several misdemeanor charges surrounding a late-night fight in College Station, Texas. Just after his Heisman-winning freshman season, in early 2013, Manziel was dismissed early from the Manning Passing Academy. Manziel said it was because he oversleept after his phone died.

When questioned as to whether alcohol played a role in him oversleeping (Something like, “Were you hungover Johnny?”), Manziel was evasive in his answer. He added, “I’m still a sophomore in college. I’m still going to do things that everybody in college does, and I’m going to continue to enjoy my life.” In other words, Johnny wants to rule his world.

Of the tens of thousands of words spoken and written by sports journalists covering Manziel, how often do you think the first sentence of this piece has been uttered, or even hinted at? Whether his athletic successes or his off-the-field failures, for years now Johnny Manziel’s life has been relentlessly covered by a seemingly ever-present media. Though it seems obvious to most everyone that Johnny Manziel “needs help,” that he needs to “make changes” in his life—quite unsurprisingly—virtually no one in today’s media is pointing toward what Mr. Manziel really needs.

As my wife Michelle and I were engaged to be married, we went through several sessions of excellent pre-marital counseling. I say “excellent” because of the efforts of our licensed professional counselor, and the fact that the counseling was done from a Christian worldview. Any other form of counseling is a waste of time.

There’s one thing in particular from the sessions that I’ve never forgotten. Our counselor pointed out to each of us that we would inevitably, at some point in our marriage, discover things in the other that we would not like. He looked at Michelle and said, “You can’t change him.” He then turned to me and said, “You can’t change her.” The reason: there’s only one agent for real change in anyone’s life, and that is Jesus Christ.

“Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost, but now I’m found; was blind, but now I see.” Powerfully describing how the grace of God changes us, Amazing Grace is probably the most famous hymn in history. It’s appeared on over 11,000 albums. Amazing Grace was written by John Newton. By his late teenage years Newton became eager to escape the constraints of his mother’s religion (she was a Puritan and died when John was seven), and rule his world. Along this destructive path, Newton embraced “freethinking principles,” and became “arrogant, insubordinate,” and “lived with moral abandon.” Describing himself, Newton wrote, “I sinned with a high hand,” later adding, “and I made it my study to tempt and seduce others.” In other words, his life “reeked of sin.”

Newton’s story as a repentant slave trader who became a powerful force in the abolition movement is well known. On the change that Christ made in his life, Newton declared, “I am not what I ought to be, I am not what I want to be, I am not what I hope to be in another world; but still I am not what I once used to be, and by the grace of God I am what I am.”

Newton’s declaration “I am not what I used to be,” represents well the metamorphosis, the “new birth” that all who accept Christ experience. As Jesus told the Pharisee Nicodemus, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” (John 3:3)

Just days ago, Johnny Manziel’s father, Paul Manziel, spoke out about his son’s destructive path. “He’s a druggie. It’s not a secret that he’s a druggie,” Paul Manziel said in a recent phone interview. Paul added, “I don’t know what to say other than my son is a druggie and he needs help. He just hasn’t [sought] it yet. Hopefully he doesn’t die before he comes to his senses. That’s about all you can say. I don't know what else to say.”

When discussing the intervention efforts the family has made thus far on Johnny’s behalf, Paul declared that “the system failed. I had him in rehab and he escaped and the doctors let him go, and that is a whole other story. So I mean I had him [in rehab] and the system failed. It didn’t work.

“He has more money than me, so he can outrun me. Like I said, there are two things that are going to happen: He’s either going to die, or he’s going to figure out that he needs help. It’s one of the two. But we’ve done everything that we can do. Life goes on. You can’t just chase somebody that's not willing to listen. The story is not going to change. It’s the same…We’re so far past what everybody thinks we are past. People are ignorant. It’s just a horrible story. That’s all there is to it.”

Paul added that he hoped Johnny “goes to jail”, because right now, “that would be the best place for him.” (I’ve heard those exact words spoken about a member of my own family.) Paul Manziel concluded, “I’m done. I’m done talking about it. I’m doing my job, and I’m going to move on. If I have to bury him, I’ll bury him. That’s the fact. So if not, if he calls me and needs help, I’ll go get him. Until then, he’s on his own. I’ve done everything I can do.”

How sad. I know well the brokenness and hopelessness of which Paul Manziel speaks. I know all too well what substance addiction can do to a family. My uncle Mack, my mother’s brother, literally drank himself to death, dying at the age of 40 of cirrhosis of the liver. Uncle Mack’s death is far from the only substance-related tragedy we’ve experienced.

My beloved father-in-law was hit and killed last year by a cocaine-addicted man with a rap sheet as long as my arm. Our family will suffer the consequences of that man’s addiction for the rest of our lives. Read my wife’s account of our journey here.

Nevertheless, our family has kept hope and has seen miracles (and still hoping for more) because of the power of Christ. I don’t mean to imply here that the Manziel family has not turned to Christ during this crisis; maybe they have. If not, I say, run! Run now to the only real hope any of us has. If the Manziels are already looking to Christ, then I say, stay strong, cling to your faith, endure, and pray. Pray that Johnny will have divine encounters that will point him to the truth. No matter how far someone has fallen, no matter how many financial resources they have, they can’t “outrun” God.

Copyright 2015, Trevor Grant Thomas
At the Intersection of Politics, Science, Faith, and Reason.
www.trevorgrantthomas.com
Trevor and his wife Michelle are the authors of: Debt Free Living in a Debt Filled World
tthomas@trevorgrantthomas.com