Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
June 20, 1963
NUMBER 8, PAGE 1,12-13a

Are We Losing Our Sons?

Wallace H. Little

Some time ago, an article in the Gospel Advocate called attention to the dangers facing young men, Christians, who are inducted into the various Armed Services of this country. The article was not talking about physical dangers, but spiritual ones. The author wrote only concerning those things he personally knew to be true. I commend this article to the reading of all God-fearing parents in the church today. Heb. 12: 29) It speaks of the temptations to sin which are the lusts of the flesh (1 John 2:18) that are placed before these young Christians just by virtue of their being in service. True it is as the writer brings out, there are existing regulations against such practices as using profanity, drinking by minors, fornication, gambling and such like. True it is again, as he also pointed out, these regulations are seldom if ever enforced. Today, enforcement is a virtual impossibility — it would be too great an "infringement on the rights of service men to lead their own personal lives." The Armed Services, by their very nature, are conducive to enticing people to sin. The prolonged isolation of military personnel with other men, often of low character, the more than considerable idle time a boy has on his hands when his military duty has been finished, the absence of encouragement these Christians were accustomed to when at home (Gal 6:2), and their almost total lack of preparation because of parental failure to teach them (Prov. 22:8,15; 23:13; Eph 6:4) will leave many boys without defense against the darts of the evil one.

As one who has spent 15 years in military service, I will testify that brother Jackson (who wrote the article) knows whereof he speaks. Further, when he discusses these sins, I am acutely aware of what he is talking about, and their dangers. At one time or another, prior to my baptism into the Lord (Gal. 3:27), I personally engaged in just about the whole catalogue of sins (yes, including taking the life of another human being, for I was in combat during World War II). When he speaks about the temptations facing young men in military service, I have but to look back on my own life and acknowledge him to be Correct.

This situation is bad enough when it involves only the alien sinner, but personal observation since my conversion convinces me that without help, not even the Christian, particularly the young one, stands very much of a chance of warding off Satan while he, the Christian, is in military service. Why? Because in most cases, he has failed to put on the whole armor of God (Eph 8:11-17; Mt. 41-11), and if there is any situation today where he stands in dire need of such protection, it is while in military service. Parents note this: repeated studies by various churches at overseas bases GI recently returned from 3 years in Japan) have demonstrated that only one Christian in ten ever attempts to worship God in spirit and truth (John 4:24) on so much as a single occasion during his entire overseas tour! Think of it! In order for one of your children to attend services once while overseas, you are going to have to send ten of them over there, if your family lives up (or is it down?) to the average. Actually, it is even worse than the figures above show, for the heaviest portion of those actually attending worship at overseas stations are older men and their families who have gone overseas with the military member. Even there, the largest portion of churches is made up of women and children. (Maybe we ought to reexamine Heb 10:25; 5:9; Lk. 6:46; in. 14:15; 2 Tim. 4:6-8 and a host of other scriptures.) If your son is unmarried, in service and overseas, there is only about one chance in twenty-five of his attending so much as a single period of worship of God! Does that scare you? It should! (Prov. 22:6) If similar checks were made on young Christians stationed at US bases, and those leaving home to go to colleges, I suspect the same pattern would hold true.

Brethren, it is time we wake up, before it is everlastingly too late. Our children are a precious gift of God, but we are treating them as if we have no responsibility in the care of this gift. By the time they leave home, these children will be pretty much established in their life's pattern, and if untrained and ungrounded, almost beyond recovery. And we, the parents, will die by inches — of broken hearts — in the sure knowledge that they are going to hell, and that it is our fault!

The real cause is the failure of parents to heed God's instructions concerning their own responsibilities toward their own children. These responsibilities start, not at age 18 years, but perhaps at 18 seconds, and include a lot more than providing merely the necessities of physical life. What kind of an example is a father to a child when, as a routine part of his daily life, he swears instead of prays (Acts 2:42); acts with ill-will and lack of love toward his wife rather than loving and cherishing her as God instructed (Eph. 5:25); spends $25.00 for a "big time" on Saturday night, and puts $0.25 in the church plate on Sunday morning (1 Cor. 16:1, 2) — that is, if he manages to get to the assembly at all; finds ways to lie and cheat on his income tax return and expense account (and brags about it) rather than uphold honesty and fair dealings with his fellowmen (Eph 4:28); lays away from the assembly for any and every sort of excuse rather than make a special effort to be there at every opportunity (Heb. 10:25; Acts 2:42,46); permits his children to engage in all sorts of worldly activities (such as mixed public bathing, dancing, petting, and even "social drinking" — yes, some say, "I'd rather my child learn to drink at home, under supervision, than elsewhere without it," fine supervision! appear in scanty attire, etc), rather than restrain them that they might live godly in Christ Jesus (Gal. 5:19-21; 2 Tim. 3:12); and finally, spends his time reading the comics and sports section of the daily newspaper rather than in a daily study of God's Holy Word (2 Tim. 2:15; Hos. 4:6)? Is it any wonder that our children are headed toward hell on a high road, with our consent, yea, sometimes even our urging"

What Can We Do? Here Are Several Suggestions:

Christians stationed at or near military bases should open their homes to these young men. (Read Gal. 6:2) Now I don't say these homes should be turned into free restaurants, but I do say that these boys get lonely, and the best antidote for loneliness is company of those who are like-minded. Further, if we don't provide the antidote, Satan will, and shortly, these Christians will be like-minded with him. Now I know that older Christians invite these younger ones to dinner occasionally, on the Lord's Day, and issue the standard "drop in on us any time" invitation. But I also know full well that the boy will probably not do it, both because he is unsure whether the invitation was one of politeness or actually genuine, and because he does not want to seem forward. Hence, in boredom, he is almost driven into the company of sinners. And to be accepted by this majority group (Matt. 7:13,14), he must do what they do — sin! These young Christians need encouragement and guidance, and we who are older must be the ones to give it to them. It will do us some good, too. (Acts 20:35) In this way, the periods of isolation with bad actors will be lessened and their evil influence counteracted; the idle time can be utilized in the services of God by studying His Word or perhaps by taking these young Christians with us when we do personal work. We ought to make a periodic check of the Base Chaplain's locator file, and connect everyone who has "church of Christ" listed as his religious preference. Then we ought to strive to keep them out of Satan's hands.

All this, however, is merely symptomatic treatment of the disease. We need to get to the cause of it, and effect a cure.

"Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap everlasting life." (Gal: 7, 8) My application here is simply this: if we want our children to go to hell, and be responsible for it ourselves, we are in a fair way to succeed. On the other hand, if we still have some concern for their souls (and for our own, also), rush right home, now, blow the dust off the Bible, call the family together and start studying. Perhaps it Is not yet too late. If God's people would recognize their responsibilities toward their own children (Eph. 6:4; Prov. 22:5) and fulfill them, these other problems resulting from poor personal parental examples would eliminate themselves due to the influence of God's Word on the lives of these parents.

Further, if preachers would preach more of the Word (John 1:1-3; 2 Tim. 4:2-4; Acts 20:27), perhaps more Christians would accept their own responsibilities in the matter of training their own children. This in turn would lessen their tendency to pawn off the job of teaching these children on the church. If elders would take heed to the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost made them overseers (Acts 20:28), and insure that the church stays in its business (Eph. 4:12), we might see a little less of the church vainly trying to fill the gap left by parents, with emphasis on social programs "to attract and hold our young people" in the church. My Bible teaches me that the gospel alone is what the church should be using to hold young people, middle-aged people, old people, and all people. (Note Rom. 1:16)

Let me summarize briefly: most young Christians, men, going into military service and overseas are lost to the Lord, themselves, and their families. Less than one in ten continues to attend worship with God's saints under any circumstances, and less than one in twenty-five if the young man is unmarried and insufficiently grounded in the faith. Instead, they go chasing after the pleasures of sin — for a season (Heb. 11:25) because they lack the whole armor of God. (Eph. 6:11-17) Why? Mostly because we, as parents, have failed in our God-given obligation to teach our children at home. So parents, if you want to die broken-hearted; if you want many years of mental torture while on this earth over the departure of your children from the faith once delivered (Jude 3); if you want to go to your grave knowing you are directly responsible for your children's lost condition, just continue as you have been — continue to fail to teach them God's saving Word (Jas. 4:17) But at least recognize that neither God, the church, elders nor the preacher are to blame; it is your fault, and you alone must answer to God for it.

— Box 27, William Air Force Base, Arizona