I am continually amazed at the attempts of political candidates across the country to co-opt issues in which they have no experience. Years ago, the Christian Right encouraged numerous politicians to have a “come to Jesus” experience and advocate platforms they neither agreed with nor could validate. If one could say something enough times and get his/her picture made with the right people, then… voila! you’re automatically an expert.
I have thought about this in relation to my lifetime of experience in socially conservative issues. Though these matters will always form the basis for strength in our republic, they do not currently rise to the top of the national discussion, except during Supreme Court nominee hearings before the U.S. Senate. The nation’s attention is clearly focused on overly big government, runaway spending, excessive debt, unsustainable entitlements, an open border, energy dependence, an unfair tax system, and two wars against enemies that wear no discernible uniform.
To make the record clear, let me describe my walk compared to my talk.
I am pro-life. My parents adopted an infant girl when I was a teenager in Georgia and I was responsible for much of her summer care when I was home. As a father of three, my wife and I were foster parents for infants waiting to be adopted. We brought these children into our home and were present when most were placed in the arms of adoptive parents. It’s easy to say “I support life” and do nothing to back it up with action. Rather than sit in judgment of a young girl pregnant out of wedlock, we kept her in our home for a time so she could prepare for the challenges ahead.
We support traditional marriage, but not just with our talk. For many years, we worked closely with our church Counseling Ministry to encourage couples in trouble to work to keep marriages together. We mentored numerous couples and counseled engaged couples to provide a firmer foundation for a solid marriage. Not only did we encourage good parenting, we taught many young couples about the God-inspired principles of parenting.
We support traditional values anchored in the Judeo-Christian worldview. Accordingly, we spent time instructing students in how these values shaped a nation and guided it through centuries of conflict and triumph, pointing out that a return to these values would be “change worth looking toward.” We encouraged our own children through 13 years of homeschooling to embrace a love of learning that has sustained them to this very day.
Not only did we recognize the importance of family, but we passed on an opportunity to run for Congress in 1994 because these same children needed our full-time attention rather than having us distracted for an entire year of their lives with the prospect of having dad gone most of the time. They needed me at home every night. It was the right decision then, and remains the right decision today.
Not only did we make it a habit to attend church, but we immersed ourselves in ministry to the homeless as the leaders the first year for Room In The Inn, a very successful ministry to the homeless. We took our young children with us to serve so they could get a sense of the needy in the world. My wife and I taught adult studies for 30 years to men and women alike and took vacation time to lead our summer youth camps for several years. We participated and led numerous small groups during these thirty years for our church family and served in leadership.
Not only did we conclude that education was important, we sent all three children to private Universities. I personally re-engaged an on-hold Master’s program and graduated in December 1997. I began work as an adjunct at Lipscomb University the following January.
These experiences have perfectly prepared me for doing the hard work in order to serve other people, even when they don’t know you are doing it or perhaps have not asked you to do it. We did not do these things to gain an endorsement by any organization, or to receive an accolade of any kind whatsoever. We chose to participate in these ways for just one reason, to help others. Friends and strangers have been kind to help and mentor us. It has been our goal to give back to others what has so graciously been given to us.