Feb 21, 2001
Despite a mounting body of research showing that high rates of divorce and out-of-wedlock births pose serious threats to the well-being of children, mainline Protestantism has had remarkably little to say in recent years about the nature, health and prospects of the family. We now know that, in all socioeconomic groups, children raised outside of intact two-parent families are significantly more likely than their peers to drop out of high school, end up in prison and experience serious psychological distress.
The parable of the Prodigal Son is often used to illustrate the gracious and steadfast nature of God’s love. Most of us can recognize and even identify with the characters—the younger son who strikes out on his own and makes costly mistakes, the responsible elder son who always does what is expected of him, and the long-suffering father, who shows love and constancy. But for some people the father figure in the story is unrecognizable.
I have always envied people with a spectacular sense of call. I once had a job that involved reading applications for admission to a Methodist seminary. One of the questions on the standard form was, “Why are you applying to this school of theology?” The answers were often fantastic, many of them involving car wrecks in which the applicant’s narrow escape resulted in a call to preach.