World Congress of Families IX: Raising children often viewed as a “restriction” by young adults, panelists say

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Luca Giueseppe Volonté addresses a crowd at the World Congress of Families IX. The panel of three addressed challenges to traditional families that come with a self-centered culture.  (Bailey Fruit)

Raising children is increasingly viewed as a restriction of free time and a roadblock for successful careers in an increasingly self-centered culture that exists in much of the developed world, according to panelists at the recent World Congress of Families in Salt Lake City.

The “hassle factor” is one reason many adults decide to limit family size, or forgo children altogether, the panelists said.

“I salute the women who take care of kids,” said Pastor John K. Jenkins, Sr. of the First Baptist Church of Glenarden, Md.

During the final day of the event, which drew representatives from about 65 countries, a panel of three addressed the large audience about the problems facing today’s families around the world. Participants included the aforementioned Pastor Jenkins; Luca Giuseppe Volonté, CEO of the Novae Terrae Foundation in Italy; and Warren Cole Smith, vice president of mission advancement for the Colson Center for Christian Worldview and a leader at WORLD Magazine.

Jenkins expressed his concern that more parents are giving birth to kids without raising them. “Kids are looked at as a burden instead of a blessing,” Jenkins said. According to sociologists, the traditional family is a thing of the past, Jenkins explained. But in his opinion, children are like “arrows in the hand of a warrior. Happy is the man that has a quiver full,” Jenkins said.

“You are my family,” Volonté said as he began his address to the audience. He spoke of multiple challenged facing the traditional family. “The family is no longer considered the cornerstone correct within Christian tradition,” Volonté said. He pointed out the irony of trying to live in a “free from sex [gender] society” in a world that is obsessed with sex.

Marriage and family is the only institution where a promise of forever means a lasting commitment of a true forever. “Family is the first enemy to be destroyed because it is the first place the community exists,” Volonté said. The family is a place where intergenerational relationships are founded and where children learn relationship skills.

All three speakers addressed the need for family to be a learning space for growing children. Smith listed an array of problems that can challenge healthy families, including economic crisis, abortion and even Ebola.

According to Smith, more than 50 million lives have been lost to abortion, and those fetuses are not the only ones harmed. There are victims everywhere.

“The American government has $18 trillion in debt, which is about $150,000 per family,” Smith said. “But I read the last chapter of the book (Bible), and guess what? God wins.”

Smith emphasized the need to not just fight against an opposition, but to fight for something. “We can’t fight bad ideas with no ideas,” Smith said. “We must fight for what we stand for and know what we stand against.”

Smith issued a call to action, urging Christians to run towards the “plague” to aid and support those suffering. He said it doesn’t matter whether it’s a literal plague, or that of abortion, economic crisis or other challenges to the traditional family.

“Dear friends, many things are changing and not always in positive ways,” Volonté said. “But there is one thing that never changes. Our duty to promote and defend the well being of future generations and our commitment to respect the real meaning of you and us.”

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