How Feminism Harms Families

How Feminism Harms Families

Angela Deane-Drummond/Evening Standard/Getty Images

From the June 2006 Trumpet Print Edition

Feminism is under fire. Feminist philosophy has reigned—the queen unchallenged—since the end of the early 1980s. But in recent years, biologists, educators, law enforcement officials and thinking women have begun objecting to and rejecting some long-held feminist doctrines. The throne’s foundation has cracks! Many of the radical feminist’s sacred truths are now recognized for what they are: myths and lies.

Although there exists some strong opposition against the feminist fortress, we should not expect the feminist movement to topple any time soon. But is there truth in the criticism? Has the feminist movement, so proudly praised for servicing women, done a disservice to the family?

Women’s Suffrage to NOW

Feminists claim the women’s suffrage movement as the beginning of modern feminism. The suffrage movement originated in the United States during the 19th century. Some famous early suffragists were Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucy Stone. Originally, women’s suffrage sought to give women equal political rights with men—the right to vote in elections and referendums; the right to hold political office. We must remember that these political rights had only been given to the majority of the male population as a result of the democratic revolutions of the 18th and 19th centuries. The women’s suffrage movement claimed its victory shortly after World War i with the ratification of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution on Aug. 18, 1920, guaranteeing women the right to vote in state and federal elections.

In the 1960s, the women’s liberation movement was organized and became active. Betty Friedan is credited as one of the founders of modern feminism. Her 1963 book The Feminine Mystique challenged the traditional idea that women could find fulfillment only as wives and mothers. She taught that the idealization of the role of wife and mother was the product of a well-organized conspiracy by males to prevent women from competing with men.

In 1966, Friedan founded the National Organization for Women (now) to fight for equal rights for women, and served as its president until 1970. At that time, the women’s movement sought to liberate women from the tedious humdrum of babies, bottles, diapers, cleaning and cooking. Women’s movement leaders sought freedom from their “prison” at home. The key to freedom was equal opportunity with men, which meant equal jobs and equal pay.

Then, the women’s movement aligned itself with the civil rights movement. A clear message was being sent: Blacks had to fight white racism; enslaved women had to fight male sexism. Women everywhere had to be made aware of their oppression and oppressors. The women’s movement borrowed heavily from the attention-getting strategies of the civil rights movement. It skillfully employed rallies, demonstrations and marches to trumpet the women’s cause. Besides politicians and media, the struggle targeted young, impressionable college-aged women. What began as a tiny rumble soon roared into major discontent. Many angry, frustrated women joined the cause. The energy released by the women’s liberation movement was enormous. Old traditions came tumbling down.

Now we have four decades of feminist history to look at. What do we see?

More than any other social movement in our time, feminism has changed the warp and weave of our society. Feminist philosophy has made major inroads into politics, the work place, the military, education, medical research and the building block of society—the family. Very few have questioned the changes. Many who balk at some feminist notions heartily embrace others.

Wisdom tells us not all change is good. Not all change is growth. Some bitter fruits are now being harvested from feminism in all areas it has infiltrated, in the personal lives of many women, and especially in the family. Who will take the blame?

For decades, feminists have condemned men for everything. Supposedly, our patriarchal society is the root cause of everything wrong. Of course, some men should be condemned for their mistreatment of women. But what has feminism brought us? Is life really better for women? Are families better off? Is society stronger?

Attack on Motherhood

The fact that so many women identified with the liberation movement shows that there were real problems within the American home. The movement greatly publicized the dissatisfaction and desperation of housewives. Many American wives were indeed unhappy. But what was the cause of all the unhappiness?

Leaders of the women’s liberation movement theorized that the real cause of women’s sorrow was the role of wife and mother. Many asked, shouldn’t we women find fulfillment in a career like a man? Supposedly, those who wanted to hold a career had been made to feel guilty about it by oppressive males. Many women began to feel their real potential was being denied them. The proposed solution was that women seek real fulfillment outside of the home—without guilt.

Women fought hard for the right to choose a career outside the home. Yet labor statistics at that time show that a large number of women had already entered the work force. Could the cause of unhappiness have been wrongly identified? Was a wrong solution given? Caught up in the movement, few seemed to ask these all-important questions in the ’60s and ’70s.

Today, many women have come to understand that feminism really did not offer a choice in the ’60s. In fact, it demanded that women could only find fulfillment through a career outside the home. Though it has taken several decades for it to be recognized, in reality, feminism has led a vicious attack on motherhood—one of two major underpinnings of strong families.

The ’60s woman complained that she was made to feel guilty for not desiring to stay home. Isn’t it ironic today that a woman who desires to stay home to be a wife and mother is made to feel guilty? In an interview on abc’s Good Morning America, prominent feminist Linda Hirshman said, “I am saying an educated, competent adult’s place is in the office” (February 23). Feminist Rebecca Traister admits that, somewhere along the line, the feminist movement declared stay-at-home mothers uneducated and incompetent: “[W]hen you lose your paycheck and lose your title, somehow you lose respect. And … that should not be the case” (Salon.com, Dec. 6, 2005).

Young women are made to feel that education should be directed toward career advancement only and not toward teaching and training their own young children. Stable families with educated, stay-at-home mothers would solve a large number of our current social troubles. We must learn to defend and praise the women who stay at home. Motherhood is noble and fulfilling, real work!

Mothers as Non-Persons

Today, a stay-at-home mother is viewed as a kind of second-class woman. In fact, feminists do not even view stay-at-home mothers as persons. This derogatory view began with Betty Friedan. “[V]acuuming the living room floor—with or without makeup—is not work that takes enough thought or energy to challenge any woman’s full capacity. Down through the ages man has known that he was set apart from other animals by his mind’s power to have an idea, a vision, and shape the future to it. … [W]hen he discovers and creates and shapes a future different from his past, he is a man, a human being” (The Feminine Mystique). The basic idea of feminism was that women should have a choice to go to the workplace and become less animal-like. What does that make a stay-at-home mother? Since being a wife and mother was supposedly glorified in the 1950s, the women’s movement fought to demote that role to the lowest level possible. Many impressionable young women wholeheartedly believed this 1960s philosophy.

Unfortunately, this feminist teaching has planted deep roots in the consciousness of American women. The feminist tree has blossomed. Today, it is considered a great shame to be a wife and mother only. In fact, being a wife and mother is synonymous with the meaningless life of a lower, uneducated class of people. What are today’s fruits of this philosophy?

Families in Crisis

The fight for women’s rights has actually turned into a fight against the family. Even the mothers of modern feminism admit that radical feminists have worked hard to repudiate the family.

Feminist Stephanie Coontz, history professor at the Evergreen State College in Olympia, Wa., wrote in the Washington Post, “We cannot afford to construct our social policies, our advice to our own children and even our own emotional expectations around the illusion that all commitments, sexual activities and caregiving will take place in a traditional marriage” (May 1). You don’t have to read between the lines to understand that such thinking is destroying the traditional family!

It is within the Anglo-American world that feminism has been embraced the most passionately. These countries also have the highest divorce rates in the world, and are producing record numbers of fatherless children—which in turn creates many other social problems. Robert Sheaffer writes, “One can try to argue that the U.S. family died of natural causes at precisely the same time feminists began shooting at it, but after examining the depth and ferocity of the feminist attack against women’s roles as wives and mothers, such an argument fails to convince” (Feminism, the Noble Lie). Let’s own up to it: Feminism has caused some tragic results for the family.

If we are going to fix our social problems, we must recognize that feminism has led our Western families into serious crises. Here is how it happened. Although many young women answered the call to pursue a career, they could not deny their natural desire for a husband and children. Many then opted to have a husband, children and a career. Realizing that certain feminine desires could not be denied, a new movement slogan was quickly pushed into public view—“having it all.” This slogan lives on. But it ignores a hard reality for many working mothers: Having it all also means handling it all. Working career mothers were forced into a high-stress rat race. Having it all was supposed to be fulfilling, but it was not. Now, almost four decades later, women find they are not any closer to finding true, satisfying fulfillment. For some, “having it all” has meant losing it all.

The truth is, working mothers suffer. The children of working mothers always suffer. And should we forget—the husband suffers too.

Severe fatigue plagues many working mothers. Balancing career, marriage and child care is an impossible task. Few can actually do it all. To do it all, corners have to be cut. Unfortunately, because of feminist peer pressure, marriage and family are sacrificed before career. Many two-career marriages have crumbled. Children have been left at home alone. Can we begin to see the harm that working motherhood has done to families?

Absentee Mothers

Our society of working mothers is a disaster. Experts agree that the industrial revolution produced families with absentee fathers. Now feminism has given us families with absentee mothers. What does this mean? Essentially, our children are growing up alone.

It is estimated that as many as 60 percent of American children do not have full-time parental supervision. Think about it. If children are blessed enough to be in a two-parent home, generally they still have both parents working outside the home. The children are left home alone. If the family is run by a single parent, that parent (whether male or female) is working. Again, the children are home alone. This means our youth are growing up with an ever-dwindling amount of parental love, nurturing and supervision. The average latchkey child (a child returning home after school with no parent to greet him) is alone three hours per day. Some of these children are as young as 8; most are in their teens. When we think about parents arriving home after a difficult day at the office, we can logically surmise that there is not much quality time left for the child.

All children and teens fundamentally need acceptance, praise, teaching and discipline. Children need to be taught right from wrong. Children need to learn how to be successful. This requires experience and activities. These needs are best met by parents. If these needs are not met at home, children have no other choice than to look elsewhere. This makes our children frustrated, angry and vulnerable to many dangers.

Unfortunately, many children and teens are falling prey to unscrupulous adults and other youth who lead them in the wrong direction. For example, law enforcement officials recognize that gang membership is up. The sale of illegal drugs to elementary and middle school children is also escalating.

One proverb states, “The rod and reproof give wisdom: but a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame” (Proverbs 29:15). Many adults are shocked by headlines about school shootings and other youth crime, but is anybody doing anything about it? Experts are looking for causes and solutions. It is a proven fact that children and youth living under the loving attention of parents generally do not get involved with crime. Most experts now agree that to fix our social problems, the family has to be restored. But how?

The solution to restoring families can only be found by understanding God’s intended purpose for men and women.

God’s Purpose for Women

Herbert Armstrong taught for many years that if you start from a wrong hypothesis, then the solution will be in error and the problem will grow worse. Isn’t that exactly what we are seeing today? When it was discovered that so many American women were unhappy, the women’s liberation movement assumed that the role of wife and mother was the cause of all the unhappiness; the solution to the problem was to have women reject the role of wife and mother. Did this solution produce the desired result? Today, many women admit they have not found true fulfillment in careers, and our social problems have increased. As Mr. Armstrong forewarned, the problem has grown worse.

What is the cause of women’s unhappiness? We must look to the Bible for our answer. The cause for women’s unhappiness and frustration predates even the women’s suffrage movement of the 1900s.

For millennia, women (and men) have not understood the God-intended purpose for women. Elizabeth Cady Stanton stated this about the Bible: “I know of no other books that so fully teach the subjection and degradation of women” (Eighty Years and More, 1898). I am sure many of today’s feminists would agree. But this comment reveals a total lack of understanding of a woman’s true purpose in life—of what true womanhood is and how to achieve it.

In truth, the Bible’s purpose for women (and men), when fully understood, reveals a potential so incredible it is nearly unbelievable. Request your free copy of The Incredible Human Potential, by Herbert Armstrong, for an eye-opening explanation of God’s purpose for all mankind.

The Bible shows that God created women to be wives and mothers. “And the Lord God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him” (Genesis 2:18). This one verse reveals that man by himself was not complete. God designed a woman to be his perfect counterpart.

A woman was not created to be a man’s slave, but his co-regent (Genesis 1:28). Neither could achieve success in life without the other. To be successful and happy in life, both would have to fulfill their respective created roles. Simply put, the man was to be a loving leader and provider; the woman was to help and inspire the man. She was also given the exalted responsibility to bear and train children. Men and women were created to work together to build a happy society that fosters growth and success. All this training on Earth was intended as a preparation for a future, more permanent afterlife. God intended that men and women share equally the opportunity to obtain eternal life (1 Peter 3:7). When men and women work together to achieve their designed purpose, they will experience satisfying fulfillment.

So how do we restore families? What about putting fathers back in charge of families and having mothers stay at home? To many, this solution may seem oversimplified, yet it is the only solution that will work. As long as men and women forsake the position in life God intended for them, unhappiness, frustration and catastrophe will be the result.

Our first parents, Adam and Eve, rejected what God taught them. They rejected their intended roles and they produced a child delinquent. Remember, Cain killed Abel (Genesis 4). Sounds thoroughly modern, doesn’t it?

Will society fix our family problems? The answer is no. But if you seriously consider this article, you can change your family situation.

It’s All About Me

The problems in our society and families go much deeper than feminism. What is the real problem? Feminism is a symptom of a deeper human sickness. After 40 years of history, it is clear now that feminism’s agenda has always been to seize power and change society to suit its own purpose. Feminists have been selfish and self-centered. Little thought has been given to the impact on others. Many now recognize that feminists have grown excessively selfish. The movement is now best defined, not as we, but me!

The current trends in feminism are a sign of our times. It is typical of a human problem that has existed since Adam and Eve: Men, women and children have all become extremely selfish.

The Apostle Paul prophesied this sickness in our society nearly 2,000 years ago. He wrote to Timothy, “This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men [and women and children] shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away” (2 Timothy 3:1-5). If we are truly honest with ourselves, we can easily recognize that this scripture perfectly describes our time.

We live in dangerous times. Why? Remember, there is a cause for every effect. As Mr. Armstrong said so many times, all human beings are living the way of get! Everyone selfishly seeks only what he perceives as good for himself. What are the results? Isaiah gives us the answer. Referring to our time, he wrote, “And the people shall be oppressed, every one by another, and every one by his neighbour: the child shall behave himself proudly against the ancient, and the base against the honourable” (Isaiah 3:5). When human beings live only for self, everyone eventually suffers. The Bible shows us that the worst time of human suffering is just ahead of us (Matthew 24:15-21). Mankind—which includes men, women and children—is bringing this suffering upon itself.

But there is hope. Although the Bible shows us there are some very serious times just ahead, afterward there will be the best of times. Jesus Christ will return. He will restore the family. Women’s high calling as wife and mother will be reestablished. Fathers will be taught how to lovingly guide their families. Peace, success and abundance will break out worldwide.

EU to Ask, What Is Europe?

From the May 2006 Trumpet Print Edition

Identifying Europe on a map might not be too difficult for anyone with a high school education. But try to identify where Europe ends, what its borders are, and you need an international summit.

Looming over a two-day summit of European Union leaders at the end of March in Brussels, Belgium, was the question of how big the EU can be allowed to get and who can join.

With the questions still looming, foreign ministers have scheduled an informal summit for May to assess “where Europe’s future borders lie,” according to the Netherlands’ Ben Bot (Associated Press, March 24). Bot told reporters, “One of the many questions Europeans ask is, ‘Are there no borders to the EU that should be fixed?’”

A German politician, claiming to speak for public sentiment across the Continent, stated just before last week’s conference that governments “must make clear where the borders of Europe are.” The politician is Bavarian Premier Edmund Stoiber, leader of the sister party to Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats, whose career analysts pronounced dead when he rejected a seat in Merkel’s cabinet.

His comments on a radio program just before the summit sparked discussion on one of the most fundamental issues facing the EU: What is Europe?

“At talks before the opening of the EU summit … Stoiber called on EU leaders and foreign ministers to heed public opinion, which he said was against expansion to Turkey. The leading German conservative said future enlargement ‘had to be accepted by the citizens’” (China Daily, March 24).

For a so-called political has-been, Stoiber is getting quite a lot of press—perhaps because he is speaking for public opinion.

He said that the EU, before accepting any more nations, should not just consider whether a nation is living up to the standards set by the EU but also whether the EU “has the capacity” in the first place to accept the nation.

Stoiber singled out Turkey for which, he has always believed (as does Germany’s chancellor), the EU does not have the “absorption capacity” to accept as a member. That “capacity” has to do largely with religious differences. Does the EU have the “capacity” to accept a Muslim nation—even a moderate one with a relatively secular government—as part of Europe?

Until now, politicians have tried to politely push aside the notion of Turkish membership in the EU using politically correct rationale: Turkey’s population is too big, it has structural problems, and so on. The “cultural chasm was deliberately downplayed so the EU could avoid criticism of making decisions on racial grounds,” writes Greek reporter Costas Iordanidis (Kathimerini, March 23). “But political correctness has its limits. Politicians must take people’s concerns into account.”

It appears Stoiber has no qualms about shelving political correctness when it comes to sensitive cultural issues like EU enlargement and immigration. And what is becoming increasingly apparent is, his views on enlargement are resonating with EU leaders.

The European Parliament is determined to define the bloc’s “absorption capacity” by the end of the year. According to a March 17 resolution, members of the European Parliament say that “defining the nature” of the EU “is fundamental to understanding the concept of absorption capacity” (EurActiv.com, March 22).

Europe has quite an issue on its hands—the one issue that strikes at the heart of what it is. Watch these discussions over the coming months, prompted by Turkish desire to join the Union.

One thing is for sure: Turkey will never be part of a united Europe. On that matter, Stoiber is right. Bible prophecy indicates that Europe will be united by a religious force, as a resurrection of the Holy Roman Empire. It will be a Roman Catholic union in which Turkey will have no place.

Israel’s Friendly New Negotiation Partners

From the May 2006 Trumpet Print Edition

The West naturally believes in the best of motives—at least, when it comes to terrorists. Terrorists really are reasonable people; the thinking goes. They are just trying to get their voice heard in the only way they are able. Given the chance—Western media seem to believe—terrorists will lay down their arms and become reasonable negotiating partners.

This has been the response, though somewhat tentative, in much of the media and diplomatic world to the terrorist group Hamas’s takeover of Palestinian politics in January. Just give them a chance; perhaps they will renounce terrorism and embrace politics as a means to their end. (Never mind that that “end” is the destruction of an entire people.)

The facts show, however, that Hamas’s political success has not moderated it, but emboldened it.

Hamas still refuses to acknowledge Israel’s right to exist, denounce the use of terrorism or give up its arms. And to confirm that its goal—the destruction of Israel—has not changed, Hamas has filled its cabinet top to bottom with actual, literal terrorists.

“[D]efying international pressure and confounding hopes that it would moderate its extremist stance,” the victorious Islamist group “nominated a cabinet whose senior members have all been jailed, deported and escaped Israeli assassination [for their roles in terrorist strikes against Israelis]” (Times, March 21).

The new cabinet was installed March 29 after being handily approved by the Palestinian Parliament the previous day. Of the 24 cabinet members, 19 represent Hamas—and it is not much of a stretch to presume the remaining five have considerable Hamas sympathies, having agreed to join the cabinet.

The new prime minister, Ismail Haniyeh, was the face of Hamas during its election campaign. Haniyeh has been imprisoned twice, the target of at least one assassination attempt by Israel, and expelled from the Palestinian territories for his role in terrorist attacks. “Haniyeh has always favored violence over diplomacy, and said the Hamas wins in the municipal elections in 2005 were proof that the majority of Palestinians support terrorism against Israel” (Jewish Virtual Library). And this is the man who is meant to give a more acceptable image to Hamas.

Three other senior positions within the cabinet have been given to even more virulent hardliners. Mahmoud Zahar, Hamas’s leader in Gaza, is a firebrand hardliner known for his hostility to Israel and the United States. It was he who declared last year that the armed conflict that resulted in Israel’s “defeat” in Gaza will continue until Jews leave not just the West Bank, but all of Israel. This man is the Palestinians’ foreign minister.

The interior minister’s post has gone to Said Siyam, jailed four times by Israelis during the first Palestinian intifada—this individual is now in charge of Palestinian security services.

The new finance minister is Omar Abdel-Razeq, also jailed by Israelis—released (conveniently) the most recent time less than two weeks before being nominated for this post. Abdel-Razeq plans to commence a tour of Arab nations to secure alternative funding to fill the gap should Western donors cut off funding.

And these are the “politicians” that still give some people hope in democracy. Does this sound like a Hamas wanting to make peace with Israel?

Israel’s Final Chapter

The Israelis elected a prime minister who vows to bring the Arab-Jew impasse to an end by 2010. Will his radical plan work?
From the May 2006 Trumpet Print Edition

Israel always turns tough in a crisis.

Born in controversy, raised on war, steeled by terrorism, reviled by the world, the Jewish state has suffered more than its share of trials. It aches for peace, it honors its diplomats, but it turns to its warriors when war is required.

Until now.

“The Koran is our constitution, Muhammad is our prophet, jihad is our path and dying as martyrs for the sake of Allah is our biggest wish!” This chilling pronouncement tripped off the lips of a Palestinian Authority legislator after the PA’s parliament rubber-stamped the government’s new cabinet on March 28. It shouldn’t come as a shock: In January, Palestinians awarded a strong majority of parliamentary seats to the terrorist group Hamas. Hamas was founded in 1987 for the express purpose of destroying Israel, and since joining politics has staunchly, publicly clung to that goal. It denies Israel’s right to be. It considers all previously signed agreements with Israel void. The new PA prime minister, Ismail Haniyeh, plans (as a first step) to drive Israel back to 1967 borders and establish an Arab state with Jerusalem as its capital. His cabinet brims with hardline terrorists who have been jailed or targeted for assassination by Israel.

For Israel, this is a time of crisis. War is on the cards. But rather than appealing to its warriors, in its latest election Israel embraced its defeatists.

A Shocking Choice

On March 28—the same day the PA confirmed its terrorist credentials by approving its hardline cabinet—Israeli voters crowned Ehud Olmert their new prime minister.

Olmert is a professional politician, not a fighter. Last June, to the Israel Policy Forum in New York, he said, “We are tired of fighting, we are tired of being courageous,we are tired of winning, we are tired of defeating our enemies” (emphasis mine throughout). It’s impossible to comprehend how Olmert could be tired of winning and defeating enemies, when 33 years have passed since Israel won anything.

Perhaps Olmert confuses the litany of losses, retreats, terrorist violence and global derision his nation has suffered during that time with winning. But by taking that stance precisely as Hamas takes over the PA, he guarantees that his people will soon learn how much quicker they grow tired of being conquered.

Olmert campaigned on a pledge to extract tens of thousands of Jews from West Bank settlements. In what amounted to his victory speech, he spoke directly to the Palestinian leaders: “We are ready to compromise, to give up parts of the beloved land of Israel … and evacuate, under great pain, Jews living there, in order to create the conditions that will enable you to fulfill your dream and live alongside us” (bbc News, March 29). Israelis have just elected a prime minister who wants to enable Hamas to fulfill its dreams.

This man fantasizes about Hamasterroristsdreaming of living alongside Jews—and calls that fantasy a foreign policy. By comparison, Neville Chamberlain looks like a lion.

Ehud Olmert symbolizes the abject collapse of Israel’s national will. And he is now the most powerful man in Israel. This is the man Israelis elected to lead them in their most perilous hour.

Chapters

Since the Jewish State of Israel began as a nation, its story has had two very different chapters.

Chapter One: War. The defining characteristic of the period became clear the day Israel was born—May 14, 1948—when a collection of neighboring Arab states attacked en masse, and the Jews fought back for the survival of their day-old nation. Though they succeeded in repulsing the assault, for a generation the Jews never enjoyed peace for long: Major wars occurred every seven years or so. Through this period, the Jewish state had to grow up quickly into a tough, battle-hardened power.

Chapter Two: Concessions. The first pages of this chapter began in 1977, when Israel hosted Egyptian President Anwar Sadat in Jerusalem to begin discussing the possibility of a land-for-peace deal between their two states. These talks led to the formal treaty of 1979 in which Israel handed Egypt a lovely little gift called the Sinai Peninsula in exchange for a promise of peace. This deal set the stage for concessions to the Palestinian Liberation Organization that began in Oslo in 1993.

Now, Israel looks back on this second chapter with sadness and regret. The negotiations that were intended to end violence—to help carve out the cancer of terrorism—only spread its malignance. The willingness to compromise that Israel considered courage (Olmert’s term), the terrorists reckoned as cowardice—interpreting each concession as a victory that vindicated the effectiveness of bloodshed. Fruits show the peace process was a farce: After protracted diplomatic efforts, Israel has nothing close to the peaceful, neighboring Palestinian state it hoped for. Instead, it has 80 percent of Palestinian Arabs denying the Jewish state’s right to exist, governed by a terrorist regime whose official policy is to pitch the Jews into the sea. Its people weep dry tears over the shattered promise of a negotiated peace.

Today, the world is looking at the start of a third—very different—chapter in Israel’s history. Under Olmert’s helmsmanship, Israel’s foreign policy is about to radically change.

Unilateralism

What drove the Jews to elect Ehud Olmert? Why did conservatives fare so poorly? Essentially, the vote reveals a battle-fatigued, deeply ambivalent, directionless people. Tired of fighting, tired of being courageous—yet acceding the unreliability of negotiation—they grasped at a thin promise of something different: a third way.

Consider what led to this decision.

Israel’s Chapter Two reached its nadir with the prime-ministership of Labor leader Ehud Barak, when Barak offered a breathtakingly deep basket of concessions to Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat in 2000. Arafat refused the offer, and Barak’s government fell apart.

That’s when Ariel Sharon stepped in. Sharon embodied Chapter One—a warrior-general who had fought in every one of Israel’s wars and, despite being dogged by controversy, remained a popular figure with the Israeli public. In 2001 elections, he trounced the floundering Barak to become prime minister on a platform of toughness against terrorism. Once in office, he got straight to work: Retaliating against Palestinian terrorist attacks, Sharon’s government killed over 3,500 Palestinians, including several high-profile terrorist leaders.

But international pressure on Sharon to reignite the peace process grew. Sharon joined various discussions about the issue, and even granted certain negotiated concessions such as releasing Arab prisoners from Israeli jails.

In retrospect, however, it appears the old warrior was only trying to keep outsiders off his back: He never believed peace with the Arabs could be bought. He realized negotiations would be fruitless. At some point, Ariel Sharon decided that, rather than fighting or bargaining, the problem demanded a wholly different approach: just up and solving it.

That is when Israel’s security barrier started going up, and the Gaza Strip evacuation was blueprinted.

As Sharon pushed these unilateralist strategies, friends and allies began to peel away from him—yet he survived several no-confidence motions and repeatedly cobbled together the parliamentary support he needed in order to carry on. Sharon became increasingly convinced of the necessity of a unilateralist strategy—one that would define Israeli borders without Palestinian cooperation. He sought first to pull Israelis out of areas already heavily populated by Arabs—therefore hard to defend; then to fortify the portions of Israel that remained; then to finish the security wall and call whatever lay on the other side a Palestinian “state.”

Members of his own party weren’t so convinced. So finally, Sharon scorched the political landscape to the ground by leaving Likud and founding a new party, Kadima.

In Hebrew it means “forward.” In reality in means reckless.

Sharon’s indomitability and sheer gravitational pull drew into the new party prominent politicians from across the spectrum—as well as a substantial swath of voters desperate for a solution and willing to embrace the unknown.

This was a truly remarkable example of people’s need for leadership, of whatever stripe, as long as it’s strong. Because the droves flocking to Kadima had to ignore the complete failureof its central, revolutionary policy when it was demonstrated to them—in flesh-and-blood reality, in one of the most spectacular disasters in Israeli history—only three months before.

Retreat

Sharon pitched the idea of pulling 9,000 Jews out of their settlements in the Gaza Strip and northern West Bank as a strong strategic decision intended to bolster Israel’s security and secure Jewish demographic superiority.

Palestinians saw it differently: as a towering victory for terrorism.

A joint Israeli-Palestinian public opinion poll showed 71 percent of Palestinians calling Israel’s Gaza withdrawal a triumph of their armed struggle. To the Arabs, 400 attacks in Gaza over the past five years had paid off.

Were they wrong? Does anyone believe Israel would have given up conquered territory to its enemy if 1,200 of its people hadn’t been killed in the previous four years?

In Hamas’s words, on a banner in downtown Gaza City at one of the many rallies and victory parades surrounding the withdrawal, “Four years of sacrifice beat 10 years of negotiations.”

Truly, Hamas won big in Gaza. It garnered most of the credit, in Palestinian minds, for securing Israel’s retreat. Gaza was Hamas’s greatest campaign coup—perhaps the biggest single factor propelling it to superstardom in Palestinian elections just four months later.

“Now, after the victory in the Gaza Strip, we will transfer the struggle to the West Bank and later to Jerusalem,” Hamas’s leader in the Gaza Strip, Mahmoud Zahar, said at the time. “Neither the liberation of the Gaza Strip, nor the liberation of the West Bank or even Jerusalem will suffice us. Hamas will pursue the armed struggle until the liberation of all our lands. We don’t recognize the State of Israel or its right to hold on to one inch of Palestine. Palestine is an Islamic land belonging to all the Muslims” (Jerusalem Post, Aug. 17, 2005).

As much as the Gaza pullout enflamed extremist sentiment among Palestinians, it also came with strategic benefits. With all Israeli military installations dismantled and troops gone from the Gaza Strip, terrorists took the opportunity to flood the area from neighboring Egypt—and to bring their weapons along, including hundreds of anti-aircraft missiles, anti-tank rockets and bomb components. They immediately began using the Strip as a launching ground for rocket attacks, which have continued at a steady pace ever since. (Israel’s military says this isn’t a problem since 90-plus percent of them don’t hit Jewish targets. Evidently it considers the remaining percentage “acceptable risk” for the benefit of enabling Hamas to fulfill its dream to live alongside Jews.)

Though it apparently took the Gaza retreat to prove this, it isn’t exactly rocket science: When Israel retreats, extremists advance.

The whole fiasco put the lie to another statement Olmert made at that New York speech last June (the one where he declared his weariness with “winning”): that withdrawing from Gaza “will bring more security, greater safety, much more prosperity, and a lot of joy for all the people that live in the Middle East.” The facts proved precisely the opposite. Withdrawing brought the Jews not a shred more security, nor safety. Instead, it tore the heart out of the Jews it displaced, who had dedicated their lives to defending their homeland. It did appear to bring the tens of thousands of Arabs who danced in the streets shouting “Today Gaza, tomorrow Jerusalem” some joy—but that might not have been exactly what Olmert had in mind.

It was with this gut-wrenching history behind them that the Israelis flocked to Kadima—the party committed to going “forward” by unilaterally dismantling whatever ruins remain of Israel’s will to survive.

Backward

The first point of Kadima’s national agenda, released last November, is: “The Israeli nation has a national and historic right to the whole of Israel. However, in order to maintain a Jewish majority, part of the land of Israel must be given up to maintain a Jewish and democratic state.” From its inception, this party reflected a spirit of compromise and defeatism—and Israelis embraced it.

Then Sharon suffered a devastating stroke, plunging him into a coma he has yet to emerge from, and Olmert became acting prime minister. Still, Kadima’s shift in leader from former warrior to defeatist politician didn’t substantially shrink the party ranks.

Soon after came Hamas’s shocking landslide win in Palestinian elections, which suddenly produced a terrorist-controlled Palestinian Authority. Even still, there was no Jewish response—no swing right—no outcry for strong leadership with firm policies to ensure Israel’s security.

Olmert doggedly stuck to his West Bank eviction plan—preferably, he said, with Hamas’s support, but, if necessary, without it. “We will try to achieve this [setting Israel’s final borders] in an agreement with the Palestinians,” he said. (It’s hard to see how borders of a country can be agreed upon with a negotiating partner that does not believe that country should even exist.) He even put forward a deadline for completing his plan: 2010. And still, his countrymen clung to him.

In fact, on March 28, voters handed Israel’sconservatives their worst defeat ever. Likud—Israel’s main conservative party, led by Benjamin Netanyahu—came in fourth with just 12 seats (in 2003 elections, it won 38). Kadima won 29 seats; center-left Labor pulled in 19. These two parties are expected to ally with a couple of other like-minded parties to push Olmert’s plan “forward.” Stratfor analyst Peter Zeihan said, “Israeli voters appear to have elected the most authoritative government the country has seen since the 1973 Yom Kippur war” (March 28). By “authoritative,” Zeihan doesn’t mean a strong, against-all-odds, Chapter One-style government. He simply means that its easy parliamentary majority will enable it to authoritatively, decisively proceed with a defeatist program.

Some commentators interpreted the election result as Israelis simply turning their back on a peace process they recognize as a failure, demanding the government focus on “more pressing” domestic issues like fighting poverty and improving education. If that is so, then Israelis’ read on the peace process is correct—however, by turning to a government whose plan will embolden terrorists and endanger Jews even more, they shouldn’t expect great improvements on the domestic front.

Haaretz gave this assessment: “The people have spoken: The land will be divided. … It’s the end of the controversial legitimacy of the separation maneuver. From now on, the question is not if, but when, to where, and how. The Greater Land of Israel is over and done with” (March 30).

Fantasies

In the fantasy world of Olmert and those who voted for him, a smaller Israel is a more defensible Israel. Shrinking borders equal stronger borders.

In Olmert’s world, reducing Israeli military oversight in Palestinian areas makes for happier Arabs who are less likely to attack.

In Olmert’s world, “Hamas is not a strategic threat.” These were his words to the Knesset’s Defense and Foreign Affairs Committee in February. In Olmert’s world, the key to pressuring the Palestinians—he told the committee—is through diplomacy rather than military action (abc, February 22).

However, in the real world—within which Israel has managed to survive for the past six decades—all those utopian notions have repeatedly been proven dead wrong.

No previous Israeli leader, no matter how entangled in negotiation he became, ever embraced such erroneous thinking so wholeheartedly. Every one of them proceeded “forward” with a measure of caution, making concessions contingent upon at least a pretense of peace efforts by the Arabs.

Not so Olmert.

Israel’s new prime minister essentially promises to give Hamas what it wants—or at least a good part of it: the West Bank—regardless of how Hamas behaves. At times he speaks of this move as being defiant against terrorism. Of course, it is precisely the reverse. In the final analysis, any territory Israel withdraws from simply becomes, in effect, a Hamas state.

Certainly, as Kadima finds its legs as a political party, Olmert needs allies. He may have his biggest ally in Hamas. That group is more eager for Israeli withdrawals than any Jews could be. After all, its main goal right now, like Olmert’s, is to get Israel out of the West Bank. It is even possible Hamas could regulate itself—soften its public rhetoric, put its suicide bombers on a leash—in order to encourage Israel to expend its money and military manpower on destroying and deserting Jewish settlements. After all, the Gaza withdrawal cost Israel an estimated $2 billion, requiring 42,000 policemen and soldiers to relocate 8,000 Jews; the West Bank move would be seven times bigger. Columnist Hillel Halkin estimates that, in addition to requiring Israel to mobilize all its military reserves and commit one sixth of its national budget, it would be far more confrontational than the Gaza pullout was, since it is the biblical heartland of Judea and Samaria, and its settlers are even more ideologically hardcore than the Gaza Jews. Witnessing the inevitable brouhaha of a West Bank withdrawal would give Hamas cause for victory parades for years to come.

The colossal difference, however, as Stratfor put it, is that Olmert would view the West Bank pullout as the end of Israel’s concessions, whereas Hamas would view it as the beginning—allowing it to “carry the battle to Israel proper” (March 10).

Israel is tired of fighting.

Hamas hasn’t even started.

The unfortunate truth is that, if your enemy is determined to fight you to the death, he denies your peaceful options. Barring intervention from God, your choices are drastically limited: fight to win, or be destroyed.

Israel is making no faithful appeal for protection from God. And it has declared its unwillingness to fight. How could this path lead to anything but the death of Israel?

Broken

Ugly truth: Terrorism works against Jews. Olmert’s victory proves it.

Like the weary man they have placed at the helm of their state, a majority of Israelis are tired of fighting, tired of being courageous. They are tired of intifada and jihad, tired of Arabs shouting their hatred to the heavens, tired of Arabs blowing themselves up on buses, in cafes and discos. As Stratfor wrote, “Militant attacks might inflame the Israeli right, but they leave most of the rest of the Israeli political spectrum weary of contact with the Palestinians” (ibid.).

Yes, Israelis have a “national and historicrightto the whole of Israel,” they say. But what good is that? It only brings trouble. They just want the struggle to end. They want to withdraw to safety. Build a big wall and duck behind it. Shut up any Jews who provoke Arabs. Whatever it takes.

Whatever it takes, that is, except a fight.

Because, you see, they tried that for years and, well, it just didn’t work.

No—the only way “forward,” a slight majority of Israeli voters say, is retreat.

Even clear-headed Western minds should recognize surrender when we see it. But to minds inflamed with the intoxicating Jew-hatred of Islamist extremism—minds convinced that Allah will ensure Islam’s ultimate victory over the poisonous scourge of Zionism—Israel’s commitment to retreat is more than mere surrender. It is providential justice. It is a step—yes, only a step, but a beautiful step—toward the realization of the Muslim kingdom of God. A kingdom in which the Jews are gone forever.

That is what Hamas really dreams about.

If the Israelis ever had faith in God—which many of them view as thin stuff on which to base a foreign policy—then that has been replaced by faith in Hamas. By any measure, that is even thinner stuff. Every ounce of that kind of faith, and each shred of concession Israel makes to Hamas, will shortly prove to have only expedited the fall of the Jewish state.

You don’t have to believe God has blessed and protected the Jewish state in the past—an idea most of its citizens once espoused—to recognize how much stronger a nation committed to defending itself based on that belief is than one unwilling to defend itself at all. But whether you believe it or not, there is a spiritual reality underpinning the transformation of Israel from the lion of Judah into the bunker state it is becoming.

That reality is that the Jews are suffering a curse from God for their lack of faith and their disobedience to His laws. “And I will break the pride of your power” God warned (Leviticus 26:19). Though Israel is by far the region’s strongest state in power, it has also become the weakest state in will. Israeli pride in its power has been supernaturally broken.

Olmert proposes to bring the Arab-Jew impasse to a conclusion by 2010. But God is not in his solutions, and they will end in ruin. Israel’s leaders do not know the way to peace (Isaiah 59:8). God only wants them to acknowledge their failure, repent of their stubbornness and humbly turn to Him for protection!

The Wound

Sharon’s unilateralism; Kadima’s rise; Olmert’s campaign strategy; Israel’s election result; pledges of a West Bank withdrawal—these all reflect Israel’s broken will, manifested in naivety and fantasy. However, underpinning all these elements is one basic realization grounded in reality: that the Jews’ chances of negotiating a two-state solution with the Arabs are next to nil.

That realization—though Olmert’s current rhetoric indicates that he hasn’t completely come to terms with it yet—marks Israel’s transition from Chapter Two into the next, and final, chapter of its modern history.

As we wrote last month, Israel’s realization of the peace process being a fraud and a trap was specifically prophesied in your Bible. The prophecy is recorded in Hosea 5:13: “When … Judah [the biblical name for today’s Jewish State of Israel] saw his wound, then went Ephraim to the Assyrian ….”

Longtime Trumpet readers know that editor in chief Gerald Flurry has pointed to Judah’s “wound” being the peace process ever since the Oslo talks in 1993.

Chapter Two: Concessions did worse than fail to bring Israel peace—it sapped Israel’s strength, depleted Israel’s land, and exhausted Israel’s will to fight and survive. Hosea’s prophecy reveals a moment when Israel sees its deadly wound—it recognizes the utter fruitlessness of that terribly misnamed “peace” process.

That realization, according to the prophecy, sparks a radical change in Israeli policy.

It tilts the Jewish state into Chapter Three: Desperation.

Final Chapter

Olmert’s plans already reflect a certain amount of Israeli desperation. But these are just the opening pages of this final chapter—what is prophesied to become an increasingly wilder period of Jewish decision making.

Hosea 5:13 shows that Israel, recognizing its dismal state, will cry out for help from “the Assyrian.” That is referring to the presently unifying power of Europe, with Germany at its head.

Yes—seeing its wound, Israel, rather than turning to God, will seek salvation from the very nation that notoriously sought to snuff out Jews in World War ii.

Considering this prophetic eventuality, we can expect to see Germany increasingly making overtures to Israel, presenting itself as a trustworthy ally of the Jews. Signs of this development are already appearing. After a Hamas delegation visited Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin in March, for example, German Chancellor Angela Merkel scolded Putin over the phone, reminding him of Germany’s demand that Hamas renounce violence and recognize Israel. About the same time, Germany’s defense minister, after joining Israel’s defense minister at a Holocaust memorial service in Berlin, said his nation would support Israel in dealing with Hamas—that, in fact, Germany was “completely on the side of Israel” on the issue (Expatica, March 8). Such gestures are bound to increase, drawing Israel into a trusting relationship with its former foe.

Then, when the unilateralism fails and the security situation becomes truly desperate, Israel will turn to Germany. Several prophecies show that, of all its dangers and threats, this move will prove to be Israel’s undoing. What will appear at first to be a sincere European effort to establish security in the Holy City will end up being a grisly repetition of the Crusades! Our free booklet Jerusalem in Prophecy explains this in depth.

Bible prophecy shows that, ultimately, Israel’s worst enemy is not a Hamas-led Palestinian people—but Germany! The failure of the peace process, and the catastrophe of unilateralism, will lead Israel right into the jaws of that enemy.

It is a trap God has set for a sinful nation!

This is Israel’s most perilous hour. Its enemies wax strong while it grows weak. Now, the Israeli electorate has thrown its support behind a policy of recklessness and desperation unprecedented in its nation’s short history.

Judging by the speed of events, Olmert’s goal of bringing the situation to an end by 2010 may well come to pass. But that end will look very different from the one in his dreams.

The Coming Radicalization of Egypt

The Coming Radicalization of Egypt

Pedro Ugarte/AFP/Getty Images

Terrorist attacks in the Sinai are placing pressure on the ruling Mubarak regime. How much longer will it be before Egypt turns Islamist?

Last week, five terrorist attacks took place in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula. On April 24, three explosions shook the tourist resort town of Dahab, killing more than 30 people and injuring 160. April 26, two suicide bombers attacked a multinational peacekeeping base close to the border with Israel. These follow-up attacks were seen as an attempt to prevent security forces from targeting terrorist infrastructure in the Sinai and suggest that future attacks are likely. “These latest attacks in Sinai underscore that a sophisticated jihadist infrastructure is in place on the peninsula, despite claims by Cairo that this is the work of Bedouins” (Stratfor, April 26). The same day, gunfire was reportedly exchanged between militants and Egyptian police in the eastern part of Egypt.

Through attempting to downplay the terrorist attacks, the Egyptian government, headed (for the past quarter-century) by autocratic President Hosni Mubarak, clearly feels threatened by these attempts at destabilization. And it has good reason to be. The Egyptian ruling regime is, after all, the target. In the terrorists’ eyes, the Mubarak government is on the wrong side.

Egypt is one of the more Western-friendly Muslim nations. The pragmatic Mubarak has had relatively pleasant relations with the United States and Israel while suppressing Islamist elements—both political and militant—within the country. Recently, however, a number of factors have worked against him: Islamist forces throughout the Middle East have gained traction; grassroots support of Islamists within Egypt has grown; international pressure to democratize is increasing; Mubarak’s own health has weakened. It is simply becoming harder and harder for Mubarak to suppress the Islamist elements in his nation. So much so that in parliamentary elections last December, the Muslim Brotherhood, though officially banned, became Egypt’s largest and most influential opposition party, winning 88 seats. Though considered a moderate Islamist movement—by virtue of the fact that it is willing to engage in the democratic process (by which definition the terrorist group Hamas is also “moderate”)—the Muslim Brotherhood is an organization of staunch Islamic conservatives with a strong desire to make Islamic law the foundation of Egyptian government. In this respect, its desires coincide with those of the terrorists who have targeted tourists “in hopes of destabilizing President Hosni Mubarak’s regime” (ibid.).

So the last thing Mubarak’s government needs is further militant activity—which is likely what it will get. “Given that Dahab was Egypt’s third attack in 18 months, whichever group is responsible probably still has functioning cells out there, meaning the Egyptians have failed to disrupt the group’s operations despite mass arrests following the first two attacks. Furthermore, over this time period, the Egyptians might have thwarted other attacks, or militants aborted attack plans for other reasons. In other words, the actual level of militant activity in Egypt could be even higher” (ibid., April 25; emphasis ours). Evidently, there is a sizeable pool of Islamist sympathizers for militants to draw from.

There is a prophecy in the Bible concerning Egypt that has caused the Trumpet to watch that country for the past decade.

“He [a superpower from the north] shall stretch forth his hand also upon the countries: and the land of Egypt shall not escape (Daniel 11:42).

This verse in Daniel is in the midst of a passage talking about a power from the north responding in blitzkrieg-like fashion to provocation by a power to its south. The Trumpet understands that this southern power is an Islamic bloc led by Iran. Daniel 11:42 therefore implies that Egypt will radicalize and ally with Iran. Our booklet The King of the South provides evidence for these assertions.

“This prophecy,” Gerald Flurry wrote, “indicates that there would be a far-reaching change in Egyptian politics!”

This is what the Trumpet is watching for. We have previously brought attention to the reality that the current political situation in Egypt is unsustainable. The only way Mubarak is maintaining his autocratic rule is through suppression of his opposition. At some point—and likely with the help of instability resulting from terrorist activity—he will no longer be in a position to maintain his hold on the country’s leadership. Moreover, clearly Egypt is not immune from the democratic wave bringing Islamists to power across the Middle East.

So what this means for the U.S. is that it could soon lose one of its few remaining allies in the Middle East.

What’s more, the State of Israel largely relies on Egypt’s goodwill to keep tabs on the Egyptian/Gaza border, particularly now Israeli troops have departed the Gaza Strip. If the Egyptian government were to fall to Islamists and join forces with Iran, both America’s and Israel’s place in the Middle East would become all the more untenable. Just last week, a vehicle filled with explosives entering Israel from Egypt was seized, while a car bomb exploded near another Egypt-Israel border crossing. Imagine the challenge Israel would face if the present Egyptian government fell. It appears it is only a matter of time till this will occur.

Given the pressure being applied by terrorists attempting to destabilize the Mubarak regime, along with the growing internal political pressure and outside pressure to democratize, how much longer will it be before Egypt turns Islamist? If a vacuum is created by the departure of Mubarak from the scene—or even a weakened Mubarak—the opening will be there for Islamists to take over. Watch for it.

Overpraised Children

The fallacy in feeding our youth’s self-esteem
From the May 2006 Trumpet Print Edition

“I am even more amazing than I thought.” “Today I will remind myself that I am a marvel.” These syrupy “thoughts for the day,” found in the book Today I Am Lovable: 365 Positive Activities for Kids, represent a myth that infects modern child rearing and education. This false idea, intended to help our children, actually damages them.

What is it? That praise is not just the best, but in fact the only, motivator for children.

This idea saturates children’s programs and interactive toys and games. When a child does something right, rather than a simple “That’s right!” they say, “Wow—you’re really smart!”

American schools in particular emphasize self-esteem as the chief virtue, divorced from achievement or even effort. Thus, children are routinely sheltered from the sting of failure—and therefore trapped in a sunny fantasy world in which bad behavior and poor performance have no negative consequences.

The kernel of truth in this myth is that children grow up and perform best in a positive environment—that an enduring climate of criticism can be withering. Of course we want our children to be confident, well-adjusted and happy. But overpraise is not the way to get them there.

In a book called The Feel-Good Curriculum: The Dumbing Down of America’s Kids in the Name of Self-Esteem, Maureen Stout pinpoints several destructive myths that have taken root in our educational system—including: high expectations damage self-esteem; evaluation is punitive, stressful and damaging to self-esteem; discipline is bad for self-esteem; effort is more important than achievement; it is the teacher’s, not the student’s, responsibility to ensure learning.

Let’s face facts: High self-esteem is wildly overrated. Repeated studies have proven that bloated self-worth doesn’t improve a child’s academic performance, strengthen his interpersonal relationships, help him avoid self-destructive behavior or translate into adult success. In fact, it often hinders a person in all these areas.

Is this any surprise? A child raised on the notion that he is a marvel—just as he is—has no motivation to improve.

Stout makes a strong case that these ideas, which infect our public schools from kindergarten through college, lead directly to narcissism (preoccupation with self), detachment from one’s community, rejection of absolute truth, and cynicism. She also shows a correlation with the dumbing down of curricula, grade inflation, loss of motivation (among teachers as well as students), an unmerited sense of entitlement and the ridiculing of critical thinking skills.

Do we really want our children thinking, “I am even more amazing than I thought”? As one educator put it, who in the world wants to hang out with someone who thinks like that? Studies have shown that self-esteem can actually become self-delusion—a conviction that you are more popular, more capable, more loved, than is really the case. Such self-centered attitudes only alienate other people. At the same time—almost paradoxically—the overpraised child can be addicted to approval from others.

Children who are taught self-worth with no link to personal achievement generally face crushing shocks when reality finally comes knocking, challenging their artificially high opinions of themselves. As we approach adulthood, praise dries up; life’s trials get tougher. The overpraised child, having long been shielded from small failures, finds sudden, big failures overwhelming.

When we look at this issue spiritually, we really see its sinister side. The originator of the self-esteem movement is Satan, whose heart was lifted up because of his beauty, who was obsessed with his own brightness (Ezekiel 28:17). This spirit being, the prince of the power of the air (Ephesians 2:2), pumps our carnal human nature with his egomaniacal attitudes. (Our free booklet What Is Human Nature? explains this truth.) In other words, our children already get enough training in loving themselves above all others without any prodding from misguided educators and overeager parents.

God, eminently aware of our vain proclivities, filled His Bible with warnings against flattery and insincere praise like these: “… a flattering mouth worketh ruin”—“A man that flattereth his neighbour spreadeth a net for his feet” (Proverbs 26:28; 29:5). In Psalm 49, God spells out “the fate of those who have foolish confidence” (verse 13, Revised Standard Version), and it isn’t pretty.

That’s not to say that praising our children is wrong, of course. We should think on what is praiseworthy and commendable (e.g. Philippians 4:8). But empty, indiscriminate praise means nothing. Children should receive sincere, specific praise when appropriate. When they scrawl out a crayon picture of clouds, “That’s gorgeous!” is less meaningful—and less truthful—than something along the lines of, “I like how you’re using different colors,” or, “Wow—you’re learning how to draw on paper what you see outside.”

Such conversations also lend themselves more to your giving gentle guidance on how to improve the next time. Handled correctly, constructive criticism won’t make our children flinch. We want them to accept it as a boon to personal growth and a crucial part of life. Loving correction, graciously received, is one of life’s greatest gifts. That is a lesson even our children can begin to understand.

Rather than trying to inject our children with self-worth, we need to help them see reality—the way God helps His children. And reality is this: You are a child. As you strive, you grow. You have much yet to learn. But I love you, and always will—even when you fail—as long as you never give up.

Consider: It is only when we recognize our own inadequacies that we can see the need to seek God’s help to live the right way—the way that will bring happiness. As Jesus Christ told us, “Without me ye can do nothing”—clearly the opposite of self-worth. In the end, our children will need to recognize, deep in their heart, that, like all human beings, they can do nothing without God.