“The test of the morality of a society is what it does for its children”. These words of Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906-1945), a German academic and Christian minister, still ring true today. One of the reasons his words still live on is because Dietrich stood up for what he believed, and in doing so, paid the ultimate price.
Bonhoeffer’s promising academic and ecclesiastical career was dramatically altered with Nazi accession to power on January 30, 1933. He was a determined opponent of the regime from its first days. Two days after Hitler was installed as Chancellor, Bonhoeffer delivered a radio address attacking Hitler, in which he warned Germany against slipping into an idolatrous cult of the Führer (leader), who could very well turn out to be Verführer (mis-leader, or seducer).
He was cut off the air in the middle of a sentence. In April of the same year, he raised the first and virtually lone voice for church resistance to Hitler’s persecution of Jews when he declared that church must not simply “bandage the victims under the wheel, but jam the spoke in the wheel itself”.
He then spent the next ten years of his life standing up for what he believed in a very depraved and sick society. That same society, emboldened in the nation state of Germany, went on to kill 6 million Jews, many of them children. Not only Jews but gypsies, homosexuals and the mentally handicapped, all who did not conform to the political correctness of the ruling Nazi elite. Bonhoeffer’s brave stand against Hitler as an evil seducer so early in his reign, proved eerily prophetic.
Adolf Hitler, according to Bruce Harris, was the undisputed, all-time, world champion of killers. Directly responsible for the deaths of over 46 million Europeans plus the deaths of 13 million people from other parts of the world and the destruction of much of Europe.
Bonhoeffer was condemned to death on April 8, 1945, by SS judge Otto Thorbeck at a drumhead court-martial without witnesses, records of proceedings or a defence in Flossenbürg concentration camp. He was executed there by hanging at dawn on April 9, 1945, just three weeks before the Soviet capture of Berlin and a month before the capitulation of Nazi Germany. The execution was brutal. Bonhoeffer was stripped of his clothing and led naked into the execution yard, where he was hanged with thin wire for strangulation.
The camp doctor who witnessed the execution wrote: “I saw Pastor Bonhoeffer … kneeling on the floor praying fervently to God. I was most deeply moved by the way this lovable man prayed, so devout and so certain that God heard his prayer. At the place of execution, he again said a short prayer and then climbed the few steps to the gallows, brave and composed. His death ensued after a few seconds. In the almost fifty years that I worked as a doctor, I have hardly ever seen a man die so entirely submissive to the will of God.”
Well may you ask the question, “What has this got to do with me Warwick? I thought this was a parenting blog, not a history lecture.”
For starters, all good fathers should become students of history. How can we teach our children to do well, as the song says, if we don’t learn from history ourselves? “If we don’t stand for something we will fall for anything.” Dietrich stood for what he believed and many would argue he failed, but history has proved him right, even in his death.
Today more than ever this world needs men – men who will make a stand for the truth against evil no matter what the cost. Today the Hitler’s of this world are not as obvious as they were at the height of the Second World War. They inhabit many of the ‘isms’ of this world: materialism, individualism, narcissism, hedonism, hyper-sexualism, radical-homosexualism, Safe Schoolism, cultural Marxism, pantheism, relativism, pessimism and fatalism – false ideologies that work against children to destroy them and rob them of their dreams and their innocence.
False ideologies that rob children of their biological birthright to a mother and a father. False ideologies that promote marriage between two people of the same sex. False ideologies that place so called ‘adult rights’ to porn above our children’s rights to live lives ‘free of adult sexual exploitation’. No matter how you dress it up, a false ideology it is still a false ideology.
When Jesus Christ was questioned by Pilate in a mock trial He told him, “I came into the world to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of the truth listens to me.” Pilate, like Hitler, didn’t want to listen to the truth and so he killed the Prince of Peace. Washing his hands could not remove his guilt. Jesus stood for the truth and died as a result.
Many would argue that he failed, but again history proved him right. The grave could not hold him. The grave will never hold a man who stands for the truth.
In the end good will always triumph over evil but not without a fight, and not without a cost. Evil will always exact a price. In Hitler’s case, it was 59 million lives worldwide. As Edmund Burke said, “All that is needed for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.”
Today, more than ever, our world needs men who will do more than nothing, men who will make a stand for what is right and for our children. Men like Dietrich Bonhoeffer who lived and died for the next generation – men for whom the world is most grateful.
Man up! Make a stand.
Your children need you and so does the next generation.
PS: See part two of this article in the blog. Don’t forget to check out the Dads4Kids Annual Camp if it’s practical for you to come and you live not too far away. 15-16 September 2017.