Astorgos: Absence Of Filial Affection… :: By John Hamilton

A Sign of Perilous Times, Last Days

“This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, Without natural affection [astorgos, sometimes translated astergos, meaning without natural affection for parents and family], trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, high-minded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts, Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth” (2 Tim 3:1-7).

There is a drama playing out within many Christian families around the globe just now that is a sign of the end-times as Israel in the land or the overhang of nuclear annihilation, but on a personal level.

And that is (a) the younger generation lacking normal, natural feeling of fealty and love for their parents, and consequently (b) many of these going through the motions of faith without convictions or fruits or walking away from the faith entirely.

We’ve encountered some case studies in recent days:

> A widely-heard Christian podcaster who prays by name for his listeners now includes his own prayer for a wayward son.

> The saga of conflict comes to light of the recently-deceased TV preacher Charles Stanley and his son, Andy. In a church dispute, Andy took sides against his father and with those who thought Stanley Sr. should resign as pastor.

> A Bible study leader telling her Zoom constituents her children “aren’t walking with the Lord.”

> The same leader learned of her own mother’s death two weeks after the fact, though they lived in the same town. Her sister informed her. She was not aware of the irony, and continued teaching others.

> An elderly Christian lady relates at a church lunch that her daughters upbraided her for calling a waiter “sir” because she thoughtlessly “presumed his gender identity.” (!) Raised in a Bible church, the young women, now aspiring Hollywood actresses, no longer subscribe to Bible values but instead reserve their passion for social causes like LGBTQIA+ and abortion rights.

> A Christian daughter who attends church and small group weekly but calls her parents once or twice a year, and is functionally estranged from them. She does not apprehend the irony, and bridles when her parents raise the subject.

> Another Christian daughter plans a vacation with friends in a country historically plagued with violence, murder, kidnapping and drugs and still labeled as “do not travel” by the U/S. State Department.  Her father fears for her safety, urges her to relent; she seems to acquiesce, but goes anyway and does not tell him.  Her siblings conspire to keep the information from him.

>A Christian son is routinely contentious and disrespectful to parents. He puts his mother, 74, to work rehabbing apartments alongside him, as much as 14 hours per day, with no pay, no gifts, no end-of-week thank you and farewell meal.  Instead, he flies off to spend the weekend with his girlfriend.

Perhaps you have your own situation that is different yet somehow related to the theme of filial disloyalty. These things are so personal that few volunteer to air their hurts, but occasionally these leak out to a few friends. When you add them up, it appears the situation is rampant behind the scenes, and growing.

What has made it worse: this behavior was encouraged, institutionalized, licensed, branded, and promoted in a “Christian” book, Boundaries, by seeker church icon Henry Cloud. He was a favorite guest speaker of Bill Hybels, the now-disappeared and disgraced founder of the megachurch movement leader Willow Creek Church, Barrington, IL.

The first anecdote in Boundaries tells the tale of a Christian mother who desires her daughter to come and have Thanksgiving with her. The daughter prefers to hang with friends. Guess which side the author came down on?

(Fortunately, a few Christian voices, like author Rosaria Champagne Butterfield, recognized the text for what it was: unchristian balderdash in a Christian wrapper. In her words, it “reeks of selfish idolatry.”)

It was God himself who said honoring one’s parents comes with a built-in blessing: “Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee,” is the first commandment with promise. So it’s up to Him to fulfill, and He does and He will.

The verse is repeated in Ephesians 6:

“Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. Honour thy father and mother; (which is the first commandment with promise;) That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth. And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord” (vv 1-3).

Is there really a connection between one’s state of well-being and their actual honoring (or not) of their parents? That’s what the Word says, but most gloss over those words mindlessly, and few make the connection. Nevertheless, the critical or forensic or discerning mind will see a disrespectful attitude toward elders correlated with a pattern of sickness, loss of job, business, wealth, relationship, or other such setbacks — which we have learned in connection with the above anecdotes, in every case, without exception, sad to say.

What to do about it?

First, relax, breathe. As astorgos is a sign of the end, one can take a bit of comfort, perhaps, that the dearth of filial fealty eventually ends, and soon. It is not forever.

Second, some accept responsibility. Some Millennials and Gen Z’ers have a batch of character deficiencies brought on by Boomer Helicopter parents. In a word, many are spoiled. All of us of a certain age are guilty. And now the parents are victims of their malfeasance. Still, perhaps, in a few cases, it’s not too late to right the ship. Also, consider: is the friction due to the fact that you provoke your children? The Bible admonishes against that. It is always a good thing to examine oneself and pose the question, ‘Where am I to blame?’ Perhaps something as simple as an apology would work a miracle.

A third thing is to stop making an idol of one’s children and/or grandchildren. Put God first, then marriage, then children, goes the pattern; everyone agrees though not everyone lives. It is God in whom we live and move and have our being, not our children or grandchildren. Jesus said he came to bring a sword, setting one family member against another – a strong and paradoxical statement, but there it is. He also said if we love him less than mother or father or brother or sister (or implied a child), or even our own life, we are not worthy of Him. Strong words.

Fourth: there is prayer, intercession. Let go of the hurtful situation, and turn it over to God. Trust him to bring a just result. As per Phil. 4.6: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”

Anxiety and worry are everywhere, especially in the end times. Most would agree that these times have been vastly more difficult than we might have imagined three or five or 10 years ago, with Covid alone, but also considering Russia/Ukraine, China/Taiwan, the World Economic Forum, digital currencies, lockdowns, bank failures, transgenderism, BLM/Antifa riots, and all the rest. But, good news: Rather than allowing our worries and anxieties to consume us, we are invited to bring them to God in prayer.

Many trust therapists or anxiety medications; why not trust the Creator and Sustainer of the Universe, our Father, our Abba? He it is that can make good on the hurt from disloyal or contentious or rebellious or estranged children. Not just talk therapy; he can actually work a miracle in the heart and mind of the supplicant.

Furthermore, Phil. 4.6 encourages us to bring all our requests to God in every situation. This means that there is nothing too big or too small for God to handle. We may think a family matter too small for the Great God of the Universe, or flip side: too big, unsolvable; but neither is true. God is more than able.

Fifth, when you are praying, ask for a spirit of forgiveness. Recall the mote and the beam. Lately, when I consider offenses against me, I recall when I did the same thing to others, which is sobering, to say the least.

Sixth, be really, really grateful; we have a terrific future. Phil. 4.6 directs us to approach God with a heart of thanksgiving because Paul knew something about the future. By being grateful for all that God has already done for us, we can cultivate a sense of gratitude and trust that God will continue to provide for us in the future. This is the Rx for anxiety and worry. God has a track record. We can surely lean on that.

For the seventh and last, we go to a phrase in German, Ich Habe Genug. I have enough. We really do have enough. J.S. Bach wrote a cantata on those words. We have Jesus, the promise of his coming, and a glorious eternity in service to and fellowship with the One who knew us before we were even born, and then gave everything we need for eternity to us. Joy unbounded. Every tear wiped, by God Himself! Acceptance, love, validation. Gathered to the fathers, and the Father, reunited with lost ones. Estrangement now, in many cases, will transform into strong bonds for eternity.

We have Jesus Christ as surety; we have enough.

More than.


John Hamilton writes for these pages from time to time. He is the author of False Flags, State Secrets, Government Deceptions: A Short History of the Modern Era and THE COVID VACCINE: And the silencing of our doctors and scientists.