We have a loss of civility in our day. Part of that loss, I argue, stems from disrespect of authority figures. We express that disrespect by ignoring titles. In our congregation, we make a concerted effort–under whatever administration– to follow Paul’s exhortation to pray for “kings and rulers” (I Tim. 2:2) such as the “President” of the United States and our “Governor.” Regardless of political dogma, we are to pray for those who rule over us. I suspect were we under Nero, we would still pray for him and address him as “Emperor” Nero. One reason there is a fatigue with titles and overall respect for authority figures is that we choose to honor whomever we see fit to honor. We have become selective in our respect and our disregard for titles removes more grass from the civility field leaving us a bit less civilized.
I’ve read a host of articles on the loss of civility in our culture in these last few days. The profound casualness in virtually every place leads to a disregard of titles and inevitably a loss of respect for authority roles in our culture. I want to just address the child/parent relationship at this stage.
As I walked to the green isle to grab the lettuce, I overheard a child (no more than 10 years of age) who was vehemently disagreeing with his mom whom he addressed affectionately as “Nancy.” She looked at me and then recognized my role in society (I was wearing a collar), and respectfully greeted me as “Pastor.” She quickly acknowledged what her child failed to acknowledge: that when roles are trivialized or not honored, relationships do not function as they should.
Let’s start with the basics: Children need to refer to their parents as “mom”, “dad,” or some variation. To remove titles means a parent loses his position of authority, and children now receive virtually equal authority in domestic decisions. When parents refuse to inculcate distinctions in the home with their proper titles, we lose the necessary structure and environment that make the home run.