Changing Views on Marriage and Family
In our circle of friends and family, we probably know couples who are married and have children. Others may be married but have no little ones. Of course, there have always been single adults who never found a spouse or maybe didnt want to be married. These are not only arrangements and situations approved of God but they have traditionally been endorsed by society.
Increasingly, deviations from these marital and family arrangements are found around usand may be found in our own families and circle of friends. In fact, for some decades now, especially since the sexual revolution of the 1960s, there has been a massive increase of alternative arrangements. Some of these have come through no fault of the person involved, while usually they are the result of the volition of the participants themselves. How is the Christian who is regulated by the Word of God to look on these deviations? Consider a few that come to mind.
1. Many have divorced and are living alone. We know that Jesus Christ warns against the putting away of ones spouse (Matthew 5:31-32; 19:3-12; Mark 10:2-12; Luke 16:18; cf. Romans 7:2-3; 1 Corinthians 7:10-11). Our Lord said, What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate
(Matthew 19:6). God arranged for one man to marry one womanfor life.
2. Many of these divorced couples choose to remarry. This compounds the problem, for not only are they divorced, but the remarriage generally results in an adulterous relationship. Jesus said, I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery (Matthew 19:9). Even a single person marrying someone who has been previously married and illegitimately divorced results in adultery: Everyone who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery, and he who marries one who is divorced from a husband commits adultery (Luke 16:18).
3. Many men and women are just living together without marriage. In other words, they have entered a permanent state of fornication or an ongoing illicit sexual relationship. Statistics indicate that a large number of young people experiment before marriage by living with one or more different persons. At one time in the not too distant past this would have not only been frowned on, it would have been a public scandal. Instead, most people barely raise an eyebrow when someone speaks of his or her partner.
4. Some couples are homosexual in orientation. This is an arrangement and relationship that would have been entirely unknown (though it must have existed occasionally in the fringes of society) before the infamous 1960s. In fact, homosexuality or sodomy would seldom be mentioned in polite society. Many or perhaps all states had laws that made such a relationship illegal. Yet there are presently millions of couples openly living in sodomy in our society!
5. Some family arrangements are what have been called blended families. This might be two persons, one or both of whom was previously married with children. When they remarry (or just live together), they have members from two families living together in the same house. Besides the possibility of incest that such a relationship may bring, there is the potential for a great deal of strife, competition, envy, and jealousy. (There would be a few of these blended families living in harmony with God; for instance, one or two of the spouses may be a widow or widower.)
6. Some homosexual couples have families. Not only are there homosexual couples living together, but sometimes one of the members brings one or more children from a previous marriage, thus we have homosexual families in our society.
There are probably even more varieties of living arrangements and relationships in our day, but these are the basic ones. God has already spoken His will regarding these relationships. Ideally, a man and woman (neither of whom has had a relationship with anyone else) will marry and have children as a blessing from God (Genesis 2:18, 24; Ephesians 5:22-6:4; Matthew 19:3-12). There are some deviations from this normal experience that would fall under Gods blessing. For example, it would be possible for an innocent spouse to divorce from an adulterous husband or wife, without his or her real desire to break the marriage, and that person could go through life in a pleasing relationship with God. Or another relationship would be for a person to have a spouse who dies, and that person may then remarry (marry a Christian) with Gods blessing (Romans 7:2-3; 1 Corinthians 7:39). Another couple may be childless and this can be another arrangement acceptable to God, especially if they are unable to have children.
The local newspaper (Survey Illustrates Changing View of American Family, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Nov. 18, 2010) reported on a recent study by the Pew Research Center on the views of Americans on the family. This survey revealed some startling and dismaying findings.
First, about 1 in 3 American children is living with a parent who is divorced, separated or never-married. The article says that about 29 percent of children under 18 now live with a parent or parents who are unwed or no longer married, a fivefold increase from 1960. This shows that there are multiplied millions of children who are exposed to family arrangements that are either less-than-ideal or even immoral. What will this do to influence these children for their own future? Surely they will be more likely to accept divorce or other immoral relationships as being permissible.
Second, within the above group, a sizeable chunk6 percenthave parents who are live-in couples who opted to raise kinds together without getting married. This perpetuates an immoral lifestyle that will, no doubt, affect millions of children as they grow up.
Third, the article also stated, About 39 percent of Americans said marriage was becoming obsolete. In fact, marriages hit an all-time low of 52 percent for adults 18 and over. In 1978, just 28 percent believed that marriage was becoming obsolete. Obsolete? God said that marriage was to be the normal arrangement, with celibate singleness also an option for a few, those with the special gift from God (1 Corinthians 7).
Fourth, although most agree that a man and women with or without children constitutes a family, there was a shocking further finding: 4 out of 5 surveyed also pointed to an unmarried, opposite-sex couple with children or a single parent. This means that 80% of those surveyed would say that a man and woman who are unmarried and have children would be a family! This shows how far this country has drifted from its religious moorings! How could this be a family when the father and mother are not even husband and wife!
Fifth, even more shocking than the above, three of 5 people said a same sex couple with children was a family. This seems to say that an amazing 60% of people would say that two men living together or two women living together with children was a family! How far many Americans have departed from any semblance of morality and decency! They are calling white black and black white!
Sixth, the survey discovered that the younger adults had far more liberal attitudes toward morality and family than did older Americans. The changing views of family are being driven largely by young adults ages 18 to 29, who are more likely than older generations to have an unmarried or divorced parent or have friends who do. Young adults also tend to have more liberal attitudes about spousal roles and living together before marriage, the survey found. This is another instance where younger people, touched by the humanistic, relativistic, evolutionary, and immoral influences of today (seen in education, entertainment, and other means), tend to have more open and immoral views than older adults. We should remember that these young people who are entering adulthood and beginning their marriages and careers, will influence those after them to the same immoral perspectives and lifestyle. The future of this country will be far different from the past.
Seventh, homosexual couples living together jumped 13 percent this year to 7.5 million. Literally, this would be 15 million people (7.5 million couples of two persons each), but perhaps they mean half that number. Sadly, the perversion of homosexuality is no longer under cover, but it has become increasingly accepted in society. Paul writes, God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural, and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error (Romans 1:26-27).
What is the Christian to do in light of these recent findings? As we always have, we are called to be light in the world of darkness (Matthew 5:14-16). Paul said,
You will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life (Philippians 2:15-16).
Now is the time for every follower of Christ the Holy One, to live a holy life in the midst of a sinful and perverse world and point people to a better waythe way of the Lord and eternal life!