I recently read an article in the Minneapolis Star Tribune (January 25, 2014) that addressed the question of ‘our biggest menace.’ Let me quote from this article by Dr Robert Maranto from the University of Arkansas.
A specter is haunting America – gradually, almost imperceptibly undermining our enviroment in ways that imperil our children’s futures.
From Japan to Sweden, other nations understand this danger, and have done far better against it. On this, America is last place in the developed world.
Scientist have warned us about the threat for nearly half a century. By the most modest scholarly estimate, a 2008 study by economist Benjamin Scafidi, this menace costs our nation more than $306 million each day, costs borne disproportionately by the most vulnerable Americans.
This existential danger, even scarer than climate change, is family change.
The breakdown of the American two-parent family over the past half-century has been more rapid and unprecedented than that of Greenland’s ice sheet, with even worse consequences.’
So what is Societies Biggest Menace. It is the breakdown of the traditional family unit – the basic building block of society – A father, mother and children.
REASONS FOR OUR BIGGEST MENACE
There are many reasons for this, but let us look at a few of them –
DIVORCE – Following on from the introduction of ‘no fault’ divorce in the 1970’s, divorce has skyrocketed. When a marriage breaks up, this has led to devastating effects and all of us have probably seen it or been involved in it. A couple of interesting aspects however. In general, the college educated still get married before having kids and they stay married more than others. Also Christians have not done much better than other segments of society in regards to divorce.
Might I add a pastoral comment. Divorce is not the unforgivable sin and I feel for people who, for whatever reason, sometimes against their own wishes, have seen their marriage end in divorce. Just remember, God still loves you and you still have a hope and a future in Him.
FATHERLESS HOMES – In 1960, more than 76 percent of African American babies and nearly 97 percent of White babies were born to married couples. What are the figures today. 30 percent for African Americans and 70 percent for Whites. About a third of all children in America live apart from their father.
As the Brookings Institutions’s Ron Haskins and Isabel Sawhill point out, if today’s family structure were the same as in 1970, the poverty rate would be roughly one-quarter lower. Penn State Prof. Molly Martin estimates that 41 percent of the increased economic inequality from 1976 to 2000 could be explained by family changes concentrated among the poor and near poor.
In his autobiography ‘Dreams from My Father,’Barack Obama shared the pain he experienced growing up without a father. Whatever you may think of our President, give him credit that he decided to do better and his own marriage and fatherhood has provided a good example of what a family should be.
In simple terms, one of the major contributing factors to poverty in America is the breakdown of the family, especially among African Americans.
MARRIAGE REDEFINITION – The pressure has been to redefine marriage. Although the majority of states still define marriage as one man and one woman, this is being changed in a number of states, either by legislative action or by the courts.
When you redefine or change something like traditional marriage, that has existed for thousands of years, there may well be unintended consequences, that only time will reveal, particularly how this will effect children growing up without the presence of both a father or a mother.
COHABITATION – More and more people are choosing to cohabit instead of marrying. Studies on this practice have shown that ‘living together,’ far from helping people who eventually marry, actually has a negative effect on marriage and women and children are at greater risk in these situations. The difference between cohabitation and marriage is the difference between renting a home and buying one. In renting one, you can walk away anytime you like. The other requires ‘commitment’ which is at the heart of marriage. One woman, who had moved in with her boyfriend for a number of years, felt that she was on this multi year, never ending, audition to be his wife.
PREMARITAL SEX – A couple might not cohabit but be indulging in premarital sexual activity without realizing that this is undermining the foundation of their marriage. One national author, I read, based on his own observations, felt that if the man, had pushed for this, even against the wishes of the woman, then often the roles changed after marriage and the women would tend to be more dominating. This was due to the loss of respect that she had for her husband because of what they had done before they were married, especially in the case of a Christian couple where it was contrary to their moral ideals.
SMALLER FAMILIES – If you come from a big family you may be less likely to get divorced according to a new study from Ohio State University. Researchers analyzed data from 57,000 Americans over a forty years period and found that those with siblings are more likely to stay married than only children. Bigger families may allow more opportunity to practice good communication, empathy and negotiation skills that may fortify marriage. (Readers Digest December 2013)
WHO WILL TEACH YOUR KIDS ABOUT MARRIAGE?
This was the title of a recent article from Focus on the Family. Your kids will get a different view on marriage from the media and from their school. The recent nationally televised Grammy’s Music Awards featured a mass wedding, including same sex couples. It’s intended message – ‘Marriage can be whatever adults want it to be’ and who knows what that might mean, polygamy for example. The trend today in pop culture and the media is to treat it as normal.
John Stonestreet, in A Breakpoint article, refers to the writings of C.S. Lewis, who stated that ‘the most dangerous ideas in a society aren’t the one argued, but the one assumed.’ The culture and the media today have come to the position of normalizing homosexuality and gay marriage, so you will not get any help from the world. Christian parents and Biblically based churches will have to teach their children and the next generation what Christian marriage really is all about based on the teachings of the Bible going all the way back to the original intent in Genesis.
WHAT CAN WE DO?
Three things that we can do –
1. Teach God’s original intent for marriage as set out in the Word of God, right back to Genesis chapter 1. Let’s not apologize for our Biblical position on marriage.
2. Work to provide good models of marriage for our children to emulate. We need more and more Christians living out the ideal of Christian marriage and family.
3. Pray for the protection and restoration of marriages. This is a spiritual battle. Satan hates marriage – it is a reminder of Christ, the bridegroom, and His bride, the church.
The breakdown of the two parent family is the greatest menace facing American Society today, but by the grace of God and the courage and commitment of His church we can provide the light of hope in the midst of an ever darkening world.