Why have so many lost faith in traditional marriage?
Warning: I’m about to stick my head in the lion’s mouth.
Social media has been steaming with people’s reactions to the Supreme Court decision. I’ve seen Bible verses condemning homosexuality. I’ve heard predictions of the demise of American culture. Some have opined that this is a sign Jesus is coming soon. Many have despaired at how moral values are going down the tubes. I’ve also seen a number of people hail the Supreme Court decision as a victory for social justice for a beleaguered and oppressed group of people.
How should we react to the Supreme Court decision that now sanctions same sex marriage? How do we respond to our culture’s embrace of homosexual lifestyles. If you disagree and wonder what we can do to turn the tide, I’d like to suggest this idea. Let’s see this as God’s calling to Christians to strengthen our own marriages and relationships. Let’s make the commitment to prove to our culture that traditional marriage is a better choice, the best choice, the only choice that really works.
Let’s show our society that marriage matters.
I hate to say it, but we haven’t done such a good job of that for the last forty years. Sadly, our culture, including Christians, have given the next generation another message. Divorce rates among both Christians and unbelievers have spiked until statistics say 1/3 to ½ of all marriages will end in divorce. Ask any child of a divorced family how secure that made their childhood. Even thirty years ago, 25% of all women had suffered some form of sexual abuse. Ask any woman how long it takes to fully trust another man.
Even families who seem stable on the outside might have their own forms of dysfunction ranging from the absent father, the overworked mother, alcohol and drugs. Too many entertainment choices, school activities, athletic events pulled families apart and weakened those important bonds crucial to the stability of any culture. James Dobson of Focus on the Family fame once said that studies showed that those with homosexual tendencies often came from families where the individual had a broken or nonexistent relationship with the parent of the opposite sex.
When children grow up in an unstable family environment, they run scared. They don’t want to wish on their children the kind of family life they had. They fear commitment. They hesitate to trust. They don’t have the skills to choose wise friendships. They swear they’ll never marry or they seek out destructive relationships. If they’ve suffered abuse or neglect, they think they don’t deserve any better and migrate from one bad home life to another.
Understand me. I am not condoning homosexuality. People handle life’s struggles in many ways and ultimately I am responsible for the choices I make. I am only saying I can understand how it can happen. Someone doesn’t just decide on a whim to be sexually deviant. Instead of criticizing those who choose an alternate lifestyles, let’s be humble enough to evaluate how we may have ignorantly influenced a young person’s choice to give up on marriage. Let’s vow to strengthen our marriages and to rid our families of forces that threaten to weaken our family life. Let’s give a watching world a full view of what a good marriage looks like.
I was one of those kids who wanted to give up on marriage. I remember feeling relief at the end of a day that we got through the day without my stepfather throwing a tantrum. Then I would be woken up by yelling from my parents’ bedroom.
One Sunday afternoon, I walked over to my youth sponsor’s house to car pool to a youth event. Steve and Melanie had not been at church that morning. As I stood waiting outside the door, I heard their small daughter say, “Is the big fight over?” Conflict had kept the family from church. A knot formed in my stomach. Not them too, I thought.
The door opened. Steve told me he would be right there, then he turned and hugged Melanie. “I’m sorry,” a tearful Melanie spoke. “Me too,” Steve said.
Steve and Melanie’s simple act of reconciliation had a powerful impact on me. I had never heard my parents apologize to each other. I don’t think I had ever seen them hug like that either. Watching Steve and Melanie turned the tide and made me dare to hope that marriage might work after all. From then on, I wanted what Steve and Melanie had.
How can we slow the tide of immorality? By strengthening our own relationships. Our marriages can act as salt and light for Jesus as we demonstrate to a watching generation that marriage can be strong, secure and satisfying.
Yes, marriage is tough. It’s really tough. Jack and I have had days that it is only by the grace of God that our marriage has held together. But we owe it to ourselves, our Lord, our children and now more than ever to our watching world to hang in there and make it last. Not just make it through, but make it thrive.
Find a spouse who shares your world view and your faith. The more you share the same values, the less struggles you will have. No you won’t agree on everything but if you do agree on the important things, it will be easier to stand as a united front.
Work on your relationship with God. If each of you focus on drawing closer to God, you will inevitably draw closer to each other.
Don’t let anything else distract you from your marriage – addictions, hobbies, career, even children. Marriage takes work and commitment. Just as muscles become weak when we slack off at the gym, our marriage muscles will weaken if we don’t regularly affirm our spouse and spend time with them. Put yourself aside and make your spouse the most important person in your life.
Be a united front. Lift each other up and speak well of each other in public. Keep arguments behind closed doors. Avoid humor at the expense of your spouse. You may think its funny but they and others may not.
Embrace public romance! Take a coffee break together in the middle of the day or before dinner. Hold hands, Let the kids see you kiss. Let them hear you say you’re sorry.
Keep yourself pure. Yes, I do believe in one man, one woman marriage. I especially believe in that word ONE. There is room for only one other person in my marriage and I need to express that wherever I go.
Learn and practice conflict resolution. If you are looking for a way to strengthen your marriage, consider looking at how both of you resolve conflict. Then formulate an action plan to make it happen.
Pray. Pray that the Lord keep you strong. Pray that God will use your marriage to encourage others to hang in there and not give up on marriage.
Not married yet? Start now to prepare yourself to be a mate someone would want to spend the rest of their life with.
Not sure where to start? Read a book on marriage together. Seek marriage counseling, telling the counselor you want a “tune-up.” Nothing wrong, you just want to be better.
Even if you think you have a great marriage, ask yourself, “How can it be better? How can WE make our marriage stronger?”
For the world’s sake. Because marriage matters.
Homosexuality, living together outside of marriage, promiscuity, and adultery are all cheap imitations for what a person can have – a solid, satisfying marriage blessed by God. Let’s show the world the Light of the world. Let’s not just talk about how bad the dark is. Let’s let the love of Christ shine through our marriages. Let’s show the next generation in no uncertain terms that marriage works.