Many years ago, when “Dear Abby” was in many newspapers, there appeared this interesting exchange: “Dear Abby, I am 44 and would like to meet a man my age with no bad habits. Signed, Rose.” “Dear Rose, so would I. Signed, Abby.”
George Washington once observed, “I have always considered marriage as the most interesting event in one’s life, the foundation of happiness or misery.”
Recently, I preached on the subject of Marriage on the Rock (as in Jesus Christ) versus Marriage on the Rocks.
My longtime pastor, Dr. D. James Kennedy, once noted that, before God created the church or the state, he created the family – beginning with marriage.
Marriage is special to God. The Bible opens with a marriage. The Bible closes with a marriage. Marriage is the picture of the believer’s relationship with Christ. That’s why Satan aims his big guns at marriage.
Marriage is good for society because it is the first defense against evil. Marriage is the building block of any community.
Generally, research shows people are happier when married, but you wouldn’t necessarily know that in our culture at large. Nicholas H. Wolfinger asked in an article, “Are Married People Still Happier?” He concludes in the affirmative – that data collected from the General Social Survey (the GSS) indicates that “married adults are much happier than unmarried adults.”
Nonetheless, marriage is under siege today. But is that necessarily new? In 1983, the U.S. Senate held “Broken Families Hearings.” They drew from a Harvard historian named Carle Zimmerman who had described in 1947 the “last stage of the disintegration” of the cultures of Greece and Rome. Here’s how Zimmerman described familial breakdown, which contributed to the fall of those ancient countries:
- Marriage loses its sacredness and is frequently broken by divorce.
- The traditional meaning of the marriage ceremony is lost. Alternate forms of marriage arise.
- Feminist movements abound.
- There is an increased public disrespect for parents, parenthood and authority in general so that parenthood becomes harder for those who still try to rear children.
- There is an increase in juvenile delinquency, promiscuity and rebellion.
- There is a refusal of people with traditional marriages to accept family responsibilities.
- There is an increasing desire for – and acceptance of – adultery.
- There is a tolerance for – and spread of – sexual perversions of all kind.
Whether it’s ancient Greece, ancient Rome, 1947, 1983, or today, the breakdown of the family has incredible ramifications for society at large. As G.K. Chesterton observed, “As the family goes, so goes society.”
Yet there are many who essentially want to destroy the family. I’m reminded of the classic 1848 book, “The Communist Manifesto,” wherein Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels promote “the abolition of the family.” The Marxists have succeeded remarkably in contributing to family breakdown. Dr. Paul Kengor documents all this in his book, “Takedown.”
Two years ago, a Google executive got negative pushback from his own company when he spoke highly of the family. He had to apologize and grovel, speaking of alternative “family” structures.
But I would take the Word of God Almighty, our Creator, any day over the word of some Silicon Valley executives or Marxist professors. One day some religious leaders asked Jesus if God allowed divorce “for any and every reason” (NIV). “Any and every reason”? That sounds like today’s no-fault divorce.
Jesus answered them by going back to creation itself: “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate’” (ESV).
I remember hearing of a divorce attorney who quipped as he was about to return to work from lunch, “Well, I’ve got to get back to ‘putting asunder what God hath joined together.’”
But I will note that how you get married – that is preparing well for marriage, not just the wedding – is exceedingly important. My wife (of 39 years now, by the grace of God) and I decided that before we got married, we would freely use the D-word, divorce; however, after we got married, we wouldn’t even joke about it. We have stayed with that commitment.
Bible teacher M.R. Dehaan said, “The nearest thing to heaven on this earth is the Christian family and the home where husband and wife and parents and children live in love and peace together for the Lord and for each other.” And the nearest thing to hell is the opposite.