Thursday, November 15, 2007

Marriage in a State of Collapse?

Where are we headed on the status of marriage? America and Europe tend to be the forerunners on cultural norms, and if their example is anything to go by, South Africa is also heading towards a culture of rarely successful marriages, where couples prefer to stay together, have a few kids and then part ways after a few years. I'm understating it - South Africa is already well down that path.

I was fascinated to watch this during my time in Scotland. Fully aware of the Biblical stance on marriage, I was curious to see how well that structure worked without any "moral limitations". In fact, I was stunned. For a start, the norm was to marry in your late 20's or 30's, and if you married earlier, you were asked: "What? Are you bored (of sleeping around)?" The big side effect was the structure of the family. My work colleagues had kids with short-term partners and had to manage maintenance costs and scheduled visits with their children. I've seen similar patterns in South African, and no matter what your worldview is, you'll have to admit that being torn between two or more parents that way is definitely not healthy for children. That is not a secure environment and brings with it a whole new set of stresses and strains. For all of the supposed limitations on your "freedom", marriage is far and away the best way to raise healthy kids, and healthy kids make a healthy nation.

The struggle of the marriage institution comes down to a lot of causes. The sexual revolution was particularly devastating, and here in South Africa we have little idea how well it continues to thrive overseas. The microwave culture has also had a big impact - people are less content to wait for the right person or to push through the dark times in relationships and wait for the sun to break through.

I believe the humanist worldview has also created a false understanding of relationships. The humanist view holds that all people are fundamentally good, while the Bible teaches that we are sinners with a conscience held in check only by the Holy Spirit. What that means is that a humanist goes into a relationship expecting good to come and is then disappointed not to find it, while a Christian has a better understanding of who people are and can be less surprised to find they're not perfect. When you can acknowledge your own sin and find God's grace, you'll be a lot more ready to give a little grace to your partner.

There is more trouble on the way with the advancement of the sordid homosexual agenda. That they should meddle with marriage is sacrilege. My prime objection is simply this: for a child to be adopted or brought into a homosexual marriage is one sure-fire way to mess with their mind and their identity. Security in a loving relationship? That's one for the wishing well. How can you get a sense of purpose for your life and a sense of belonging if it's not even obvious where you come from?

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