Marriage in this generation has markedly become about the shifting sands of convenience and perception rather than the solid foundations of covenant and principle. Current studies are showing that so-called happy marriages are based upon emotions, particularly that of the wife. In addition, more studies are also revealing that many of today’s young adults are choosing singleness and even single parenthood over the traditional approach of getting married and then having children. More couples are choosing co-habitation rather than signing a marriage license in front of witnesses declaring their heart’s intentions. It is this type of instability that has more and more children in today’s world being raised in single parent households and blended families. The solutions that are being presented to couples as a remedy for such chaos are equally disturbing.
The reasons that the solutions to the variability of today’s marriages are so troubling is that they are the product of a general consensus of lost hope that an intact and stable marriage will ever again be the social norm under which children are reared. However, instead of re-indoctrinating, so to speak, the general public about marriage being a covenant, an unbreakable vow of love and loyalty, and about being the main venue under which bedrock principles of spiritual and moral truth are passed from one generation to another, one of the answers put forth is to change the social norm to responsible parenthood. This means increased access to birth control; as a result, birth control devices and medications that are currently available by prescription only ought to be made accessible over the counter. It seems marriage as a covenant of sacred permanence is disappearing into the shifting world of the local pharmacy shelves and the growing perception that revival of marriage as it once was is an impossible dream.
Other solutions offered by relationship and social experts are better job and educational opportunities. There is, however, a consensus that such measures are not enough; and, there is also an acquiescence that the social programs meant to pull children out of poverty actually strengthen the trend of single parenthood in our society – one of the top reasons, according to experts, that children in the United States live below the poverty line. What is even more alarming is that, given the perception among today’s young adults that marriage is a disturbing and unstable institution, many are choosing the route of single parenthood, wanting the fruits of the “two become one flesh” and of “be fruitful and multiply” without the heart commitment it takes to live out the marriage covenant “until death.” There is certainly a problem of perception and principle when one chooses to contribute to one of the main reasons why children in the US live in poverty.
On the flip side of things, there is a growing number of secular child psychologists and counselors who admit that longitudinal studies have shown them that traditional marriage and parenting actually have been shown to produce more stable homes and families with well-adjusted children. It is also funny to think that the word, traditional, is the mainstream’s code word for biblical or Christian parenting. It is paradoxical in nature that the same subset of society that would say that the known universe was created by chance also would say that there is Someone who set a standard for marriage and parenting that works. Some will even admit that this “Someone” is the God of the Bible.
Marriage has become about perceptions and convenience – i.e. as long as someone makes them happy then the marriage continues. It needs to return to be a God-established institution that is not to be lightly entered into and is to be undertaken with a sense of covenant and permanence. Social norms have been known to change over time because people in the past have been committed to changing them. Likewise, society needs to recognize that homes and families are injured greatly mentally, emotionally and spiritually due to the breakdown of traditional marriage and parenting where children are conceived and reared in the social structure of an intact family. This means parents need to start when children are young: teaching and modeling that marriage is not a matter of perception or convenience but one based on solid principles of faith and love; and, people should enter into this sacred institution with a covenant heart, ready to go the distance of one man, one woman for life.
Opinion by Tiffany Cook