God, Marriage, Family

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Divine Origin

Genesis 1:27-28 says, “so God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female  he created them. God blessed them and said to them, be fruitful and increase in number, fill the earth and subdue it.”

It’s no accident that we are living beings, and that we have built a world of order, wherein there are endless possibilities.  Over time we have done our best to manage and control the world we live in, and in doing so, we have yielded to God’s plan in creation, and evolved into a society that believes in the importance of family.  It is not a mistake or coincidence that the family is the cornerstone of society anywhere you go in the world.  And, I don’t believe this will change in our lifetime.

Genesis 2:24 says, “for this reason man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.  It is out of this union that we get families; families where a man and women unite as one; and then give birth to children.  The family is an institution created and established by God, our creator.  What God gave us, nothing can take away from us.  We honor what God has done in creating us when we honor and build strong families.

The U.S Census Bureau counted 82.18 million families in the United States in 2016.  The average family consists of 3.14 persons in 2017, down from 3.7 in the sixties.  In 1970, about 56 percent of all family households had children under the age of 18 living in the household. The percentage declined to 42.31 percent in 2016.

There are two things going on with these stats.  The first is there are fewer families today that there were 46 years ago.  The second is there are fewer children in households today than there was 46 years ago.  Is this fall in the number of families and children something we should be concerned about?

Marriage/Divorce

In 2017 there were 60.0 million married couples in the United States. This number as increased over the past few decades.  In 1970,  there were 45.47 married couples in the U.S.  But while we see an increase in married couples we must also take into account that this may be a reflection of the increased population.

So that, when we look at the total population, for every 1000 people in the U.S., 9.8 people married in 1990, which dropped by 2016 to 6.9 people married per 1000 people in 2016. Using this data from the U.S. Census Bureau we see the decline in the number of people getting married.

And while the number of people getting married is in decline, the number of people and their attitude toward divorce is changing as well.  With divorce being the termination of a marriage, over the last few years, like the marriage rate, we see a decline in the divorce rate here in the United States. There were 3.2 divorces for every 1000 people in the U.S. in 2016.

In 2009, the average length of a first marriage was 8 years. The average age of men when they went through their first divorce was 32, for women it was 30. The average length of a second marriage was about 10 years.

When asked about their attitude about divorce, 72 percent of American respondents say they think getting a divorce is morally acceptable, while 19 consider it morally wrong.  Marriage and divorce both reflect the status of family life in the United States.  When a man and women marry, have children and divorce it weakens the institution of family resulting in single parent families/households.

The U.S. Census Bureau counted 19.97 million children living with a single mother or father.  Approximately 16.77 million live with their mother only.  This is a different kind of family than the family described in Genesis.  What we are seeing is the advent of the nuclear family, a family structure facilitated by social controls and ideologies germane to Western society. 

Marriage rates are expected to continue to decline as the millennial generation is less likely to get married than previous generations. Women are entering the workforce in staggering numbers as their education and skills equal or surpass those of men.  As marriage rates decline and divorce becomes more and more normative; it shatters the belief in lasting marriages.  And with the decrease in church membership men and women entering into marriage are left to their own inclinations relative to the precepts that govern family life.

Here is 2017 the Supreme Court has ruled that same-sex marriage legal is legal in the United States, and state-level bans on same-sex marriages were unconstitutional. In 2007, only 59 percent of Americans believed that same sex marriage should be legal, that number grew to 72 percent in 2017.  Where this is going, the writer of this blog does not know; its scope and implications are for another discussion. 

Old Testament

In the OT the man/husband is the head of the family; he is responsible for the godly formation of family life.  He is charged with caring, providing, instructing, encouraging, and disciplining his children in the way of the godliness.  The Bible is clear that the authority granted to parents is to be respected by their children. 

Marriage in the Old Testament was intended to be permanent; it was monogamous relationship between man and women.  The man was give the responsibility to protect and provide for his wife. If the wife committed adultery, under the law she was subject to being stoned to death.  As this practice was looked upon with more and more disdain, divorce became the substitute.  Divorce was perceived as an act of discipline.  Likewise, when a man neglected or did not live up to his obligations, or became abusive, the Law permitted divorce.

New Testament

The New Testament has much to say about marriage and divorce, but for brevity and cogency in this discussion let’s look at Matthew 19:3-19:

Some Pharisees came to him to test him. They asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any and every reason?” “Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”  “Why then,” they asked, “did Moses command that a man give his wife a certificate of divorce and send her away?”  Jesus replied, “Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning. I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery.”  10 The disciples said to him, “If this is the situation between a husband and wife, it is better not to marry.  11 Jesus replied, “Not everyone can accept this word, but only those to whom it has been given. 12 For there are eunuchs who were born that way, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by others—and there are those who choose to live like eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. The one who can accept this should accept it.”  13 Then people brought little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them and pray for them. But the disciples rebuked them.  14 Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” 15 When he had placed his hands on them, he went on from there.  16 Just then a man came up to Jesus and asked, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?” 17 “Why do you ask me about what is good?” Jesus replied. “There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, keep the commandments.”  18 “Which ones?” he inquired.  Jesus replied, “‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, 19 honor your father and mother,’ and ‘love your neighbor as yourself.’

Summary

Jesus is clear that time and human made institutions do not change or reform God, nor God’s intended plan and structure for our lives.  God’s morality does not conform to the time we live in; God has not changed.  God made us male and female, and instituted the marriage union.  He instructed men and women to be fruitful and multiply/procreate/have children.  God gave men and women the responsibility to raise their children in godliness. Likewise, children have the responsibility to obey their parents.  Jesus came not to destroy, but to fulfill the laws of God.