The Family Unit is Disappearing

In America, the traditional family as we know it is fading quickly. In talking about marriage, Chip Ingram, a well-known pastor and author, stated that less than 25% of the marriages today represent the the “typical” family of a husband and wife along with their children. He went on to say that 65% of couples who marry will have lived together before marriage (incidentally, living together before saying “I do” actually increases the already-high odds that the marriage will end in divorce). Also according to Ingram, 40% of Americans now believe that marriage is obsolete.

The majority of teens and 20-somethings today see little wrong with living together before marriage. My wife and I were having a conversation recently regarding how dating and marriage are viewed these days by these age groups. She said (based on her experiences with people these ages) that the goal now is not necessarily to grow up and get married, but instead to find somebody to live with for a while and then maybe find somebody else for a while, etc.

I’m reminded of a concept I read about in The Last Christian by David Gregory. I’ve been unable to get this out of my mind. In Gregory’s depiction of family life in the year 2088, couples don’t marry. Instead, they simply sign a contract with another person to be “life partners”. To clarify, that’s not life partners as in partners for life, but rather life partners as in partners with whom to live and possibly have children, usually for a 10 year contract. At the end of this time, they can either renew the contract for another 10 years or else part ways and find new life partners.

The following morning after the conversation with my wife, I went to my favorite hair shop for a haircut. The owner/stylist and I were talking about how difficult marriage and relationships can be. I asked her if she’d ever been married. “Once,” she replied. “And that’s all for me.” She went on to say how she didn’t mind relationships but she didn’t want the hassle of answering to anybody again.

Her next statement nearly floored me. “You know, it wouldn’t be so bad if the marriage was for 5 years or something, then you could evaluate it and see if you wanted to go on.” Interestingly, she’s 52 — not exactly a young adult.

I believe the reason there is currently such an overwhelming amount of sympathy for the homosexual agenda among young heterosexuals is that the Christian right represents an enemy not just to homosexuals touting gay “marriage”, but also to a large number of heterosexuals who are living together in sexual sin. I don’t believe that in general heterosexuals are necessarily that sympathetic toward the homosexual cause for the sake of the cause itself. However, Christians represent a threat to their chosen lifestyle as well. If Christians, or anyone with a moral voice, are allowed to say that homosexuality is wrong, then what’s to stop them from saying that heterosexuals living together is also wrong?

We have generations of kids today growing up in split families, perhaps with one or both parents living with a partner outside of marriage. Add to this the overwhelming dominance of sex and rebellion in the media. Prime time sitcoms and reality shows, not to mention movies and the gigantic popular music industry, all espouse a life of freedom from any sort of sexual morality whatsoever. Pick just about any TV show and you’ll find unmarried characters randomly having sex and/or living together.

Yes, I know this sounds very preachy and old-fashioned. I’m not pointing fingers at any one group. All of us sin. However, in my heart I believe that this is why America is how it is today. For most kids and young adults, they are not getting any sort of message whatsoever about sexual restraint. It’s get what you what, how you want it, with whom you want it, whenever you want it.

Our schools aren’t helping the situation either. I read recently where a school district in Oregon recently approved making condoms available to 6th graders! All they have to do is ask for them. Crazy.

The traditional American family is already a minority; it may become virtually extinct if our society doesn’t change. Is it too late for America? For the world? Only God knows these answers. I don’t know, but my gut feeling is that things are only going to get worse from here.

A Special Night

My father was not one to laugh a whole lot, at least in the company of others.  Most of the time he seemed weighed down by the pressures of his life – our home, his business, other financial matters perhaps.  It is for this reason that I so fondly remember those few times that he laughed heartily around us.

One of these times was the first night that our home had cable television.  Our tiny, rural town had just been connected to a cable network and our house had been hooked up earlier on that late September afternoon in 1982.

We had experienced cable before, especially me.  My sister had gone away to college a few years earlier and when I went to visit her, I would always stay up as late as possible, watching HBO and whatever else I could find on her TV.  I was especially excited because we now had not one, but three premium movie channels to choose from, as well as several other standard cable channels of that time – TBS, USA, ESPN, and others.

That night came our first opportunity to dive into the world of cable television together as a family.  The movie “Airplane!” was on HBO.

Mom and I were watching it in our den and Daddy was watching it in his room.  He always watched TV in his room by himself at night.  I think that was his way of escaping away by himself.  He had to deal with people all day at work, so that was his time to relax and be himself.  As my mom and I watched “Airplane!”, every so often he would walk through the den and ask us if we’d seen such and such part of the movie.  Yes we had.  A couple of times we laughed about one scene or another.

Finally, he decided to stay in the den and watch the movie with us.  He rarely sat down in the den at night.  Come to think of it, he rarely sat down in the den at all.  At any rate, I remember thinking that it was nice that we could all sit there and watch TV together. We three kept laughing at all the funny parts of the movie.

Finally, one scene pushed us over the edge.  We lost it when a lady on board the plane has a panic attack and the stewardess (as they were called in that day – now they are “flight attendants”) begins slapping her face to calm her down.  The camera pans down the inside of the plane, and we see a line of people waiting to get their turn at her.  They are all holding something – a wrench, a baseball bat, a crowbar .  The three of us were rolling with laughter.  I looked over at Daddy and he was laughing so hard he had tears in his eyes.  I remember that he had to take off his glasses so he could wipe them with the handkerchief he always kept handy in his pocket.  I don’t think I ever saw him laugh so hard as he did at that moment, either before or after.  It was a great evening to be together as a family.

Every time I think about “Airplane” that special night comes to mind.  It reminds me that there are many good times to be had in life.  Sometimes they’re planned, and other times they just happen.  And sometimes you don’t realize they’re happening until long after they’ve ended.