Forces undermining marriage and home

Easy divorces, trial marriage, women's lib...


There seems to be no standard, no guidelines to which the modern home can hold in our present per missive society. Each one does his own thing. As a result, there is chaos in altogether too many homes. Dr. Cleveland McDonald writes: "On the secular college campuses the 'apartment marriage' (where a fellow and girl temporarily live together until one partner tires of the other) has become very popular. Bigamists, liaisons (two women living with one man) are found in some circles. Some 'liberated' individuals practice 'communal living' (no husband- and-wife relationships). Such perversions of marriage have always occurred, . . . but in today's secular society they are becoming more respectable."—Creating a Successful Christian Marriage, p. 17.

It is common knowledge that homosexuals or lesbians teach in our public schools or even function as Congressmen. They have their own churches and their own pastors who have the same problems. Certain denominations no longer consider this a sickness and sin but accept it as normal or near normal. This certainly indicates, to say the least, that there is a complete misunderstanding of God's purpose in creating male and female. Such trends as this challenge the Christian leader to emphasize the true Biblical concept of the origin and nature of marriage.

Easy divorce

Another current attack on the home involves easy divorce. This is nothing new, but is about as old as civilization itself. In the days of Christ the Pharisees came to Jesus asking, "Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause?" (Matt. 19:3). Jesus replied, "No you don't put your wife away for every cause." The Pharisees then asked, "Why did Moses then command to give a writing of divorcement, and to put her away?" (verse 7).

Even back in the days of Moses there were those who wanted divorce. By divine direction, Moses tolerated it and regulated it so as to prevent abuses.

The School of Hillel taught that a man might secure a divorce for the most trivial matters. I heard about a wife and husband who separated because she couldn't sleep in the room with the window open and he didn't want to sleep in the room with the window shut!

At the close of the Roman republic a mere renouncement of the marriage bond due to absence of marital affection was all that was necessary to legalize divorce. Family life was sadly demoralized and legislation did not improve the people's morals. Divorce was not a disgrace, it be came merely dissolution of a con tract.

Quintus Metellus delivered a lay sermon in 102 B.C. for male liberation in which he said: "If we could get along without wives, fellow citizens, we should spare ourselves the tedium of marriage, but nature has ordained that we can neither live pleasantly with wives nor exist at all without them. Therefore, let us sacrifice our personal interests to those of society." —From A Day in Old Rome, by Dr. William Stearns Davis (Boston: Allyn and Bacon, 1925), p. 61.

In the United States there is now one divorce for every 3.6 marriages. In some cities we have as many divorces as marriages. One county in California reports two divorces for every marriage. The no-fault divorce laws now operating in several States have made divorce rather easy. Is it any wonder that there are so many divorces when many thought leaders inform the public that for most people marriage has outlived its usefulness and is doing more harm than good?

Influence of educators and thought leaders

Dr. Casler, professor of psychology in the State University of New York, recently produced a book in which he attempts to prove that Western society has outgrown marriage just as it outgrew the horse and buggy. The rather shocking thing is that he has assembled quotes from many leaders of thought supporting his views. His bibliography lists 207 authors of books that have been published since 1960—many sup porting his ideas.

Dr. Casler believers in a "permissive matrimony," in which persons could choose, within certain broad limits, family life styles. Some of the proposals found in his book entitled Is Marriage Necessary are:

Conventional monogamy. This is the male-and-female, parent-child relationship. Anyone who would want this kind of marriage relation ship because of religious convictions or tradition would be free to do so. The conventional marriage would go out of existence, according to Dr. Casler.

Modified monogamy. "This modified monogamy would reflect more faithfully," says Dr. Casler, "the realities of the twentieth century." Under modified monogamy he would have: (1) nonexclusive monogamy. One woman and one man would be married to each other, but under no obligation to refrain from sexual relationship with other per sons. Adultery would be accepted as a normal situation. It would be an acceptable diversion and no legal ground for divorce. The frequency and the degree of this adulterous behavior might vary from frequent to infrequent, or to regularly scheduled swinging.

Child-free monogamy. This would be conventional monogamy, with no child-rearing function. "The children of individuals selecting this option would be placed in institutions shortly after birth, adopted, or brought up communally."

Contractual monogamy. Marriage would be recognized as a civil con tract. The relationship would be terminated without recourse to complicated legal or religious procedure or unseemly accusations. The contract would be terminated by mutual con sent. Alternatively a term contract can be agreed upon with the option of renewal at regular intervals.

Trial marriage. People would live together as long as they wish or for a stipulated period of time, simply to find out whether they could live together compatibly. After this period of time they could separate or be come married.

Nonmarital relationships. Under this category are included all those types of relationships which by virtue of their freedom from legal, religious, or social constraints are nonbinding and readily terminable.

Dr. Casler also states that any system that replaces our current emphasis on an intimate, exclusive bond between children and their parents is worthy of the most careful consideration.

The industrial revolution

Paradoxically, today we have more leisure and more tensions. Twentieth-century families are caught in a situation over which they have little control —the movement away from the rural environment into the cities. In the country they could function as a unit. They could work together, pray together, and play together. However, today it is much more difficult for the family to be together. I belong to a generation that grew up on the farm. The family did not scatter each morning, each one going to his own job. The entire family worked together in doing their one job, cooperating to achieve the objectives of the family. From early morning until evening we were together as a family unit. In the evening the family did not sit in silence staring at a television screen. In stead we spent our time playing games, reading, looking at Sears- Roebuck, Montgomery Ward, and M. W. Savage catalogs.

Women's liberation

During the Middle Ages man was out in the field as hunter or warrior or on the farm. Women stayed at home. During Colonial times men were still tillers of the soil. They made their living out of the earth. The women, however, still remained home. Even after the Industrial Revolution the husband left the home to go into the factory. There he worked for twelve or more hours for six days a week. The women still remained in the home. In fact, the full burden of maintaining the home for many thousands of years has been the woman's. It was her responsibility to care for the children in the home. Even as late as the 1930's the vast majority of women were satisfied with domestic roles.

What really has changed, and how has the change affected the American home? What are the unsatisfied needs of women? Certainly, most of them still have the same basic needs for love and recognition that they've always had. In years past women found their identity and their sense of love and worth through exercising their role as mother, wife, and homemaker. Their need for involvement with other people was usually met through social activities at home or in the church. It used to be that the woman's time was taken up pretty much with housework: cleaning, cooking, washing, ironing, and caring for children.

Today, modern conveniences have changed the situation. Now we are in the age of gadgets and appliances. We have automatic dish washers, ready-made and permanent-press clothes, furnace filters to reduce dusting, prepackaged frozen foods, vacuum cleaners, electric ovens, automatic washers and driers, disposable diapers, and dough can be bought at the market ready to put in the oven. And women have come to be less and less involved in home responsibilities.

In the light of the factors listed above we need all the help possible to stem the tide that threatens to diminish and destroy the Christian home. We must learn all about up-to-date methods, procedures, and techniques and obtain all the resources, materials, and aids available.

But in doing so, let us make sure that we do not build on the uncertain and shifting sands of men's ideas and opinions that have no basis in the Word of God.

If we build firmly on a "thus saith the Lord" we will be able to help people shake off the unholy and un-Biblical concepts now being circulated by the enemy, who seeks to destroy the home. In doing so we will hasten the day when the "heart of the fathers [will be turned] to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers" (Mal. 4:6).

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February 1978

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