While the Supreme Court prepares to rule on DOMA and California's Proposition 8 this week in a decision that could legally define or redefine marriage in our culture, this morning NBC was pointing out that marriage is not all that important anymore.
The Today Show host began with, "We all remember the words, 'First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes baby and a baby carriage', well that is changing."
The lead-in to the story said, "An increasing number of couples are living perfectly traditional lives---moving in together, starting families---all while saying 'I don't' when it comes to marriage."
The problem? That lifestyle is not perfect, nor is it traditional.
There are valid social and spiritual reasons that marriage has been honored throughout human history. And marriage can only be between one man and one woman. Any other arrangement is not marriage, regardless of what the Supreme Court may say in their ruling.
Not only is the Bible speaking to us today, so is history, and we should listen.
NBC says the number of people cohabiting has risen "dramatically" from 440,000 in 1980 to 7.5 million in 2010.
The NBC piece was, of course, favorable to the idea of dispensing with marriage, with the co-host using himself as an example of someone who has lived with his girl friend for 7 years and together they have produced several children.
When he asked the guest psychologist, "What's wrong with me," she assured him "nothing, nothing at all."
The NBC story essentially said the need or desire to marry is diminishing because the culture is changing, then highlighted a number of Hollywood celebrities who live together, outside of marriage "successfully."
There is another story, however, that is not being told properly.
Those seeking to redefine marriage or simply devalue it have made their case, but those of us on the side of history and biblical truth have, perhaps, not made ours as well.
I have been and am continuing to do a great deal of research on marriage and family. I feel I have a good grasp on what the Bible says about both, but I also have been studying history and studies done by others over time.
In our multicultural society it seems very appropriate to simply dismiss biblical marriage with, "You are welcome to believe that, but I don't believe the Bible so that doesn't apply to me. Marriage is a civil matter, churches and religion can do what ever they want do with it."
History does not support that. In fact, history is calling out to us to reconsider the path we are walking down.
As the culture has moved away from God and Judeo Christian values, it has moved toward self centeredness---self empowerment, personal rights and away from responsibility as a virtue.
Narcissism has replaced the concept of serving and considering others. Narcissism, or self centeredness, stands in direct conflict with the true meaning of marriage.
Marriage, as it was instituted by the Creator and recognized by each subsequent civilization, involves a "coming together as one flesh" principle. Marriage between a man and a woman involves the miracle of creation, and the miracle of procreation.
Variations of coupling and grouping in relationships may be meaningful to those involved but it can never be "marriage."
A small minority has forced America, using the argument of "civil rights," to a point where we are now looking to a politically appointed court to define marriage. They conceivably could attempt to redefine what has stood the test of time throughout human history.
Time nor space does not allow me to include all my thoughts on the value of marriage in this blog, however, I will be writing more on this subject over the next few weeks.
Here is something to think about.
J.D. Unwin, a well known British anthropologist and university professor, released the most comprehensive study of his time in 1934. "Sex and Culture" proved conclusively that a strong sexual ethic which restrained sex to the exclusive relationship of legal marriage was directly related to the health and prosperity of a given culture.
Let's look at one aspect of marriage--the physical or sexual union.
Unwin studied 16 civilized and 80 uncivilized cultures spanning 5000 years of human history.
He concluded, "The cultural condition of any society depends upon its social and mental or creative energy. Creative energy is directed toward productive endeavors intent upon the betterment of society."
He found, "This creative energy was greater within those cultures that held strong martial restraints on sex and greatly diminished in cultures with more progressive sexual ethics."
Specifically he wrote, "Those cultures which allowed sexual freedom do not display a high level of energy---their energy is consumed with meeting their physical appetites." He said, " In those cultures, life is only lived for now."
He also found that cultures that began with a strong sexual ethic and "later embraced a philosophy of sexual freedom or experimentation for a period of at least 3 generations inevitably experienced cultural demise."
In his study of 96 civilizations, he observed there was not one single example in all human history where this social fact was not observed.
He found that marriage, sex and social order are directly related to the strength of marriage as perceived by a given society.
Diminish the exclusive value of marriage and sexual relations within the bond of male-female marriage and you diminish the social order.
Today Planned Parenthood provides leadership in sex education in the public schools. Every piece of material that goes to the teacher and the classroom is premised on the idea that all kids will be sexually active all the time.
Anyone who suggests abstinence teaching is ridiculed and marginalized.
Marriage has been undermined by activists beginning in the 1950's, 60's,and 70's sexual revolution and continues to be today by those activists who seek to redefine marriage. The sexual revolution has led public schools to the sad place they find themselves today.
Rutgers University conducted one of the more extensive studies on the state of marriage in 2002. Titled, "The State of our Unions, The Social Health of Marriage in America," they found the number one reason young men gave for not wanting to commit to marriage was, "I can get sex more easily now than in the past."
Why complicate things with commitment?
In his book, "The Clash of Orthodoxies," Princeton professor Dr. Robert P. George says, "Marriage is a two-in-one-flesh communion of persons that is consummated and actualized by acts that are reproductive in type, whether or not they are reproductive in effect. The bodily union of spouses in martial acts is the biological matrix of their marriage as a multi-level relationship: that is, a relationship that unites persons at the bodily, emotional, dispositional and spiritual levels of their being."
Marriage is not a right, it is a responsibility.
It is actually a restriction of the rights of individuals involved, that derive from the potential pro-creative responsibility to their offspring and society.
Dr. George says, "The so-called martial benefits that same-sex couples seek have been reserved for traditional families by society as both an incentive and reward for their life long fidelity and for preserving the best possible environment for regulating their procreation potential and subsequent child rearing."
Homosexual activists argue that heterosexual couples unable to bear children or who chose not to do so are proof that marriage is not really about pro-creation. They often refer to heterosexuals as "breeders."
That's wrong thinking and it's selfish thinking.
Same sex couples certainly can and do have fond feelings for one another I'm sure. But that does not constitute a "civil right" to marry or to redefine marriage any more than their chosen sexual behavior entitles them to special rights under the guise of civil rights.
They are unable to achieve the "one-flesh-union" because there is no biological communion such as that achieved through pro-creative acts.
And that is at the heart of what marriage is and has always been.
Dr. George points out that in the absence of this one-flesh union, sex becomes merely an instrument for pleasure and therefore falls into the same category of "self-centered" acts that characterize all non marital sex. He says sex is merely recreational not relational.
Sex out side of marriage remains an act of taking, not giving. A principle and virtue that has been lost on too many in this present generation in America.
Marriage can not be arbitrarily redefined without undermining society and without devaluing the institution itself.
Redefining marriage is analogous to awarding every college football player the Heisman Trophy because he loves to play football, rather than because he has excelled and become the best college football player in the country.
The Heisman would lose its value. Who would care about it.
University of Chicago sociologist Linda Waite has found that, "Married people live longer, are healthier, have fewer heart attacks and other diseases, have fewer problems with alcohol, behave in less risky ways, have more sex---and more satisfying sex---and become more wealthy than single people on average." Dr. Waite found one exception. She says "cohabiting couples have more frequent sex, but enjoy it less."
I will write about the health benefits, financial benefits and even the greater physical security in traditional marriage at another time.
Be Informed. Be Vigilant. Be Discerning. Be Prayerful. Be Blessed.