Saturday, March 1, 2014

Altar Call

Have respect for marriage. Always be faithful to your partner, because God will punish anyone who is immoral or unfaithful in marriage.

--  Hebrews 13:4

For better or for worse, there's been plenty of talk the last few years about our country's need for fundamental change. But the fact is that America has changed drastically since the end of World War II without the help of celebrities and politicians. There's the obvious--like the growth of the suburbs, 24-hour Walmarts and cable TV. And of course, there's the Internet and smartphones.

Those changes may be good or Wedding Ringsbad depending on your perspective. But one change that's definitely negative involves societal perspectives toward marriage and family. Fifty years ago, news of a couple living together outside of marriage was considered scandalous at the very least. And in some states, it could actually lead to jail time for the offending parties. But how much has changed now that we're so much more "enlightened" than our parents and grandparents!

Think of everything we've gained now that such a large segment of the populous has turned its back on committed marriage (the "death 'til you part" type). With more flexible laws and the literal promotion of adultery in popular culture, it's no wonder that more than 40 percent of first marriages (and nearly half of all marriages) end in divorce. It's also no wonder that so many people figure that marriage isn't worth the trouble. Living together becomes their rational option. But with this brings tremendous societal costs from the skyrocketing rates of out-of-wedlock births, now reported by the federal government to exceed 40 percent.

The common denominator here is that our society has run away from Biblical ideals like marriage. Specifically, we have turned away from God and His teachings as a whole--the ones He gave us for experiencing meaningful, fulfilled lives. What were once considered clear black and white issues of right and wrong have blended over the decades into murky shades of gray. But it's all relative, right? Who needs those pesky Ten Commandments, anyway?

That's obviously not God's perspective when it comes to committed relationships between men and women. It's only a few pages into the Bible when we find this ancient yet ever-relevant passage:

For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.

But to many modern-thinking couples, living together without any strings attached is a more palatable and tolerant lifestyle choice. After all, commitment is such an uncomfortable word: one that implies responsibility, faith and ultimate dependence on a much greater Power.

But ultimately, isn't that what it means to be a Christ-follower?

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