An advertisement for a trip to Hawaii in 2022

Certainly the morals–or lack thereof–indicated in the research are cause for concern, but equally distressing are Gallup’s proposed solutions to this problem.

The May 29 issue of bcE*byte carried an article about the decline of the “nuclear family.” The article, entitled “Premarital Sex Morally OK, Say Most Americans,” presented findings of a recent Gallup poll which confirmed this decline.
Certainly the morals–or lack thereof–indicated in the research are cause for concern, but equally distressing are Gallup’s proposed solutions to this problem.
The last sentence in the bcE*byte article read, “In order to keep the nuclear family from becoming an even greater minority, Gallup said more people must choose to marry, marry at an early age, have several children and shun divorce.”
Rather than encouraging more people to marry, we should encourage more people to marry for the right reasons. Many today marry for the wrong reasons: they are afraid of being alone; they feel pressure from parents or the person they are dating; they are afraid life is “passing them by;” it is economically profitable; or they see marriage as a way out of a bad situation.
While marriage at an early age might prevent some cohabitation and premarital sex that is of legitimate concern, it is also likely to increase the rate of divorce and spousal abuse. Delaying marriage might allow a person to make a better choice when he or she does marry.
Many who divorce today claim their spouse is no longer “the person they married.” I suspect this is the real reason behind citations of irreconcilable differences. Some of those differences may have been recognized and dealt with prior to marriage had the individuals involved taken more time.
In biblical times more children meant greater family wealth (if enough of them were males) and, therefore, more economic stability for the family. However, the opposite seems to be the case today. More children usually mean more stress, a greater likelihood that both parents will feel compelled to work and/or that they will feel compelled to work longer hours or more than one job.
In addition, the advocacy of more children seems to be poor stewardship in light of dwindling resources and the endangered environment in which we live.
A better approach emphasizes that the decision to bring a child into this world should be made only after a great deal of thought (and prayer) and only when a couple is prepared to provide and care for that child. And, no, that is not an argument for abortion.
I do agree that teaching people to shun divorce is a great need in our society. We should help people honor their wedding vows and encourage them to stick with one another through the inevitable rough patches all marriages experience.
We also need to teach them how to work through those times, including how to grow as individuals and as couples, how to forgive and how to be more accepting of one another’s differences.
The concerns are legitimate. My fear is that the remedies may do no more than exacerbate the symptoms. Perhaps we would do well to remember that a 20th-century version of the nuclear family is a far cry from what was socially acceptable in the days of Abraham, Isaac and David.
Carlton Allen is pastor of First Baptist Church, Claxton, Ga.

Share This