It's been a while - been devoting time and energy to different areas, but I want to try to "re-launch" this compartment of my life with another post from "River Region's Journey" magazine, the May 2009 edition.
Maybe you’ve experienced it – the shifting of the soil upon which your house is built results in cracks in your foundation. If there are not steps taken to prevent further erosion, the entire house is in danger of irreparable damage.
God established a foundational unit in the 2nd chapter of Genesis – the institution of marriage. We are told that a man and woman would leave their parents and cleave to one another and become “one flesh”. Marriage is a sacred union, and representative, as we find out in Ephesians 5, of the relationship between Christ and the church. We individually benefit from the incredible love that we can experience in the marriage relationship, and strong marriages become an effective example to society, bringing a strong moral component to our culture. And, within marriage, we provide a stable and loving environment for the next generation of young people.
Marriage is a fundamental unit of our society, and we see numerous countercultural trends that are building today that pose a collective threat to the foundation of the institution of marriage as we know it.
One of the most notable in the evangelical community is the redefinition of marriage. Some 30 states now have marriage amendments to their constitutions that define marriage as one man for one woman, consistent with the Biblical definition. While a Federal marriage amendment has gained no traction, nevertheless these state amendments can build a wall of defense against those who would redefine marriage to include same-sex relationships, which are incompatible with the teachings of Scripture. As of this writing, 4 states – Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, and Vermont – permit same-sex marriage – and only one, Vermont, has legalized this legislatively. Recently, the California Supreme Court crafted a right to same-sex marriage, which was overturned by a vote of the people last November in affirming Proposition 8, which defined marriage in the traditional sense.
While the prospect of gay marriage threatens the institution at large, marriage is facing an assault on a number of other fronts that can affect us personally. Adultery, or infidelity, can have a devastating effect on a marriage relationship, and in many cases (even though it doesn’t have to) can lead to divorce. Because of the secretive nature of these relationships, it is hard to gather reliable research on the subject, but studies I have read show that possibly half or more of Americans have cheated on their spouses. Allow that to sink in – we must build a hedge around this God-ordained relationship and take protective measures to regain a high view of this “one flesh” mentality that is critical to the survival of our marriages.
Even though a man or woman may not engage in physical infidelity, that person may be participating in mental infidelity through viewing pornography. Again, because of the nature of this sin, it is difficult to get accurate statistics, but here is some information reported by the organization Freedom Begins Here: Noted Christian leader Chuck Swindoll is quoted as saying that sexual addiction is the “#1 secret problem in your church”. As quoted from The Alabama Baptist, 7 out of 10 lay leaders in the church report visiting adult Web sites at least once a week, with 4 out of 10 pastors saying they do the same. There are 68 million porn search engine requests on a daily basis, and 42.7% of Internet users view pornography (according to Top Ten Reviews). This is a huge problem, and there is help available through the power of Jesus Christ, but confession and repentance must take place.
And, as it is depicted by Hollywood generally without the exploration of consequences, pre-marital sex and cohabitation can be powerful forces contributing to a lack of intimacy in a future marriage. A 2008 poll from the Census Bureau indicates 6.4 million cohabiting couples in the U.S., up 1.4 million from 2006. In a Baptist Press column, Mobile Pastor Ed Litton referred to an Alabama Policy Institute study of some 1300 couples showing that the longer a couple cohabits before marriage, the less satisfied they are with their marriage. Glenn Stanton of Focus on the Family says, "The American people are largely clueless on the measurable benefits of marriage and the negative impact of cohabitation…In fact, one of the best ways to sandbag a marriage before it starts is to live together before marriage.”
These and other factors can result in divorce, which is the antithesis of the “one flesh” relationship. “No-fault” divorce laws and the declining of stigmatization about divorce in our culture are just two contributing factors. Our duty as believers in Christ is to fervently love our spouses.
There are numerous Christian resources available to strengthen marriages, including attending a FamilyLife Weekend to Remember, and one is scheduled May 15-17 in Montgomery – for more information, go to www.familylifeweekend.com.