Pundits and analysts continue to weigh in on the recent Pew Report that concluded marriage is becoming increasingly obsolete and irrelevant.
As you can imagine, I hold to a significantly different perspective. Fortunately, many of you do as well. I’ve been particularly heartened by the robust response to my thoughts, which can be viewed by clicking here.
As I shared just a day after USA Today declared marriage to be going the way of powdered wigs, the report doesn’t quite tell the whole story.
Designed as a gift to mankind that brings glory to the Creator, marriage is an institution critical to the sustainability and stability of society. It will never be obsolete, because God has built into every human being a desire for companionship and craving to love and be loved.
David Popenoe, a former professor of sociology at Rutgers, agrees. In fact, in response to the media buzz about the Pew data, he said something quite provocative. According to the professor, as reported in yesterday’s Washington Post, those who say marriage is becoming obsolete might be voicing a fear, not expressing a wish.
Isn’t that insightful?
I think Dr. Popenoe has touched on something rather profound. If you ask people what they fear the most, it’s not uncommon to hear talk of terrorism, death, pain and even public speaking and spiders.
Yet, if you speak more intimately with these same people – or even watch how they live as opposed to listening to what they say – you often get a very different take on what truly burdens them.
Since God created His people for companionship, it makes sense that many of us fear loneliness most of all. Studies have confirmed that loneliness is on the rise in America, a curious thing since we’re increasingly connected, at least technologically speaking.
By some estimates, 60 million Americans (20%) are lonely. Even more shocking, a significant percentage of these same people have absolutely nobody with whom to talk over important or intimate matters.
Given these statistics, it’s no wonder that many would fear the loss of marriage as an institution, especially given its emotional, spiritual and physical benefits. If there is no marriage, there is no hope of that long walk into the sunset with your aging spouse by your side.
I am reminded of a favorite observation from the late President Reagan, whose love affair with his beloved Nancy has been so well chronicled and remembered. Regarding the gift and beauty of marriage, consider the Gipper’s poignant reflection:
Nancy’s power was the power of, well, giving me a marriage that was like an adolescent’s dream of what marriage should be. Clark Gable had some words once, when he said there is nothing more wonderful for a man than to know as he approaches his own doorstep that someone on the other side of that door is listening for the sound of his footsteps.
Even while he was president, Mr. Reagan used to stand by the window in the White House and watch for the lights of the car that would be bringing his Nancy home.
We are called to preserve this God-ordained institution and continue to highlight its benefits and His ultimate reasons and rationale for it.
Many of our citizens fear the loss of marriage because they’ve never seen it modeled (in a healthy manner) in their own families or communities. As such, we would be wise to quell that anxiety by modeling marriage as it was intended to be.
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