The Future of Family

As I’ve written about before, my generation, the millenials, stands at the cusp of some very interesting trends. By the time our parents pass away, over 1/2 of them will have divorced at least once. In terms of American history this is unprecedented, and hopefully will be the high water mark for divorce for the foreseeable future.

What this means, among other things, is that many of us have grown up with fractured homes. You know the marriage is about love thing, has been around for at least the last few hundred years. Apparently love wasn’t enough for our parents. Many families needed a lot more than love to really provide functional models for our marriages.

Beyond the economic factors, is it any wonder that culturally speaking we’re delaying marriage, not only delaying, but seeing if we can live together first, before making a lifelong commitment, or let’s be honest even a 20-year commitment?

Have you also noticed, we’re a statistic crazy culture. We always have ways of explaining why bad stuff won’t happen to us. Take these stories here and here, which reassures us that college educated couples will have a lower divorce rate. We love numbers to tell us that if we work hard, do the right thing, make the smart choices, we can forestall pain, suffering, and even failure.

Culture creates a sort of cocoon around the truths we choose to hold dear.

So why marriage, why life-long, why any of this stuff? Because it’s what it means to be human. We lose our humanity when we miss out on the milestones, when we miss out on the full orb of human experience.  Marriage and children are a part of the human story. We sell ourselves short when we opt-out.

We also miss out on the people we would have been, if we had taken to the time and the energy and the risk in marriage. There is risk in almost every decision in life, but there is a special risk in commitment and in having children. We miss out on the sort of people, the sort of character that we could have developed if we had taken the risk. We become fuller people for doing so.

Marriage also reflects God’s relationship with people. God does not forsake, God rescues, God endures, God loves, God sacrifices. This is the Christian message that Christ came into the world to secure us in relationship to himself. You don’t hear about it put this way that often, but that’s the analogies you hear when it comes to marriage.

It sacrifices  it endures, it binds, it bears children. It goes back to the very beginning, when God says that it wasn’t good for people, for a person, to be alone. God gets our isolation and knows that we need someone who will commit to be with us as we venture forth in life. That’s the idea, but love isn’t enough.

Commitment, admitting mistakes, in Christian terms repenting of sin, but also sacrificing for the betterment of the family, that’s the Christian option. That’s the intent and it’s an open invitation for all of us. Your parents didn’t have to be successful for you to have a successful marriage, what it takes as an ability to trust God, to trust another person with your vulnerabilities  A realization that God entered this human story through Jesus, a man who wept, cried, and knew what it meant to be human.

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