Marriage and Family

Vital Signs Marriage and Family

This is the twelfth of thirteen issues selected by our members and resulting from a nationwide faith and values study called Vital Signs.

Each week, we will cover a new topic with in-depth insights and biblical perspective in order to encourage, equip, and inspire praying Americans leading up to the 2020 Election.

How is America redefining God’s definition of family values?

Looking at the family’s history and today’s worldview

At one time, the family unit in America was easily understood and deemed as one man, one woman, and subsequent children. In history, it was common for extended families to reside together or, at least, in the same area. Children grew up intimately knowing their grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. Now, family is a very loose term. Many believe that marriage and the traditional family have become outdated and no longer necessary.

An article on says, “Where people stand on the various changes in marriage and family life depends to some degree on who they are and how they live. The young are more accepting than the old of the emerging arrangements; The secular are more accepting than the religious; liberals are more accepting than conservatives; the unmarried are more accepting than the married; and, in most cases, blacks are more accepting than whites. The net result of all these groups differences is a nearly even three-way split among the full public. A third (34%) say the growing variety of family arrangements is a good thing; 29% say it is a bad thing and 32% say it makes little or no difference.”

It’s often quoted that 50% of marriages end in divorce. Many argue that the estimate is much too high. A “For Your Marriage” article suggests that misleading quotes could convince couples that marriage is more fragile than it really is. Determining divorce rate is a complicated issue, but most experts agree divorce has been on the decline in the past forty years with the peak being in the seventies when the no-fault divorce was introduced. Hampton Roads Legal Services say, “There is approximately 876,000 divorces a year. The divorce rate for a first marriage is around 41%. The divorce rate is 60% for a second marriage and 73% for a third. Cumulatively 1 in every 4 families will face divorce.”

It’s often said that the rate of Christians divorcing is equal to that of the secular world. A Focus on the Family article states, “It’s one of the most quoted stats by Christian leaders today. And it’s perhaps one of the most inaccurate. Based on the best data available, the divorce rate among Christians is significantly lower than the general population. Couples who regularly practice any combination of serious religious behaviors and attitudes—attend church nearly every week, read their Bibles and spiritual materials regularly; pray privately and together; generally take their faith seriously, living not as perfect disciples, but serious disciples—enjoy significantly lower divorce rates than mere church members, the general public and unbelievers.”

Johnny Woods writes on weforum that the divorce rate is falling and not because the marriage rate is dropping. Millennials get married later in life after college and becoming more established in their careers, allowing healthier relationships. Woods adds, “Increasingly, American couples are opting to live together before marriage, or choosing not to tie the knot at all.”

On the quora website, a discussion about traditional wedding vows reveal opinions on whether or not to keep the phrase “until death do us part.” Some suggestions were “as long as love lasts,” “through eternity”, or leaving the vow out altogether. The problems with “as long as love lasts” is that, unfortunately, the adoring, honeymoon phase only lasts a couple of years, at most.

Commitment is a key element in growing past the honeymoon stage, early struggles, and even severe problems in a marriage. Dr. Lori Schade says, “It’s unreasonable to expect that long-term relationships will always provide high individual satisfaction. Commitment is the glue that keeps it secured when individual satisfaction is waning.”

Most parents understand the concept of loving and sticking with their children no matter what, however many forget to love their spouse with the same level of commitment. Ron Deal, in a Family Life article, states, “You don’t have to choose between your spouse and your children; when you make your marriage your primary priority, you are actually choosing both. Placing your spouse in the ‘front seat’ of your heart is good for your children, too. In fact, a healthy marriage means safety and protection for your children.” 

America has seen the rise of single moms raising children. The Very Well Family reports that the single parent may not fit into a stereotype. Statistics show that the majority are separated or divorced, middle-aged, gainfully employed, and able to support their child.  

What does the breakdown of the family unit mean for grandparents? Up until the 1950s children were most likely raised around their grandparents. As everyone became more mobile, grandchildren were being raised across the states or even in another country. With a high divorce rate, they could be raised by the daughter-in-law or son-in-law, decreasing the likeliness of grandparents spending time with grandchildren. Because of the increased age when people are now getting married, sometimes waiting till their forties, grandparents may not live long enough to see their grandkids graduate from high school or may not have grandchildren at all. In the opposite extreme, for various reasons, about 2.5 million grandparents are raising their grandchildren. Each state has different laws concerning grandparent rights.

When God is taken out of the equation of marriage, humans are left to their own devices. Cultural and societal changes have a greater influence on what is deemed good or right.

Upcoming generations are more accepting than the previous generations of those who identify as LGBTQ and are, therefore, questioning the definitions of marriage and family and the institutions that defined them. Those who don’t accept these changes are often called hateful, ignorant, or fearful.

When the Hallmark Channel featured its first same-sex wedding, it caused a flurry of controversy, to which the company responded, “We are proud of our movie, ‘Wedding Every Weekend.’ Our priority at Hallmark Channel is to develop a broad mix of content, characters, and stories in order to create a Hallmark experience where everyone feels welcome.” However, not everyone feels welcome at a same-sex wedding. When one viewer spoke up, Paul Campbell, the movie’s lead replied, “Are you concerned the kids might discover love is much more complex and beautiful than the conditional version you’ve described below and wonder what other teachings you’ve mislead them on to suit your grossly out of touch narrative?”

In addition to sexual preference and orientation, gender fluidity is becoming more common. Proponents say that how one views oneself is more important and accurate than merely biology and DNA. Now, children as young as seven or eight may be able to change their sex through surgery. In the case of one Texas family, mother Dr. Anne Georgulas is fighting for the right to transition her son James into a girl named Luna, while her husband Jeffrey Younger wishes for his son to remain as he is and have the right to decided his gender on his own. This case has led other states to form laws to protect children from puberty blockers and transgender surgery.

As the definitions and cultural norms of marriage, sexuality, and gender become less concrete, previously taboo subjects like polygamy are gaining newfound attention. In February of this year, an article on the ABC News website states, “The Utah Senate unanimously passed a bill that effectively decriminalizes polygamy. The bill, which will be taken up by the state’s House of Representatives, would make polygamy an infraction, amending the current penalty punishable by up to five years in prison. As the Associated Press points out, “while mainstream members of the Church of Latter-day Saints abandoned the practice of polygamy in 1890, an estimated 30,000 people living in polygamous communities follow teachings that taking multiple wives brings exaltation in heaven.”  

Of course, the moral breakdown isn’t only seen in the family and human sexuality but also in every aspect of society. Crime, unrestrained violence, poverty, substance abuse, sex trafficking, and physical abuse are all issues that need to be addressed in the nation. Some believe that the American Church’s extreme emphasis on sexual morality distracts them from other equally critical issues. Psychotherapist Jon Shore cites the apparent hypocrisy by listing such things as, “Acceptance of government corruption as a norm”, “churches teaching hate, greed, and divisiveness as if it were Christianity”, and “wealth making it possible to live above the law” as signs of moral decay in America. He writes, “America is, most certainly, declining due to moral decay. But those who scream the loudest about morality and moral decay are the ones causing the decline.” Though left and right disagree on what is moral and what is not, and how to handle different issues, Believers can aim to heed the Lord’s commandment to treat others as they would want to be treated and support their leaders and laws that most align with their Biblical worldview.

What the Bible Has to Say:

“Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife” (Genesis 2:24).

“Husbands love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way, husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. This mystery is profound and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband” (Ephesians 5:25-33).

“Now concerning matters about which you wrote: ‘It is good for a man not to have sexual relations with a woman.’ But because of the temptation to sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband” (1 Corinthians 7:1-2).

“Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward” (Psalm 127:3).

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you” (Jeremiah 5:1).

“Children obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. ‘Honor your father and mother’ (this is the first commandment with a promise), ‘that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.’ Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:1-4).

“But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever” (1 Timothy 5:8).

“But I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of sexual immorality, makes her commit adultery, and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery” (Matthew 5:32).

“Let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealousy” (Romans 13:13).

“I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people—not at all meaning the sexually immoral of this world, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or as an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one” (1 Corinthians 5:9-11).

“Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God” (1 Corinthians 6:5-11).

“For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature, and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error” (Romans 1:18, 26-27).

“’Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?’ And he said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets’” (Matthew 22:37-40). Also, read Matthew 25:31-46, Jesus’ account of His return and His response to people’s actions.


  • Pray for the salvation of all who are lost.
  • Pray for God to be at work through the Body of Christ and to reveal Himself to the world through His people.
  • Pray for protection and unity among those who are married, that their relationship would be a reflection of the relationship God has with His people.
  • Pray for the nation to pursue the truth and morality as God deems is right.
  • Pray for God’s perfect will to be accomplished through elected officials and through laws that related to morality and the family structure.
  • Pray for the candidates running for office to turn to God in all ways and seek to act according to His will and not solely in response to social pressure and change.

Pray the Vote


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