The real battle for marriage is not taking place in the political arena. It’s not being waged on the street corner with ‘colorful’ signs and bull-horns. It’s not occurring at your favorite chicken restaurant with a side of waffle fries. The real battle for marriage is being waged on an entirely different front: our homes.
With every broken promise and broken heart, every adulterous wife and lecherous husband, every abusive or neglectful parent, every struggling single mom, every distant and removed father, every argument or divorce . . . there you will find the real battle for marriage taking place. Have you ever asked yourself why it is that the majority of young people are rejecting the traditional definition of marriage? Certainly, there are many factors which are contributing to this trend–one of them being the overarching influence of Secular Humanistic, Nihilistic, thinking in our universities and in the popular media–but I’d like to focus on one factor which is often downplayed by Evangelicals. The factor to which I refer is the uncomfortable reality that there are very few examples of stable, long-lasting, healthy, heterosexual, marriages for young people to look up to.
It’s one thing to talk about how the ‘traditional’ conception of marriage is of God’s design and will lead to true intimacy, fulfillment, and joy. It’s quite another thing to demonstrate the truth of this proposition. Conservative Evangelical Christians, along with the rest of the population, have pretty much failed to model the very institution they claim to be the foundation of society (just take one look at the average divorce rate among Evangelical Christians).
Hence, while Evangelicals scream for traditional marriage, young people often go most of their lives without ever seeing a good example of a traditional marriage. Whether it is logical or not, when the people ardently in favor of a position fail to exemplify their own ideals, it becomes harder to see why their position is important or even preferable. Evangelicals are like the mother who punishes her children for saying a curse word right after calling the driver who just cut her off on the highway an “F-ing idiot!” In light of such hypocrisy, we shouldn’t be surprised when we discover young people fail to see why a seemingly ‘rigid, restrictive, outdated, ineffective, outmoded, socially contrived institution’ like traditional marriage is desirable.
Frankly, I’m tired of hearing Christians scream, and watching them hold signs, and attend rallies, and sign petitions in order to defend traditional marriage. When are we going to start taking marriage and the family seriously? When are we going to practice what we so ardently preach? Where are the godly men, unwaveringly committed to one woman, actively engaged with their children, giving of themselves to their families as Christ gives of Himself to the Church? Where are the godly women, remaining true to their husbands, in the good times and the bad, pouring their hearts and souls into their marriages and into their children?
Instead of waging a hopeless ‘culture war‘ built around the naive idea that we can transform our culture from the top down, I have another idea. Why don’t we start demonstrating traditional marriage? Why don’t we spend as much, if not more, energy building, cultivating and nurturing successful, loving marriages so that the world might see God’s design in action? After all, actions speak louder than words.