As a pastor, I’m privileged to be a part of great moments in the lives of people. But I also get a front row seat to the pain of life. Much of it caused by people trying to break God’s laws. Instead, they end up breaking themselves against them.
With the recent events in Indiana and Arkansas regarding discrimination let’s take a look at the reason and logic and not just the emotion of the argument. Sometimes we generate more heat than light.
The last twenty years have brought us a tide of sentiment into our world that recites the mantra, “Don’t judge me.”
My daughter and I visited the Lincoln Park zoo recently. As we approached the tiger pen, I looked with amazement at the lengths the zoo went to in order to keep the tigers and people separated. A small fence separated by a tall fence, separated by a large mote. All so we could enjoy the majesty and glory of the tiger without experiencing his destructive power. It reminded me of the boys in San Francisco who relentlessly teased a tiger at the zoo until she surprised them by jumping out of her enclosure and attacked.
Our culture is teasing a tiger. We are smugly tearing down the fence of marriage. As if we invented it, we declare traditional marriage (there really is no other kind) to be an outdated, puritanical, oppressive institution. Like any destructive force, it destroys faster than we can realize the full implications of its destruction. If we tear down this fence, we will momentarily look around and declare – “See, everything is fine, those religious rednecks were simply stupid” — then the tiger will stalk. We can quickly tear down fences, but societies erode slowly, almost imperceptibly. Please allow me to share with you just a few reasons why marriage matters.
Marriage helps hold the fabric of society together.
In his book Family and Civilization, Harvard Sociologist, Carle Zimmerman compared the disintegration of various cultures with the parallel decline of family life in those cultures. He identified no less than eight specific patterns of domestic behavior typified the downward spiral of each culture he studied.
- Marriage loses its sacredness; it is frequently broken by divorce.
- Traditional meaning of the marriage ceremony is lost.
- Feminist movements abound.
- Public disrespect for parents and authority in general increased.
- Juvenile delinquency, promiscuity, and rebellion accelerate.
- People with traditional marriages refuse to accept family responsibilities.
- Desire for and acceptance of adultery grow.
- Interest in and spread of sexual perversions and sex-related crimes increase.
He wrote this book in 1947; it appears to be prophetic.
Marriage Helps Society Progress Culturally
Joseph Unwin was a noted British anthropologist of Cambridge and Oxford of the last generation. His comprehensive study called Sex and Culture shows how the sexual morals of a culture impact the cultural advancement of that society. He studied eight civilized and un-civilized cultures over several hundred years of history.
He divided cultures into four categories:
- Primitive (zoistic) –builds no temples, no thought out ideas about the universe and how it works. No rituals for their dead.
- Semi-Primitive (manistic) – slightly more advanced, still no temples, have a few post-funeral rituals for their dead, a few vague ideas about how the universe works and the powers behind it.
- Deistic – Builds temples, employs priests in order to maintain a right relationship with the powers of the universe
- Rationalistic – this group is the only one that can be called cultured. Developed a logical understanding of the universe, which allows its people to control their environment to a degree. Elaborate rituals to mark important life events.
What he found was that in each culture, there was a direct correlation between what they taught about sex and marriage and their cultural advancement. If a culture had a low view of marriage and sexual morality, they lacked what he calls, “expansive energy.” Those cultures that had a high view of marriage and sexual morality within the marriages had great cultural expansive energy which is dedicated to cultural enhancement.
Glen Stanton, a social research analyst, referring to Unwin’s study writes, “Those cultures that allow sexual freedom do not display this kind of social energy and are consistently of a lower order. They are slothful because their energy is consumed with meeting their physical appetites. Therefore, they do not have interest or energy to invest in cultural improvements. In these cultures, life is for now.”
Clearly, our culture is in decline. Many of our cities are dying from the inside out. There are a number of places within our own borders where it is not safe to travel. We are so self-indulgent and lacking personal discipline that our national and personal debt is threatening to strangle our financial viability and freedom as a people. The news headlines are getting more gory and bizarre. Our law enforcement officials are consistently over-worked. The dockets in our court systems are growing longer and longer. Sexually transmitted diseases are rampant and getting worse.
We as a society are having to expend tremendous amounts of material, emotional and creative resources simply trying to hold our society together, let alone applying those resources toward advancing ourselves a civilization. While marriage breakdown isn’t the only factor in this decay, it is one of the largest ones.
Marriage is oppressive, we want to be liberated from it? Like the fish wants out of the bowl. He finds that where he was wasn’t so bad.
Marriage matters to your children. It provides the best atmosphere for raising children.
Children raised with a married mom and dad are:
- Seven times less likely to live in poverty
- Six times less likely to commit suicide
- Less than half as likely to commit a crime
- Less than half as likely to become pregnant out of wedlock
- Achieve better grades
- Have better social skills
- Are more healthy physically and emotionally as adults
Marriage matters to you: Makes for happier healthier adults.
The mountain of research is now in and one of the most consistent findings is that men and women do markedly better in all measures of specific and general well-being compared to their unmarried counterparts.
- Married couples are healthier physically
- Healthier mentally
- Less prone to addictions, suicide, and stress
- Live longer
- Enjoy a more fulfilled life
This is rarely mentioned in the news about marriage. Marriage is much more than a legal arrangement. Marriage truly makes a positive difference in the lives of men and women.
Some say marriage is an outdated, oppressive institution. They say it’s time to admit that traditional marriage might have run its course. Social evolution demands we progress to more enlightened forms of the family and child rearing.
My advice — don’t tear down a fence before you pause long enough to find out why it was put there in the first place. You might find it was guarding the pen of a tiger.
One of the greatest things I’ve ever learned is that sin – trying to get your needs and desires met apart from God’s will – steals the very thing you seek. Every sinful action is a losing transaction, it gives you a dime’s worth of pleasure but steals a dollar’s worth of your life. Pornography is a perfect example. Experts from various worldviews are coming to see this epidemic as harmful. Sadly, many of the girls I work with are resigned to a porn addicted man.
This predator steals:
1. Ability to experience healthy sexual pleasure.
God created you with a body, soul, and a spirit. God gave you these gifts so that you can experience the world around you. Your senses interface with creation to inform you of pleasure and pain. Your brain and nervous system interfaces with the world and relays information to your mind. Your brain is your primary pleasure center. When you experience pleasure, your brain releases hormones that cause pleasurable sensations. God has created a sexual part of you that he designed to be released within the protective bonds of a life-long commitment called marriage. God designed the sex act to be very pleasurable. Pornography, brings to you a distorted picture of sexuality while at the same time stimulating these pleasure sensors in the brain. The viewing of pornography will OVERUSE your pleasure systems and cause them to wear out. Yet the science of your brain regarding of porn addiction is clear: watching porn causes sharp spikes in the activation of the pleasure hormones, these sharp spike have long-term consequences. It can cause a desensitizing of your pleasure centers in the brain. Which can make it MORE DIFFICULT for you to experience healthy sexual pleasure.
As our reward circuits are desensitized, it takes stronger and stronger stimuli to get the same feelings of pleasure. This often leads to addiction. Pornography now becomes the master and you the slave. Sin steals the very thing it promises. When you pursue sexual pleasure in a wrong way, it steals the ability for you to experience it in a healthy way. This can lead to problems within marriage. The sexual part of you that God created to be a great blessing, can instead be a source of stress and dysfunction. The hormones that God designed to bond you and your wife together, now have been hindered from performing their God-given function. Instead of having a desire for their wife, the porn addicted person has programmed their mind and body to desire fake, photo-shopped people that their wives cannot compete with.
2. A healthy picture of women as sisters, mothers, wives and daughters.
The porn-filled mind looks at women as potential objects of gratification. The momentum inside the mind becomes one of sexual fantasy rather than normal, healthy relationships. Porn makes you view women through the lens of a sexual predator, not a protector. A healthy view of women begins with the idea that all women will fit into only four categories: sisters (these include, sisters in Christ/friends. 1 Timothy 5:1-2), mothers, wives, and daughters. One day God may grant you the gift of one of his daughters for you to shepherd. She will move from a sister to a wife through the path of holy romance. Pornography steals the ability to move through the path of holy romance.
3. The ability to permanently bond with that one special woman God has for you. God designed sexual activity to bond one person to another. If you train your body and soul to bond to many people you destroy the ability to bond deeply with one person. Think of a piece of tape. It’s designed to bond to one surface. If you rip it off and try to re-stick it multiple times, it loses its stickiness. Pornography is a self-centered medium. It enables you to divorce healthy sexuality from a living, breathing, real person—your wife. It is like the tape curving up and sticking to itself. This makes only the non-stick side available.
Dr. Victor Cline, in his essay “Pornography’s Effects on Adult and Child” sums it up well,
“In my experience as a sexual therapist, any individual who regularly masturbates to pornography is at risk of becoming, in time a sexual addict, as well as conditioning himself into having a sexual deviancy and/or disturbing a bonded relationship with a spouse. A frequent side effect is that it also dramatically reduces their capacity to love. It results in a marked dissociation of sex from friendship, affection, caring, and other normal healthy emotions and traits which help marital relationships.”
For further reading: http://www.salvomag.com/new/articles/salvo13/13hilton.php