Who’s values should hold sway?
Taken from "Quest for Character" by Charles R. Swindoll, Page 90. (H/T: Jeff)
Sociologist and historian Carle Zimmerman, in his 1947 book Family and Civilization, recorded his keen observations as he compared the disintegration of various cultures with the parallel decline of family life in those cultures. Eight specific patterns of domestic behavior typified the downward spiral of each culture Zimmerman studied.
- Marriage loses its sacredness…is frequently broken by divorce.
- Traditional meaning of marriage ceremony is lost
- Feminist movements abound
- Increased public disrespect for parents and authority in general.
- Acceleration of juvenile delinquency, promiscuity, and rebellion.
- Refusal of people with traditional marriages to accept family responsibilities
- Growning desire for and sacceptance of adultery
- Increasing interest in and spread of sexual perversions and sex-related crimes.
Herein lies one of the huge chasms between conservatives and liberals. The latter, preferring to be called "progressives", wish to move society "forward" and often "back slap" each other as being "forward thinking and being unshackled by traditional mores". Conservatives, while not minding change in some areas, do not believe that some things need to change; rather, they should not be tinkered with at all.
As both a conservative and an Evangelical Christian, I certainly hold to this view, and …
… to the observations enumerated above. The family unit, nuclear and extended, IS the basis of society. When those bonds are weakened by outside forces, whether by popular culture or government actions, detrimental things will happen to society overall.
And make no mistake – marriage and the traditional family is under attack. No, not by any one large push, but more of "a death by a thousand cuts".
The traditional nuclear family has existed for thousands of years because it works. It is the optimal organization for raising children as current sociological studies are showing (feminists and apologists aside, they show that children need the attributes of a Dad and a Mom for optimal raising and psychological health and mature living). While many liberals decry this standard by braying that we are a pluralistic society and that we must accept other forms of family and marriage, we should always be focused on what is best.
When families are supported, when they thrive, society itself is better. Policies and programs that promote the special nature of family values and protects the nuclear family should be foremost as we discuss public policy. Too often, popular culture and our public policies, while paying lip service to this ideal, end up weakening family bonds. For instance, how often on TV is Dad portrayed as the bumbling fool and clueless in all aspects of life? While it can be a source of cheap laughs in the short term, over the long term an insensitivity builds up and the position of the traditional respect due to a father and husband and their role is diminished. One only has to look at the soaring rates of unwed births to see that Dads are not valued, that either many women decided that a man is unneeded and "go it alone" or that the biological birth fathers ignore their resulting responsibilities. Certainly, in these cases, the role of marriage is diminished also, with a serious societal and financial cost to us all.
Another example of where something that seems to be a "good idea": for centuries, children were valued, and birthrates showed this. While it is correct to point out that healthcare technology (or the lack of it) and the agricultural nature of most of human history demanded high birthrates, there was another reason – families stayed together. Case in point is that as the parents aged and needed more assistance, family members were there to care for them and it was the norm for elderly parents to live with their offspring.
This was a normal and accepted behavioral model. One still sees that in full force among the Amish – it is expected that family will take care of their parents.
Why not in the general population? One only has to look to a governmental program for the reason. Why orginally purported to protect destitute widows that had no family, it has become the way to de-link familial generations. That program is Social Security.
Now, this is not a rant against SS – there are many positive items that stem from SS. However, it has had the (unintended?) consequence of weakening (if not breaking) the inter-generational bonds between family members. One example is the mantra among our senior citizens is "don’t take away my driver’s license – I will lose my independence!". And currently here in rural central NH, there is a kerfuffle of our senior citizens demanding more publicly funded transportation – and at 1/2 dollar or a dollar per ride, we can see the cost to society of moving to a weakened family model.
One more that illustrates that people will take advantage of a system and will work to maximize their advantage under a system was welfare as begun during the Great Society of Lyndon Johnson. Society has now realized the debacle that has transpired under the guise of "help", especially among the black urban families. Under the guise of support, society paid more for children if there was no husband or family in the picture. The results speak for themselves – well meaning progressives enacted laws and regulations that actually penalized traditional families for acting in a responsible way (divorce or never marry, have more kids, be rewarded with more money).
I’ve gone off on a tangent and gone long; let’s swing back to the basis of this – marriage, as the key, the linchpin to the family is the marriage between a man and a woman.
Actually, that will be another post.