Today, a lot of scholars are referring to our culture as a "post-marriage society." One social scientist said that the scale of marital breakdown in America since the 1960s has no historical precedent. Of course, we know the reasons why: the rise in the rates of divorce, out-of-wedlock births, single-parent homes -- all of these are contributing factors. I've even heard the idea that marriage should be refashioned into a contract with a fixed expiration date, after which it could be renegotiated for another set period.
Ideas like that are outlandish, but the question is this: Who or what is going to shape our thinking about this most sacred of relationships?
Joshua in the Old Testament put a challenge to the Israelites in the Promised Land to make a choice, a separation: "Choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve ... But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord" (Joshua 24:15).
Today, I'd like to put that challenge into the context of the family. We need to stop emulating the world when it comes to family and marriage relationships. Relationships, marriages, and families within the church ought to be vastly different from the world. The sad truth is often they are not. So who is going to shape you and your ideas of what a wife is to be, what a husband is to be, what a family is to be?
Men, it's a personal commitment as well as a corporate commitment: "This is what I'm going to do as the leader of my home. And as the leader, I'll speak for all of us: We're going to serve the Lord. This husband, this father, stands up and makes a commitment to pass on to his family the commitment that he has to God."
This has always been God's standard. "Now this is the commandment, and these are statutes and the judgments which the Lord your God has commanded to teach you, that you may observe them ... that you may fear the Lord your God, to keep His statutes, His commandments which I command you and your son and your grandson all the days of your life, and that your days may be prolonged. ... And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up" (Deuteronomy 6:1-2, 6-7).
This is God's pattern for a family. Be personally committed to God and His principles for your relationships. And then pass that on to your children so that when they're adults they are equipped to continue that cycle.
So this is a challenge to fathers, to mothers, and to future parents: Lead! Be committed to God and to those relationships. The culture all around you has abandoned moral absolutes; don't you do it!