FAMILY AND MARRIAGE: Is there a right and wrong
“Once you depart from the Ten Commandments as being the foundation of right and wrong, you are in a free fall.” — Randall Terry
”There is a way which seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.” — Bible
Jack and Jill were married by a justice of the peace. They chose to be married because it gave them some material benefits, but they left “religion” out of it. Their marriage was strictly contractual; they promised to treat each other “right.” Their marriage didn’t last very long because they had vastly different definitions of “right” and no way to reconcile those differences.
This Family and Marriage column focuses on suggestions to help our marriages and families be successful, which strongly implies that there is a right way and a wrong way when it comes to marriage and the family – otherwise it would difficult to define a successful marriage.
So what does the general public think about right and wrong? Well, one website called debate.org finds that 43 percent of its respondents say there is a right and a wrong and 57 percent say there is no right and wrong. The associated comments are interesting. For example, the response that there is no right or wrong cannot be right because there is no right or wrong. Clear as mud. However, this has become an important question in our society today.
A new survey conducted by George Barna for the American Culture & Faith Institute (ACFI) shows that a large majority of the nation’s adults have radically redefined moral behavior related to family matters. A random sample of 1,000 adults was asked their opinions on the morality of eight family-related behaviors. Here are the results:
Using pills or medical devices for birth control – acceptable to 86 percent
Getting a divorce – acceptable to 77 percent
Sexual intercourse between unmarried male and female adults – acceptable to 71 percent
Having a baby without being married – acceptable to 69 percent
Intentionally looking at pictures or videos that display nudity or explicit sexual behavior – acceptable to 58 percent
Having an abortion – acceptable to 48 percent
Being married to more than one person at the same time (i.e., polygamy) – acceptable to 28 percent
Physically or emotionally intimidating or aggressively dominating someone – acceptable to 23 percent
Here are some other interesting results. For at least 15 percent and as much as 40 percent of adults, behaviors such as divorce, abortion and unmarried sexual intercourse are not considered to be moral issues.In other words, there are no cultural or religious boundaries that dictate whether such behaviors are appropriate or inappropriate; those behaviors are simply a reflection of individual preferences. For the eight measures examined in the research, an average of one-quarter of all adults (25 percent) said those behaviors are not moral issues. One-third or more of the public considers divorce, birth control and having a baby outside of marriage to be amoral decisions.
The survey breaks the results down into various subgroups of our culture, e.g. “born again Christians” vs. those not identifying themselves as born again; those claiming to be religious vs. religious skeptics (agnostic, atheist or indifferent to religion); liberals vs. conservatives; older vs. younger generations; and racial and ethnic groups. There are significant differences in the various subgroups but the combined results are alarming.
It’s not that a man and a woman entering into a relationship want to deliberately hurt their partner. But for many the primary goal is self-protection, i.e. my happiness comes first. If there is no absolute definition of right and wrong behavior, then it’s up to me to choose that behavior which best promotes my own happiness. The divorce rates, predominance of dysfunctional families and children with only one (or no) parent involved in their lives are the results.
However, there is an absolute definition of right and wrong. He’s called God. He has a design for marriage and the family and it works. The first principle is to recognize that God is the authority and we must deny ourselves (as the authority). Then our marriages can function as God designed them.