Monthly Archives: May 2014

What Marriage Are We Defending?

The Apostle Paul wrote to the Ephesian Christians and admonished the husbands to love their wives the way that Christ loved the church – by sacrificing his life for it (Eph 5:25).

The Supreme Court has heard cases regarding same-sex marriage and made a significant ruling last year.  All of the talking heads on television are all over it. Opinions are running riot through the air waves. The American public seems to have dramatically shifted in it’s opinion on the matter.

The Defense of Marriage Act is a federal law that defines marriage and limits it to a legal union between one male and one female. It was signed into law in 1996 by President Bill Clinton. It has now been ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court (5-4).

Former Secretary of State and Senator and First Lady Hillary Clinton has decided that she might want to run for president again. She’s come out and changed her position on same-sex marriage.  Of course, now that she’s going to run and the political winds have changed, former President Bill Clinton changed his mind too. That’s sort of what he’s famous for – jumping on whatever’s popular at the time. He’s a very successful Southern politician.

But what if all of this isn’t really about same-sex marriage?  What if our cultural anomie about marriage is an effect of something deeper – at the very heart of our civilization? What if we have slowly yet deliberately changed the very meaning of marriage?

What if marriage in our society has evolved from a union between a man and a woman for the purposes of…

  1. expressing intimacy and sacrifice,
  2. producing and raising children, and
  3. making a living together

,,,to something more immediate?

What if the real reason we get married today is because we are seeking emotional happiness and personal satisfaction with our own life?

Is it possible that the most important reason that I would get married today is because I am seeking fulfillment for emotional needs in my life (at least those that I am aware of right now)?

“I want to get married because of what it can give to me.”

I wonder if marriage is no longer mainly a domain of sacrifice and commitment but instead has been transformed to one of personal need fulfillment and a “happiness retreat” from the impersonal world of work.

Our culture has become so successful that we really don’t need other people for personal interaction. We just need people to show up and do their jobs. (Or so we think). What we can’t get from the drive-thru or the computer screen is love and happiness. As humans we need this, so we seek it in cohabitation and marriage. When happiness fades, we move on.

I think we’ve changed the purpose of marriage without even realizing it. So now, it makes perfect sense to base marriage, partner selection and even having children on individual wish fulfillment criteria.

“This makes me happy right now, so it must be the right thing to do.”

America is one of the few societies in the history of the world to base marriage almost solely on romantic love.

Members of a society who think and act like this are not at all concerned with the social repercussions of their behavior. Year after year I have shown classrooms of students research findings on the devastating effects of divorce on children. But over and over again these same students overwhelmingly answer “YES” to the statement “if two people are not happy together, even if they have children, they should get divorced.”

(Many of these ideas are from the late Judith Wallerstein)

I think we have to figure out what marriage means before we can even begin to debate who can be married.

[Did you know that over 40% of children in America are born out of wedlock?]

The world we live in has changed (it always does), our social institutions have changed. I’m not certain our values have kept up. Marriage and family isn’t a political platform plank. It more resembles the mortar and brick with which our civilization is built. As you look up and down your street, listen to the news, watch the elections, read the magazines, what is OUR civilization being transformed into for the next generation?

“As the family goes, so goes the nation and so goes the whole world in which we live.”  Pope John Paul II (1986)

How Many Days For Mom?






Youth fades; love droops; the leaves of friendship fall; A mother’s secret hope outlives them all.  – Oliver Wendell Holmes

I met a mom recently. She was with her son as he visited the university. They were trying to figure out the future. She wasn’t wearing a wedding ring so I assumed that it was just the two of them striking out on this next adventure together. He seemed very excited and full of questions. He was looking down toward his future and his eyes were glazed with hope.

She smiled during our interview and asked questions like any concerned parent. I glanced over at her every now and then and I think I could see a glimmer in her own eyes. She was looking down toward that same future with her son but her gaze was filled with a tinge of sadness and a lonely acceptance. She knew he was leaving one day, one day soon. As a single parent, maybe they had fought some hard battles together to make their lives work. They seemed to have a strong friendship that would always last.

One day a Mother’s Day will come and you will wonder how you ever made it without her. Somehow in a thousand little ways she pushed you into a hope that maybe she never had.

I’ve got a friend whose mom is far away and trying to manage the health care of her frail husband. He’s been in the hospital and he’s not recovering well. She has so many hard decisions to make all by herself. His mind has been fading away for some time now. My friend is far away and so busy. He’s in that stage of life where it’s now his turn to care for his aging parents. The roles are shifting. They don’t always shift easily for everyone. I’m sure that she’s scared, lonely and dreading the future. Who wouldn’t have those feelings?

One day a Mother’s Day will come and you realize that your mom needs you more than words will ever communicate.

As we approach our celebration of Mother’s Day, think about how that social role – MOM – has changed in your lifetime.

Our moms are on the job. Actually on two jobs. Seventy percent are working outside the home and all are working at home. When women come home from work and then “clock in” to start on all the housework that must be done, we call this the second shift. There are all kinds of ways that working families have figured out how to share the load, but research continues to reveal that mom bears most of the burden, still. Maybe its time for you to get up off the couch or come out of your room and unload the dishwasher or do some laundry without saying a word.

And keep helping because it’s the right thing to do.

I remember my mother’s prayers and they have always followed me. They have clung to me all my life. – Abraham Lincoln

Forty percent of our children are now raised by a single mom. That has certainly changed the role of MOM in our families. She’s now left the home and gone to work, many are working an extra job to make ends meet. Who’s at home when the bus drops the kids off from school? Who’s helping with all that extra homework these days? Who’s teaching all those lessons about what it means to be an adult?

Who’s got time?

Somehow it gets done for so many. Don’t you know single moms who have made it work? Who have figured out how to raise remarkable children AND make the ends come together each month. Where’s the big glow in the dark trophy for those moms?

Most that I know aren’t even mildly interested in that kind of recognition. What they want more than anything you can see in their eyes when they watch their child from across the room as he talks to a new friend or adult.  She watches and knows that the tears, stand-offs and pitched battles were worth it all.

Happy Mother’s Day…everyday


I love my mother for all the times she said absolutely nothing…. Thinking back on it all, it must have been the most difficult part of mothering she ever had to do: knowing the outcome, yet feeling she had no right to keep me from charting my own path. I thank her for all her virtues, but mostly for never once having said, “I told you so.”   — Erma Bombeck