Do Marriages Fail?

Knowing of several recent and upcoming marriages, I wanted to share some thoughts on the subject of marriage. Starting with a recent comment by the actor Ashton Kutcher after the public announcement that his wife of six years had filed for divorce.

“Marriage is one of the most difficult things in the world and unfortunately sometimes they fail. Love and Light, AK,”
I would like to take issue with this statement. Although I am afraid it’s not very far from the view that many in our society hold toward the institution of marriage.

Continue reading “Do Marriages Fail?”

The Psychology of Fatherhood (I)

(EDITOR’S NOTE: The following article appeared in the Sept. 1st, 1961 issue of Vital Speeches of the Day. It is the manuscript of a speech delivered to the Annual Meeting of the Maryland Council on Family Relations, Baltimore, Maryland, May 11, 1961, and to The Cadets of The Second Class, United States Air Force Academy, Colorado, May 14, 1961. The entire manuscript is too long to be included in one issue, so the last part of it will be published in next month’s issue. Readers of this journal will do well to carefully consider the remarks made by Dr. Brown.)

(Editor’s Note: This discussion concerned with the psychology of fatherhood has been divided into several sections as follows: First, how does one become a father? And what does it mean to be a father? Secondly, what are some of the problems of being an adequate father? Thirdly, why are fathers so necessary? And, fourth, some concluding thoughts).

How Does One Become a Father?

What Does It Mean to be a Father?

It is perfectly obvious that no particular talent is required for biological fatherhood. Just as there are few requirements for marriage in the first place, i.e., any male, 21 years of age with an IQ over 60, can usually get married; likewise practica11y no requirements exist for becoming a biological father. One unfortunate result of this is the fact that there are tens of thousands of marriages every year in which for the most part about the only contribution of the father to his offspring is that of a single sperm! Thus, there are some 200,000 illegitimate children born every year with no legal, and usually no psychological father. It has been estimated that in Germany alone, there are some 100, 000 illegitimate children born to GI “fathers.” Most of these children are in institutions and have been denied any semblance of normal family life. There are also hundreds of thousands of children who, while legitimate, are nevertheless unplanned for and unwanted, born to fathers, many of whom are essentially indifferent, openly rejecting, or psychologically non-existent as far as the child is concerned. In other words, these men are biological fathers only, i.e., in the really significant and meaningful sense of fatherhood, they are essentially or almost completely lacking. Now the question arises in this connection, should society not demand greater responsibility of fathers than this? Should not at least some minimal qualifications be established before fatherhood occurs?

As things stand now, for example, do we even suggest that, before becoming responsible for bringing another human being into the world, that a man consider what he has to offer this new life, how much he wants to be a father, whether he will shoulder his responsibility in nurturing and training and guiding this offspring so that he or she might grow up to live a useful and productive life? Just recently there was occasion to counsel a young couple who had known each other about ten days before getting married and, one month later, the wife was pregnant. This couple was seen a few months later and the wife was completely miserable in the marriage, openly rejected and hated the husband, referred to her unborn child as the “idiot,” etc., while the husband’s attitude was indifference and unconcern with the whole affair. Now it is sad enough to observe a marriage like this, but is it not much more tragic that a child will be born into this union? What chances for normal, healthy emotional development will a baby have who is born into this kind of marriage?

This problem of fatherhood apparently has its counterpart as far as motherhood is concerned. A recent survey conducted by Dr. Richard Masland of the National Institutes of Health, indicated that approximately one half of the pregnant women interviewed were not sure they wanted their babies. Dr. Masland told a congressional subcommittee that half the women questioned were not at all sure they really wanted to have a baby. This, of course, suggests that many women are simply not adequately prepared to have children. And since this present paper is concerned with fatherhood, the question might be asked, if only about half of the pregnant mothers were not sure they wanted their babies, how many of the fathers wanted them?

One of the problems in this process whereby an unwanted pregnancy and an unwanted child is born to a married couple, psychologically, emotionally, or economically unprepared for parenthood, is the failure to recognize that human sexuality has two essentially separate functions. One of these major functions is procreative, in which the goal is the reproduction of life, to bring a new life into existence, to have a child. The other basic function of sex in marriage is physical love in which the goal is marital pleasure, to increase closeness and intimacy between husband and wife, to provide sexual fulfillment in marriage. Unfortunately, there are many couples who never recognize or appreciate the basic difference of these two functions and, consequently, experience intense conflict and confusion. The father, of an unplanned, unwanted, rejected child is a psychological hazard and serious risk in terms of mental health and emotional well being of that child. Too many men become fathers through accident, ignorance, irresponsibilty, indifference, or unconcern.

Freud has expressed the essence of the twofold function of sex in marriage as follows:

It would be one of the greatest triumphs of mankind . . . were it possible to raise the responsible act of procreation to the level of a voluntary and intentional act, and to free it from its entanglement with an indispensable satisfaction of a natural desire.

Similarly, the theologian, Brunner, has observed that the Christian ethic must come to stand for the independent meaning of sexual pleasure in marriage as an expression of love, and not merely as a means of procreation.

Being an adequate psychological father requires a great deal more of a man than merely being a biological father. It requires love, acceptance, respect, of one’s offspring; it involves providing generous amounts of TLC, tender loving care. It involves being a worthy example; in involves living and not simply preaching the basic values of life such as honor, integrity, kindness, etc. Psychological fatherhood in other words is what really counts in the life of a little child, and older child, and adolescent. To be wanted, to be loved, to be respected, to be supported, to be guided, to be encouraged–these things are the things that a child needs from a father and has a right to expect from a father. Unfortunately, however, mere biological fatherhood in no way guarantees that these basic needs will be supplied. In fact, being an adequate psychological father is not even related necessarily to being a biological father. Thus, an adoptive father who warmly accepts and genuinely loves his adopted child may be immeasurably better than the child’s so called “real” father, i.e. the man who accidently or inadvertently supplied the sperm for conception. (“Biological” would be a better description than “real” father, since as already noted, many biological fathers are not “real” fathers at all!) Of course, in order to become an adoptive father, one must possess at least certain elementary qualifications, such as, sincerely wanting and desiring a child, having a minimum income, adequate housing, freedom from gross physical or mental illness, etc. No wonder, then, that many adoptive fathers are superior to many biological fathers who lack one or more of these requirements, especially the most important of all, that of wanting and desiring a child.

What Are Some of the Problems and Difficulties in “coming an Adequate Father?

Lack of Preparation. One of life’s most responsible and significant challenges, namely fatherhood, often involves no training or preparation whatsoever. To drive a car, one must pass certain tests and meet certain criteria that indicate at least minimum competence; however, to become a biological father, no requirements are considered necessary and, generally, none are required.

Despite the tremendous importance of father’s role in family life and in shaping the character and personalities of succeeding generations, the majority of our sons for example will enter the first grade and graduate twelve years later without so much as a single course in preparation for family living; in addition, only a very small percentage will have the opportunity to take course work in human psychology and human relations, despite the fact that this knowledge is related to all aspects of their life for the rest of their life. And, what we have just said about the lack of preparation for family living and parental responsibilities, applies to an even greater extent when it comes to sex education. There is probably not one high school in 500 that makes any effort at all to provide a straightforward, honest discussion of the facts of life, particularly the human facts of life.

And one consequence is abysmal ignorance among otherwise intelligent and educated people. So, we seem to assume that if our children are given sufficient quantities of English, history, mathematics, and science, somehow they will also be equipped for marriage and parenthood. The fact of the matter is, however, that there are multitudes of marital and parental failures and disturbed families, and it is reasonable to assume that some of the misery and unhappiness involved could have been prevented or lessened through proper preparation and education. In this connection, it is interesting to note that the United States Air Force Academy is one of the few institutions of higher learning that has a required course in marriage and the family. There is recognition here of the significance of family relations in a man’s future life, in this case, his future military life.

A second problem in becoming an adequate father is that of deficiencies in masculinity in general and in the husband role in particular.

In recent years, a number of writers have commented on the failure of many American men to function in the masculine role and in their inadequacy as husbands. There have been discussions of such topics as “The Crisis of American Masculinity,” “The Decline of the American Male,” “The Well kept Husband,” etc. By “Crisis of American Masculinity” is meant the apparent increase of inadequate, unmasculine males in our society; by “The Decline of the American Male,” is meant the loss by many husbands and fathers of the position as “head of the house,” the position having been taken over by the wife; and by “The Well-kept Husband,” is meant the emotionally immature, overly dependent husband who is cared for by his wife along with other children in the family. We arc talking here about boys who grow up as perfectly normal biological specimens of maleness, who are intelligent, and physically fit, but, here is where the difficulty comes, who are retarded in masculine adequacy, i.e., boys who have a deficiency in being able to shoulder the responsibility of mature masculine manhood. As examples, you may recall, Brick Pollitt, in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof or Jimmy Porter in Look Back In Anger, i.e., young men incapable of mature love relationships with their wives, much less becoming adequate fathers, despite the fact that such men give every observable sign of being “verile” and “masculine.” A problem here seems to be that boys who suffer inadequate fathering themselves grow up to be inadequate fathers, thus, the pattern is repeated in succeeding generations. Boys who are smothered by mother and starved by fathers are not likely to grow up and become adequate as husbands or fathers. By and large, it seems that a man is much more likely to become an adequate father if he is secure in his own masculinity to begin with and if he is able to function effectively as a husband.

Still another problem that stands in the way of becoming an adequate father is what might be called pseudo-masculine notions. What kind of an image of masculinity do we hold up for our sons? In this connection, a recent check of 8 or 10 magazines for men (Man’s Life, Rugged Men, Stag, Male, Fury, Sir, Man’s Adventure, Battle Cry, etc.) showed that, without exception, the covers of every one of these so-called “men’s magazines” depicted some form of violence, brutality, or sadism. And the majority mixed in sex with cruelty, such as a woman in a cage with a big burly man lashing at her with a long whip, or another cover showing a woman tied down to a bed with a heavy rope and a sadistic, insane-looking man lurching above her and another equally repulsive male firing a gun. Is this masculinity? Someone has observed that too many husbands in marriage resemble an orangutan trying to play the violin!

Does masculinity for men mean, as the psychoanalyst, Josselyn, has suggested such things as: belittling and looking down on women as a group? making money and acquiring power? and denying feelings of tenderness, affection etc.? In connection with the belittling of women, some men have an attitude, toward their wives that may be characterized as one of, “well, after all, she is only a woman.” Now this idea, “only” may be appropriate when applied to a child, but certainly not to one-half of the adult human race that happens to be as bright and talented and capable as the other half. As one woman has put it, “When men belittle us, they belittle half of life, and they belittle their own happiness. To demean women is to demean love and relationship, and these are the two qualities in which civilization is very weak and which it greatly needs.” (From Scott-Maxwell, Women and Sometimes Men).

The idea that masculinity is proportional to the power over others or wealth that a man can acquire is a fallacy of the first magnitude. The fact that a man may be a great success in his business or profession in no way guarantees that he will be equally successful as a husband or as a father. The denial of feelings as a characteristic of masculinity, is related to the idea that feelings of affection, compassion, kindness, etc. are feminine and, hence unmanly. Many boys tend to be driven to harshness, crudeness, and destructiveness because they have somehow equated this with the ultimate repudiation of anything that resembles being “feminine,” This “taboo on tenderness” is probably part of the basis for many fathers not being affectionate and emotionally close to their children as they should be and as their children need them to be. Fathers should not be afraid to love their children openly and as generously as mothers; after all, a child’s psychological development depends on this as much as his physical development depends on vitamins and minerals.

Gorer, a British anthropologist, has observed that American males are the most sissy-conscious group of men on earth, i.e., they continually struggle against any implication that they are other than 100% super he-men! In lamenting this false notion of masculinity, Philip Wylie has concluded that it is “about time to abandon the idiotic notion that sensitiveness is the same as sissiness.” What we are saying quite simply here is that these false notions about masculinity create problems in helping boys to grow up to become adequate fathers. And this is not only a problem in our society but found among various groups throughout the world. One writer has summed it up as follows:

In far too many cultures, men have been brought up in accordance with an unfortunate concept of masculinity. According to this concept, it is perfectly proper for a man to be coarse, vulgar, unclean, violent, lacking in self-respect, undignified in behavior, and to devote his life to the acquisition of power and material wealth. There is no gainsaying the fact that this conception of what men ought to be has been responsible for a very great part of the tragedies that fill human history. The aforementioned qualities have been exhibited by so many men over so many centuries that is not at all surprising that it should be almost universally believed they are inherent in the masculine character.

But the evidence suggests they are cultural in origin. And the evidence is right at hand for everyone to see. Men who have been brought up according to a diametrically opposed concept of masculinity are refined, dignified, civilized in bearing, possessed with self-respect, and exhibit regard for ethical, intellectual, aesthetic, and religious values. The world might become a considerable better place to live in if parents were to repudiate their barbaric concept of masculinity and bring boys up in accordance with one as civilized as that governing the rearing of girls. Men can help the process along by living their lives on the assumption that there is nothing unmanly about being civilized. (Kamiat, Feminine Superiority.)

Surely, to think of Mussolini, Hitler, or Stalin, as “masculine personalities” is to make the term synonymous with some of the worst potentiality of human nature. On the other hand, surely, Jesus, St. Francis of Assissi, or Gandhi, were not less “masculine” because of their love, compassion, and reverence for human life. In short, we are suggesting that there is a real need to re-interpret and re-evaluate the idea of masculinity and to begin rearing our sons accordingly.

The fourth and last difficulty I would like to mention is the lack of depth of fatherliness. It has been suggested that the roots of fatherliness are not as deep as those of motherliness (Josselyn). Why shouldn’t the father be as deeply significant, psychologically, to a child as the mother? This lack of depth of fatherliness is reflected in various ways in our culture. For example, it is interesting to note that in the book, Dictionary of Thought, there are many references to the word “mother,” while the word “father” doesn’t even occur. We often hear about how unselfish mother love is, how wonderful motherhood is, but what we are asking here is, what about father’s love and what about fatherhood? Why are fathers, as a group, not as wholeheartedly committed to the rearing of their children as mothers? To the extent that this is so, not only is the child denied a very significant and crucially important relationship, but the father also misses one of the most rewarding human experiences that life affords. “When men abandon the upbringing of their children to their wives, a loss is suffered by everyone, but perhaps most of all by men themselves. For what they lose is the possibility of growth in themselves for being human which the stimulation of bringing up one’s children gives.” (Montagu).

Perhaps, because of some of the factors already mentioned, fathers are not as likely to mean as much to their children as mothers. Another source of difficulty in this connection is the very limited amount of contact many fathers have with their children. A few years ago, in an article entitled, “American Men are Lousy Fathers,” Philip Wylie observed that there are 168 hours in a week. “The average man spends about 40 of them at work. Allow another 15 hours for commuting time, lunch, overtime, etc. Then set aside 56 hours, 8 each night, for sleep. That adds up to 111 hours, leaving dad 57 hours he can find time to be a father to his children.”

Now how many of these 57 hours does the average father actually spend with his children? Well, one group of 300 7th and 8th grade boys kept accurate records for a two weeks period. The average time the father and son had alone together for an entire week was 7 1/2 minutes. Thus, the price of business success or professional achievement might sometimes occur at the expense of being less adequate as a father. Certainly, this is a very real problem in many families. Of course, it is not simply a matter of quantity of time that a father spends with his child, but the quality of the relationship that counts, at least given a minimum of contact together.

Finally, Komarovsky, Professor of Sociology at Columbia University, has observed that perhaps both mothers and fathers in many instances lack sufficient depth in their role as parents.

It is quite true that building bridges, writing books, and splitting the atom, are no more essential to society or more difficult than child rearing. But, in our opinion, women cannot be made to believe it unless men believe it too; unless, that is, the whole of our society becomes oriented toward values quite different from those which dominate it today. If men believed for a moment that the rearing of children (and their role as a father) is as difficult and important as building bridges, they would demand more of a hand in it too. It would become unnecessary f or child psychologists to campaign for more active fatherhood. A man could derive prestige and self-esteem from spending weekends with his children, even if this called for a less single-minded dedication to occupational success. The conflict between occupational and family interests would then also become a problem for men and each would have to strike his own balance between the conflicting interests.

Truth Magazine, VI: 1 pp. 2-6
October 1961

The Need of Parental Authority

H. Leo Boles

Perhaps few subjects need to be stressed more than this one. Parents have lost sight of their responsibility to their children, and children are growing up to disregard all restraints and parental authority. In the general decline of respect for authority, both human and divine, which prevails to an alarming extent at the present time, and which threatens to involve in social anarchy and confusion all of the elements of society, it is woeful to observe an almost total failure on the part of parents to exercise their authority in controlling their children. One of the great causes of disrespect for all authority by young people today is the failure of parents to exercise authority over their children. The parent stands to the child, in the years of its character and habits, in the place of God and of all other authority. God has enjoined upon parents that they exercise His authority over the child while it is young and tender. Children are most impressionable in youth, and the parent should not neglect the opportunity for training them.

Continue reading “The Need of Parental Authority”

The Home

Leslie Diestelkamp

If it is true that, “As the home goes, so goes the nation,” then it is even more significantly true that “As the home goes, so goes the church.” Just as surely as a nation will not rise above the quality of homes which make it up, so the church cannot expect to be purer than are the homes from which its members come. If and when we see the evil effects of immorality, those effects will not only be seen in the weakness of a nation, but in the feebleness of a church. 

Continue reading “The Home”

Love Your Children By Loving Your Mate

Love Your Children

By Loving Your Mate

by Chris Reeves

Parenting begins with parents. Parents joined in marriage are to children what a foundation is to a house. If you want your children to grow up strong with the right values, then you, as parents must provided them with the right foundation from the beginning. God provided for the home by first creating one man and one woman to be joined in marriage. These two joined in marriage were to be fruitful and multiply (Genesis 1:26-28). The order is this: a godly marriage first, then children. So, how can parents love their children? They can love them by loving their mate. The Apostle Paul wrote that the older women were to teach the younger women “…to love their husbands, to love their children…” (Titus 2:4). Loving your children and loving your mate go hand in hand.

Love Your Children

By Maintaining a Godly Marriage

Marriages built upon God’s word will result in children being raised the right way. Do you have enough love for your children to begin and maintain a godly marriage? Marriage begins with one man and one woman for life (Genesis 2:18-25; Matthew 19:4-6). This kind of marriage is honorable among all (Hebrews 13:4).

There are problems when children are brought into the world without a godly set of parents guiding them. The percentage of out-of-wedlock births increased 511 percent from 1960 to 1997.[1] And, the percentage of single-parent families more than tripled during this time.[2] Between 1960 and 1997 the marriage rate decreased 33 percent.[3] Children born out of wedlock and to single parents often end up as juvenile delinquents because they do not have the nurturing they need from a godly father and mother. Even if two parents are present in the life of a child, it is possible for these parents to neglect the child to the point of shame (Proverbs 29:15). God wants two godly parents – one man and one woman living the way God directs – to be fruitful and multiply. Parents who are first directed by God’s word will be able to “train up a child in the way he should go” (Proverbs 22:6). What if your marriage is not built upon the principles of God’s word? Fix it! Do you love your children enough to correct any wrongs in your marriage?

Maintaining a godly marriage also takes time together. Wise Solomon wrote, “And rejoice in the wife of thy youth” (Proverbs 5:18), and again, “Live joyfully with the wife whom thou lovest all the days…” (Ecclesiastes 9:9). Peter wrote that a godly husband and wife are “heirs together of the grace of life” (1 Peter 3:7). Marriage is a “one flesh” relationship (Genesis 2:24; Matthew 19:5-6; Ephesians 5:31). You may be married with children, but you must also spend some time during the day together with your spouse rejuvenating your relationship. Enjoy life together! Yes, raising children involves time, but parents must also put a priority on their own time together. Time spent together physically and spiritually will help parents to meet the challenges of raising children. Remember, partnership comes first, then parenthood.

Love Your Children

By Setting the Right Example

Children see what parents do, and hear what parents say. Parents, do you love your child enough to set the right example for them? All the passages of Scripture that apply to Christians setting the right example for the world would certainly apply also to parents setting the right example for their children (Matthew 5:12-13; Philippians 2:15-16; 1 Timothy 4:12; 1 Peter 2:12). Parents, if you want to know how your children will turn out tomorrow, take a good look at yourself today. Like father like son … like mother like daughter (Ezekiel 16:44). The best lesson you can teach your children outside the word of God is a godly example. Do you know that over 90 percent of a child’s influence comes from the home? You cannot rely on society, public schools, friends, local churches, or even other Christians to set the right example for your children. You must do it!

Parents, your children will see the bad in your marriage. Your children will see and hear you when you fuss, fight and insult one another. They will hear you when you lie, murmur and complain, use profanity, or when you tear down church members. They will see you if you are lazy or dishonest. They will also watch you as you put drugs, alcohol or tobacco into your body. They will see all your character flaws and imitate them (Romans 1:24-32; 1 Corinthians 6:9-10; Galatians 5:19-20; Ephesians 4:25 – 5:5; Colossians 3:5-9). Remember, deeds often speak louder than words. What message are your children hearing from you?

Parents, your children will see the good in your marriage. This of course, is what God desires. Mothers, your daughters will see how you submit to your husband as the church submits to Christ and they will grow up to do the same (Ephesians 5:22-24; Colossians 3:18; Titus 2:5; 1 Peter 3:1-5). Godly mothers will also exemplify respect for the father (Ephesians 5:33; 1 Peter 3:2). Your children will see how you help your husband (Genesis 2:18,20). They will see your modest demeanor (1 Timothy 2:9-11; Titus 2:5) and how you love them and your husband (Titus 2:4). Fathers, your sons will see how you honor, cherish and love your wife as Christ loved the church and they will grow up to do the same (Proverbs 12:4; 31:28-29; Ephesians 5:25-33; Colossians 3:19; 1 Peter 3:7). Godly fathers will not provoke a child (Ephesians 6:4) or show bitterness toward the mother (Colossians 3:19). Godly fathers will also set the right example of a loving leader (head) in the home (Genesis 3:16; 1 Corinthians 11:3; Ephesians 5:23).

Setting the right example for your children begins with being a Christian yourself. Are you a Christian? Are you a faithful Christian? Do you love your children enough to show them the importance of being a faithful Christian? Why would your children want to be saved if you are not? Why would they want to live right and go to heaven if you are not living right? Why would they want to attend worship services regularly if you do not? Why would they be motivated to pray and read the Bible regularly if you do not? Why would they want to put God’s kingdom first if you do not? Why would they want to help others or share the gospel if they do not see you doing it? Parents, you need to follow the example of Paul who followed Christ and became a faithful Christian (Acts 26:29; 1 Corinthians 11:1; Philippians 3:17; 4:9), only then can you set the right example yourself for your children. If you are not a Christian, or if you marry a non-Christian, it will be difficult to raise your children in the right way. Parents, don’t just talk your values, walk your values.

Love Your Children

By Sharing the Responsibility

Parenting takes two. God has given the responsibility of raising children to both the mother and the father. Yes, mothers are to “rule the household” (1 Timothy 5:14) and be “workers at home” (Titus 2:5). But, fathers are given the responsibility of nurturing the children in “the chastening and admonition of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4). There are many times when a mother has to raise the children without the help of the father and vice versa. In some cases, the mother is too quick to avoid her duty of managing the home by seeking secular work outside the home, or the father is too busy with his work and hobbies to help care for the children. This is not according to God’s plan. Fathers and mothers, do not let the responsibility of raising your children fall solely on your mate. Help each other as much as you can. Take your part seriously, and fulfill it completely each day. “Children are a heritage of the Lord” (Psalm 127:3) for the mother and the father. Both have the responsibility to care for the children.

Love Your Children

By Remaining Committed

At the end of the 20th Century, approximately forty percent of all first marriages in the United States ended in divorce. The divorce rate has more than doubled since 1960. America has the highest divorce rate of Western nations. Almost one of every ten adults is divorced. The number of children involved in divorce in 1995 was 1.05 million. Sadly, about three of five divorcing couples have at least one child.[4] What a tragedy! Many suffer from a divorce including the children. A man and woman should remain committed to each other after they vow to be married. They should do this because they love God’s word, because they love each other, and because they love their children. Divorce and remarriage for any cause (except for the cause of fornication) is contrary to the New Testament (Matthew 5:31-32; 19:3-9; Mark 10:1-12; Luke 16:18; Romans 7:2-3; 1 Corinthians 7:10-11) and results from disrespect for God’s word, selfishness and a lack of desire to work out problems.

Children are often hurt in divorce because they no longer have a permanent father or mother. Children of divorce often exhibit conduct problems, psychological maladjustments, and lower academic achievement. They are more likely to drop out of school and engage in premarital sex during their teen years.[5] Children of divorce often slump into confusion, guilt, regression, separation anxiety, misbehavior, sadness and disillusionment, feeling deprived, anger, sexual tension, identity problems, false security, depression, fear, isolation or grief.[6] Married couples with children seeking a divorce need to sit down and seriously contemplate the consequences of their actions. An unlawful divorce and remarriage that goes unrepented will damn the soul and harm the children. Married couples who truly love God, each other and their children will remain committed to each other for life (Proverbs 2:17; 5:15ff). Jesus said, “What God hath joined together, let not man put asunder” (Matthew 19:6).

There are a number of ways you as a parent can show your love for your children. You can love them by teaching and training them and by providing for them. You can also love them by loving your mate. Maintain a godly marriage, set the right example for your children, share the responsibility of raising them, and remain committed to each other.

Questions

1. What is God’s divine arrangement for the home (Genesis 1:26-28)?

2. Mothers must learn to love whom (Titus 2:4)?

3. Maintaining a godly marriage will do what for the children?

4. Why is it important for married couples to spend time together?

5. Why is a parent’s example important to the child?

6. List some bad examples that parents can set for their children.

7. List some good examples that parents can set for their children.

8. Why is it important for both parents to be faithful Christians?

9. What responsibility in raising children does the mother have (1 Timothy 5:14; Titus 2:5) and the father have (Ephesians 6:4)?

10. How common is divorce today?

11. What kind of divorce is contrary to New Testament teaching?

12. How does divorce affect children?

13. Why is it important for married couples to remain committed to each other for life?

Chris Reeves

4922 Ogg Road

Cedar Hill, TN 37032

chrisreeves@juno.com


[1] The Index of Leading Cultural Indicators, page 47 (WaterBrook Press, 1999).

[2] Ibid. page 57.

[3] Ibid. page 63.

[4] Ibid. pages 68-72.

[5] Ibid. page 72.

[6] Children of Divorce, pages 39-73 (Zondervan Publishing House, 1992).

Non-Traditional Marriages

by Heath Rogers

In Matthew 19, Jesus was asked a question concerning divorce. In responding to this question, Jesus went back to the beginning (Gen. 2) and taught God’s law concerning marriage. “And He answered and said to them, ‘Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning “made them male and female,” and said, “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh”? So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate'” (vv. 4-6). Notice the application of Jesus’ teaching to some common practices among us today.

Same-Sex Marriage. A couple of years ago, a handful of states began to recognize same-sex unions. While we acknowledge the fact that individual states may define and redefine marriage from a legal standpoint, the Bible teaches that marriage is a right that is given to us by God-not the state. As such, God has the final say concerning what constitutes a marriage. Jesus said that God “made them male and female.” God intended for marriage to be between a man and a woman, not between two members of the same sex. Same-sex or homosexual marriage is contrary to God’s law. As such, it is a sin.

Polygamy. This is the practice of having two or more wives at one time. In the passage quoted above, Jesus showed that polygamy was not a part of God’s marriage plan either. Jesus said that a man shall be joined to his wife (singular) and that the two (not three or more) shall become one flesh. Thus, marriage is between one man and one woman.

I have had people challenge this conclusion by pointing out the fact that there were men in the Old Testament who had multiple wives. King David was a man after God’s own heart (1 Sam. 13:14), and he had multiple wives. Solomon was the wisest and wealthiest king of Israel, and he had 700 wives and 300 concubines (1 Kings 11:3). How can one claim that polygamy is against God’s will? For one, the Law of Moses clearly stated that the kings were not to multiply their wives (Deuteronomy 17:17). The fact that some of them disregarded this instruction does not mean that it was right before God. Secondly, the example of Solomon is far from an endorsement of the practice. Solomon’s wives turned his heart away from God. Third, when we go back to the beginning, we are told that God designed marriage to be for one man and one woman.

Living Together. While this arrangement is not recognized as a marriage from a civil point of view, it takes the place of marriage in the lives of many people today. A man and a woman live together as husband and wife, enjoying all the pleasures and benefits of marriage, sometimes even raising children in their home, without actually being married. It is so common today that one struggles to remember why we used to think it was wrong. Jesus taught that such was wrong. He said that a man was to leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, not live with his girlfriend outside the bonds of matrimony. Sex outside of and prior to marriage is sinful (1 Cor. 7:2). The practice of living together makes a mockery of God and his divine marriage law. Such will not go unpunished. “Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge” (Heb. 13:4).

The non-traditional “marriages” that we have discussed in this article are growing in popularity. However, when examined in light of Scripture, we can see that the word “non-traditional” could (and should) be replaced with the word “sinful.” The moral foundations of our nation are being chipped away piece by piece. The elemental building blocks of our society (marriage and family) are being redefined to please a perverse minority, and our nation is paying the price. Jesus said that marriage is one man joined to one woman for life. That settles the matter.

Reprinted from Truth Magazine March 09

The Effects Of Divorce On Children

by Phillip Owens

God designed marriage to be for life (Matt. 19:6). God’s overall view of divorce is that He hates it (Mal. 2:16). However, if a mate’s spouse commits fornication, God allows the innocent mate to divorce the guilty spouse and remarry without sin (Matt. 5:31,32; 19:9; Mk. 10:11-12; Luke 16:18).

So many people in our country have either never heard or read those passages, or disregard them as irrelevant if they have. Divorce is rampant. Many divorce for no reason except they are tired of living with their present spouse. When such remarry they commit adultery (see above passages). While God gives a mate whose spouse commits adultery the right to divorce and remarry, even then one does not necessarily have to exercise that right. Genuine repentance on the part of the guilty spouse and longsuffering and forgiveness on the part of the offended spouse can go a long way in keeping a marriage in tact, even following the heartache of an adulterous affair. It would seem that this is especially important if children are involved.

God’s pattern for rearing children is for them to have their own mother and father. However, because of recalcitrant immoral mates, innocent spouses have no choice except to divorce and rear their children as single parents. On other occasions spouses whose mates sought divorce when no fornication was involved and when they themselves did not desire divorce are still left with the task of rearing children alone. More times than not custody is awarded to the mother, leaving little or no contact with the father. Given the character of some fathers, this is good.

God’s pattern can not be improved upon. A child needs both parents. Recently one attended a class on human development for elementary certification in which a counselor gave a number of statistics concerning the effects of divorce on children. Here are the statistics.

Children need their Fathers

  • Nearly 4 out of every 10 children are being raised without a father.
  • Among long-term prison inmates, 70% grew up without a father, as did 60% of rapists and 75% of adolescents charged with murder.
  • Fatherless children are 3 times more likely to fail at school, require psychiatric treatment, and commit suicide before the age of 18.
  • They are also 40 times more likely to experience child abuse than children in 2-parent homes (due to increased stress on the mother and increased time left with other relatives or friends).

Effects of Divorce

  • 63% show some sort of psychological problem (anxiety, sadness, moodiness, phobia, and depression) to a much greater extent than children with other types of problems.
  • 56% have poor grades or a significant drop in grades compared to before-divorce figures.
  • 43% show increased aggression toward parents.

Effects on Female children

Among teenage and adult females whose parents divorced when they were children:

  • Most suffered lower self-esteem.
  • Most were precociously involved in sexual relations.
  • Many had delinquent-type behavior.
  • Most had difficulty with the trust of a partner and consequently difficulty establishing and maintaining a lasting adult heterosexual relationship.

Statistics

  • In 1995, 18.9 million children lived with only one parent (27%) and 60% of those were with their mother.
  • Of children living with one parent, 38% lived with a divorced parent (as opposed to a parent who was widowed or had a spouse working over-seas, etc)
  • 4 million children live with their grandparents. In only 1/2 of the cases, one parent also lives there and in 37% neither parent was there.
  • Most single-parent children live in metropolitan areas (14.5 million).
  • Nearly 60% living with only their mother were at or below the poverty line.
  • Children living with a divorced father were more likely to be a part of a family with a higher median income than those with mom.
  • 85% of fathers granted custody of children were white rather than black.
  • Most fathers granted custody were older than their wives.
  • Most custodial fathers were better educated than their wives.
  • Children are 70% more likely to experience criminal acts (abuse, rape, etc) when living with a step-father.

Children who are murdered by a parent are 99% more likely to be murdered by a step-father than a biological parent or step-mother.

If everyone on earth could realize that since God created man, He knows man completely, within and without. Therefore, He knows what is best for man. Divorce is not best! The above statistics show what God said all along.

What can we do to prevent divorce and its impact, especially on children? The following are some suggestions.

1. Before marriage, choose one to marry who is a Christian and who is deeply convicted as to the permanence of marriage (Matt. 19:6). Be convicted yourself!

2. Do not let “divorce” be a part of our vocabulary when discussing your own marriage.

3. Carry out God’s word relative to how we should treat our mates (Matt. 7:12; I Cor. 7:1-5; Eph. 5:22-34; Col. 3:18-19; I Pet. 3:1-7; Proverbs & Song of Solomon).

4. Realize that any marriage, even between people who serve the Lord, requires work. Sacrifices, communication, and consideration of the other mate’s feelings must be paramount. Otherwise, enticements of the world can tempt one or both parties to divorce.

5. Learn to apologize. We all make mistakes. Take full responsibility for your actions.

6. Learn unselfishness. Most problems occur in marriages because one wants his/her way to prevail without consideration of the other. When a couple has children and a mate divorces for no reason, or commits adultery, is obstinate, etc. and children are going to suffer, but the man/woman insists on his/her course of action, such a person is nothing but selfish! He/she is only thinking of him/herself.

Let us make our marriages as God planned and revealed in His word for our good here and in the hereafter, as well as for our children.
via Elgin Hills Examiner, Nov 2008

Divorce and Remarriage: No Waiting Game

Ron Halbrook

Man’s ability to justify his sins is amazing. "God hath made man upright; but they have sought out many inventions" (Eccl. 7:29). In their efforts to justify divorces and remarriages of every description, men have come up with the following concept. When two people cannot get along and they decide to break up their home in the absence of adultery, it is a sinful tragedy, but the result is that they are both free to marry new partners . Some people would add that after such a divorce, both parties are free to marry new partners only after one of them commits fornication . (After already having repudiated their marriage, and waiting for one or the other to fall into immorality, by some mental gymnastics one party puts away the other a second time!)

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