“Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you.” – Bible
“No matter how many communes anybody invents, the family always creeps back.” – Margaret Mead
Mary and Joseph were about to married, when Mary became pregnant by the Holy Spirit. When Joseph discovered she was pregnant, he planned to break off the engagement quietly, so as not to embarrass her.
An angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not hesitate to take Mary as your wife. God’s Holy Spirit has made her pregnant, and she will give birth to a son, whom you will call Jesus (the Saviour) for it is he who will save his people from their sins.”
When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel told him. He married Mary but did not have relations with her as a husband until after she gave birth to her son.
So here we have the story of the family of Jesus, a historically documented fact. Rather than sending the Son of God to earth in some spectacular way, Jesus came as a baby to a mother and father. It was a typical lower middle class family of the time, with a working father and a stay-at-home mother, and the usual challenges all families face.
In other ways it was also typical – wife pregnant before marriage and the absence of the father for a part of Jesus’ upbringing. However, Joseph and Mary did get married, and evidently Joseph was present long enough to teach Jesus the trade of carpentry.
The traditional family consisting of a married man and woman raising their children is under tremendous attack. Why is this the case? Dr. W. Bradford Wilcox, a principal author of a new report entitled “The President’s Marriage Agenda for the Forgotten Sixty Percent,” The State of Our Unions (Charlottesville, VA: National Marriage Project and Institute for American Values, 2012), also has written a companion document entitled “Why Marriage Matters – Marriage, Lone Parenthood, Cohabitation, & Child Well-being in the West,” in which he says the following:
“In the last 40 years, marriage has lost substantial ground as the primary institution for the bearing and rearing of children in the West. The causes of this retreat from marriage are myriad – secularization, unprecedented affluence, androgynous feminism, changes in family law and tax policy that have undercut marriage’s unique status and so on – and some scholars now believe that the cultural, economic and political forces arrayed against marriage in the West are so powerful as to make resistance to this retreat futile. In parts of the West, they may be right.
“But the West’s experience with family decline tells us a cautionary tale: From Oslo to Ottawa, from London to Los Angeles, children, adults and communities suffer when marriage loses its institutional power. … Sadly, many Western elites are blind to the social scientific evidence mounting in front of their very eyes – that is, from places like Sweden, Norway and England – showing that a strong and healthy marriage culture is vital to the social, economic and psychological welfare of our society’s most vulnerable members – children.
“If we wish to bequeath humane and well-ordered societies to posterity, we need to think creatively and act quickly to renew the institution of marriage. For, as this report makes clear, the future of the societies throughout the West depends in no small part on the quality and stability of the unions between the mothers and the fathers of the next generation.”
In other words, the traditional family is under attack because it promotes adherence to a set of values that modern society considers outdated and no longer valid, or even correct, for today.
But God’s design hasn’t changed, and objective evaluation of the evidence from today as well past societies proves it is still the best idea. The ultimate relationship is a man and a woman leaving their parents, cleaving to one another, raising children, in connection with God.
Roger Rollins is the executive director of The Family and Marriage Coalition of Aiken Inc. Contact him at 640-4689, firstname.lastname@example.org, www.aikenfamco.com.