FAMILY AND MARRIAGE: Don’t change what is until you know why it is the way it is
“Don’t ever take a fence down until you know the reason it was put up.” – G. K. Chesterton
“Marriage is to be held in honor among all.” – Bible
The opening quote attributed to G.K. Chesterton is actually a paraphrase of his words by John F. Kennedy. Here is the original quote, taken from Chesterton’s 1929 book, “The Thing,” in the chapter entitled, “The Drift from Domesticity:” “In the matter of reforming things, as distinct from deforming them, there is one plain and simple principle; a principle which will probably be called a paradox. There exists in such a case a certain institution or law; let us say, for the sake of simplicity, a fence or gate erected across a road. The more modern type of reformer goes gaily up to it and says, ‘I don’t see the use of this; let us clear it away.’ To which the more intelligent type of reformer will do well to answer: ‘If you don’t see the use of it, I certainly won’t let you clear it away. Go away and think. Then, when you can come back and tell me that you do see the use of it, I may allow you to destroy it.’”
Or in other words, don’t change what is until you know why it is the way it is.
I am definitely not a chef, but once in a while I try to help my wife with the cooking. She tells me the ingredients to put in. They may not always make sense to me, but I’ve noticed that even though I don’t know why they are in there, if I leave them out it just doesn’t taste as good.
Unfortunately our society today is neglecting a key ingredient to the health and welfare of our nation. It’s called the family.
A report from the National Healthy Marriage Resource Center cites numerous statistics demonstrating increasing divorce rates, more children born outside of marriage and dramatic increases in cohabitation and then contains the following conclusion: “The brief concludes that changes in American marriage and family structure since the 1960s have decreased the mean level of child well-being in the population, lowered the well-being of many adults, increased child poverty and placed a large financial burden on society.”
Here is another statistic, from the U.S. Census Bureau, Current Population Survey, 2011. The percent of children living in mother-only households, where the mother has never married, has gone from 6.2 percent in 1968 to 45.8 percent in 2011.
I do not want to imply that single mothers, or single fathers, cannot raise healthy children. But it is more difficult. Just the fact that one parent must provide all the financial support as well as do all the other tasks of raising a family is overwhelming. I congratulate those that can do it. But that is not how family is designed.
My viewpoint on this subject is obviously that God has designed the family to be a man and a woman, raising any children that may result. Hence before we change God’s design, we probably should understand why He designed it that way.
However, even if one assumes there is no design, societies over the centuries have had the family as their foundation. Once again, changing the direction established by extensive precedence should be done with caution.
The report noted above also contains the following statement in its conclusion: “The shift from companionate marriage attitudes towards individualistic marriage attitudes is noted, and the negative impact of these trends is explained.”
This statement gets at the essence of many, if not most, of the marital problems today. We are more concerned about ourselves than about our spouse. When we change the original intended design of the family to be in accordance with our own selfish nature, failure is inevitable.
FAMCO will continue to provide the resources and encouragement necessary to help the family succeed.
The Family and Marriage Coalition of Aiken Inc. (FAMCO) provides resources for you to succeed in your marriage and families. Roger Rollins, executive director of FAMCO, 640-4689, firstname.lastname@example.org, www.aikenfamco.com.