All Around Us

Modern Views Of Marriage 

In many different ways and from many different sources, the home is under attack today. A concerted and devilish effort is being made to destroy utterly this fundamental institution of society which was ordained by God at the very dawn of history. Included in the quote below is a modern sociologist’s views on the need for radical change in family life. It gives some idea as to the thinking of all too many people in this country. We are indebted to Christian News for the quote.

It is marriage that has been changing profoundly in recent decades, not just what married people do. There is now perhaps a universal awareness that the basic rules of the family game are being challenged, rather than individuals cheating in terms of rules that themselves are dependable. The relationship between husband and wife, and in different ways between parents and child, is being looked at critically by people who are aware that neither the law nor any other institution of society has, in reality, the power to compel within the home behavior that people do not believe in. 

For couples who do not intend to engage in parenthood, and therefore have a right to exercise their own freedom as private persons, we can expect that today’s yes-or-no marriage choice will be replaced by a much more individualized freedom of contract, in which couples will enter that kind of marriage which suits them. This could be done either by offering different kinds of marriage from which each couple will select one ,(at a time); to which they are then bound, or by engaging the services of a marrying counselor (likely a lawyer) who would assist couples in drawing up their own internally consistent contracts. 

Neither monogamy nor indefinite permanence are important in this: respect, so they will not be required. However, the agreed-upon choice will be explicit and recorded so there’s no question of deception or misunderstanding, as well as to provide statistical information, and official registration of this choice is an element of marriage which will remain a matter of public concern. 

Explicit choice of the kind of marriage one enters into is, of course, an effect not only of the emancipation of women, but of men as well. What will some of the major options be? With the insurance functions that were formerly secured by having children (who would provide during one’s old age) being completely taken over by the government (assisted by unions; pension funds and the like), there will be little reason to warn those who choose childlessness against this course. 

With celibacy no bar to sexual satisfaction (because of the acceptance of nonmarital sex with contraceptions), society will accept the idea that some segments of the population can obtain whatever intimate satisfactions they require in a series of casual, short-term ‘affairs’ (as we call them today), and will never enter any publicly registered marriage.

Another not-unfamiliar option in this regard will be the renewable trial marriage, in which people explicitly contract for a childless union which is to be comprehensively evaluated after three years or five years, at which point either a completely new decision can be reached or the same arrangement can be renewed for another term of three or five years. 

This would not be, then, a question of divorce; it is simply a matter of a definite arrangement having expired. The contract having been for a limited term, both parties are perfectly free to decide not to renew it when that term is over. This would be a normal, perhaps minor, part of one’s ‘marital career.’ 

A third option, which introduces very few complications is the permanent childless marriage; the arrangements between the two adults are of indefinite duration, but they have agreed in advance that there will be no off-spring, and of course, there is no question but that medical technology will make it possible for them to live up to that part of the arrangement. Some will choose sterilization, others will use contraceptive methods which can be abandoned if one changes his mind and is authorized to procreate.

Compound marriages will also be allowed, whether they be polygamous, polyandrous or group marriages. However, these communes will not be free of the same obligations that any marriage entails, such as formally registering the terms of the agreement among the members; any significant change in the arrangements among members of such a familial commune will have to be recorded in the appropriate public place in the same way as marriages and divorces which involve only one husband and one wife. 

There will be great freedom with regard to the number of people in the commune, but internal consistency concerning the give-and-take among the members, their privileges and obligations, will be required. The functional, pragmatic ethic emerging in today’s youth culture will be strictly adhered to, some years hence, not as moral absolutes, not because people have come to the belief that these represent the true right and wrong, but in order to prevent serious conflict. 

The great misery of many families today makes it evident enough that radical change is needed. The law will have to catch up with most of society—educated youth, the affluent classes, liberated women, and the culture of poverty. All these are starting to experience new family norms of which the law gives no hint.

There is a lot of food for thought in the above essay. What strikes one especially is the calm assurance that these things are indeed in store for us in the future. They are not the wild-eyed dreams of a radical. They are not the far-out speculations of one mildly mad. They are the calm reasonings of one who sees that these very things are already happening. The big question for the author is: when will what is already common among us in our society be made legal? Nor will it do to answer this with an emphatic: Never. It is too clear that society most generally follows this same pattern. Gambling, long illegal, is practiced anyway. So the solution is to make it legal. Abortion is contrary to the law; but there are innumerable abortions being performed every day. So . . . make it legal. There is little reason to doubt then that some such thing will also happen in the institution of marriage. 

It is also beyond doubt that these current practices influence the people of God. I think it is not so much that any child of God would ever give any thought to the whole principle presented above or to the options to marriage suggested there; the danger is more subtle. It is a kind of evil influence which creeps into marriages which are made in the Lord. There are the ideas, for example, that sex is the be-all and end-all of life in general, and of the marriage state in particular. There is the whole notion that one of the chief purposes of marriage is not the bringing forth of children. There is the silly idea that a marriage which is successful and happy just happens; romantic love is sufficient to hold it together and make it blissful. And if romantic love does not do the job, well, then the marriage was a mistake to begin with. If any of these ideas or others creep into our thinking, the result will be indeed unhappy marriages not only, but marriages which no longer are pictures here upon this troubled earth of the relation between Christ and His elect bride, the Church. Here is where the danger lies. 

And this requires of us that we set forth very succinctly in the Church and home, to our children and young people, what Scripture has to say about the marriage bond. This is increasingly a solemn obligation. Only then will we all be tied so tightly to Scripture and its only rule of faith and life that all the corruptions of the world will not be able to tug us away from our only immoveable rock and from the only way to happiness and peace. God’s Word is still the only lamp to our feet and light upon our path—also in marriage. 

Creationism In California’s Schools 

We have discussed before in these columns the controversy which is presently going on in California over the question of whether creationism is to be taught in the public school system. You will recall that, chiefly through the efforts of the Creation Research Society, the State school authorities were considering a plan to order the schools to teach creationism along with evolutionism as being a possible explanation for the origin of the world and the universe. This whole question stirred up a storm of controversy—as one can well imagine. 

The Curriculum Commission, after an open hearing on the debate, decided to follow this policy. That is, they decided to recommend this policy to the State School Board. 

Recently the School Board considered the matter. It was hoped that the Board would merely “rubber-stamp” the recommendations of the Curriculum Commission; but this is not what happened. While the Board’s decision is not entirely clear, and while it still remains to be seen precisely how the Board will carry out its decision, apparently the Board decided only to revise the textbooks in such a way that, while evolutionism will be taught and creationism excluded, nevertheless evolutionism will be taught as a theory rather than as a scientifically proved explanation of origins. In other words, evolutionism will be presented as a possible explanation, not yet proved, but one held by the majority of scientists. 

Evolutionists are not at all satisfied with this and are pressing for the old position. Nor are creationists satisfied, though they see the decision as a partial victory. 

The whole question is complex. On the one hand, evolutionists argue that the decision of the Board is wrong because evolutionism is scientifically verifiable or at least the only satisfactory explanation of scientific, facts. They claim that creationism is unscientific, is, in fact, religion. And therefore, the adoption of any form of creationism in the schools will violate the separation between church and school required by the Constitution. They are wrong on all counts. They are wrong when they say that evolutionism is scientifically proved; for it is not. They are wrong when they say evolutionism is science and not religion. Evolutionism is religion too, though a very evil and God-denying religion. When it is taught in public schools, religion is being taught. This is so manifestly obvious, only a fool cannot see it. 

On the other hand, I cannot be in complete sympathy with the position of the creationists either. They want creationism to be presented in the public schools along with evolutionism as a “viable option.” They do this on the grounds that there is as much—scientific support for creationism as there is for evolutionism. They too are wrong. It is wrong to present creationism and evolutionism as viable options. It is wrong to say (or even to suggest) that we accept creationism on the basis of scientific evidence. This is wrong because the whole question is not one of “evidence,” of scientific fact, of proof for either in the creation. The whole question is not an intellectual question, but a question which is spiritual in character. It is a question which arises in the arena of faith vs. unbelief. We do not believe creationism because there is scientific proof for it. We believe creationism because this is the teaching of the Word of God. And on that basis we are confident that there is not a shred of scientific evidence which will refute what Scripture says,—if science is true science and if all the facts are clearly known. And therefore, man has really no choice in the matter. He must not be permitted to think he has a choice. He must believe the Scriptures. If he believes he will be saved. If he will not believe the Scriptures, he, is damned. For Faith in the Scriptures is faith in Christ. Unbelief in the Scriptures is rejection of Christ. The issue is and always must be spiritual.