SERMON : The challenges to marriage and family today

The survival of our society in a particular way depends very much on the way our families handle their responsibility in reproduction and education of their children who are the hope of the future of our society.

The survival of our society in a particular way depends very much on the way our families handle their responsibility in reproduction and education of their children who are the hope of the future of our society.

This of course is true for every nation; developing or developed; a very considerable factor which controls the context in which the family operates.

It is true however that the importance of the family is very crucial for the countries like ours which are undergoing a moral rehabilitation. 

Given the importance of the family as an institution, all should be done to protect it from different and many modern waves which threaten to dilute it.

Among the many challenges which continue to shake its roots, there is modern culture and economy at the fore front; and these two remain the main causes of the on going shift of the traditional pre-eminent status of the family as a social institution.

All over the world, new family laws are coming up to facilitate unilateral divorce, hence exposing the family to a high degree of vulnerability.

There is a change going on in the society’s understanding of sexual morality especially among the youth, whose laxity end up in different types of illegitimate cohabitation. And this practice continues to mock the marital status of the family as unjust and undesirable.

At a fast rate, new medical technology is offering a relatively easy way of having children outside marriage in a way that does not necessitate sexual intercourse.

All these adventures and much more to come do question the traditional values of both marriage and family.

In many nations the consequences of the above challenges are already alarming: this include single motherhood, a very high rate of divorce, many out-of-wedlock children and an inevitable high number of family break-down! In brief there is a great need to defend the human family from the aggressive modern waves.

According to the Christian view, marriage is instituted and ordained by God for the lifelong relationship between one man as husband and one woman as wife, and is to be held in honour always and by all people.

In order to defend the family therefore one must insist on both its union and permanence.

Jesus heralded all the defenders of the human family by insisting on its permanence. According to Jesus, in marriage a woman and a man complement each other and they are joined together by God so that they are one and no longer two.

Jesus set forth his basic position on marriage as God-made, monogamous, and lifelong. When the Pharisees insisted that he was taking rather a hard position which needed to be reconsidered, they were surprised by what they got as an answer from him.

He spoke  to them as only God could do when speaking to human beings, and reaffirmed the dignity and permanence of marriage and the family; ‘…they are no longer two, but one.

Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.’ According to Jesus, there is no reason good enough to bread down a sacred marriage.

This surely must be food for thought for the partners in marriage; they should do all it takes to stick together as a respectable family, that way they would be doing what is pleasing to God.

In her defence of the family as an institution, the Church has adopted the position of Jesus as far as it is possible for the church to do so.

That is why when it comes to discussing marriage in our modern time, at times the church seems to be very different from other human positions. For the Church, marriage has a single meaning; it is a relationship between one man and one woman.

It is monogamous and lifelong. Accordingly, other relationships should be called something else and not marriage.

Most defenders of marriage and the family do agree with the Church’s view that by calling other forms of companionships marriage, even when it is from a certain juridical point of view, it adds more to the existing confusion.

Marriage should be understood as a stable and free union between a man and a woman, juridically recognized by the State as civil marriage and/or by the Church as ecclesiastical marriage.

According to the Church therefore, whatever does not comply with this definition, is not marriage. With respect and charity for those who choose to be different, it should be given a different name.

According to this position, the reality of marriage is something very serious and sacred, and it cannot be played around with.

Unfortunately, the issue of marriage is being complicated by parliaments of various countries; as they make serious decisions which legalise the deterioration of the institution of marriage and that way shaking the roots of humanity in general.

In any case, for any individual family to fulfil its responsibility, it is important that the partners do realise how sacred their union is as well as the gravity of their responsibility.

But above all, the survival of any family depends on how united it is.