The Modern Family
Statistics are not infallible and they can vary in their statement, depending on the interpretation. However, in general surveys are useful. There are a couple recent surveys that are of interest to the Bible believer. One is just in from the Researchers at the University of Chicago. Before I share some of the findings of this survey, allow me to briefly share with you the teaching of the Bible regarding the family.
A man shall cleave unto his wife. "Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh" (Gen. 2: 24). Notice that this verse is teaching commitment and dedication, not just shacking up (many Americans today seem to be unable to accept commitment and responsibility). The marriage is urgently important and must come first, even over mother and father.
The husband is the head and viewed as the provider. The scriptures are plain in the fact of headship (Gen. 3: 16, I Cor. 11: 3, Eph. 5: 22-24). The wife's submission to her husband's rule illustrates the acquiescence of the church to Jesus' headship (Eph. 5: 22 ff.). The husband is to love (agapao, have her best interest in mind) his wife, as Christ loved the church and gave himself for her (Eph. 5: 25 ff.). The wife is the "keeper of the home" (Tit. 2: 5, Prov. 31: 10 ff.). The husband is the chief provider (Gen. 3: 17-19, I Tim. 5: 8, cp. Prov. 31: 10 ff.).
The ideal family functions in unison with God as their controller. In the matter o headship structure, the children are to be in subjection to their parents (Eph. 6: 1-3). Great care is taken to provide spiritual training, discipline, and education for the children (Eph. 6: 4). Since God created man and instituted marriage and the family, God is honored and his laws are obeyed. Such is the ideal family.
The modern family. Many are proud of the new, modern family in America today. The new family is indeed different from the biblical family.
The University of Chicago survey reveals that the percentage of American households made up of married couples with children dropped from 45 percent in the early 1970s to just 26 percent in the 1998 survey. Certainly this figure suggests an important increase in couples who are now just living together.
According to an article in the Denver Post titled "Survey reveals major changes in U. S. family" (November 24, 1999), "The single-earner families with young children still present in the household have become the exception rather than the rule." In many cases, children are basically left home alone. "The rod and reproof give wisdom: but a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame," the Bible says (Prov. 29: 15).
The survey found that in 1998 fifty-six percent of adults were married, compared with nearly 75 percent in 1972, when the survey was first taken. This does not suggest abstinence, but not following God's order (I Cor. 7: 1 ff., Heb. 13: 4). I also believe this release is reflective of the modern woman's desire to have a career over a husband and family (I Tim. 2: 15, 5: 14, 15).
The percentage of children living with single parents rose to 18. 2 percent, versus 4. 7 percent in 1972, according to the survey. A family is to consist of husband and wife (Eph. 5: 22 ff.). I realize that circumstances can justifiably and uncontrollably alter the ideal, such as the death of a mate. However, these statistics suggest something more serious: More and more women are electing to have children out of marriage. Also, many of the increasingly declining percentage who marry, can not get along one with another and they experience marriage failure (see Matt. 5: 32, 19: 9).
In conclusion, the Denver Posts states "Researchers at the University of Chicago said their findings, which were being released today, are yet another sign that the face of the American family has changed" (Ibid.). The article continues, "While June Cleaver might not approve, Americans seem to be accepting of what Smith called the 'modern family.'" How sad! (See Prov. 13: 15 and Gal. 6: 7, 8). (Click on, "The Home, as God Intends it" to read more.)