When you take a gander at the divorce stats, the abortion stats, the opioid crisis stats, the homeless stats, the violent crime stats, and so many other numbers that make your heart sink, it becomes so apparent that we live in a broken world, yes, even a broken country.
So often people march in the streets, or post on social media, or write books, or make movies with suggestions of how to make things better. New ideas that are merely regurgitated from past failures. From peaceful tyranny to hopeful anarchy. All of which find themselves wrapped up in oxymoronic language and self-defeating half-measures.
The problem is that we think problems are supposed to always be solved, when in fact they often arise only to be addressed and handled with care.
Think of those five issues I mentioned: divorce, abortion, drugs, homelessness, and crime. They are problems that cannot be resolved completely. Their existences are perpetual. This is not a fatalist perspective, but merely a fact. These issues, although undoubtedly persistent, can be addressed and decreased dramatically. Complete elimination of these issues requires complete elimination of the populace, which seems rather counterproductive.
HOW CAN WE DEAL WITH THESE ISSUES SUCCESSFULLY?
The only method to addressing these issues successfully, which is something that has not been done for a very long time, is through the means commanded of us by Jesus Christ. Two commands: Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind, and love your neighbor as yourself.
Unfortunately a large portion of the world doesn’t believe in Jesus, much less His teachings. Secondly, much of the Christian world rarely practices these two laws with true diligence. Regardless of belief and regardless of the exertion put forth to abide by these commands, let us pretend that we all began anew according to these laws of love.
STARTING AT THE HEART OF THE ISSUES
The foolish method to approaching a problematic issue is by starting at the top. The best and most successful method is to always start at the heart of the issue. In order to decrease divorce rates, abortion rates, drug use, crime, and the amount of homeless people is not by addressing the issues in their current state (although individuals currently engaged in these must be addressed now in an attempt for reform), but by addressing the issues before they begin or continue.
This requires returning to the centrality of any great society, which is the family unit. This may seem easier said than done, which in part it is, but I argue that this method is the simplest and most efficient compared to any other in the social market. Therefore, I suggest we start with issue number one: Divorce.
Since the 1960’s and the enactment of no-fault divorce law, the divorce rate has continued to skyrocket. Since that same time period, also known as the Sexual Revolution, births out of wedlock have increased even more dramatically. Pregnancy within marriage has apparently become a practice of the past, and, according to the numbers, a practice that appears from another world.
When Jesus was approached with the question of divorce, He said “because your hearts were hard and stubborn, Moses permitted you to divorce your wives; but from the beginning it has not been this way.”
Divorce was never to be in the conversation. When God created man and woman, He planned for them to be as one. Quotably, “one flesh.” Divorce is a splitting in two that which was one. Think of what would happen if one of us were to be cut in half.
Divorce creates a death in what was created by God to be our most intimate and satisfying human relationship. When this relationship is killed, more death follows. Consider the emotional, mental, and spiritual results that link to this physical action.
There is a great flood of negatives that stem from divorce, including distrust, resentment, anger, self-doubt, spite, bitterness, insecurity, selfishness, and ultimately the loss of faith in the one thing we have been called to do: love. We have been created for relationship, and that is proven every day by nearly every action we take and every word we speak. We are in relationship, in some form or another: at work, at home, at church, at a restaurant, at the movies, on social media, and everywhere in between.
So when the sanctity of marriage is considered secondary to personal conquest, we find ourselves with the result of an incredibly high divorce rate and a vast amount of broken families. When the person we are called to love the most no longer loves us, or we no longer care to love them, we render the Great Command as merely the Great Suggestion.
So how does abortion tie into divorce? It is no secret that individuals are typically the product of their environment. When Roe v. Wade passed in 1973, it was the penultimate moment in America’s history of selfishness. One thing we must all keep in mind is that pregnancy is the single result from the action of two people. Sex is not the decision of one person, but two. In much the same way, abortion is typically not the decision of one person, but two.
Sex is the highest form of love’s expression, and it was created to be reserved for the highest form of relationship. Sex is the peak of relationship and you can only get to it when you do everything else in a relationship, i.e. build trust, sacrifice, become unified, and place that person ahead of you in all things. Once that staircase is constructed, you are permitted to climb it. Too often, unfortunately, sex is not the top of the staircase, but merely its threshold.
There is no such thing as casual sex, just as there is no such thing as a casual abortion. Casualness has been bestowed upon the two actions by the environments established across the country—varying in degree according to city and state.
If marriage is no longer considered sacred, then sex must follow as a non-value action. When this occurs, the outcome of sex will likewise be considered an inconsequential decision, which leads to selfish actions, be it the dissolution of the relationship or the elimination of the forming child.
Divorce is too often conducted with an air of flippancy, which may be the direct result of the court system establishing the “irreconcilable differences” clause. This has made it easier to get a divorce rather than provide substantial reason for it. This being said, when one can turn their back on the other, with whom they were supposed to have been the most intimate, then wouldn’t turning their back on one they haven’t met—an unborn child—be just as simple, if not more so?
Simplicity in these instances, however, is never that simple. A definite precedent has to be set before these decisions are made. For divorce, the physical and mental precedent must be made that marriage is not sacred; this, along with the legal precedent that it is easily dissolvable. For abortion, the physical and mental precedent must be set that sex is not sacred and that life only begins when we, as individuals, deem it to; this, along with the legal precedent that pregnancies are easily dissolvable.
In both instances—divorce and abortion—these multi-party decisions are continually reduced to singular. A divorce is between two individuals, but quite often it is one person being the deciding factor. When there are children involved, the number of parties increases; though it rarely changes singularity being the deciding factor. An abortion is not a two-party decision; it is a three-party decision. One voice, however, cannot speak for themselves.
Love considers all sides and rarely conceives of the idea or utters the statement that, “This decision was best for me.” This statement, however, has become a common theme in Western society, and those who utter it prefer their perspective to be accepted rather than rebuked.
This is why it is very common to discover a high degree of like-mindedness within social circles. People of a certain temperament tend to gravitate to those of a similar temperament. There is the safety and security of no-questions-asked and no-judgment-rendered. This is why so often a divorced man and woman will have no dealings with each other’s friends or relatives. Instead, they remain in their preferred demographic—those they find most agreeable. This is not much different in cases of abortion, as typically one of two things occur: they will freely discuss the decision in their preferred demographic or they will keep silent on the matter in more disagreeable settings.
How do drugs fit into divorce and abortion? These connections aren’t directly linked, but what does link directly to drug use is the previous paragraph. It is the like-mindedness of individuals within social circles.
It is natural to not like being told we are wrong. It is also natural to need to be told we are wrong. This is the only method of growth: we are either told we are wrong or we discover we are wrong through experience. The latter is a much longer, arduous, and unsatisfying path. We crave guidance, but we dislike correction. There is nothing wrong with disliking correction; it is only wrong when we avoid it or ignore it.
Love helps. Love guides. Therefore, love must correct. It must be understood that acceptance does not equate love. Acceptance of someone else’s weakness, fault or wickedness without the requirement of change or repentance is merely encouragement of the behavior.
Anyone who accepts a person’s weakness, fault or wickedness without requiring or at least encouraging change will never say, “I want what is best for them”, unless they agree with the person’s weakness, fault or wickedness. Anyone who conducts their weakness, fault or wickedness without resolve will commonly say of their social circle, “They accept me just for who I am.” These two statements: “I want what is best for them” AND “They accept me just for who I am” can never come to terms or remain in the same group, unless one of these parties lie.
Drug use is a prime example. Drugs have infiltrated our society at an alarming rate since the 1960s. It has led to countless deaths through overdose, suicide and homicide. If someone understands the results of drug use, yet still accepts the act, that person cannot honestly say they want what is best for others.
If we truly wish for drug use and the opioid crisis to become greatly reduced, then we must harness the power of relationship. We must become accountable for mankind’s mishaps, not through man’s laws, but through God’s law. We must love people out of these situations, and in order to do so, we must correct their behavior, not accept it.
Those guilty of such things do not necessarily need the Justice Department. They need love. They need family. They need friends. Close friends. But in a society where love equates acceptance of unacceptable behaviors, how can one take the proper steps toward recovery? Is there any security or trust available in a society where the highest form of relationship—marriage—is subject to fickle commitment? If the bonds of marriage be easily broken, then how much more the bonds of friendship?
The most recent paragraph directly coincides with homelessness. The homeless are commonly in their situation because they are the result of broken families or burned bridges—bridges burned by themselves or by those they were close to.
One of the most common attributes of life is bad luck. A loss of a job can toss someone and their family into financial turmoil. It is needless to say (though it does reference the earlier issue), most divorces stem from financial strain. Having family and friends to go to for assistance provides much needed shelter (literally and figuratively) till the storm blows over.
Homelessness may be the most emphatic image that proves we need each other. It ties back to relationship. Becoming homeless is rarely a choice and it rarely takes place by happenstance. Homelessness is a long road; and it is a lonely one well before becoming homeless.
Abandonment, loss of family, or the lack of leadership needed to help guide decisions are major reasons for homelessness.
Those abandoned by parents or family or spouse have experienced the dissolution of the most meaningful relationships, either by their own doing or the other party’s. This proves the utter necessity of marriage or other deep and meaningful relationships.
The loss of family can happen due to tragedy, which requires “the friend that sticks closer than a brother.” But if high forms of relationship are inconsequential, then the best forms of relationship to be attained are at best acquaintances, and those are the least likely to open their homes or provide financial provision.
Lastly, we come to crime. This falls in line with all the previous issues mentioned, save abortion, simply because the one most affected by that decision no longer exists. But it can be argued that the other two involved—the man and the woman—can be so negatively affected by the decision to end the most sacred life they could have ever known—the one they created—that it can lead to the deterioration of future relationships, or cause their view of relationships, if not human life, to be seen in a false light.
That being said, the view of human life, at least in the way God designed us to view it, is developed through one thing: relationship. We understand each other—strengths and weaknesses—through relationship. We know how to make each other better by ingratiating ourselves in relationship. We allow ourselves to be made better only through relationship because we trust that medium.
Consider our relationships. We are in relationship with those we care about. We are compassionate to them. We are forgiving. We are understanding, despite their failures. We love them, in spite of their wickedness (though keep in mind that love corrects, and love will remain regardless of the necessary punishment imparted, even if that punishment is conducted by the one who loves them). Without relationship, love cannot exist, except perhaps in superficial ways, like loving animals, or a job, or money, or pleasure. Without love, relationship cannot have any true meaning, and definitely cannot be trusted. Relationship without love is fickle, inconsistent, and has been known to be treacherous.
So what happens when we devalue the idea of relationship with our most sacred of companions: fellow human beings?
When we see relationship as a non-value, then doing evil to others is of no consequence. And when we view those who do evil as evil, because they do not understand or appreciate relationship, then we find justification for having that person completely removed from society, eliminating much of any opportunity for the establishment of positive relationship. This is not a call for the elimination of the law or dissolution of punishment; but punishment—no matter how justified—cannot be considered an end-all. Too often, those who commit crimes are missing one invaluable ingredient in their life: relationship. When love corrects, it guides. And that guidance is always toward the understanding of self-worth and the infinite worth of others.
LOVE IN RELATIONSHIP
What does love do? It does no evil. Of that, we can be quite certain. When our relationships, from our most intimate to our most basic, are based solely on love and loving that person as we love ourselves, then what harm could we possibly do to each other? None. (It must be understood that correction, even punishment, does not equate harm.)
I thoroughly argue that in order to truly understand the basis of relationship, it must start in the home. For this reason I began with divorce. Parents must love their children; and one of the most powerful methods of proving that is when they stay together. They must honor that most sacred of relationships. To argue against the necessity of commitment in marriage is to argue on the basis of “what is best for yourself.” If our primary concern is our own happiness and how much love we are receiving or can receive, then we have missed the point, even the very definition, of relationship. We have also missed the very point and definition of love.
Do we truly want to bring families back together? Do we truly wish to decrease rampant abortion? Do we truly wish to decrease drug use? Do we truly wish to decrease the homeless population? Do we truly wish to decrease crime? Then we must begin to understand the power of relationship. The absolute necessity of it. And understand that relationship, relationship of true value, must be actively based on love. It must be the type of love Jesus commanded of us: the same kind we wish for ourselves.