The institution of marriage and the family…has been the bedrock of civilizationfor five thousand years and everything of value sits on that, everything rests on it — our institutions, our government, our way of life — everything rests on that foundation. If you weaken it, or if you undermine it and you put cracks in that foundation, you necessarily threaten the entire superstructure of western civilization… [Speech by Dr. James Dobson at the May 1,2004, “Mayday for Marriage” rally in Seattle's Safeco Stadium]
It’s terrifying to be in a tall building during an earthquakeIt knowing that its very foundation is shifting and crumbling under you. What can you do? Escape from the building before it collapses, and flee to the hills? Or wait in fear and hope that the tremor will pass? And, if the tremor passes and the building is still standing, then what? Can you shore up the foundation to be safe from the next earthquake?
It is true that the institution of marriage and the family is the foundation upon which human civilization stands.It was established by God in Genesis 2:24 and 3:16-20. He alone holds the royal patent on marriage and the family, and we as human beings do not have the authority to redefine it or discard it in the event that it fails to suit us. Marriage is not the invention of a sociologist or psychologist, nor is it the product of a male-dominated culture seeking to oppressor oppose women, nor is it a force counteracting women's or gay liberation. It is the invention of the Sovereign God for the purpose of filling the earth, and ultimately the universe, with His highest creation — man(male and female) made in His image.
But now that foundation is in jeopardy. Forces are at work to undermine it, causing it to crack and crumble under the load of a civilization weighed down with guilt. It is as the Apostle Paul prophesied,
In the last days perilous times will come:for men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving,unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control,brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong,haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. (2 Timothy 3:1-5)
Yet these characteristics of modern humanity are merely the outward manifestations of a deep, seething rebellion breaking forth against their Creator. Paul also described this in vivid terms,
… their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened… They exchanged the truth of God for a lie… Since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind…They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice… (Romans 1:21-29)
Although the latest expression of this rebellion is a frontal assault on the institution of marriage, it is only possible because of the more subtle erosion of its underpinnings — the knowledge of good and evil that God put in man's conscience. The erosion has taken place not only in the consciences of those with outlandish behavior, but generally in the Christian populace, resulting in the toleration and even approval of evil to a degree unthinkable not so many years ago. The divorce rate among Christians is the same as that among non-Christians, and 30% of “born-again” Christians say living together, gay sex, sexual fantasies, and viewing pornography are morally acceptable behaviors.1 Clearly, the church is far from being a light to the fallen civilization as it is virtually indistinguishable from it, sharing all of its vices and compromise. Truly we are living in the day when good is called evil, and evil is called good.
Five years ago Paul Weyrich, one of the foremost conservative minds behind the “Religious Right” in America for the past several decades, wrote:
I believe that we probably have lost the culture war... I am very concerned, as I go around the country and speak and talk to [Christian] young people, when I find how much of the decadent culture they have absorbed without even understanding that they are a part of it. And while I'mnot suggesting that we all become Amish or move to Idaho, I do think that we have to look at what we can do to separate ourselves from this hostile culture. What steps can we take to make sure that we and our children are not infected? We need some sort of quarantine.2
His admission of defeat in the war to stem the tide of moral degradation in America should have been alarming to his fellow Christians. He was actually calling for Christians to separate themselves from this “hostile culture” lest they become infected. Who has heeded his call?
Stephen Bates, in his shocking exposé, The Jesus Market, documents the almost total accommodation of the world within American Christianity, under the banner of being “all things to all men.” For example, the 4-billion-dollar-per-year Christian merchandise market includes “Christian” punk rock, hip-hop, and heavy metal music, by skinhead musicians in spandex and Goth makeup, complete with body piercing, cross tongue studs, and tattoos. As a result, Christians today can fully enjoy almost anything the world has to offer without setting foot outside the camp of Christianity, in contempt of the Apostle John's words:
Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world,the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world — the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life — is not of the Father but is of the world. (1 John 2:15-16)
It is just as the Apostle Paul described the plight of Israel in his day:
Unless the LORD of hosts had left us a seed, we would have become like Sodom, and we would have been made like Gomorrah. (Romans 9:29)
He was echoing the words of the prophets whose description of old Israel can aptly be applied to Christendom today:
Also I have seen a horrible thing in the prophets of Jerusalem: they commit adultery and walk in lies; they also strengthen the hands of evildoers, so that no one turns back from his wickedness. All of them are like Sodom to Me, and her inhabitants like Gomorrah. (Jeremiah 23:14)
Look, this was the iniquity of your sister Sodom: She and her daughter had pride,fullness of food, and abundance of idleness; neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy. And they were haughty and committed abomination before Me; therefore I took them away as I saw fit. (Ezekiel 16:49-50)
Christendom has become just like Sodom and Gomorrah. It is not just that one of the oldest denominations in the world has ordained an openly homosexual bishop, or even that the Mother Church has proven to be riddled with sexual predators. What is most appalling is that most are not appalled. They “bear it beautifully,” as Paul said to the Corinthians.3 And so, it seems, there is no remedy. Our hearts go out to the sincere ones in that camp who, like righteous Lot of old, are oppressed by the sensual conduct of the wicked. The souls of the righteous ones are tormented by all that they see and hear all around them, by those who indulge their flesh in its corrupt desires and despise authority.4
So what can the righteous do? Shore up the fractured foundations with legislation? Human civilization is like a great building straddling the San Andreas Fault, or perched on the edge of an eroding shoreline.
Can you restrain the force of an earthquake? Can you hold back the tide? Can you push the floodwaters back up the river? The fall of man is running its course, reaching its fullness in these last days. Those who are wise enough to see the disaster that awaits them will flee for their lives. But to where?
Unless a seed of the same pure life of God that sprang up in the first century is planted and re-established on the earth today, then there is no hope for mankind.
What would that life look like in the midst of today's decadent culture? It would look exactly as it did in the first century, for the same pure seed would sprout into the same kind of tree, bearing the same kind of fruit.5 That seed would produce communities of disciples just as described in the book of Acts,6 where the love of God that had been poured into their hearts7 would compel them to lay down their lives for one another,8 where everyone would be cared for, where there would be no rich or poor, and where they would all be devoted to the apostles' teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread, and to prayer. This wholehearted devotion would preserve their set-apart distinctness, guarding them from the love of the world and its defilement.9 They would live together, work together, worship together, teach their children together, and maintain a separate, holy, and clean life,10 which would be a light to all who live around them.11 They would be truly in the world, but not of it.12
This is the life that we who write this paper are actually striving to live today, in communities all over the world, just as we have lived for the past thirty years. The pure seed of God's love was planted in us and continues to grow and bear the fruit of love. We uphold the marriage covenant and there is no divorce here. Our children are in an environment where they can grow up pure and secure. But we don't expect you to just take our word for it. We invite you to come and see for yourself. That is something concrete that you can do as you see the foundations of civilization being destroyed.
If the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do? (Psalms 11:3)