Society’s Pillars

Written by Drew on August 21st, 2008

This year’s presidential campaign has opened a window to America’s soul, giving us a look at what is important to the citizens of our nation. As people talk about what they want in a president, they reveal what they believe to be the pillars of our society. The polls say we are looking for the candidate who will be strong on defense and an expert in diplomacy, skilled in economics and merciful to the poor, able to make snap judgments in the moment of crisis but thoughtful and open to opposing views at the same time. Character is important to us, but so are policy, energy, the environment, taxes, the war, and foreign relations.

The current dialogue does touch on some very important issues, but few polls include what is perhaps the most important pillar of our society: the family. Without families our nation could not survive.

A number of interesting articles have come across my desk over the last few months that prove family’s value to society. The London Times, for example, printed an article on the current population crisis in Russia. Russian church leaders and politicians are doing everything they can to promote traditional family life. Russia’s population has been steadily sinking since the fall of the Soviet Union, shrinking by 7 million since 1992 to 142 million. Sociologists predict that the country could lose another 30 percent of its population by the middle of this century. Much of this has to do with the breakdown of families in Russia, where 80 percent of marriages end in divorce. In 2006 President Putin described the situation as “the gravest problem facing modern Russia.

Things are a little better for Americans, but no much. Over the last 35 years marriages have suffered a tremendous decline. For example, in 1970, almost 72 percent of all adults in the U.S. were married; that number has fallen to less than 60 percent today. Thirty-five years ago over 85 percent of children in the U.S. lived with their married parents; today that figure has come down to 59.7 percent. The number of children born out of wedlock is on the rise. The Institute for American Values co-authored a major study with two other organizations that reports the damage broken homes inflict on society. One of the findings reported in the study is that the impact of divorce and unwed child-bearing costs taxpayers a minimum of $112 billion annually.

Louis H. Evans draws a helpful analogy that illustrates just how much depends on the home:

When a pier juts out into the ocean, it is utterly at the mercy of the individual pilings on which it stands. Strike out a piling from beneath it and the whole structure suffers a shock and the pier is weakened. Every nation juts out into the social sea, resting upon the pilings of its individual homes. Every time a home is destroyed, the whole nation suffers a severe thundershock. No nation can stand for long with one-quarter of its pilings gone or damaged (The Marriage Affair, p. 9).

God created family and based it upon the foundational truth first revealed to Adam and Eve and recorded by the prophet Moses: “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh” (Gen. 2:24). Threats to this plan like adultery, homosexuality, cohabitation, and divorce don’t just damage one home. They affect the entire society. Knock out enough of its pillars, and any nation will fall. Even our own.


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