Christian Worldview, Marriage, and Your Family
By Mark Benedict
Successful parenting begins with a Biblically accurate Christian worldview and our trust in the complete sufficiency of the Word of God. The Bible provides both the philosophical framework and the needed methodology for success in marriage and family. Recent cultural trends such as the growing confusion on the definition of marriage confirm the importance of framing all our thinking around the teachings of the Word of God. Children grow up in the context of their parent’s marriage, so a Biblical view of marriage is foundational to happy and well-adjusted children.
Western culture offers distorted and unrealistic views of marriage. More recently, we have seen the very definition of marriage come under attack. Young people watch hundreds of programs on TV and movies showing distorted Hollywood views about marriage. Couples in love who get married or worse, just move in together and cohabitate, are rarely portrayed resolving conflicts. Everything is wonderful for these fictional couples. Young people raised on a diet of media entertainment expect to live happily ever after, because that is what they regularly see in media depictions of marriage.
Real marriages have conflict. The idealized images of marriage portrayed in the media leave many Christians mentally unprepared for the reality of marriage. Few young people understand God’s higher purposes for marriage. Marriage is a transformative relationship God uses to build our character and finish what our parents left incomplete. Godly marriage is not just to make us happy; it is a process to blend our personality with our spouse and transform husband and wife. Living happily ever after marriage is distinctly possible, but unlikely, unless couples first learn to communicate and resolve conflicts responsibly. Many married couples never learn to resolve their conflicts Biblically. They start handicapped because they do not understand God’s real purpose for their marriage.
A proper understanding of marriage prepares a couple for the inevitable conflict and helps them to deal with it responsibly. Unfortunately, well-meaning Christian couples often misrepresent what normal marriages look like. We carefully hide our own perfectly normal conflicts from the view of others. This leaves many young couples woefully unprepared for the normal give and take of marriage. They frequently become discouraged and embarrassed by the reality of their marriage.
For those outside the support of the church community, it can be even worse. Many of today’s young “millennial” newly-weds encounter conflict, and promptly file for divorce. Our friend’s son-in-law is a professional photographer and shoots many weddings. Some married couples do not even last the two or three weeks until he delivers the final prints from the wedding ceremony. He knows of several who did not make it through the honeymoon before calling it quits on their marriage. Not surprisingly, he collects full payment for his photography in advance of the wedding.
It is not surprising young people fed a diet of Hollywood distortions of marriage in movies and TV have unreasonable expectations for their own marriages. In the church, mature couples can counteract these distorted views of marriage by being transparent about their own experiences with conflict. Parents can help prepare their children by their own example of dealing responsibly with marriage conflicts and communicating responsibly during any disagreement.
For most married couples, having children will be on the agenda. With people tending to marry later in life, many couples feel pressure to get a quick start on having children. It is not uncommon for many parents to feel they have taken on the responsibilities of parenting before they have even figured out their marriage!