Skip to comments.Four Factors That Fuel the Crisis in Marriage and Family
Posted on 12/03/2013 2:35:53 AM PST by markomalley
Many of you are aware that there is an Extraordinary Synod planned in Rome on the family. There is surely no hiding the fact that the family is in real crisis, at least in the modern Western World, if not throughout many other parts as well. We do well to ponder the reasons and roots of this crisis, and develop strategies to begin to address the many problems.
At the recent Bishops Conference Meeting here in America, Cardinal Sean OMalley made some remarks that I would like to draw upon, even as I make some remarks of my own. Basing my reflections on the Cardinals remarks, it would seem that there are at least four fundamental factors that contribute to our current difficulties regarding marriage and family. Lets look at each of them in turn, even if briefly and also interweave the Cardinals remarks.
I. Family history - Two critical factors came together very difficult years of the late 1960s which together have had a very destructive effect on Holy Matrimony and the family.
The sexual revolution which began in the late 1950s picked up steam into the 60s and went boldly public in the year 1968, with the so-called Summer of Love in places like Haight Ashbury Park in San Francisco, and on many other college campuses and similar places. At that time there were many who boldly shed any pretense of shame or guilt regarding open sexual sin and unchastity. What people used to whisper about as something shocking, was now boldly celebrated by increasing numbers in the culture.
The following year, in 1969 the first no-fault divorce laws began to be passed. Divorce, which until that time had been a difficult and lengthy process in America, now become something that could be accomplished in a matter of weeks.
These two very crucial events began a process which rather dramatically and quickly eroded Matrimony and and the family, such that we are now into the second, and in some cases, third generation of younger people, who have never known a world is stable marriages, and two-parent families. Large numbers of young people have never experienced living with both their father and mother for the duration of their formative years. More and more of them have no real models of faithful, stable, traditional marriages to look to. Is very clear, that without these sorts of models, even young people who want to embrace traditional marriage, struggle to do so, lacking any experience how exactly is done.
For all the Churchs attempts at marriage preparation, and pre-Cana classes, without strong family models it is hard to apply whatever might be learned in such classes and formation.
Cardinal OMalley says, Half of the children born to that demographic [working class families] are born out of wedlock, a statistic that Cardinal OMalley said would have been inconceivable a few decades ago. 
Indeed, in the African American community which I have largely served, in 1961 (the year of my birth) 80% of Black children were raised in two-parent families, Today that number is 20%. The statistics in the wider culture, as noted, are not much better and continue to drop. The change is nothing short of astonishing.
All of this leads to a dynamic of family history and personal experience that are not promising for traditional Marriage or the family.
II. Fornication - In the current cultural setting, following the sexual revolution that came out in the open in 1968, premarital sex, and cohabitation, have become epidemic. This has had a number of deleterious effects on Holy Matrimony and the family.
In the first place it takes away one of the stronger incentives to marriage that existed in the past, namely the desire of sexual intimacy and pleasure. Marriage in the culture of that time provided a context in which sexual intimacy was not only considered legitimate, but also honored and esteemed. Now, with the explosion of promiscuity and with such behavior no longer shunned, Marriage looses one of its draws. Most young people can obtain the sex they desire without the once demanded admission requirements.
Secondly a whole host of social ills accompanies fornication, and cohabitation (once called shacking up or living in sin). And these social evils and ills negatively impact Holy Matrimony.
Abortion has exploded on the scene. And whereas in the past a child conceived before marriage would move the couple to the sacred altar, now recourse to abortion, and even more viciously the expectation by men that women should rid them of the problem by abortion is the prevailing attitude.
AIDS, and sexually transmitted diseases like herpes, also make people less desirable as marriage partners.
And of course teenage pregnancy, single motherhood, etc, make many women less desirable for or prone to marriage and further the expectation that men should be able to move about sexually without commitment or responsibility.
Cohabitation also permits couples to play house, and the unwritten rule is that they can come as go as they please with little social repercussion to them.
Cardinal OMalley says, The whole notion of family is so undercut by the cohabitation mentality, and these social trends are having a tremendous impact on the working-class communities who were once the backbone of the Church This shift away from the bearing of children within wedlock is the biggest threat to marriage. 
God lists fornication as among the sins that exclude one from the Kingdom of Heaven (e.g. Eph 5:3-9; 1 Cor. 6:9-11, inter al). Given the dreadful impact fornication has on Holy Matrimony and the Family, one can see why God takes sins of these sorts seriously. Of course the ones who pay the price for all this adult sexual misconduct, are children.
God links chastity to respect for Marriage, and promiscuity He regards as a dishonoring of Marriage: Marriage is to be held in honor among all, and the marriage bed is to be undefiled; for God will judge fornicators and adulterers (Heb 13:4).
III. Finances - In this matter Cardinal OMalley says succinctly: Part of the problems are economic Our educational system is so expensive, people graduate from college or graduate school facing huge debts. If you have a $150,000 debt when you graduate law school, are you going to marry a girl that has a $130,000 debt and start off your marriage with over a quarter-million dollars debt? So people are postponing marriage are postponing a decision to go into the seminary or religious life because theyre saddled under this tremendous debts which former generations didnt have. 
We have discussed and debated on this blog before the notion that college is overrated and obscenely expensive. And for all the talk from the social liberals who dominate faculties and administration in these colleges, they seldom lift a finger to cut the costs of their overrated product. Instead they scold us for not caring enough about the poor and their burdens, while they live quite well off the future income of their students who are increasingly too poor to marry or raise children.
Almost no one among those who lecture us about justice will talk about this.
Student debt is becoming a huge factor in postponing marriage and also vocations to the priesthood and religious life.
IV. Formation struggles - Cardinal OMalley says the Church needs better marriage preparation and outreach to help young people recover an understanding of marriage. He says the Church needs to catechize our young people and instill in them a sense of vocation, and also to help them understand what courtship is about.
He adds that this becomes even more important for: In combination with the misunderstanding of marriage, lack of attendance at Mass, and the shortcomings in the catechesis of young people, the Church also faces many challenges posed by the secularization of the culture. 
Indeed, the teachings of the Church on the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony have been poorly conveyed to Gods people. And for many people, what they do hear unintelligible. For example they may well hear: Marriage is forever, but if it doesnt work out for you we will get you annulment, and remember, an annulment is NOT a divorce! Or again they may hear that even though Protestants can get married while skydiving with a Justice of the Peace, and it valid, if a Catholic gets married outside the Church, it is invalid. Etc
People struggle to figure all this out. And while there ARE answers to these puzzlements, they remain difficult obstacles in speaking coherently to people who are poorly catechized and more influenced by the secular world than the Church in this regard.
A chief place for us to begin rebuilding the case for traditional Marriage is resetting the premise of the discussion. Marriage is not first and foremost about what is best and most pleasing to the adults in the equation. Marriage is about children and what is best for them. Marriage is not about the rights of adults per se, it is about what is justly due to children.
Marriage takes its structure and mission as an institution based on the fact that every child deserves and has a birthright to be raised by by a father and mother, who have committed themselves to a stable and loving union, so as to give their child a stable an loving upbringing under the formative influence of both a male and female, that is their own parents.
This, it seems is where we must begin. More on this here: Getting the Marriage Conversation Right. Other things are surely required, but here is a good place to start, right where the modern secular premise goes 180° wrong.
And thus, in these four fundamental factors a perfect storm begins to brew that has severely damaged the understanding of the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony and the Institution of Traditional Marriage. Other factors also influence, but as we prepare to the Extraordinary Synod, Cardinal OMalleys remarks help frame a discussion of the problem and a way forward.
Later we can also discuss some of the questions put forward in the working document of the Synod.
Msgr Pope ping
Lots of analysis that misses the elephant in the room.
The truth is brutal as it is simple: Many women no longer want to be married.
60% of all divorces are initiated by women. Over 90% of divorces where the woman has a four year (or higher) degree are at her initiation.
Women have made marriage a lose-lose proposition for men. They’ll lose in divorce court, they’ll lose contact with the children. And let’s face facts: More and more American women are really unattractive, fat, mouthy shrews. Why would any sane man want to marry them in the first place? The Cardinal completely overlooks this development as he wants to keep his missive high and mighty sounding.
The number of young women who are absurdly fat has long since gotten out of hand - the a point now where they attack women who are in good shape who post pictures of themselves online. Young men are now getting way too fat as well, but the number of fat women under the age of 25 is utterly amazing to me.
I tell young men that the odds are stacked very heavily against them in marriage, and that the fastest road to the poor house is a divorce which can be initiated without any doing on the male’s part, and about which the man can do little to nothing.
I anticipate that the comments will largely consist of attacks on women, and this is typical of “discussion” of this topic. Perhaps the critical point has passed, and there will be no revitalization of marriage in the general culture.
That’s dreadful for children, of course. On the other hand, I think it’s possible that the birthrate will continue to fall, especially as more men acknowledge that what they’re really looking for in a “relationship” is another man.
LIBERALISM: This "factor" has lead to all of the rest of the above, and yet, the Catholic Church never seems to get tired of supporting and promoting socialism instead of personal responsibility, free markets and private charity instead of government handouts.
For some reason, The Church is blind to the reality that fiscal conservative values are what promote conservative social values. They go hand-in-hand. Socialism destroys families just as it destroys Christians. The Church wants its cake and wants to eat it too. Doesn't work that way. And the recent commentary served up by the current Pope and Cardinal Dolan clearly show that Church leaders still have their heads stuck in the sand.
Lie down with dogs...
Sure about that?
The reason is because of “concern” for the poor.
I think it’s all terrible. My own life and childhood were miserable due to all of these factors. Parents divorced, strayed, remarried total losers, over and over. (Dad was married 5 times). One abused me as a kid. I still live with the scars of it, and I’m 50 now.
Kids now REFUSE to marry young. It simply isn’t done. The best of them just stay in long-term fornicating relationships and they MIGHT marry, but only closer to their 30’s, automatically limiting their family size to no more than 2 if that.
It’s pitiful, if you ask me.
I think longevity has a lot to do with it also. People seem to believe they have until their 80’s or 90’s to live, so why live it married for 50 years or more? Why not experience at least some freedom your first 30-40 years.
Sadly, I’m seeing my fellow 50 something friends who never married are not regretting it deeply. With no family and nothing to show for their years of freedom and partying, they are left empty.
I married young, and I’m glad. We’re heading now almost to 30 years and I’m petrified I won’t get another 30, yet another year with my husband. We will enjoy a very full life TOGETHER ...I like “together” better ...don’t understand why more people don’t.
Sadly, it has all to do with one word and one word only, MONEY.
Heartbreaking all the same.
I realize the reason but that still does not excuse the reasoning - or worse, the seeming intentional ignorance of historical fact. All socialism does or has ever done is make everyone poorer - except the elites who “know better” than all. Sooner or later, the system collapses and then there are even more “poor” then there were before.
The whole issue is also concern for not making wealth an “idol”.
Another reason is that the cowardice of the American bishops is eating the heart out of the Church.
If Nancy Pelosi can march up and receive Communion, then Communion means NOTHING.
If Ted Kennedy can have a big, televised, splashy funeral, then it means NOTHING to say someone is a “Catholic.”
Why ignore the fact that as far back as the days of bread and circuses, "taking" from those who have to reward those who have not - has never worked as well in the long run as encouraging and promoting private charity?
Better yet, why not sell off some of the trillions in wealth owned by the wealthiest organization in the world...and set a good example?
I married a fat woman! She is pure love. Because she’s FAT? No. If she were skinny with huge breasts she’d be better? No. She is pure love.
15 years this summer.
Oh yea, I fell into the culture that the good Cardinal didn’t do much to help me with several decades ago, so I checked out only the skinny perfect physical specimens...but praised be Jesus Christ, as a poorly formed Catholic, I’d heard a cardinal Ratzinger one time, for 1.5 minutes on TV one Sunday in the mid seventies, say that lovemaking was a kind of sexual cement that helped bond a marriage together, that kernel spun me 180 degrees just in time before I turned into a cad. I wasted a lot of time looking for pure love in only miss physically perfect, as the culture and lack of formation taught me. Wasted my best “physical specimen” years of myself maybe too.
Eventually, I closed my eyes and searched for pure love. Found her, for free, on the internet!!!!! just before y2k.
Close your eyes buddy - don’t avoid the french, the black, the blah, blah - find a pure love, and be shown by her that she is practicing Catholic or is becoming one going in and wait for her to get there with you.
I wont dump her if she gets skinny, loses a leg, goes dementia. And she wont leave me likewise. And if she did, I love Jesus and have Him.
Didn’t think she could have kids - so we figured we’d adopt (I always wanted a dozen). God said, despite science, “three in 6 years” and we’ll see what tomorrow brings. Total trust in Jesus and forget about the future.
Shrews? Well, be nice to them as children of God, and keep seeking pure love while doing God’s work here, but do God’s work here.
Fat people carry their medical problem or their sins, on their belly. Shrews carry it in their face/mouth. We all have sin to carry. Find someone doing their best, despite the load they have been forgiven for, though the baggage they still carry, as do we all.
“Marriage is about children”
This is the anthropololgical view. and it is solid ground.
bump for later read
“On the other hand, I think its possible that the birthrate will continue to fall, especially as more men acknowledge that what theyre really looking for in a 'relationship' is another man.”
This is an extremely insulting thing to post.
Many people, both men and women, deserve blame for these matters.
But women far more than men.
Not because women are intrinsically more evil than men, just that the law forbids to men evils that it makes a birthright to women.
Reflect on the ugliness that you have added to the conversation, and how you have stabbed many who suffer still the wounds inflicted upon them by female trash using the full force of the law against them.
“fastest road to the poor house is a divorce”
Amen to that. It took me 14 years to catch up.
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