This video perfectly covers the epidemic that we are currently living through.
As dawn breaks, the city stirs, and in the quiet of morning, a million stories awaken; stories of triumph and of tragedy, of love and of loss. In the midst of these, the narrative of the human heart is the most fascinating - the map of relationships that intertwines the delicate strands of a cobweb, glistening with the morning dew.
In the panorama of the 21st century, this human connection has taken on a completely new set of hues and patterns, morphing to the beat of a world in constant flux.
The days of coy courtships and rose-tinged romances are gone, when love letters were penned in elegant scripts, promises were etched in the constellations, and marriages were built on the shared values and enduring commitment.
In their stead, a new form of liaison has emerged, one where the glow of love lives in shared living spaces, the rhythm of unity echoes in joint mortgages, and the melody of togetherness is cradled in the soft gurgles of a newborn. A marriage without a marriage.
A study reports that the number of adults in the U.S cohabiting with a partner continues to rise, particularly among those aged 50 and above, a demographic that has seen a 75% increase in cohabitation over the past decade. At the same time, the percentage of U.S adults who are currently married has fallen, from 58% in 1995 to 53% in 2019. This trend raises a question - where have the castles of commitment, the fortresses of faithfulness, vanished to?
This is not just about being a shift in societal norms, but a symptom of a deeper malaise - the death of commitment and the sidelining of the principles that used to guide our relationships. These were principles that were engraved in Christianity, a faith that revered the sanctity of marriage and honored the bond between two souls as a divine covenant.
And today, the glow of these tenets seem to be dimming, lost in the twilight of relativism and convenience. The tides are turning, and with them, they are eroding the shores of our societal structure, the consequences of which could echo for generations to come.
Dancing On The Tightrope: Does a societal shift towards delayed or rejected marital commitments, what impact do these trends have on the stability of relationships and the overall societal fabric?
Under the sprawling azure of the modern-day sky, in the bustling hive of contemporary society, relationships unfold like a well-orchestrated dance. A dance that often begins in the apartment buildings that dot the cityscape like a constellation of steel and glass, where two hearts intertwine under a single roof. In the sanctum of shared spaces, amid the mingling scents of morning coffee and late-night conversations, a relationship quietly blooms.
On this dance floor, couples move to the rhythm of shared dreams, twirling in sync towards the promise of home-ownership. It is said that the walls of a house resonate with the emotions of its occupants, and for these couples, the walls echo with the symphony of their responsibility-bound lives. Hand-in-hand, they step onto the tightrope of mortgages, balancing the dreams of a shared future on the precipice of financial commitment.
And then, in the grand finale of this ballet, a new life enters the stage. A tiny, gurgling testament to their love. Parenthood – a role as old as time, a bond as profound as existence itself. Yet even as they cradle this miracle, their lives remain ensnared in a web of 'ifs' and 'buts', in the gray area between almost and not quite.
This vignette of contemporary relationships has been fed to people as idyllic and society has accepted this. But, as the saying goes, "statistics are like bikinis. What they reveal is suggestive, but what they conceal is vital."
A 2020 report revealed that the percentage of births to cohabiting parents has increased from 28% in 1990 to 58% in 2018. Meanwhile, another study found that the average cost of a wedding in the U.S. is at an all-time high, nudging couples towards prolonged cohabitation and further away from the altar.
I took a closer inspection, a troubling undercurrent emerges from these choices - a disconcerting hesitation to pledge lifelong commitment, to affirm 'I do.' Beneath the veneer of partnership lurks a fear of permanent bonds, a reluctance to leap from the edge of certainty into the expanse of the unknown that marriage represents.
This reluctance, this evasion of responsibility, is akin to carefully building a house of cards - seemingly stable yet susceptible to the slightest gust of wind. In this scenario, commitment becomes a phantom, an ephemeral silhouette that vanishes with the first rays of challenge or conflict. The ropes of obligation are perceived as shackles rather than anchors, preventing the vessel of relationships from drifting away in the rough seas of life.
It almost seems like we have birthed a generation that hungers for the fruits of companionship but shies away from the labor of nurturing its garden.
A generation that delights in the melody of love, yet completely hesitates to compose the symphony of lifelong commitment.
As I unpack the layers of this mentality, I can't help but wonder, what happened to the castle of commitment that once stood as the cornerstone of relationships? Why have we begun to shy away from the sacred oath of marriage, choosing instead to dwell in the shadows of uncertainty?
The conventional institution of marriage has been experiencing a decline over the years, but over the recent years it appears to be plummeting rapidly. There’s a report suggesting that people are taking their time in setting up their households; more than 40% haven't created a family unit of their own.
A large fraction of people are choosing to take their relationships for a 'test drive'. According to findings, a notable percentage of people live with a romantic partner, with cohabitation being a more prevalent practice among Millennials than among Generation X, across various ethnic, racial, and educational categories.
Clarissa Sawyer, a Lecturer in Natural and Applied Sciences at Bentley University who teaches gender psychology and adult development and aging, suggests that this trend in Millennial marriages has its roots in education.
"Women globally are marrying later in life, largely because they're focusing more on education and career advancement," notes Sawyer, this perfectly highlights the rise in the proportion of women with higher education compared to men. "After investing significant time and money in their college education, they're prioritizing finding a job and consequently postponing, if not entirely abandoning, marriage."
Tom Keane, a columnist for the Boston Globe, suggests that this trend might be a cause for concern. According to an internal analysis, the changing marriage patterns will further widen the disparity between the increasingly single "have-nots" and the mostly married "haves", influenced by factors such as tax rates, eligibility for benefit programs, and access to social safety nets.
Sawyer suggests that the fear of divorce is one reason why many are hesitant to marry. There’s this lingering fear that prompts people to delay marriage until they have developed a stable relationship, accumulated assets, and achieved financial success.
In the late 18th century, a shift in marriage to an economic arrangement from a union rooted in love. And that is extremely obvious with the interplay between humans and technology and how technological advancements impact societal structures like marriage and family.
Sacred Grounds: In a world increasingly losing sight of the divine blueprint of marriage, how can we revive and embody the Christian principles of commitment, stability, and prosperity to illuminate our relationships?
Having a good hold on your values is so important. Especially Christian values which have threads of respect, honor, commitment, and self-sacrifice interwoven to shape the heart of relationships and marriage.
The soft murmur of prayer, the shared look over a worn Bible, the harmonious union of two souls committing to a life together — these were once the pillars on which relationships stood firm. The Biblical vision of marriage was etched in the minds of the faithful, its profound beauty and wisdom mirrored in the everyday acts of love and devotion.
Suspended in the infinite cosmos, the institution of marriage has been shaped by divine hands, its sanctity an echo of a bond between God and His people. It is an emblem of grace, a testament to the divine design that underlines the human journey.
Marriage is not an earthly contract but a celestial covenant, a spiritual commitment that whispers promises of unyielding unity. It is the merging of two souls into one flesh, an echo of the heavenly verse that reverberates through time:
"Therefore, a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh"
At its core, the term "sanctity" embodies the essence of holiness or sacredness. The reverence towards the sacredness of marriage should be viewed as a fundamental manifestation of each spouse's existence. Marriage transcends the mere legal and formalistic union of two souls. When embarked upon in the spirit of sincerity and devotion, every couple has the potential to enjoy a married life blessed and sanctified by God.
"And a man shall leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall become one flesh"
Following this decree, God conferred His blessings upon the first marriage, that of Adam and Eve. What, then, is the sanctity of marriage according to the Bible? Why is marriage held as a sacred institution?
The sanctity of marriage finds its genesis in the Old Testament with God's inaugural marriage ceremony, and this holiness is reaffirmed in the New Testament:
"So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate”
Marriage is consecrated by its foundational truths embedded in the Holy Word of God. He clearly underscored that marriage is intended to be sanctified, deserving of respect. This divine decree doesn't lose its relevance with time; neither temporal shifts nor societal transformations have the authority to alter the Word of God.
The scripture tells us that "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever" (Hebrews 13:8)
The sanctity of marriage was as pertinent for Adam and Eve as it is for every couple today. Each marriage holds a divine purpose and significance. It not only signifies the union of two individuals but also accomplishes a holy objective — establishing a family, rearing children in the love and reverence of God. When vows are exchanged in matrimony, pledges are made before witnesses. Promises of unconditional love, steadfastness, and loyalty "in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, forsaking all others, until death do us part..."
When these vows are uttered, they are meant. Overwhelmed with love and joy, we can't envisage a life devoid of our beloved nor contemplate causing them harm. We anticipate a boundless love with our partner and a lifelong companionship. It's an unfortunate reality that promises and hearts are broken every day.
A man and woman standing side by side, their love a flickering beacon amidst the tempest of existence. Framed within this spiritual panorama, traditional Christian principles usher in commitment, stability, and prosperity in relationships.
The precious hymn of love that reverberates within these principles sings not of fleeting passions, but of a dedication. Commitment, in the Christian narrative, is not a casual pledge but a profound promise to bear all things, believe all things, hope all things, and endure all things (1 Corinthians 13:7).
It's a testament to the divine love that never fails, echoing in the depths of every human heart.
Christian principles fortify relationships with the sturdy shelter of trust, forging a sanctuary where love flourishes, nurtured by mutual understanding and respect. It creates an environment where individuals can grow, not just separately, but together, their roots intertwining in a beautiful dance of shared dreams, hopes, and faith.
Prosperity transcends the materialistic confines to embrace spiritual wealth. It is a relationship's ability to blossom in grace, understanding, and divine love. This prosperity manifests in various ways – the shared laughter that echoes through the home, the warm comfort of a shared silence, the joyous fulfillment in serving one another, and the shared wisdom of Scriptures that guide their journey.
The Christian vision of marriage becomes a symphony of shared life, a beautiful melody where commitment, stability, and prosperity harmonize to create a composition that resonates with divine love. It's a testament to the sacred dance of souls, celebrating the beauty of unity, fidelity, and divine grace.
The Divine Tapestry: As societal norms continue to drift away from the shore of traditional Christian principles, how can we navigate these turbulent waters to re-anchor our relationships and restore spiritual guidance in our lives?
The pulse of societal norms has evolved through time, beating in rhythm with the changing tempos of generations. But as the cadence quickens, we see an unprecedented deviation from the traditional values that I shared above.
There's a new melody playing, a tune of men sharing lives with their partners, investing in houses and welcoming children into the world, but holding back the ultimate pledge of commitment - the promise of marriage. This is shown through the chambers of our social architecture, sounding the alarms of a commitment-phobic epidemic. I made a tweet voicing this very issue. And it got a very mixed reaction:
Beneath the tangible tremors of societal consequences lies an undercurrent of spiritual implications. The sacred institution of marriage, designed as a testament to divine love and commitment, faces a risk of erosion. Once, relationships bloomed under the umbrella of religious guidance, nurtured by the sanctity of sacred vows. But as the clouds of commitment-phobia gather, this divine design is veiled, its foundation worn away by the relentless tide of contemporary norms.
This loss rings loud in the silence of church bells, in the empty pews of chapels, in the dwindling number of marriage certificates. It manifests in the pallor of relationships stripped of spiritual sustenance, stumbling through the labyrinth of love devoid of divine guidance.
Empirical evidence mirrors these tremors, casting reflections of societal instability and individual dissatisfaction. It was reported that there had been an increase in single-parent families, pointing to the weakening of commitment. This is a direct result of the weakening of faith.
A Religious Landscape study indicates a marked decrease in religious observance among the younger generations. Between 2007 and 2014, the percentage of Americans who reported attending religious services weekly fell from 39% to 35%. And the number of individuals identifying as religiously unaffiliated or 'nones' - which includes those who identify as atheists or agnostics, as well as those who say their religion is 'nothing in particular' - grew from 16% in 2007 to 23% in 2014.
The same study indicates a weakening belief in absolute standards of right and wrong. The percentage of Americans who believe in absolute standards of morality fell from 35% in 2007 to 31% in 2014. The decline is steeper among younger generations, with only 26% of millennials endorsing this viewpoint.
Attitudes towards issues traditionally opposed by Christian doctrine, such as same-sex marriage and premarital cohabitation, have also completely changed. According to a 2019 report, 62% of Americans favored same-sex marriage, up from 37% in 2007. Even a 2020 study showed that a majority of adults (69%) viewed cohabitation as acceptable, even if a couple does not plan to get married.
These trends indicate a shift away from traditional Christian values and beliefs, towards a more secular, individualistic, and liberal societal outlook.
The Divine Flame: How can we harness the timeless Christian principles of love, respect, selflessness, and commitment to restore stability and harmony in our relationships?
The world is shifting and turning like a kaleidoscope. We're living in an age of paradox where connection is bountiful, yet intimacy is scarce. This haphazard landscape of modern relationships is peppered with men and women building lives together, yet shying away from the sweet surrender of commitment, of marital unity.
The statistics paint the picture: 7 out of 10 couples live together before getting married. The fear of commitment has resulted in nearly 50% of such unions breaking apart within five years.
In this volatile dance of hearts, what we yearn for is a return to harmony, to the beautiful symphony that resonates with the fundamental truth of love, commitment, and sanctity. A revival is not just a yearning, but a pressing need, a plea echoing in the depths of society's soul. It's about rekindling the soft, yet resilient flame of commitment and reviving the divine significance of marriage.
Religion and spirituality, particularly the time-honored principles of Christianity are meant to guide us. It is within these ancient scriptures that we are able to locate the most profound insights for love, unity, and partnership. The lessons of Christ - of love, respect, selflessness, and commitment - are not mere historical echoes but a living, breathing truth that has the potential to mend the fragmented fabric of our relationships.
A Barna Group study supports this sentiment, revealing that those practicing Christianity are more likely to experience a stable marriage compared to the general population. The study also found that divorce rates were notably lower among those who considered their faith "very important". This underlines the potential of harnessing Christian principles to reinforce the foundations of our relationships.
In this quest to build commitment, practical steps can be a guiding light. A first step is embracing conscious, honest, and open communication. As per a study, one key predictor of marital success is effective communication. So, express your dreams, fears, and desires. Let your words be the bridges that unite your hearts.
Next, prioritize quality time together. The National Marriage Project found that couples who spent "couple time" together at least once a week were 3.5 times more likely to report being 'very happy' in their marriage compared to their counterparts who spent less time together. Your moments of togetherness should be your sanctuary, your safe haven where love and understanding bloom.
Painting the Masterpiece of Commitment
Within relationships, the strands of commitment and the ideals of Christianity are the steadfast hues that infuse harmony, depth, and lasting beauty to this painting. To deny this is to deny the full spectrum of colors at our disposal. The statistics echo this sentiment, as a study by the Institute for Family Studies reports that a high sense of commitment in marriage is correlated with increased happiness and reduced marital conflict.
Does it reflect the masterpiece we wish to create?
Do our decisions weave a narrative of depth, of love, of enduring commitment?
Each one of us has the power to shape our narrative, to choose the colors that will define our masterpiece.
The long-term effects of your relationship decisions are far-reaching, shaping not just your own happiness but the societal fabric as a whole.
It's not a distant utopia, but a possibility within our grasp, waiting to be brought to life by our collective choices.
The power lies within us, within the hearts that yearn for love, the souls that yearn for connection, and the spirits that yearn for unity. So choose wisely, paint mindfully, and create a masterpiece that echoes a sacred symphony of love, commitment, and the enduring values of Christianity.
"God didn’t design marriage to be a trial-and-error experiment, with couples living together to see if it works and then going their separate ways if it doesn’t. God gave marriage to us for our happiness and our welfare; it is His plan for most people. He designed it to be a lifelong commitment, not a temporary arrangement."