“Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” 1 Corinthians 13:4-7
A recent email from the Barna Research Group featured an article entitled The Trends Redefining Romance Today. I was not surprised by the contents of this article since we see it splashed across television screens and glamorized in movies. It is a part of the insidious cultural shift in modern society. Some churches have chosen a path of compromise to stay alive; other churches are seriously seeking ways in which they can still engage people in new ways to maintain the old truths of the Bible. It is a tough sell.
One of findings of this research is that the number of single adults is growing: “For instance, between 2000 and 2016, the relational makeup of those aged between 25 and 39 shifted dramatically. In the 16 years since 2000, the amount of single people in the 25-29 range rose 9 percentage points (from 50% percent to 59%), and the amount of single people in the 30-39 range also rose 10 percentage points (from 24% to 34%). From a different angle, during the same time period, those groups saw similar shifts in the number of those married. In the 16 years since 2000, the amount of people married in the 25-29 range dropped 7 percentage points (from 43% to 36%), and the amount of people married in the 30-39 range dropped 8 percentage points (from 65% to 57%).”
This is not really news to any of us. We have seen this trend in our families, churches and neighborhoods. One of the most disturbing aspects of this trend is that singles are just cohabiting without marrying. Under the heading “Dating and Cohabiting Are Increasingly Synonymous” the reports states: “When it comes to living together, the majority of adults (65%) either strongly or somewhat agree it’s a good idea to live with one’s significant other before marriage, compared to one-third (35%) who either strongly or somewhat disagree. Though it may seem that couples would live together primarily for convenience or cost-saving, almost all adults see it as a rite of passage in the path toward marriage. The idea of living with one’s significant other before getting married for the sake of convenience (9%) or to save rent (5%) isn’t as persuasive as the value of testing compatibility (84%). Though the debate has raged over whether cohabitation reduces or increases the pressure of marriage, it appears that among those who have actually done it, there was no major effect either way. A majority (62%) believes that living together did not affect the pressure to get married at all, and those who say it reduced (19%) or increased (18%) the pressure to get married were evenly split.”
There is a clarion call for the church to be transforming rather than conforming (Rom. 12:1-2). We must continue to remind both young and old that the values of the world are not the eternal values of the Kingdom of God. In the midst of this cultural slip into the abyss, we observe that many people even have difficulty in defining what love means and what it is. We often mistake “love” for what we feel or what we want. Love is more than a feeling. There are four different Greek words that are often translated by the one English word “love.” The Greek word “Agape” is the highest form of love and it is the one used in Paul’s definition of love in 1 Corinthians 13. This kind of love is a matter of the will and not just an emotion. In the Biblical use of the term we can even love our enemies (Matt. 5:43-48). Marriage in the Bible is between a woman and a man and it is the foundation of both the nation and the church. God hasten the day when the Biblical truth concerning marriage rules in the hearts of people and when we love God and his word with our whole heart.