A lot is being said today in American society about “traditional family values,” “traditional marriage,” and “traditional families.” Whether one is for or against the “traditional” approach to these matters, there is one problem in these issues which many fail to notice. Whether or not a concept or activity is acceptable has nothing to do with its newness or oldness. That is, something is not wrong just because it is new to us or has never been done before in our part of the world or nation. At the same time, neither is something right or better just because it “breaks new ground” or parts ways with a former idea or practice. In this context, to label something as “traditional” or “non-traditional” proves absolutely nothing about whether it is right or wrong.
As God’s children, Christians must strive to have their thinking be in harmony with His will. We must accept the truth that the Bible is God’s inspired word (II Tim. 3:16,17). We must accept the reality that “the word of the LORD is right; and all his works are done in truth” (Psalm 33:4). Since the Bible is God’s word, and since His word is right/truth (John 17:17), then we need to accept its message about every topic, including what it says about marriage, the family and sexual activities. In all things we are to have the mind of the Christ (Phil. 2:5).

God created us. This makes us “the offspring of God” (Acts 17:29). Because we have a Creator-created relationship, it is our obligation to seek out and follow our Creator’s will. This certainly applies in the realm of the family. Jesus once said, “Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh? Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder” (Matt. 19:4-6). Because Jehovah God is the One that instituted marriage, then He alone is the One that has the right to determine the “rules” for marriage. In addition, as our Maker, He has the authority to dictate to mankind how to use and not use our physical bodies.

Some time ago, I read a USA Today article entitled “Nordic Family Ties Don’t Mean Tying the Knot,” that was both thought-provoking and alarming. Unless stated otherwise, all quotes below are from this article: USA Today, 12/16/04, pp.15A,16A. The article deals with current moral values and approaches to parenthood and marriage in Norway. I would like to share some excerpts from the article, along with some observations. Though this article refers to attitudes and action that abound in another nation, the principles involved would apply regardless of where a person might live.

“In Norway, half of all children are now born to unmarried mothers. ... The numbers are similarly high for Sweden and Denmark.” Can you imagine? Fifty percent (50%) of all children are being born to women who are not married to the fathers of those children! Scandinavian countries are not the only ones struggling with such a dilemma. Consider the reality of what is taking place in our area, both in the state of Tennessee and the city of Chattanooga in particular. ?.2% of all births in Tennessee are to single, unmarried mothers. This is close to the national average, BUT 49.8% of all births in Chattanooga are to single, unmarried women” [Intercessors for Chattanooga Prayer Letter, Vol. 15, No. 8, p.2]. Nationwide in the U.S., roughly one out every three children that are born are not born into a setting where their mom and dad are married to one another. Thus, by definition, they are illegitimate kids.

What the above means, of course, is that people are having sexual relations with those that are not their spouses. Some “luck out” and don’t get pregnant. However, whether or not a pregnancy results means absolutely zero in considering the question of the rightness of jumping into bed with a person that is not one’s mate. When two people that are not married to one another engage in sexual relations with each other, the Bible calls such action “fornication.” God’s word is not vague when it comes to this topic. Hear the Lord’s message: “Flee fornication” (I Cor. 6:18). God said that fornicators shall not inherit the kingdom of God (I Cor. 6:9,10). We need to believe and teach this unchanging truth. Our kids and grandkids need to hear it. So does every adult.

One “priest” of a branch of the Lutheran denomination in Sweden said, “Now days, no one notices if someone is pregnant without being married.” God does! God notices when people engage in unlawful sexual conduct. “Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do” (Heb. 4:13). Get this point: if people in a society do not give a second thought to someone being pregnant out of wedlock (i.e., they openly accept the practice of pre-marital sex), that does not make it right in God’s sight!

“In turning away from marriage, Scandinavians have done little to harm their quality of life. Norway ranked first and Sweden second in the United Nations’ quality-of-life survey for 2004, which rates per capital income, education levels, health care and life expectancy in measuring a nation’s well-being.” Is there anything that strikes you about these declarations? First, when the article says that Scandinavians are “turning away from marriage,” it has reference to the fact that many of them live together, have children, and then keep living together as a family that has a dad, a mom, and kids, but the dad and mom never marry. Second, the article boasts that a man and woman living together (and sleeping together), as an alternative to getting married, has not really harmed their quality of life. The meaning? Traditional marriage is okay, but it is not any better than just living together. But, the question is, by whose standards? The answer, of course, is by human standards. Humanism declares that men and women have the right to determine what is best for them. God’s will is totally left out of the picture. People may have a good education, a good job, and a happy family. These things mean nothing, though, if they do not choose to fear God and keep His commands, which is the whole duty of man (Eccl. 12:13). Human organizations such as the United Nations use human measuring sticks to determine a nation’s well-being. Jehovah uses something different when He “weighs” a nation. Hear Him: “Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people” (Prov. 14:34).

One Ms. Hanssen, a twenty-five year old woman from Norway, said, “You choose a father and then you choose a different husband.” It sounds well planned, does it not? You jump into bed with one person to produce a baby, but then you get married to someone else. We might not bat an eye at the thought of providing stud services for horses, but in human beings it is abominable. The Bible says, “Marriage is honorable in all, and the bed undefiled; but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge” (Heb. 13:4). Remember, there is one circumstance alone wherein the Lord approves of sexual relations between humans. What is that? When a man and a woman are scripturally married to one another.

“Hanssen doesn’t believe the traditional, one-father/one-mother family model is necessarily best for raising kids.” Once again, the question boils down to this: “Whose ideas for the home are we going to accept and follow, God’s or man’s?” God has spoken. Sexual relations, in and of themselves, are not sinful. Having children, in and of itself, is not wrong. God’s order, though, is first to marry, then bear children only with the help of one’s lawful spouse (I Tim. 5:14). The Bible plainly teaches that the husband is the head of his wife (Eph. 5:23), and children are to obey their parents (Eph. 6:1,2). Man may not think this “traditional” family and submission arrangement is best for raising kids, but God says otherwise! It is not in man that walketh to direct his steps. God says so in Jeremiah 10:23.

Ms. Hanssen also declared, “Every single war, every single conflict, everything has been based on religion; so it just reaches a point where you say, ‘If God is that great, he’s not doing a very good job, is he?’ Eventually you end up choosing not to believe because to me it’s just too much of a contradiction. I’ve got to hope there’s no God, because if there is, I’ve got some issues with him.”

This woman’s words contain falsehood -- it certainly is not true that every single war and conflict between men has been based on religion. She seriously needs a history lesson.

Ms. Hanssen’s words also contain blasphemy. She boldly asserts that God is not doing a very good job! The Bible says, “The LORD is righteous in all his ways, and holy in all his works” (Psalm 145:17). God does not deserve to be second-guessed, called in for interrogation, or fired! He is perfect. It is not His fault that men fail to follow His instructions about marriage and how to treat other people. This young woman says that if there really is a God, she would have some issues with Him. Unless she changes her ways, what a surprise she will have on the day of judgment. Indeed, there is a God, and He will judge her and all others in righteousness (Acts 17:31). On that day, God will be the One to have some “issues” with this woman and all like her, not vice versa.

There are basically two root problems in the attitudes and actions we observe in this article. First, some people simply do not know God’s will about sex, marriage, and the family. Second, there are many others who know well what God’s Book says about these matters. They simply choose to disregard what He says. Regardless of the costs involved, may we always be ready to live according to God’s will.

Roger D. Campbell

Return to the General Articles page

Home / Bible studies / Bible Survey / Special Studies / General Articles / Non-Bible Articles / Sermons / Sermon Outlines / Links / Questions and Answers / What Saith The Scriptures /Daily Devotional / Correspondence Courses / What is the Church of Christ / Book: Christian Growth / Website Policy / E-mail / About Me /