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Cohabitation before marriage gives evidence of moral decline in America

Fishbowl illustrates biblical truth
Fishbowl illustrates biblical truth
Commons.wikimedia.org (Google Images)

On March 11, 2014, the Today Show on NBC reported on a study that cohabitation before marriage increases one’s chance for divorce only for those under age 23. Then four of the five newscasters behind the desk admitted they “shacked up” before marriage.

TV stars (and movie personalities) like these admittedly are role models for America. This shocking revelation of immorality is evidence of our country’s moral decline. In 2012, 40.7% of all U.S. births were to unmarried women. This chart traces the increase from 1940, and especially the steep climb since 2002. The prevalence of immorality in America may help explain why this country’s recent struggles politically, economically, and as a world power have increased. There is biblical proof for such a claim.

Romans 1:18-32 says God’s wrath is being revealed against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of people because it results in God’s truth being suppressed (vs. 18). What truth? The truth about God’s attributes, power and nature (His existence is assumed) as evidenced in the natural world He created (1:19-23). A result of denying the truth about God is that “God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity” (1:24); and “God gave them over to degrading passions,” which includes homosexual[1] acts (1:25-27); and “God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper, being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; they are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful” (1:28-31).

Every current TV news program abounds with evidence of people’s unrighteousness as listed above. This author wants to be quick to point out the verse that follows those quoted above. It warns against passing judgment on others, because we all are guilty of unrighteous acts (Romans 2:1). Chapter 2 tells us that only God is the right and Righteous Judge.

The point of Romans 1 and 2 is that God lets sin run its ruinous and destructive course in those who persist in sinning. God’s “wrath” can be defined as God removing His hand of protection and “giving people over” to the consequences of the sins they crave.[2] In short, unchecked sin escalates.[3]

That helps explain the increased evidence of immorality and unrighteousness, but why would the four newscasters readily admit this in their pasts (and one even said he was presently cohabiting)? Why do people involved in immorality not seem to show a guilty conscience? It must be that they adhere to no standards or to the wrong standard of behavior. What has become the criterion for morality in America?

--Everyone does it. (Majority must be right.)

--Individual preferences and feelings. (If it feels right, it is right.)

--People we admire and want to emulate—not just movie and TV stars but intellectuals who write books,produce movies, teach in universities.

--Scientists who can discover and explain natural processes (but still cannot prove their origins).

It used to be that America’s standard of morality was found in the Holy Bible (which is now considered to be old fashioned at best, and the cause of a “Hostile Environment” at worst). The biblical standard is based on Almighty God who created everything that exists—including us. If He created us, He has a purpose, and thus we have a responsibility to fulfill that purpose. Fortunately He not only gave us a written record, the Bible, but He Himself incarnated and lived on earth as a human man. Perhaps this fish bowl illustration will help explain why.

A man bought a fish bowl and all the necessary equipment, and filled it with a variety of fish. Daily he provided all the environmental and sustenance needs of his fish. But when he tapped on the bowl, the fish did not swim to him, tails wagging, excited to see him. They swim away. How could he communicate to his fish that he loves them and will provide everything they need? He would have to become a fish.

In much the same way, Jesus took on flesh and lived among people from about 6 BCE to 30 AD. He communicated God’s love and fulfilled God’s plan that required a blood sacrifice for remission of sin (Hebrews 9:22). When He died on the cross, He was “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). He not only paid the penalty for our sins, He conquered death by resurrecting, thus providing resurrection for all humans as well.

God would be completely just in punishing us for our sins. Instead He took our punishment and now offers forgiveness and eternal life as a free gift to be accepted “through faith in Jesus Christ.”

So does everyone get eternal life because their sins are atoned for? The book of Romans also answers that. “The righteousness of God has been manifested, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe; for there is no distinction; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus” (Romans 3:21-24).

All of us “have sinned,” but every one of us “who believe” are “justified [declared righteous] as a gift” by God’s grace, according to the “redemption” accomplished by Christ Jesus. If more individuals would embrace this truth, America’s moral decline could begin to abate.
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[1] Here is where Christians get condemned for being “anti-gay.” However they merely endorse the Bible, which is anti-sin—the list includes greed, gossip, arrogance, and boasting, (self-promotion of any kind). It speaks about homosexual sin as “indecent acts” and as not being the “natural function” of the body (Romans 1:26-27).

[2] Rene A. Lopez, ROMANS UNLOCKED: POWER TO DELIVER (Springfield, MO: 21st Century Press, 2005) p. 43

[3] The more one gives in to temptation, the harder it becomes to resist. The inevitable result is addiction due to deep neuro pathways forming in a person’s brain through repeated behavior.