~ Marriage and family are where love is born, nurtured, and developed to maturity. For that reason, we must protect those institutions and ensure that they are not warped, destroyed, or cast aside. ~
In the twenty-first century, two of the interconnected pillars of civilization have been called into question: marriage and family and the existence, relevance, and nature of God. Although many religious people around the world are holding firm to their long-held beliefs, an increasing number of people—especially young people—are challenging everything and abandoning the view that marriage and family were designed by an intelligent creator.
If there is no God, and humans somehow evolved from a black and loveless void that had no moral compass, then humans, by definition, are simply animals competing to survive. A void of nothingness can not give birth to a timeless and transcendent set of ethics. Since the ultimate source of humans would be the void, any human attempt to define ethical values could not be held up as anything more than opinion.
In that scenario, marriage has little meaning beyond biology and animalistic pleasure. Family has no meaning at all, and children become products to be used or discarded at will. Nothing has meaning because where would meaning come from? From the void? Thus, nothing matters, life is cheap, death is the end, and there’s really no reason to avoid acting in whatever fashion a person wishes.
This is a bleak picture, but what would one expect from creatures spawned by an unfeeling void? If we review what can happen when nations or groups abandon a respectful awareness of God, as was the case under Marxism in the Soviet Union or today in North Korea and China, we can see that horrors often follow. Under Marxism (and Nazism as well), children are owned by the state, and marriage and family relations are unimportant.
In the West, as large segments of society have rejected any substantial relationship with God, the boundaries of what is good and what is evil have significantly eroded. The definitions of marriage have changed, and now, in 2022, boundaries are slipping even further, with the hypersexualization of children becoming commonplace and traditional gender definitions castigated as oppressive and intolerant.
The very concept of God is under attack, along with thousands of years of Judeo-Christian standards of morality. To many modern adults, the Bible and other religious texts are outdated and irrelevant. Of course, none of this has happened by accident. Our modern society is the end result of a battle between religious world views and secular humanism that has lasted for millennia. One could say—at least metaphorically speaking—that the serpent in the garden was the founder of all the movements that rejected or banished God.
The long war of ideologies has been a conflict about the question of ownership.
Does God own the world, or do humans? Another way to say it, from the immature inner child of a human, is to shout, “You’re not the boss of me!” Careful observation of the proponents of secular humanism and atheism reveals a marked lack of humility and often a tragic deficit in their quality of compassionate love for others.
This is a natural result of living a life in which one denies the existence of, or at least the relevance of, a transcendent and eternal Intelligent Creator of life. When there is no God, humans reign, and when humans reign without the moral compass created by a loving God, unfettered arrogance and hell quickly follow. This is so because human beings are born as immature children who have free will. They are not just creatures of instinct. They have to be taught to be good.
All of this has tremendous relevance to marriage and family because, without God, anything goes, and truth is whatever you want it to be, but with God, one must consider the thoughts, feelings, hopes, intent, and designs of God, the source of life, love, and all things.
This may sound outrageous—to suggest that we can explore what God wants for marriage and family, but it really is not. Humans are intelligent and brilliantly creative and have endless mystical depth. Human imagination and sensitivity to the invisible worlds of thought and spirit are infinite—and rightly so since God created us that way.
Some will point to various religious doctrines to examine the structure of marriage and family. Others will condemn some of those doctrines or traditions as oppressive and, in some cases, evil. One example is the ancient Druidic practice of human sacrifice. However, violent and unkind religious traditions and doctrines should not affect our attitudes toward doctrines that are rooted in love.
For example, the Biblical instruction by Jesus to love our enemies is, as far as I can tell, the most advanced religious teaching in history. It stands in stark contrast to religions that don’t support that ethic of love. Thus, spiritual and religious teachings can be immensely valuable and even priceless.
Yet, it is my view that the truth about marriage and family—if it is to be effective—must also go beyond doctrine and should be explained in a way that all humans will be able to agree with if they search within themselves honestly.
Thus, I believe that humans need to go deeper and explore these topics using logic, common sense, humility, love, wisdom, and a strong desire to find answers that are as plain and truthful as arithmetic and, at the same time, spiritually inspiring. In other words, one can explore the questions about male and female genders, marriage, parenting, and family from two angles: one that starts with the assumption that God exists and the other based on an examination of physical reality—an empirical search for what is. It is my belief that both methods will reach the same conclusions.
To start this exploration, let us turn to biology with a supporting reference from the Bible. Genesis 1:27 states, “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.”
It is an indisputable truth that a human baby is created from the union of a female egg and a male sperm. There’s no getting around that scientific fact. Humankind’s long history confirms that the sexual relationships between males and females allowed the species to continue to exist. For eons, baby boys and girls were born, grew into adulthood, found partners of the opposite sex, often got married, and had children, repeating a pattern that has been defined as normal since humans walked the earth.
A religious view would add that the invisible and eternal spirit of God is meshed with the sperm and egg and imbues the child who is born with the invisible attributes of spirit, heart, and character that make each person unique. A critical factor for this discussion is that—except for a minuscule minority—each child is also born gloriously and unabashedly male or female, based on God’s blueprint for humanity.
It is clear from an evolutionary viewpoint that both males and females were integral to the human condition. Writing for Aeon Magazine, in the January 17, 2019 article “The marvel of the human dad,”1 evolutionary anthropologist Anna Machin led with this question:
Among our close animal relatives, only humans have involved and empathic fathers. Why did evolution favour the devoted dad?
But crucially, dad has not evolved to be the mirror to mum, a male mother, so to speak. Evolution hates redundancy and will not select for roles that duplicate each other if one type of individual can fulfil the role alone. Rather, dad’s role has evolved to complement mum’s.
Millennia have passed with the men who contributed their sperm watching as the baby grew in the womb and was subsequently delivered as a child who was intrinsically connected to both parents—not just the mother. Men were integral to the creation and maturation of their sons and daughters, who were—in optimal situations—loved and raised by both parents.
This, then, is an external, biological truth about the way life is. The attributes of male and female are intertwined with creation, and the reality of fathers and mothers and boys and girls are physically observable facts.
What conclusions can we draw from the histories of marriages and families? One is that men and women are deeply attracted to each other. The male and female sexes are complementary and fit together spiritually, emotionally, and physically. When we examine how men and women are designed, it is immediately apparent that they are meant to live together. A marriage between a man and a woman, broadly speaking, is a natural fit.
Their complementary relationship continues when they have children and take on the roles of a father and mother. It is easily seen that children who are loved by both a father and a mother develop in an optimal and healthy fashion and are better off, generally speaking, than children raised without a male and female parent.
Since this is historically true and is apparent to anyone who examines the evidence with unbiased common sense, we can conclude that the male/female paradigm of marriage and family is indeed the most successful formula for a healthy human society.
Confirming this fact on a physical level is useful, but we can take it a step further and logically assume that the God who created everything designed marriage and family to operate in this fashion. The system that has allowed humanity to exist and flourish for millennia did not develop randomly.
The mystery and awe of God’s creation is illustrated in Ecclesiastes 11:5:
As you do not know how the spirit comes to the bones in the womb of a woman with child, so you do not know the work of God who makes everything.
In other words, God really loves love and created a brilliantly designed framework to help human beings mature in their capacity to give love to others. A young boy or girl experiences and feels the unselfish love coming from their father and mother and grows both physically and emotionally until they too can find a husband or wife of the opposite sex and repeat the pattern all over again. If we assume that love is the fundamental, uncreated essence of God, then it’s logical to believe that God feels real, substantial joy when every individual becomes a mature being of love.
What is described here is, of course, the ideal structure of human life. Tragically, the human condition is such that men and women are at varying degrees of immaturity when they get married and are often broken and damaged because of pain that they received as they grew up. They then struggle to impart the highest quality of God’s love to their children, repeating a vicious cycle of inadequate love.
Yet, the failure of humans to live up to a Godly ideal does not in any way invalidate the ideal. Over millennia, humanity has advanced, and the world has improved. Much of the world disapproves of child slavery, and children are generally treated with more kindness and love than in the past.
A discussion of the history of God and humankind and what the future might hold is beyond the scope of this essay, but goodness can still be affirmed and supported, and critical questions can be asked.
What is best for the majority of humans? What is best for children? In any discussion of marriage and family, children need to be the priority because we all were children once. Is there anyone who has never been a child? No one, of course. Then this is very personal to each of you! Everything starts with children, and the birth of sacred love should begin in our childhood.
If we believe that every individual has sacred, unalienable rights given to them by God, then we must also acknowledge that those rights did not begin at the age of twenty-one but became active at the moment of conception and most assuredly and obviously at the moment of birth. I mention both conception and birth because of the controversy of abortion. I personally believe that life begins at conception. But even if someone does not share that belief, they should—if they are at all humane—believe that sacred rights begin at the moment of birth.
That means that every child must be cared for based on those rights. The personal desires of adult parents or caregivers should never violate the sacred rights of children.
So, what are the rights of children, in the most fundamental, spiritual, transcendent, God-affirming sense?
First, all children have the sacred right to be loved and raised by their own biologically male father and biologically female mother. Their birth was caused by the joining together of a sperm and egg produced by a specific male father and a specific female mother. Connected to this biological reality is the historical and spiritual truth that children have a deep-seated desire and need to be loved by their real father and mother.
Second, all children have the sacred right to experience a childhood that fosters a pure and sacred environment surrounding sexuality, gender, love, and marriage. Destroying a child’s sexual purity is a crime against that child’s heart and future. That destruction could be caused by rape, incest, pornography, sex trafficking, induced or supported gender confusion, hypersexualization, or other factors. In all cases, the theft of purity and innocence is a spiritual and physical tragedy.
These are sacred rights, but they have also been the foundation for the maturation of emotionally healthy and loving children since the beginning of the human race.
It is true that not every child sees these rights fulfilled. Some children lost their parents and had to be adopted. But unfortunate happenstance is very different from the normalization of systems in which the child is denied these fundamental rights because of the personal desires of adults.
It is my belief that God created human beings as sacred individuals who are meant to grow in love, and then marry as husband and wife, have children, raise a family, and then, when old age comes, move to a spirit world where they are once more young and fit. In that realm, love reigns supreme. As their children and grandchildren eventually join them there, family relations deepen and grow into true friendships.
If we examine the history of the world, the most important element that has been lacking is the quality of love in the human heart. This is why it is so vital for humanity to focus on that realm of spiritual growth—the internal realm of love that will resolve so much of the suffering of humans.
Marriage and family are where love is born, nurtured, and developed to maturity. For that reason, we must protect those institutions and ensure that they are not warped, destroyed, or cast aside. A bright future for humanity is, in my opinion, completely dependent upon our decision and ability to successfully harmonize marriage and family with the God who created them.
This essay is excerpted from the upcoming book by the same author, titled The Living Compass of Kindness and Compassionate Love: Essays on Love, Beauty, and the Mystical Path.
To be notified when it's published, email the author at:
Image: Courtesy of Holly Stevenson Photography
1. 1. Anna Machin, “The marvel of the human dad,” January 17, 2019, Aeon Magazine
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