The last five decades have observed a terrific and extensive change in family models all over the world such as an increasing number of divorces and single parent families, lack of one of biological parents, extramarital births, homosexual marriages and cohabitation. Especially, it is noticed in Western societies. All above mentioned cases made a divorce one of the most widespread problems. Since 1960 there has been a ninefold increase in the number of couples who live in a civil union in the United States of America. Consequently, it is necessary to overlook the impact of divorce because of its damaging effects. The main goal of the paper is to study changes seen in American families and children over the course of the twentieth century in the context of Christian religion. Foremost, the paper describes divorces and single parent families based on Christian understanding from different perspectives. On the other hand, Biblical viewpoints not only indicate a requirement of good marriage and household, but specify that a Christian approach to marriage and household can be a remedy for the destruction initiated by the modern tendencies.
Divorce and Single Parent Families
Nowadays, modern families experience many problems. The last five decades have observed a terrific and widespread change in family models all over the world. Especially, it is noticed in Western societies. Browning (2001) emphasizes such occurrences as increasing rates of divorces, lack of one of biological parents and extramarital births. He considers that the main causes of these problems are homosexual marriages, globalization and cohabitation (p. 243). All the above mentioned cases made a divorce one of the most widespread problems. Since 1960 there has been a ninefold increase in the number of couples who live in a civil union in the United States of America. Therefore, it will be fair to conclude that the situation is similar in other European countries. Consequently, it is necessary to overlook the impact of divorce because of its damaging effects. Nowadays, divorces have transformed family structure and its importance. This is not just an opinion of Christian researchers, since a lot of non-Christian researchers are working in this field. Till the 1960s, divorce has been rather an exceptional occurrence.
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Undoubtedly, there have always been some married couples who considered divorce as an alternative. Nonetheless, due to vital deviations in modern society during the last decades divorce has been transformed from something infrequent to repetitive. Therefore, the number of single parent families increases, as well. First of all, divorces and single parent families should be observed from a Christian point of view. A lot of reasons made divorces increase in the modern society. This paper examines changes seen in American families and children during the twentieth century in the context of Christian religion. Foremost, the paper describes divorces and single parent families based on Christian understanding from different perspectives. The Bible is the greatest source of information. Moreover, taking into consideration the Biblical viewpoints on domesticity, globalization and modernization can be considered a catastrophe. The processes have a bad impact on the society. Moreover, it is necessary to pay attention to help provided to single parent Christian families.
One of the most significant factors leading to divorce is an economic potential of women. An increase in the number of divorces in the society matches an increase in the number of women who pursue their career. Females with a high income are unlikely to be married, since they have different priorities. According to Heimbach (2004) various studies on mature females were conducted at the Ohio State University. They show that if a woman earns much, it can lead to a divorce (p. 157).
As stated by Jung (2012) it is problematic to understand what is happening to the institution of marriage. Some people are even choosing to be single for life. Since more women than men attend and graduate from colleges, several twentysomething women earn more money than men of their age. A lot of these women have no any economic purpose to get married. Young grown-ups are undoubtedly postponing their “first” marriage (p. 142).
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Divorce is having an overwhelming influence on both grown-ups and youngsters. Annually, parents of approximately 1 million children get divorced. These divorces successfully move one generation away from another. Children are raised being deprived of the presence of one of their parents: father or mother. They are frequently required to take a side of one of the parents in the dispute. In addition, children regularly carry the burden of the dispute and often find themselves guilty of their parents` divorce. A person cannot even imagine the impact of divorce and remarriage on children. Before, it was not easy to find children whose parents were divorced. Nowadays, however, the majority of children have parents who are divorced. Divorces have as psychological as well as educational effect on children and adults. According to Balswick (2007) divorce has a drastic impact on children who can suffer from mental problems in teenage years and through the years of their maturity: moreover, a constant war between ex-spouses and re-marriage of one or both parents negatively affect children as well (p. 305).
The above mentioned changes in family structure make relationships difficult. Divorce and remarriage affect family members in harsh and awkward ways. Strong lines of power and communication get distorted and disorganized in these recently created family structures.
According to Christian beliefs marriage is an everlasting institution. Therefore, divorce was not apprehended as normal. However, there were some cases when divorce was possible. The partner pursuing a divorce had to verify that another partner had committed one or another “crime” against another partner. In most countries, the reasons for divorce were unkindness, abandonment and betrayal.
However, all marriages are in danger. Despite everything, marriages are not critical in the beginning. Most marriages begin on a solid stability. Nevertheless, after the honeymoon the most problematic period starts when the partners have to learn how to live together in suit with each other. This process is influenced by internal factors (readiness to keep up with another person’s necessities) and external factors (for instance, the occurrence of divorce). However, even these aspects are related. If the government provides more protection to the marital agreement, it will be more probable that spouses will try to make their family life better. If the government provides a lesser amount of protection, most probably spouses will have an indifferent attitude to their family.
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Browning (2001) discovers that innovation and globalization have very negative effects on family life. The author determines that there have been universal transformations in family structure since the 1980s. He requests other scientists to recognize that these changes have been destructive and have no positive effect on people. Transformations in family models have led to decreased wellbeing of families and they have been related to “feminization of poverty”. The term means that there are many single mothers these days. Even though most scientists now agree that these transformations have been destructive for each individual and humanity as a whole. Moreover, Browning (2001) classifies three types of comebacks to these occurrences in Christian moral spheres (p. 247): liberal religious interpretations that identify these models as usual and in agreement with present human rights; a conservative religious analysis which considers them as decadent and opposing to biblical instructions; and Catholic interpretation which is similarly tradition-bound. The goal of the paper is to contend with these models from a hermeneutical viewpoint. First of all, the author reveals the acknowledgment of the divine authority of Sacred Book. Hereon, he reveals the harmony of biblical texts and the occurrence of constant religious topics as the heavenly kingdom, people of God, and making satisfaction for sins. biblical The author differentiates descriptive part that tells about some historical events and the perspective part where moral principles and rules are established for the present-day conduct. It is easy to agree with Browning’s thesis. Contemporary developments in the family field are damaging and Christian understanding of family can improve the family life in modern societies. The dominant hypothetical argument of this paper is that the biblicalBible considers these changes as a disaster. The biblical viewpoints stand for not only a good marriage and domestic life, but also state that a Christian approach to marriage and domesticity can be a remedy for the destruction caused by the innovative models. The article initially presents the most significant biblical viewpoints on marriage and household. It indicates that family is an exclusive social sphere of close relationships. This exclusive sphere can be clarified as a sphere of adoration, love, self-discipline, respect and reestablishment of this sphere will improve domesticity as a whole.
According to Köstenberger (2004) the biblical idea of family life and marriage along the historical way of reasoning has the creational order as its basis (p. 31). Numerous principles arising from the creation of humankind have a great significance for the construction of family life in a biblical sense. The narrative can be understood as an example of marriage and though other forms of marriages are defined in the Holy Book, a historical review of the biblical facts concerning marriage exposes that the creational order should remain the definitive test for these relations. Both God and the believers speak of these instructions in their teachings about the essence of marriage and the responsibilities of spouses. Köstenberger (2004) provides a wide-ranging clarification of the appropriate biblical material in his latest book (p. 61).
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Vorster (2004) says that both woman and man were created by God in His own image. This image of God founds the human dignity of all people (p. 93). Nevertheless, this is not people’s dignity in the sense of inborn goodness, but a dignity, a regard that God offers to people (Ps 8). God gives this dignity and respect exactly as a consequence of sin. From this appear the household tasks of persons in this immoral dispensation. God dignifies humans so the sinful person in a shattered world that can live with dignity. This dignity is shown in that God provides people with responsibilities. The Bible expresses the problem of divorce in both the Old and New Testaments. First of all, doctor Smith-Koen (2013) states that as soon as God created a man and a woman, His purpose was to make marriage eternal, but when the evil of sin did the trick the spouses were separated and their descendants were left with the curse, afterward one more happening with Cain and Abel (p. 40). The most significant part of the Old Testament dedicated to divorce is Deuteronomy. If a man marries a woman who becomes unpleasant to him because of some offensive findings regarding her or her life, he can divorce her. Then, if she marries another man, and then divorces him or he passes away, her first partner, who had divorced her before, is not permitted to marry her once more since she has been dishonored. That would be despicable in God’s sight. These lines were aimed at approving a divorce, but in fact the contrary. Divorce was allowed in some cases because of human evil (Matt. 19:8).
One more important Old Testament verse is Malachi 2:10-16:
“Do we not all have one Father? Did not one God create us? Why do we profane the covenant of our ancestors by being unfaithful to one another? … Has not the one God made you? You belong to him in body and spirit. And what does the one God seek? Godly offspring. So be on your guard, and do not be unfaithful to the wife of your youth. “The man who hates and divorces his wife,” says the LORD, the God of Israel, “does violence to the one he should protect,” says the LORD Almighty.”
These verses deal with breaking a preceding arrangement or agreement. They address the subject of dishonest intermarriage and the matter of divorce. Malachi definitely explains that spouses are to be truthful to each other because God is their father. The marriage is based on a solemn agreement. Even though God may bear divorce with a few exceptions defined in Deuteronomy 24, the directions were prearranged to care for a woman if a divorce should take place. This verse in Malachi tells people that God shows a strong dislike to divorce.
The New Testament describes clear teachings of Jesus regarding divorce in the book of Matthew:
“It has been said, ‘Anyone who divorces his wife must give her a certificate of divorce.’ But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, makes her the victim of adultery, and anyone who marries a divorced woman commits adultery.” (Matt. 5:31 32)
In this passage, Jesus explains that a marriage is for the whole life and should not be unglued by divorce. Another important passage of teaching on divorce in the New Statement is presented in Paul’s teachings: “To the married I give this command (not I, but the Lord): A wife must not separate from her husband. But if she does, she must remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband. And a husband must not divorce his wife…” (1 Corinthians 7:10-15)
Paul speaks to Christians and tells them to marry each other. Paul was evidently acknowledged of the frequency of divorce in the world and of the fact that a partner doesn’t have to lay the foundation of a divorce. He supports the idea of marriage. Further, he says that husband or wife should not look for a divorce. Based on the earlier passages, everybody can consequently determine that a Christian can divorce due to the following reasons: unfaithfulness of one of the spouses or being left by an unfaithful partner. However, even in these contexts, the church should not stimulate a divorce process. In very inconvenient cases which include psychological, sensual, or physical mistreatment, legal repudiation is offered to the mistreated partner. God dislikes divorce; for that reason Christians should never inspire divorce. As an alternative, they should encourage compromise and understanding in family life.
Along with Philips (2008):
“Getting through a divorce, however, is similar to dealing with an illness. You may need to have radical spousal surgery and therefore remain in intensive care for a while. After … intensive care, you need to take the time to heal and recover (p. 96).”
The most recognizable and most vital necessity of Christian single parent families is a huge need of prayer. For most people, endless communication with children has its pleasures but is in general difficult. Spouses usually find it inspirational to have a little time together without their children. They like to meet with their friends or to go somewhere together. Most single parents have to learn how to exist deprived of such opportunities. Therefore, it is difficult for single parents to have some private time. It includes their free time to pray God.
According to Birdseye (2013):
“…a single parent is looking for how to do this task you were not really made to do – to be both Mom and Dad. Perhaps you are a friend of someone in this situation, hoping to find trustworthy biblical information on how to help him or her through this ordeal.” (p. 38).
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A single parent is constantly completely mentally tired and subject to numerous exterior stresses. A single parent suffers from the widespread and everlasting tiredness and often he/she feels as a criminal who is persuaded. Therefore, the church has to take care of such people. Obviously, there are a lot of social programs. However, people require some mental support to lead a full life. Single parents can read the Holy Scripture to achieve the mental satisfaction and understand the sense of life despite all problems. It is important for them to understand that life goes on at least for children’s sake.
Nevertheless, as the paper resorts to that whose thread of life is crushed by a divorce, people have to be suspicious that the government does little to solve the problem. People must apply both biblical beliefs and biblical sympathy. As it is said in the Holy Scriptures “Marriage for life is God’s ideal.” (Genesis 2) Nonetheless, loads of individuals have been shattered by divorce and want to feel advertency and sympathy from God believers. Churches have unluckily stumbled on one or another side. Many churches have preserved a solid approach to marriage and divorce. Despite the fact that this solid biblical approach is splendid, it should similarly be composed of sympathy to those who suffer from divorce. A strong belief without a sympathetic support frequently appears to converse that divorce is a deplorable process. On the contrary, other churches deprived of biblically-based beliefs regarding to marriage and divorce, let their worshipers’ situations effect their religion. Christians have to treat people with conviction and sympathy. Marriage for the lifetime is God’s model and it is ideal, nonetheless divorce is common in modern societies. Christians should treat those whose lives have been devastated by divorce with mercy.