From the media, news and entertainment world, we can see that the sanctity of the family is no longer important to our country. We take marriage lightly as we think we can always find someone else. Having an affair while married? No problem, just don’t tell anyone and it will be okay. These kinds of thoughts and other ideas have been propagated by the underlying agenda to ruin and disrupt the family. Our society is getting sucked into rethinking our normal ways of life—as having an ex-spouse, or buy it now because “I want it now” and that using illegal drugs helps us handle reality.
Jeffery R. Holland, apostle of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, asks an important question in a talk from April 2010 General Conference: “Why is there so much moral decay around us, and why are so many individuals and families, including some in the Church, falling victim to it, being tragically scarred by it?”
What was considered back in the 60’s and 70’s as an exception is now the rule: divorce, single parenting, drug addiction, too much debt, immorality and inappropriate entertainment has overwhelmed our society. As you read these six aspects of life, you might be surprised to see how closely you have followed along with these indicators of a decaying family.
Divorce: The statistic for divorced couples is now over 50% which shows the world that couples aren’t really trying as hard as they used to in making a marriage work.
David B. Haight, another apostle of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints tells us:
A new self-centered generation has made the family a prime target of continuing belittlement. Marriage is downgraded or shunned, parenthood degraded and avoided. These, with other disturbing influences, have resulted in a torrent of evil temptations for so-called instant gratification and the demeaning of marriage and the sacred roles of wife and mother.
Granted, there are abuse issues in some relationships, but not every couple has an abuse issue. Married couples don’t have to give up too easily in their relationship when life gets a little rough. There is a mind set in our society that says it’s okay to go separate ways instead of trying to work out the problems and to be married today, there are going to be problems. There is no such thing as a perfect spouse. Couples have to work to maintain a good relationship so it is very important for young couples marrying right now to realize that there will be troubled times ahead.
Single Parenting: Not every “single” parent was ever married and not every “single” parent was divorced. This is part of the problem. The media glorifies single parenthood, which encourages young women to want children but not necessarily with a husband. Some single parents have “significant others” come in and out of their lives from time to time, and other single parents live by themselves. There are pages and pages of research which show the importance of having both parents present in the home. With both parents present, they give support to the children. With both parents present they give each other a break from parenting. It is crucial to have both parents, but as there are approximately 13.7 million single parents in the U.S. responsible for raising 21.8 million children (according to the U.S. Census Bureau from 2009) it is not always possible.
Drug Addiction: This particularly harmful habit started back in the 1960s when the rising generation literally went to pot. There were college uprisings, anti-war “sit-ins,” and the introduction of marijuana and heroin. This was the baby boomer generation whose parents were the survivors of WWII. They didn’t want discipline nor did they want to fit into the “establishment”.
The whole world seemed topsy turvey, but the one surviving factor of those times is a large drug addiction, and the use of drugs has climbed steadily ever since. Young teens want to be cool, so they try these ridiculously dangerous drugs from crack to methamphetamines to get a high. Drugs are expensive, so any kind of budget for living expenses is wasted on a bad habit. We need to strengthen ourselves and our families against the pitfalls of drug addiction. An excellent source of information is from a talk called “How To Survive in Enemy Territory,” from Boyd K. Packer, an apostle of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, who says we are living in enemy territory and must strengthen our children to survive the world of sin.
Too Much Debt: If anyone remembers the old Willie Wonka movie with the spoiled little girl named Veruca Salt, then you have an idea of what “generation X” and “Y” (as they are called) does when they want to buy something. They want it and they want it now! Credit card spending is way out of control. According to Dave Ramsey, the financial guru, the average family today carries $8,000 in credit card debt. There is no way around it, if you have a credit card you will spend more than what you make. Our parents always saved up for something and then bought it with cash. That is just the way it had always been since the beginning of time. You want something, you save up for it. The only exceptions were homes, cars and education. You didn’t need it that badly that you couldn’t live without it. Now families are up to their eyeballs in debt which creates a tremendous amount of stress. Get out of debt and you get out of bondage.
Immorality: Getting married used to be considered the right thing to do when a single girl became pregnant. Fidelity in marriage was always the norm, and if a political leader was caught in an extra-marital affair, then the only right thing to do was to resign. Now all of that doesn’t seem to matter. What ever “feels good” is the right thing to do and that is that. We need to teach abstinence until marriage or we end up with countless girls in middle school and high school having babies. It’s not that there isn’t enough birth control to go around; it’s the fact that girls and boys are not taught to wait to share intimacy with their married partner. There is no sanctity in marriage. Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are taught from their leaders the importance of fidelity in marriage and abstinence when single. This is a real red flag of a decaying country.
Entertainment: This is probably the worst aspect of all six areas that has been so degraded in the last 30 years; families cannot tell what is safe to watch and what isn’t. Movies, television, books and magazines have glorified what used to be considered inappropriate for family time together. Violence, sex and bad language are used so much in all forms of entertainment, we are desensitized to it. Sleazy magazine covers are displayed at book stores in the name of art. Most romance novels describe explicit sex scenes. The movie rating system has become like a school test being raised on a scale: what used to be considered an “R” rating is now “PG-13” and sometimes the “PG” version isn’t all that clean either. Our society has just slipped into the gutter and will not come back unless we teach our children the signs and follow the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Children are not learning the life skills they need to follow Christ’s teaching of becoming decent, contributing citizens. It takes sacrifice and hard work at home and at work to have a successful life. Illegal drugs can alter good thinking and sneaking extra marital affairs does not make for a happy, contented marriage. Being bombarded by garbage for our minds alters good thinking. The family is an important commodity in our country, and it needs to be safeguarded. By keeping these six aspects in mind, we can guard our house from the outside influences that keep our families from drifting apart and disintegrating.
This article was written by Valerie Steimle, a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter=day Saints.
Valerie Steimle is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (ʺMormonʺ woman). She has been writing as a family advocate for the past 20 years. She is the mother of nine children living in southern Alabama and is the author of four books and a weekly newspaper column, Thoughts from the Heart.