Some years ago, I visited a recently divorced friend, we’ll call her Gabriella. The holidays were approaching, and she and her two teenage daughters were struggling to find a way to celebrate knowing her husband would be spending that time with his new live-in girlfriend.
During my visit, Gabriella told me she was “church hunting” because she was ready to leave the Catholic Church. She had a long list of complaints, many related to the fact she was divorced. One in particular was waged against her pastor whom, in his homily, stated divorce created broken families and this was not what God had intended. Gabriella was incensed. How dare he say my girls and I are not a family! Just because my family doesn’t look like someone else’s doesn’t give him the right to label us “broken.” We are a modern family.
I understand her indignation to a degree. Gabriella wanted to be married forever, but her husband abandoned her and their girls. She was the one left to clean up the mess and it’s typical that the one who is left to put life back together has to work doubly hard for everything; money, parenting, security, possessions, etc. It takes perseverance, self-denial, and a lot of faith to succeed as a single parent.
But something very important is being overlooked—no, blatantly ignored: her pastor is absolutely correct. God did not intend for spouses to dump each other and throw away their marriages! That was not His plan for the family! And just because society has stamped it’s approval on every possible immoral lifestyle a person can think of and has declared those lifestyles “safe from criticism or you’ll be labeled a hater,” it doesn’t change the truth of the matter. God intended a family to be securely balanced with one father and one mother.
But wait… Debbie has two mothers, Jaden has two fathers. Hannah spends a week at her mom and step-dad’s house and the next at her dad and step-mom’s house. Susie has never met her dad and her mom has moved to Vegas for work so Susie lives with grandma. Billy’s dad has a girlfriend that sleeps over and takes him to school in the morning because his dad leaves too early for work. There may be lots of familial love and affection in these arrangements, but they are not the families God intended us to have (this does not include families who have lost a parent through death).
How did our society become this great dichotomy between the traditional family God designed and a mixed-up group of people living under the same roof? In my humble opinion, I believe it is the result of an indifference to God’s commandments and an improper handling of life’s hurts and disappointments.
When an individual encounters hurt or disappointment in life they either: a) approach it as an opportunity for growth, struggle through it, and emerge a better person for the experience, or b) Do nothing to address and heal their hurt and instead, proceed by lowering their standards and expectations.
When you lower your standards and expectations, accepting and acting on the truth becomes harder. The light of hope becomes dimmer. If you lower your standards and expectations every time you encounter hurt or disappointment, your capacity to deal truthfully with your life and hope in your future is almost zero. You will instead, spend your time and energy looking for ways to make yourself feel happy, loved and accepted.
Gabriella illustrates my point well. Although her family was Catholic, her parents were divorced, (second time for mom). Gabriella was never married to her eldest daughter’s father who was no where to be found at the time, and now, her younger daughter’s father was gone, too. Instead of embracing her Catholic faith for healing through the sacraments and a path to a new life through the annulment process, Gabriella was actively looking for another church that would simply affirm her modern family. And she was definitely anxious to date and find a new man, hopefully in time for Christmas.
Lowering standards and expectations seems to be the trend for all the social ills we suffer (or celebrate, depending upon your perspective). We don’t keep score at little league games, but hand out participation trophies. We ban school children from playing tag because someone might get their feelings hurt. We forcibly remove the honorable veterans who fought for this country and our freedom from their own memorials, but we allow drug addicts, bums and criminals to camp out in the public square for months on end. We treat law-abiding citizens like criminals and we treat criminals like heroes. We promote and encourage divorce, contraception, abortion and homosexuality in the name of freedom and expression, but paddle-lock the doors of the churches so our priests cannot say Mass for the soldiers who risk their lives for our freedom.
Stop the insanity!
If you want your family to be whole and your marriage blessed, if you want your streets to be safe, if you want your schools to be a place to learn and our country to be great… then get on your knees, thank God for your life, accept your truth, work through your hurts and come out the other side a better person for it all. Don’t lower your bar, raise it. It’s okay to struggle, God is with you and He wants you to succeed.
Feel free to send me your questions or comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.