Dealing with Realities

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The New York Observer is a culture watch newspaper. The paper keeps an eye on the culture and movement in New York City. While some may say that reading a paper like this doesn't give a broad look at our culture, the truth is that all studies say NYC is the number one city of influence in the U.S. and the world. So knowing what is going on in NYC helps us see what is or what will be happening in the rest of culture.

The March 25 issue had as its lead article, "No Divorce is the New Divorce: Moms and Dads Navigate Messy Breakups in Marriage-less World." The article points to a new struggle: breakups where there is no marriage. In reflecting on one marriage the article says, "When it came to call it quits, there was only one problem: how could they get divorced when they had never gotten married in the first place?" 

The article also points out that not only are marriage rates in the U.S. at record lows (I would guess that Canada is in a similar place), but more than 1/2 of the children born to women under 30 have unwed parents.

The question that I have is, "Is there a place for these folks in our churches?" Not only those struggling with breaking up when there was no marriage in the first place, but those who are struggling with marriage itself. (It is worth noting that how we understand marriage has changed over time, or at least the way people get married. In the early middle ages all it took to get married was two people agreeing they wanted to be married and it was done. In Calvin's Geneva if you didn't get married within 6 weeks of announcing your intentions you got a call from the elders). Often we seem more concerned with nailing down the rules than we do helping people seek answers, weeping with them over past brokenness that has caused them to stay away from marriage, and finding pathways to wholeness. 

While we may want to lay down the rules, the reality is that this issue and many others are not only finding their way to the door of our churches, they are already in many of our churches--perhaps especially in our church plants. How do we begin to share biblical wisdom on this and other important issues (it is hard to ignore other issues such as gay marriage which apparently is not supported by 58% of Americans and the struggles of young women that is reflected in shows like HBO's Girls see http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2013/april/girls-talk.html?start=2)

Somehow the early church managed to navigate a culture that feels a lot like our own. Can we learn to navigate this well and so open our doors to people who are trying to find their way to a life that is truly life? At moments I have great hopes that we can become excellent cultural navigators who work not from rules but from tears and a broken heart. At other moments I am not so sure.

What do you think? Are we going to be able to navigate this cultural wave that steps far beyond where many of us are comfortable?

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