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November 20, 2014
Column #1,734
Pope Francis & Evangelicals Meet on Marriage
By Mike McManus

Pope Francis hosted another meeting on marriage in Rome this week with global religious leaders of many denominations. He asserted that "children have a right to grow up in a family with a father and a mother."

That may seem obvious, but only 46% of American teenagers are growing up with married parents. Most parents of today’s kids have rejected each other – either by not marrying to begin with, or by divorcing.

As the Pope put it, "We now live in a culture of the temporary, in which more and more people are simply giving up on marriage as a public commitment. This revolution in manners and morals has often flown the flag of freedom, but in fact it has brought spiritual and material devastation to countless human beings, especially the poorest and most vulnerable."

What can be done to rescue marriage?

Some liberal denominations such as The Episcopal Church and the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) - say the answer is to broaden the definition of marriage, to include same-sex couples. The Pope clearly disagrees with his call for every child having a mother and father.

Dr. Russell Moore, President of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of Southern Baptists spoke in Rome about another temptation followed by some churches to "emphasize the ethical content of the Scriptures – the 'golden rule’ – and deemphasize the scandal of such things as virgin births and empty tombs and second comings. The churches that followed this path are now deader than Henry VIII."

The Presbyterian Church has shrunk from 4.3 million in 1965 to only 1.7 million while America’s population grew 60% in those years.

Moore correctly noted that "Western culture now celebrates casual sexuality, cohabitation, no-fault divorce, family redefinition and abortion rights as parts of a sexual revolution that can tear down old patriarchal systems. The Sexual Revolution empowers men to pursue a Darwinian fantasy of the predatory alpha-male rooted in the values of power, prestige and personal pleasure."

The result is a "wreckage of sexuality all around us."

He gave no numbers. Here are some. In 1971, three-quarters of those over age 25 were married; now it’s only slightly more than half. Divorce destroys half of all marriages and numbers are rising after years of decline. Our 41 percent unwed birth rate is 20 times that of Japan.

With fewer children raised by married couples, U.S. kids score at the bottom on international math tests – 31st out of 31 countries, while Asian countries are at the top.

Pope Francis said it is "essential that we foster a new human ecology."

For example, he eloquently challenged young people to not build on the temporal, but the transcendent: "It is important that young people do not give themselves over to the poisonous mentality of the temporary, but rather be revolutionaries with the courage to seek true and lasting love, going against the common pattern: this must be done."

In today’s hookup culture, it does take courage to remain sexually pure and to seek "true and lasting love" in a marriage for life.

Another speaker in Rome was America’s most famous pastor, Rick Warren. He asserted that "The church cannot be salt and light in a crumbling culture if it caves in to the sexual revolution and fails to provide a counter-culture witness.

"It is a myth that we must give up biblical truth on sexuality and marriage in order to evangelize." Indeed, his Saddleback Church in California recently baptized its 40,000th adult convert. "In the end we must be merciful to the fallen, show grace to the struggling, and be patient with the doubting. But when God’s word is clear, we must not – and we cannot – back up, back off, back down, back out or backslide from the truth."

What is the truth? Warren quoted Paul’s letter to the Ephesians:

"Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her – to make her holy…and to present her as a beautiful bride to himself, a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or blemish, but holy and pure.

"In this same way, husbands must love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds it, and cares for it…So each of you must love his wife as you love himself and your wife must respect your husband."

Warren concluded "THIS is the deepest meaning of marriage. THIS is the strongest reason marriage can only be between a man and a woman. To redefine marriage would destroy the picture that God intends for marriage to portray," sparking a standing ovation.

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