Summary: If God condemned Israel for it’s lax attitude toward marriage, has God blessed America because of the Biblical attitude our nation has had for it’s first 150 years or so? This Sermon also focuses on many of the lies about marriage our nation has begun to
OPEN: This is our last in our series: "What Made America Great."
Over the past weeks we’ve dealt with the Christian Work Ethic, the Godly Freedom we enjoy, and the influence of the Church in shaping the thinking of our early founders.
Today’s sermon focuses on the role Marriage has played in making America great.
In Malachi, God told Israel how important marriage was to Him.
• He said that when people get married “…the LORD (makes) them one”. In flesh and spirit they are his.” Malachi 2:14
• AND He declared He is a “witness between you and the wife of your youth.” Malachi 2:14
Now, apparently, many in Israel had decided that marriage wasn’t all that important.
They didn’t think God’s priority of a lifelong marriage needed to be honored.
And so God was angry.
"I hate divorce," says the LORD God of Israel… " Mal 2:16
And because Israel had become so casual in its view of their marriage vows, God told them: “… You flood the LORD’s altar with tears. You weep and wail because he no longer pays attention to your offerings or accepts them with pleasure from your hands.” Malachi 2:13
Essentially God was telling Israel:
I have no great love for you… because you have no great love for the sanctity of marriage.
God WAS bringing judgment upon Israel.
But… if God was bringing judgment upon Israel for their negative attitude toward their vows, just imagine what blessings He might bring on a nation that held marriage in honor.
APPLY: In early America, there was a time when divorce was easily obtained and living together was not uncommon. But then came the Great Awakening – where religious fervor swept across the colonies. And with that great Awakening came a overwhelming desire in many of the colonists to embrace the holiness and righteousness of our God. And with that desire to be holy and righteous marriage began to be held in much higher esteem.
From that day on, the teachings of Bible and the preaching from the pulpits set the tone of the sanctity of marriage so powerfully that Tom Brokaw noted (speaking about the “Greatest Generation” - those who lived thru WWII):
“It was the last generation in which, broadly speaking, marriage was a commitment and divorce was not an option.” Tom Brokaw
In other words: marriage was highly prized in early American culture.
But all that changed by the time of early 60’s.
Since that day, many Christian values have been undermined in America including the commitment people have in marriage and the shame they have in divorce.
But even with that erosion of morality in our nation, there still remained a stigma of shame attached to divorce and a distaste of viewing marriage as a casual contract.
At Least In America.
ILLUS: One article I read told of a study conducted by Pamela Druckerman, a former Wall Street Journal reporter. She surveyed married or committed couples all over the world, and not only charted the international styles and frequency of cheating, but also looked at each country’s capacity for guilt and shame - regarding infidelity.
She found that no other population suffers the same anguish over affairs as Americans do.
Russians regard an affair as if it were a benign vice, like cigars and scotch.
The Japanese have institutionalized extramarital sex through clubs and general lifestyles.
The French, prize discretion in their affairs.
In sub–Saharan Africa, even the threat of death by HIV hasn’t stopped people from cheating.
By contrast - American attitudes toward divorce/affairs… are typically American. We don’t like it. We find shame in these matters. And the reason these things bring shame is because of the teachings of Scripture.
Now, has God blessed America because of its unique attitude toward marriage?
Well, it’s hard to say, but I’d think so.
What we do know is that God withheld His blessings from Israel when it failed to honor it. In fact, we know that Israel wasn’t the only nation to suffer because they abandoned marriage.
ILLUS: In his highly respected book “The Rise And Fall of the Roman Empire” Edward Gibbon cited 5 major reasons that the great empire of Rome fell. Two of those reasons were these:
1. The rapid increase of divorce and the undermining of the dignity and sanctity of the home, which was the basis of society.
2. And religion decayed (at that time Christianity) and became a mere form and becoming impotent to guide the people.
He concluded that Rome wasn’t so much conquered by its enemies… it collapsed
The great nation of Rome was destroyed– in large part – because marriage and faith were destroyed - abandoned by the people of that once great empire. If it happened there, it can happen here too.