Are you having trouble explaining to friends, family members, or co-workers why you’re opposed to same-sex “marriage”?
Do you feel a sense of slow, creeping helplessness at the rising divorce statistics?
Have your kids reported the growing pressure they feel to join the “hook-up culture” on campus?
There’s a reason why you might be having trouble articulating your objections to the collapse of family life in America: The common language we used to employ in talking about these things has gone away.
Screenshot from Irreplaceable The Movie.
We used to take for granted that the most basic unit of society was the family. Our kids, as they grew up inside a family, were themselves seeking mates so that they could form their own families, and raise their kids. The goal that most people had was to go from their family of origin to the family that they’d originate.
While a certain “rugged individualism” appealed to Americans, we knew that the lonely cowboy, the lighthouse keeper, the desperado, was an oddball. Living alone was for monks, misfits, and misanthropes. Real life happened in households, and centered on raising children.
That’s not an eccentric view.
In fact, it’s what any rational person who studied the human species would likely conclude, from reading our history books and knowing our biology. But somehow along the way in the modern West, a virus got into our cultural DNA. We became convinced that family life, enduring commitments, the reproduction of children, were not the stuff of which life is made—but obstacles in the path of personal development, roadblocks to our freedom.
Prophets of “self-fulfillment” encouraged us to see marriage as a trap, children as needy parasites, and commitments as hypocritical fictions. Marriage laws changed, to make the marital covenant the laxest, weakest contract in the law—far less sacred than the taxes we owe the IRS, or even our student loans.
It’s no longer safe for a woman to neglect her career to stay home and care for her children; the alimony and child support laws that once existed have been pared down by feminists, such that single mothers now largely plunge into poverty. So even married moms had better keep their resumes bright and shiny; if hubby decides to leave, the law won’t be on her side, or on her kids’.
So why bother marrying at all? Why not be a single mom, and rely on the government to take up the slack from an absent dad? Why on earth should you hold off on having sex until you enter the empty agreement that the government won’t enforce? And why should gay people be denied the pretty ceremonies that mark the temporary sex contract that nowadays passes for marriage?
It is tempting to fill the cultural empty space that marriage used to fill with religious arguments—to rely on the Bible or the authority of your church to explain all the truths about life and love that used to be common knowledge. But arguments from faith can prove rather brittle—especially if the people you’re talking to have shaky religious commitments. And in America, we don’t rely on religion alone as a source for law.
So defenders of marriage and family need to understand the purely rational, historical, and moral case for lifelong, fertile love. They need to do a better job making arguments that in no way depend on the Bible. And I’m happy to say that Focus on the Family has created a powerful documentary that does just that.
"Irreplaceable" is a well-produced, convincing tour of the world in search of the meaning of family.
It interviews noted authors, and experts from Ivy League colleges and leading research institutes, to explore the human urge for togetherness, the central role that love and marriage plays in helping children grow up happy and safe, and the huge social costs that have come from our modern experiments in selfishness.
You owe it to yourself and the people you care about convincing to see this film, learn its arguments, and go out in the public square to defend the family. Bring along that half-convinced friend or colleague, and ask him to keep an open mind. You very well might leave the theater with a convert to the cause.
This powerful film is showing just one night, across the country. Don't miss it.
John Zmirak is author, most recently, of the upcoming book "The Race to Save Our Century" (with Jason Jones). His columns are archived at www.badcatholics.com
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