According to a Pew Social Trends poll
released today, almost 40 percent of Americans think that marriage is on its
way to becoming obsolete in American society. The number includes both people
who are indifferent to the end of marriage and those who are sorry to see it
I noticed a disheveled and unshaven man in his early fifties a few barstools down from me. Something about him seemed uninviting. Soon an attractive 40-something woman arrived in a crisp little black dress and perched on the stool next to him. She seemed nervous.
Churches can and should affirm the moral significance of marriage without denigrating those who are not married. So we have argued before in this space, noting at the same time that such affirmations must be sensitive to the diverse experiences of the people in the pews.
"Love never ends,” St. Paul writes in the lesson we read from 1 Corinthians 13. Or, put more positively, “love abides.” What does that really mean—to say that “love abides”? Or, indeed, what possible sense could it make to say this in a world in which the truth so clearly seems to be that love quite often does not abide?
The parable of the Prodigal Son is often used to illustrate the gracious and steadfast nature of God’s love. Most of us can recognize and even identify with the characters—the younger son who strikes out on his own and makes costly mistakes, the responsible elder son who always does what is expected of him, and the long-suffering father, who shows love and constancy.