"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?
Despite a mounting body of research showing that high rates of divorce and out-of-wedlock births pose serious threats to the well-being of children, mainline Protestantism has had remarkably little to say in recent years about the nature, health and prospects of the family.
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.
The Church of England, bidding to keep pace with the changing times, has begun promoting a “2-for-1” service that allows couples to combine a marriage ceremony with the baptism of their children born out of wedlock.
Guidelines for the controversial “hatch and match” liturgy went out to the church’s 16,000 parishes this summer.
Early on in our marriage, Karen began to decide that even if she believed in some kind of God, she could not accept basic Christian teachings. The faith claims that Christians make about Jesus—about him being the Son of God—seemed unbelievable to her. The Bible is just another book, she began to conclude, and so we cannot grant it any particular authority. She wondered whether she could continue to attend church. This stirred a bit of panic in me. She was not just my wife. She was the minister’s wife.
"You can be a minister. Just don’t marry one,” I heard myself telling a little girl in my church, and then wondered where that came from. I suspect that I meant it as a compliment to my husband, who was standing nearby. Perhaps I had been short-tempered, as I sometimes am on Sunday mornings, so the comment was my way of saying that I know it is not always easy to be married to a minister.
After thousands of scientific studies of marriage, the one number everybody knows is 50 percent. Fifty percent of American marriages end in divorce. It’s a statistic made for pessimism and fatalism, as in “Half of the people in this room will get a divorce.” Adding to the woe is the wealth of research that has noted the severe economic and social impact of divorce on children.
It would be hard to find more divisive, jabbing rhetoric on marriage than in these publications by self-described “marriage nut” David Blankenhorn, the founder and director of the Institute for American Values, and the late historian Elizabeth Fox-Genovese, well known for her testy rebuff of femini