“As the family goes, so goes the nation,” said Pope John Paul II, famously. The logic follows that if America is strong, the family must first be strong. But if the family is in a state of dysfunction, America will also be in a state of dysfunction.

The basic family unit is at the heart of any society. When undermined, huge ramifications are incurred. At the heart of any family is marriage. When the marriage is strong, the family likewise is strong. When the marriage falters, the family and, by extension, the nation, suffer the consequences.

In this two-part series, I will identify four of the leading ways in which the West ravaged marriage, ruined the family, and left civilization in disarray.

This is by no means a comprehensive list. The attacks on marriage have been multifaceted and it would be impossible to name them all. By pointing out a few of the most prevalent ones, however, I hope to reveal that we, in our own homes and communities, have the power to begin restoring American culture today.

Sex became meaningless

“Sex” and “marriage” were once close to synonymous. Today, I’d probably be labeled a moralistic prude for saying so, however.

We’re living in the 21st century, after all. Will and Jada Smith have a “non-monogamous” marriage, Ethan Hawke believes fidelity is childish and Pete Davidson can publicly joke about how often he’s seen a married woman’s vagina.

Even those who don’t “cheat” in the traditional sense casually watch sex on TV, indulge themselves in porn, and have no problem with pre-marital sex.

The moral of the story is that the West has plunged headfirst into sexual decadence.

I could write a whole book on this topic alone. Suffice it to say, as we tarnish the sacredness of sex we inevitably, simultaneously tarnish the sacredness of marriage itself. As we desensitize ourselves to what should happen only in a married couple’s bedroom, our idea of marriage erodes.

Call me an antiquated prude. But when 50 percent of marriages are ending in divorce or separation, I can’t help but put two and two together: the more “sex positive” we become, the more our marriages struggle.

May I suggest that we tighten up a bit?

Commitment became negotiable

Once upon a time, people married almost entirely for practicality. Dating was not some long, complicated process. There were no dating apps. No dating advice blogs. Young people were never encouraged to enter a relentless cycle of dates, boyfriends, girlfriends, and breakups just for the fun of it. The notion that a couple must live together before getting married was unheard of.

These hoaxes of modern relationships were next to nonexistent. But so were divorces.

Divorce was essentially nonexistent because it wasn’t an option. Marriage was for life, and that was that.

Modern Americans have more dating and marriage counseling resources than any other people group in human history. Yet our divorce rates are abysmally high. Marriage is in shambles.

Why? Because commitment became negotiable.

Americans resent commitment. Commitment to God. To a church. A job. Family. Anything. Americans resent commitment to anything but their own selfish desires to live life how they see fit.

But of course, commitment is vital to any marriage. Without it, we’re simply wasting a few years having fun with some cohabitee who at one point happened to enamor us (which, admittedly, is all some people want). When the fire grows cold and the going gets rough, we call it quits and move on.

Unfortunately, we’re discovering, as a society, that it’s a whole lot harder to “just move on” from this serious crisis. Our commitment problem is ravishing our families, which, in turn, is ravishing our nation.

For us, the answer isn’t a return to getting married for practicality. The answer is commitment. Don’t marry because you’re infatuated. Marry because you’re committed.

If we, as a society, re-established our belief in these two things – commitment and saving sex for marriage – we’d see positive change almost overnight. Our families would be stronger. Schools would be better. Communities safer. Kids healthier.

It’s not a perfect solution, but it sure would go a long way.

To be continued in How the West Destroyed Marriage part. 2.

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