American Family Breakdown

This is a look at the breakdown of the American Family.

The breakdown of the America family is a serious problem today. In the history of our nation, there has not been a single generation raised with the societal conditions that we have. The disintegration of the family has always preceded the decline of a culture. In this paper, I hope to present the functional theory of sociology in respect to family disintegration. I want to present some reasons for the breakdown of the American family, and I want to present a possible solution to the problem.

As someone who is training for ministry and family counseling, I hope to present my beliefs, clearly and adequately supported with statistics, that God's plan for the family system is the best. I want to begin to support my thesis with some statistics of the problem. I then want to show statistics of families that follow God's plan. The results of the two family systems are significantly differently.

The Functionalist Theory of Sociology

The functionalist theory sees the norm of family as "one husband who is the father, one wife who is mother, and the children." Anything other than this ideal is a deviation from the normalcy of values. "According to this point of view, the family is a basic unit of society that serves the purposes of socializing the young, regulating sexual activity and procreation, providing physical care for family members, and giving psychological support and emotional security to individuals. The precarious position of the family in modern society is seen as stemming from the fact that the family's share of these functions has been dwindling while other institutions have taken on greater responsibility."

In a "Summary of Comments Made During the White House Briefing on the Family," Dr. James Dobson made this comment about the family. "A family is not a collection of individuals who happen to live at the same address. They are people who share an intimate and complex connection with one another, being related by marriage, birth or adoption. Together they form something larger and more significant that the contribution of each person taken singly. That association, locked together by love and lifelong commitment, must have a secure place in the American legal structure. To continue to undermine its foundations and erode its authority is to destroy the very fabric of American life."

How is the American Family Fairing?

A 1994 Georgia court docket shows that nearly 20% of the court cases were divorce. In 1992, one city led the nation in divorce per capita. Last year, 1997, this same city was the divorce capital of the South . It also led the nation in child abuse for two years straight. Currently, at a local middle school, at least thirty teenagers are pregnant. These are just some statistics that evidence the weakening family system. The disintegration of the family has always preceded the decline of a society.

What Are the Reasons For the Decline?

In my research, I have found two major reasons for the decline of the family. The first thing that I want to expound on is "no fault" divorce. In 1969, California permitted divorce when "irreconcilable differences" arose, thus becoming the first state with a "no-fault" divorce law. Nearly all the other states soon added no-fault divorce options to their existing laws. "No fault divorce, which swept the United States and Canada in the early 1970's has been a disaster, making it easier to modify a marriage contract than to escape from an agreement to purchase a refrigerator."

In "Social Problems," the authors present a graph of Marriage and Divorce rates between the years 1910-1993. The marriage rate has slightly declined from around 10.5 per thousand to about nine per thousand. The marriage rate peaked around 1945 and has declined except for two small raises in 1965 and in 1980. The divorce rate has steadily increased from around one per thousand to around 4.5 per thousand. The highest jump in divorce rate came between 1975-1993 . If the present divorce rate persists, within another generation roughly half of all marriages will be ended by divorce.

The second problem I see is cohabitation. Many people believe that living together before marriage will enhance their chances for a lasting relationship. Sociologists Larry Bumpass and James Sweet of the University of Wisconsin found this belief to be untrue. Twice as many couples that live together before marriage have divorced as those who do not.

What Can a Family Do?

The keys to a good marriage are found in the Bible. The first key is to show appreciation for each other on a regular basis. Romans 12:10 says, "Be kindly affectionate one to another with brotherly love; in honor preferring one another." The second thing is that we must express our admiration, love, and respect for our families. Romans 13:7 says, "Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honor to whom honor."

When a man and a woman enter the marriage covenant, it is expected of both to submit to one another. Submission doesn't mean bondage, it simply means to adapt to the characteristics of the other partner. A godly husband will not be a tyrant nor a taskmaster, but he will be a loving provider and protector of his family. The husband

should "love his wife as Christ loved the church (Eph. 5:28)."

The wife should submit herself to the authority of her husband. This submission was to be "as unto the Lord." She is not in any way a secondhand citizen, the wife is a helpmate to her husband. A submitted wife is one that her husband can trust. She is like the "Virtuous Woman" in Proverbs 31.

In summary, the situation our nation's families are facing is dire, but there is hope. When the family returns to the original blueprint that God designed, we will begin to see America strengthened. The family can change the nation in one generation if they will follow God's Word.

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