Is The Institution of Marriage Dying?

Actress Cameron Diaz has received a significant amount of press recently due to her remarks about the state of marriage in our culture. Apparently Ms. Diaz is of the persuasion that marriage is in effect “unnecessary” and a convention of “traditions that don’t suit our world anymore”.

I must admit I am somewhat remiss in even acknowledging Ms. Diaz and her commentary. I mean really, would I ask a plumber’s thoughts on that funny sound coming from my car? Why would I care what an actress thought about, well…anything? (Except acting I guess).

However, Diaz has sparked a greater debate in this day of armchair commentaries. Many people are coming forward in agreement with her. Even a prominent psychiatrist, Dr. Keith Ablow, supported Ms. Diaz as he pronounced “marriage is a source of real suffering for the vast majority of married people”. He speculates the end of marriage is “only a matter of time now”.

We could dissect the arguments of both Ms. Diaz and Dr. Ablow (and others) from many different angles. However, as I bristled with frustration at such grandiose and overreaching declarations from Diaz and her supporters, I began to see an even greater issue developing. If everyone believes marriage really is dying, we really ought to be seeking to discover what is actually killing it.

Cameron Diaz is not, and has never been, married. So, I assume she has based her reasoning on observation instead of experience. You’ve likely heard the divorce rate of proclaimed evangelical Christians is rapidly approaching that of non-Christians. Is it possible observers like Diaz are simply watching us fail at marriage?

What if Diaz is not making a recommendation? Maybe she is simply stating the obvious. Fredrick Niche was assailed when he suggested “religion is dead”. Many don’t understand the context of his statement. It was not a declaration, only an observation that religion seemed sociologically “unnecessary”.

I was unaware of the subject matter of Keith Simon’s most recent post on ESI while preparing this post. However, it dovetails quite nicely. Can an institution like marriage exist in a culture where the very basis of marriage has become self focused? As I read through the list on Keith’s post I began to find myself empathizing with Diaz. I thought to myself, “if that is what we think marriage is supposed to look like, then maybe marriage really is dead”.

Selfishness is like the Round-Up of marriage. It destroys everything from the roots up. At the same time, selfishness seems to be the greatest temptation in marriage. Its as if God is saying to us at the beginning of our marriages, “you have a plan for this marriage and it is so far from my plan for it. I can’t wait to teach you so much about me and so much about you by revealing your selfishness over the next 60 years together”!

Couples who submit to God’s purposes in the sanctification of our hearts through the vehicle of marriage tend to have a relationship which flourishes. Meanwhile, these marriages may end up exemplifying the “suffering” Dr. Ablow alluded to earlier. Only If by “suffering” he means the suffering of dying to self and serving another.

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