Protecting Family Values

Lisa Miller wrote an interesting piece in Newsweek entitled “Marriage is Hard.” This caught my attention because it goes along with something we've been talking about in our Sunday class

Miller points to yet another “family values” politician who has a hard time applying his platform to his personal life. This time it is Senator John Ensign of Nevada. He voted to impeach President Clinton following Monica-gate and he supported a constitutional amendment to defend marriage. Sadly, he wasn’t doing much to defend his own marriage. Even as he wrapped himself in the mantle of family values, he was having an affair with one of his interns. Miller holds up Ensign as simply the “latest example of what so many see as the failure of the right to retain any credibility on the marriage question.”

We do have that credibility problem, don’t we? We mentioned before studies that indicate that evangelicals are more likely to become divorced than groups like Catholics, Muslims, Jews, or even atheists. It is hard to be taken seriously as having the answers for families when we aren’t practicing what we preach. Miller writes—

But when evangelicals are leading the charge in the marriage movement (and now, the anti-gay-marriage movement) arguing that sacred unions between one man and one woman are good for society because they're good for children, one would hope that they'd have worked out the kinks a little better than the rest of us.

Ouch! This is an accusation of the worst kind… a true one. If we really want to make a difference in protecting the sanctity of marriage, then we have to do better in our lives, not in our rhetoric. Now if the culture pointed at conservative Christians and said, “Hey, wait a minute—those people don’t ever get divorced…” Then we would have some credibility in talking about family values. Marriage is never going to be protected by presidential fiat or congressional constitutional amendments. It is protected when we live our lives so that it is apparent to all around us that God’s way works.

Miller begins her article by holding up Billy Graham’s policy of never allowing himself to be alone with a woman who was not his wife. He instructed his staffers to help him make sure this policy was followed. Miller writes, “Aware of the significance of his reputation and convinced of the moral value of the Gospel message, he took precautions to guard against his own human weakness.” Now that is how one protects traditional family values!