Appalled. That's a good word. "Filled with consternation; dismayed." That's exactly what I felt recently when Cathy did her usual perusal of the "Births" section in the Yuma Sun. After the initial look to see how many new babies were born to families at Stone Ridge (we are FREQUENTLY blessed with new babies!), Cathy grabbed her pencil and began making marks in the column next to the list. Finally she looked up and said, "There were 53 new babies born in the past couple of weeks in Yuma Country. Only 13 of them have a mother and a father with the same last name." Many of them named only the mom.
Now, I'm not a sociological relic. One of our daughters chose to keep her maiden name when she married and we are fine with that. On the other hand, I am certain that many of the couples with different names are not married and likely will never be married. The vast majority of them will choose at some point in the future -- many of them in the near future -- to end their relationship and move on to someone else. It's safe to say that well over half of those 53 babies will grow up with only one parent or with many different "parents" as the adults in their lives change partners about as rapidly as what happens in a square dance.
Like I said, I was appalled. I suddenly realized that we live in a culture where "throw-away relationships" have become the rule rather than the exception.
How come we can instantly communicate with people all over the planet (I'm still amazed at the level of inter-continental communication I participate in via email, Twitter and Facebook), but we can't seem to develop rich, stable relationships with the people we see face-to-face? What happened that we so easily bought into the lie perpetrated in the popular song: "If you can't be with the one you love, honey, love the one you're with." We traded away the security of life-long marriages and decades-long friendships for the loneliness of surface-level connections. Don't get me wrong. I'm full of compassion for those who endure the pain of divorce; some of my dearest friends have walked through that quagmire. And not a single one of them would wish that pain upon their friends!
After five days of creation in which everything He had made was good, God was faced with a quandary: "Then the Lord God said, 'It is not good for the man to be alone.'” (Genesis 2:18 NLT) God's designed solution was about far more than physical connection and procreation; He designed us to develop deep and lasting relationships at the psychological and spiritual levels. He wanted us to "finish each other's sentences" as we get old. He meant for us to marvel at the depths of His workings in the hearts of people we come to know. He meant for us to be there for our children and for them to grow up in the security of a home in which NOTHING threatens to shake it apart save a death we cannot control.
Instead, we have settled for "throw-away relationships." Our relational landfills are heaped with the smelly baggage of our past and we keep piling more on...unless something happens to break the cycle. Jesus came to mend broken relationships. It was the last promise of the Old Testament prophets; a promise that would be fulfilled from the heart and by the power of God. "His preaching will turn the hearts of fathers to their children, and the hearts of children to their fathers.” (Malachi 4:6 NLT)
The question is, "Can the church do something to help us deepen our relationships?" Surely the answer is, "Yes!" It's what we will talk about this weekend at Stone Ridge. Bring a friend! Can't be there? Catch the podcast of the sermon online or download it.