The Erosion of the Family in America

Erosion occurs when the forces of the environment eat away the foundation on which we are relying.

The American family has been suffering from erosion for many decades. Although the process has been slow, and in the past subtle, the results are accelerating.

As a pastor for many years now, I have seen hundreds of families succumb to this erosion and the results have been devastating. As goes the family, so goes the country.

In my opinion there are three primary sources eroding the home today.


1. The rejection of the biblical definitions of marriage and family.

At the risk of sounding “hateful, narrow-minded, or old-fashioned,” Christians need to be clear on what the Bible teaches about faith and family.

The biblical definition of marriage is the covenantal union of one man with one woman for life (Matthew 19:4-6). With that foundation in mind, a Christian family is when a Christian husband and wife commit to build their home on God’s principles and priorities rather than the culture’s.

Today, the singular goal of relationships is happiness. We seek out a mate that we think will make us happy. However, according to the Bible, God’s goal for relationships is holiness (Ephesians 5:21-30).

This is radically counter-cultural. What if marriage isn’t about ME? What if God’s goal for my marriage is to learn how to be selfless by seeking my spouse’s happiness instead of my own? What if God cares more about my character than He does about my comfort?

We’ve adopted so many false ideas about love and marriage from our culture. I’ve even heard couples say they don’t want any children, they just want to enjoy each other. Yet the Bible says, “…In God’s wise plan, when you married, the two of you became one person in his sight. And what does he want? Godly children from your union…” Malachi 2:15 (TLB)

We have moved so far away from the biblical definitions of home and family that I believe it will soon be considered a hate crime to even mention them. Isaiah 5:20 states, “What sorrow for those who say that evil is good and good is evil

The redefinition of marriage, the false ideas about love and happiness, and the rise of cohabitation and divorce are eroding the family.

2. Overextended schedules due to misplaced priorities.

The average family today has become a slave to the schedules of their children. Believing that busyness is somehow “family time,” and that hobbies (sports, arts) should take precedence over church, parents are teaching their kids that saturation is better than maturation.

Make no mistake, these kids have picked up the unspoken cue that they are the center of the known universe and that parents exist to transport, fund and support them.

The Psalmist wrote, “Teach us to number our days and recognize how few they are; help us to spend them as we should.”

Enforcing reasonable schedules with healthy margin is perhaps the most difficult and yet wise decision a family can make in our modern culture. Parents, not the culture or their kids, need to set the priorities and pace of the home.

3. Undernourished spiritual development in the home.

As a church leader for many years now, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been dumped on by parents of rebelling teenagers telling me how the church has failed them. They somehow believe that it was the church’s responsibility to make their kids good. As though the church’s programs can do what their parenting didn’t.

As shocking as this may sound, the church is not the primary spiritual influence on their children; they are. The church exists to support and equip parents, not replace them. (see Deuteronomy 6:6-9)

There is no children’s program guaranteed to churn out spiritual giants and there’s no youth program on the planet that can prevent teenagers from rebellion.

Let’s face it, if faith isn’t real in the home, a shot of Jesus one hour a week won’t counteract that.

The greatest recipe for probable success in raising godly children is when mom and dad live out a genuine faith in their home.

BTW – a child can still rebel even if their parents were the godliest people ever to walk the planet – it’s called free will.

Actually, I can think of several more factors causing the erosion of the family, but I get discouraged if I focus on too much that’s wrong so I better to stop there.

Our goal at Oak Ridge is to fight cultural erosion by building retaining walls of hope and healing for hearts and homes. Families can stand strong even in the face of an eroding culture when they choose to live by God’s standards.

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