In today’s society, only 25 percent of adults between the ages of 20 and 30 are married, and an additional 25 percent claim they don’t even want to get married.
These statistics demonstrate how the world is turning away from the family formation, according to traditional family advocates. On Thursday, thousands of delegates heard five speakers discuss how society can reverse that trend at the ninth World Congress of Families.
Family advocates Lynda and Richard Eyre spoke about the importance of families and how the world has abandoned the family as a priority.
“The problem we’re talking about here is not about the two to three percent who practice gay marriage or wish to practice gay marriage,” Richard Eyre said. “The problem we’re talking about here is among the other 97 percent, where there is a steady turning away from marriage and family.”
The Eyres talked about how each family needs a system of rules, traditions, a family narrative and a healthy family economy.
The Rev. Dr. Chad Hatfield. chancelor and CEO of St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminar in New York, discussed how looking at ancient Christian teachings on marriage can prove helpful when considering today’s marriages.
Ancient Orthodox teachings about purifying the heart and the nature of the marriage vow are still applicable and needed today.
“We contemplate how quickly even those who identify themselves as Christians have embraced the cultural abandonment of what we call Christian marriage,” Hatfield said. “We need to revisit the traditional Christian teaching on the purification of the heart.”
Glenn T. Stanton, author and director of Global Family Formation Studies at Focus on the Family, spoke about the importance of turning back to humanity’s innate and universal gender traits.
He began by sharing a time when he went to lecture to a university campus about gender.
“I stood up and said I come here with one premise: that men and women are different and they need each other in those differences,” Stanton said. His remark was met with applause. “That’s not what happened there. Boos and taunts and laughter that I would say something so silly. I got hissed at.”
Stanton cited several studies that show there are innate, universal male and female characteristics and that in developed countries such as the Netherlands and the United States, these differences between males and females become more distinct.
Men are more prone to take risks and women are more safety and security-minded, according to Stanton. Both of these traits are essential to the development of children. The mother protects children from the world and the father prepares the children for the world.
Dorothy Patterson, professor of theology in women’s studies at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, concluded the session with remarks about society’s need to return to motherhood. Patterson has enjoyed a career as a successful writer, but said no joy compared to that of being a mother.
She acknowledged it was hard work, and said that motherhood is a job that society couldn’t pay many women to do. Yet women who are mothers do this work for free, she said.
Mothers have the important role of playing a part in their children’s life and guiding them, said Patterson. Children need the attention their mothers give them.
“The best present is my presence day in and day out,” Patterson said, referring to her children.