The decade of the 1970s was a unique period of creativity and innovation in many fields. They were strategic years in which our nation made many far-reaching, cultural choices. Many voices attempted to help us grasp the significance of the times in which we lived. Former gospel music artist, Billy Preston, wrote an entertaining song with deep prophetic overtones as his 1972 contribution to the generations understanding. A few of the lyrics follow:
I've got a song I ain't got no melody
How'm I gonna sing it with my friends
Will it go round in circles
Will it fly high like a bird up in the sky
I've got a lil' story ain't got no moral
Let the bad guy win every once in a while
I've got a lil' dance ain't got no steps
I'm gonna let the music move me around
This era had a cultural war with changing sexual mores, young people re-examining their values, and a concern that our business community was selling us down the river for filthy lucre sounds just like today!
Prestons never-ending song is likened to a story without a moral, a dance without steps, and a bird that wanders in endless circles. As I thought back on the era, this song without a melody seems to have begun a decline in musical creativity---leading to music genres like hip hop and punk rock. The last 30 years also gave birth to a new genre of movies in which the anti-hero emerged from numerous amoral screen plays. Dance and the arts have also eclipsed from their popularity in the mid-20th century.
Not only was our music going around in circles in the 70s, our new-fangled cultural, spiritual, and emotional rituals took our entire society downhill quickly. Using commitment to traditional marriage as a barometer of moral decline, it is easy to perceive that the very fabric of our society was being ripped apart as we chanted, Make love and not war.
From 1970 to 2000, white marriage levels declined from 72.6% to 60%. Black marriages, however, dropped from roughly two-thirds to one-third during the same time span. During the 70s we examined everything except the impact our society was having on marriage. If we had only known the slippery slope on which we were treading, we would have made different choices.
As stated earlier, this millennium is just like the 70s in many ways. No wonder Ecclesiastes 1:9 says, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun (NIV). The major difference between the 70s and today is that now our foundational building blocks are being reconstructed. In the 70s, the sexual revolution redefined both the place of sex and the gender roles of our society. The concept of unisex has now given vent to gay and lesbian cultural expression in both fashion and attitude. In the new millennium, marriage is being redefined. The devaluation of marriage has the potential to destroy the nuclear family as we know it.
To discuss the redefinition of values and marriage may sound very lofty and esoteric. Nothing could be further from the truth. Attitudes form values and values become the ethical basis for actions. Actions create habits and habits form lifestyle patterns. Therefore, our thoughts about what goes on in peoples bedrooms can affect the course of our society. For the last 15 years or so, there has been a subtle battle to reclassify marriage and family. In 2004, Massachusetts courts raised the stakes in this winner-take-all poker game for the definition of marriage.
A constitutional amendment to protect marriage is a vital step in shielding our culture from self-destruction like the Greek and Roman cultures of antiquity. The work of Stanley Kurtz, a Harvard-trained sociologist, records the fact that Swedish and Dutch attempts to give all the rights of marriage to same-sex couples has resulted in two destructive trends. The first trend is longer singleness for adults due to a devaluation of this sacred institution. Second, out-of-wedlock births escalated in both nations dramatically. In Sweden, out-of wedlock births increased from 47% to 55% in only ten years. In the Netherlands, out-of wedlock births rose from 19% to 31% in just six years.
These statistics are especially disturbing given soaring out-of-wedlock births and greater singleness rates in the U.S. today. If not addressed, in thirty years we could have created an America in which over half of the population never gets married and most kids have absolutely no bond with their biological fathers. Christians everywhere must fight these trends by using three powerful tools prayer, political involvement, and building positive marriages that the world can emulate. Today may be our last chance to keep our culture from going round in circles. Lets make the decision to fly right today!