Recently, we published two articles on the lust of the flesh (May 5th) and the lust of the eyes (June 9th); AARP's July/August magazine, Modern Maturity, published an article by Galina Espinoza titled "There Goes the Bride" which combines both sins (no, this writer does not subscribe to the publication). The first words of the one-page piece are: "The new wedding vow: Let's stay single" (11).
The readers are presented with the personal situation of a 69-year-old widow (Shirley) and a 77-year-old widower (Ed) who, after dating for three months discussed getting married but decided against it for economic reasons. Shirley thought she might "lose her late husband's benefits if she walked down the aisle, so the New York City couple moved in together." Not that it matters with respect to the sin involved, but why is this description so vague? Could Shirley not find out for certain about the loss of revenue? The reporter also could have investigated the matter to remove it from the realm of speculation.
Shallow Shirley commented: "Marriage just didn't seem practical." Her obvious choice is "money over morality." She has demonstrated that, at least to her, God and the Scriptures are irrelevant but that pecuniary considerations are paramount. And some people think idolatry is a thing of the past! She has sacrificed God's institution of marriage on the altar of convenience and creature comforts. The couple has bowed down to Mammon and have loyally served him. [The reason we have not cited Ed's comments is that the article did not quote him. The happy couple are now 78 and 86.]
The perspective of the article seems entirely favorable to this new ideology of elderly couples living together without marriage.
It used to be you worried what your neighbors would say if you shacked up; now you worry about what your accountant will say if you tie the knot. Unmarried opposite-sex couples 65 and older rose 73 percent from 1990-1999, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.This is a heartwarming statistic. Instead of growing older with dignity, many of the elderly are corrupting themselves. By essentially repudiating marriage, they are throwing away the good example of remaining in holy wedlock 40 or 50 years. Such an action defiles the memory of the husband or wife who has passed on. Even more important, it is a direct violation of the Scriptures: "Marriage is honorable among all and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge" (Heb. 13:4).
The article does point out some problems that need to be addressed:
1. If a widow remarries before 60, she cannot collect her spouse's social security.
2. "Staying single means that hospitals and Medicaid can't tap your assets to pay your partner's medical bills or nursing home expenses."
3. Remaining unmarried prohibits relatives of the "significant other" from making any legal claims on assets or property.
These financial concerns need to be addressed. Those of retirement age who have suffered the loss of a mate should not be penalized if, after a period of grief, they consider marriage once again. If the AARP would be as zealous in lobbying for change in these current laws and situations as they are in supporting liberal politicians who are pro-abortion and pro-homosexuality, they might actually prove useful.
After two columns of emphasis on finances, the reader is surprised by this statement: "Obviously, shacking up isn't just a dollar decision." Really? The thesis of the article seems to be precisely that, but its author specifies two other explanations for fornication among the elderly. First is that some "couples have soured on marriage." No elaboration is given to explain the change in attitude. Does this souring imply that the surviving mate was unhappy in the previous relationship. Anyone who did not enjoy a previous commitment will probably not be fond of making another one.
The second reason for remaining single involves a strange inversion of example: "Others have seen their kids cohabit so they're comfortable with it." Are they blind? Cohabiters have breakups, too--frequently they occur after such a couple decides to get married. Besides, who made young people the standard for everyone else to follow? The older should lead the younger.
These attitudes have probably resulted from society's infatuation with tolerance. If your daughter shacks up with some guy, you're not supposed to get upset; you're supposed to smile and "keep the lines of communication open." After all, you don't want to risk alienating them. If your son announces that he is a homosexual, you're supposed to welcome him and his partner into your home for family get-togethers. Horsefeathers! Who originated such a philosophy, if not the devil?
What Biblical principle says that family is more important than Truth? Is not Jesus supposed to come before all others--even family members (Matt. 10:34-37; Luke 14:26-27)? If we really loved young people, we would tell them that we are not going to support or endorse immoral behavior in any way. Is that cruel and unkind? No. If they have been raised to respect God and His Word, then they are the ones who have done the rejecting. If they know the Scriptures' emphasis on marriage and have had a good example set before them, then they know they are the ones who stand guilty in the eyes of the Lord.
When a child takes something that does not belong to him, it is love, not hatred, that makes him give it back and punishes him for his behavior. If an adult child takes something that does not belong to him (sexually speaking), then a parent's reaction should be similar (not identical, due to the age difference). Such behavior cannot be tolerated.
Society's emphasis on tolerance has resulted in acceptance: No one is guilty of anything. "That's her choice; that's his decision," we hear. True, but all must live with the consequences of choices. When Adam and Eve sinned, they lost the sweet fellowship of God immediately, and He set forth punishments for both. Did He still love them? Yes. Did He still have contact with them? Yes. But He let them know in no uncertain terms that they had made a bad decision.
Whenever people choose to sin, God calls them to repentance. He called those prior to the flood to repentance (through Noah's preaching) for 120 years. When they failed to respond, He put them to death by drowning them. Throughout the Old Testament, the same principle is operative: Repent or perish. Jesus taught the very same message (Luke 13:3). Parents must communicate the same message to their children: "Repent, or you must face the consequences of your wicked disobedience." Those who advocate and insist upon God's standards of morality are not the problem; those who coddle and sympathize are. Those who befriend sinners tell them: "Your parents just don't understand the way things are today; they'll come around eventually. Besides look how many friends you have who do accept you." Certainly, the devil's disciples are always willing to commiserate with other sinners.
The article ends with Shirley commenting that it feels as if she and Ed are married--"only we hold hands more than most married couples." Well, that ought to convince us all of the rightness of their actions. Shirley feels good about it! And they hold hands frequently! What other proof is needed? Some readers were probably a little nervous about this relationship, but this hand-holding comment cleared up every reservation.
Actually, many people feel that they are right whether they are denying reality or the Holy Scriptures. Did Eve feel that eating the forbidden fruit was the right thing to do? Did Absalom feel that taking the kingdom away from his father was right? Did Judas feel right when he first received the thirty pieces of silver for betraying Jesus? "He who trusts in his own heart is a fool..." (Pr. 28:26). Too many have decided to follow their own subjective feelings rather than to abide by the objective standard which God has given to us.
No one can be unsympathetic to the financial hardship which may be triggered by marriage. Our government should not penalize or oppress couples for desiring holy wedlock. On the other hand, living together apart from marriage, in defiance of God's arrangement, cannot be considered an option. Preferring economic benefits to God's system of morality reveals a covetous heart and a lack of trust. Many wedding ceremonies include the sentiment that marriage is honorable in the sight of all. Fornication is not honorable in the sight of God or men; it should be avoided at all costs.
*Send comments or questions concerning this article to Gary Summers. Please refer to this article as: "FOR A FEW DOLLARS MORE"--FORNICATION (07/14/02)."