It is written in the bible that every house is built by some man but all things are built by God. These words seem to compare the ordinary material house built by man with the great universe of God. This thought was present in the writers mind when he wrote this verse down. The writer remembered that the creative power that is exhibited in every conception of mortal wit and mortal hands presupposes a mightier creative power of which it is derived.
If one is to follow the thought of any structure through the hands that built it to the mind of the one who devised and suggested it, one is bound to arrive at last to the Mind which separated light from the darkness and firm land from water. The word house does not only imply a collection of timber and stones, it reminds every individual of the household. To build a house is synonymous with building a family.
Every house is built by a particular man but God built all things. Every family has a founder, an individual to whom its origin it refers. Each member of the family feels that their relationship with it is more precious to them in every way than their relationship with the material goods or grounds which are at their possession (Clinton, 1990).
They only delight in talking about the goods or grounds as an inheritance. If it was purchased, they trust that those who come after them will inherit it. The ground for national life has been the existence of this feeling of family and its preservation. Wise legislators and moralists have desired to cultivate this conception and feeling and any causes which may have threatened it have seen the certain presages of destruction to laws, morals, and social order.
If this family order is of such great importance, can it be assumed that it has no foundation like the one possessed by all creation of man? Does a universal family, which is implied by the presence of particular families, exist? Can it be said that a particular family is founded by God, just like a particular family is founded by man? The whole of the human race belong to God, just like the rest of creation but man is bestowed with greater capacities.
Through the scriptures, God revealed to man his purpose and the institution of the church was meant to further this purpose. The church has been identified with dispatching moral codes as required by the scriptures to the most basic of the human associations, the family. As such, the church has had an important role to play in the lives of individuals as well as the moral being of a society. This has however changed with changes in the family structure and the constitution of the church.
The role of the church has shifted so much and the society itself has changed. Immorality has been the order of the day and very few individuals see the churches as divine institutions. The relationship between the church and the family has weakened during the modern times and this has led to much moral decay.
However, the actual reason why there contemporary society has decayed morally is a subject of much contention and social scientists, religious and secular moralists seem to attribute this phenomenon to various aspects of human nature. What is apparent though is that the relationship between the family and the church has changed and many individuals view the church with much suspicion. The main question that this paper deals with is whether the current moral decay can be attributed to the withering relationship between the family and the church.
This paper looks at various materials, both religious and secular in an attempt to answer this question. It particularly argues that even though there are some, other factors which can be attributed to the societal moral decay, the major factor is the deterioration of the family in the church. The church has served very important function in the society, a function which is today becoming obsolete.
The family on the other hand has ceased to play the role which it was meant to play traditionally and hence, children grow up with loose values which make them become delinquent youths with no restraint. Families are also so much absorbed into looking for sustenance in this materialistic era to the extent that parents have forgotten that it is their responsibility to pass values to their kids. Very few people no longer have time to go to church as most parents work overtime.
These, together with some other factors, have contributed to the decaying morals within the society. It can therefore be said that the failure of families to actively participate in church has partly led to this phenomenon. Men should seek the right way of carrying on their duties as this world belongs to God and he did not leave men to stray. He chose the institution of the church to dispatch the necessary and vital moral codes to the human race.
Church as a guide to Humans
God chose the church as an instrument through which he can do His work on Earth during the time between the first and second coming of Christ, a period marked with Christ’s physical absence. The church is seen as the body of Christ on Earth and is thus meant to complete the work that he begun in his physical body.
As such, the church is the messenger of God on Earth meant to spread the gospel of Christ to the human race. However, in recent times, the human race is characterized by anti-church thinking as many people who claim to be Christians have abandoned the church. The impact has been felt especially in families. The basic human institution is suffering now more than ever. There are increased incidences of absent fathers and single mothers, abandoned children and increased rate of divorce. People have moved away from the church.
Many individuals think in terms of themselves and Jesus, a relationship that excludes the Church. Others on the other hand view organized religion as a form of evil. Some modern day prophecy teachers view the church as some kind of emergency measure that has been put by God until he institutes his true Kingdom. None of these views is however correct. The importance of the church cannot be overlooked. It is the kingdom of God in the present time and every individual must actively participate in it. It has been observed that individuals who actively participate in church are healthier than individuals who hardly participate.
These individuals observe high moral standards as compared to those who often do not participate in church. The lifestyle of Christians encourages healthy habits and attitudes which have positive effects on the overall morality. When one develops a Christian attitude, it becomes difficult for negative emotions to influence his or her way of life. It is clear that the task of Jesus was to draw men towards God and thus the church was to continue in this task.
The teachings of Jesus were of high moral worth and these are what have been taught by the churches. As such, it is important that every family goes to church so as to acquire those values that Jesus Christ worked to reveal to human beings. With a negative attitude towards the church, it becomes difficult for any moral principles to be furthered as men are naturally inclined towards evil. However, there are some arguments to the effect that men have the capacity to be moral regardless of whether they go to church or not.
Church and Family: Historical Background
A new pattern of relationship between religion and family was ushered in by the reformation. It was required that an individual make a voluntary and personal decision to embrace the official doctrines of a particular church and to take part in its formal ritual instead of being seen as part of a religion simply because one is a member of a particular family, village or ethnic group. Protestantism thus brought about a shift from community cult to that which one automatically belonged to a religious community by virtue of birth.
These were constituted through and by the association and congregation of individuals in reaction to religious messages. There were risks that this associational model posed, both for the family and the church. Voluntary associations are often dynamic since people adopt and abandon group loyalties. Individuals may opt not to join the church which may result into members splitting and forming sects.
The family thus lost the assurance that their children would be part of the same religious system as the parents and other adult relatives. These worries are more intense in the present time among the families that still participate actively in church. Both the church and the family thus devised a mutually beneficial sharing of roles.
The parents’ role was to socialize their children so that they may be able to make personal decision for Christ and also to encourage one another in living out their own religious commitment. The role of the church on the other hand was to aid the family in this endeavor by supplying the structures and activities. The nuclear family was thus the mode through which protestant voluntarism was filtered rather than through a larger clan or ethnic grouping.
A mutual relationship thus existed between the church and the family within the protestant community. The churches were to aid families to have healthy relationships and to raise well disciplined and religious children. Families on the other hand were expected to teach the children the doctrines of the church. This mutual relationship that existed between the family and the church was formalized in the Pretest ant America during the 1950s in the theory of Talcott Parsons.
According to Parsons, the modern society had grown to become institutionally differentiated with the public fulfilling much of the roles that were traditionally under the sphere of the family. The basic role of the family had become expressive: satisfying emotional needs of its members, training the succeeding generation of the required values and discipline and comforting its members from the frustration got from the public arena.
The family’s childrearing practice provides the mental model or plausibility structure which enables the children to become productive members of the society if these practices are internalized. Religion is thus assigned the status of home in the modern times understood as the abiding place of an individual’s affection rather than the physical space of the household. Love, expression, intimacy, subjectivity, irrationality, morality, spirituality and religion are all found within the sphere of home.
According to Parson, the Church no longer had any direct influence on the values of the larger society. It could however assert indirect influence in aiding the parents to socialize their children and to achieve emotional satisfaction with each other (Parsons, 1960). This role is relevant in the modern society with its extensive impersonal government and industrial bureaucracies. The major function of the church and the family is thus to provide a lead in ascertaining a moral and just society through their teachings and practices.
These theories have however been questioned by social scientists. Social scientists are doubtful of whether values and valued behavior are transmitted to the next generations by the church through the family. They also doubt whether family and churches should mediate community and intimacy in a dynamic and large scale society.
This conception of church and church as havens from the contemporary society leads to three powerful by misleading conclusion. First, that modernity destroys the community morally; second, that the family and church have not been permeated by the larger cultural reorganizing process; and third, that the family and the church provide protection from the negative consequences of change (Green et al, 1823). The family and the church have dramatically changed according to these critics and the major question is the extent to which they will continue to satisfy this mutual bargain of protecting and passing on religious values and beliefs.
The family has undergone dramatic changes over the last few decades. Today, the family is not what it used to be traditionally. Many couples are living together without marriage, many children are being raised by single parents, there is an increase in the rate of divorce and many individuals hardly ever live in families. Couples are having fewer children. Married women with young children are also likely to be working outside the home and quite a large percentage of preschool children are being taken care of outside the home.
The marriage age has also gone up with quite a majority opting not to marry at all. Most families are being headed by single parents, in most cases the mother. These have been attributed to the effects of industrialization and modernity. In simple terms, the family of today is different from the family of the past decades. The question that one is bound to ask is the extent to which the church has adapted to these changes.
This issue is complicated further by the fact that churches have also changed. The increased institutional fragmentation of the American society and the emergence of expressive individualism in the United States culture are among the causes of these changes (Conner, 2007). Another occurrence is the second de-establishment where each sphere of institution had developed its own set of normative system. Religion has thus become a means of personal fulfillment and integration owing to this isolation from any meaningful political, economic or moral responsibility within the public sphere.
The power and authority of the church over the society has been lost (Carter, 2001). It has also lost its power and authority over individuals in the society and even over the people within it, the majority of whom can be described as in the church but not of the church. The church has thus become an institution of service which functions to help individuals achieve authenticity and transcendental subjectivity.
Very few American Protestants have complete allegiance to a specific denomination. It has been found that individuals who marry and get children are more likely to increase their religious participation. Marriage may neutralize other factors which may result in disaffiliation. With this regard, the church and the family may be considered to have some form of link. This link may help in raising a moral society through active participation in church. Every individual belongs to a particular family and if these families can adopt the teachings of the church then moral decay cannot reach the levels that are seen today.