A moral survey of today’s world and societies’ trends looks like a doomsday scenario: Marriage rates and intact families are at an all-time low. Divorce, fatherless kids, cohabitation, chosen singleness and family separation and break-up are at an all-time high. The world seems bent on redefining marriage and abandoning traditional families, or on writing them off as irrelevant or obsolete. Religion is in decline and secularism is booming.
To some it sounds like the worst news imaginable; like the beginning of the end of society and civilization as we know it.
Yet there is a silver lining. Or at least a potential one.
Could what looks statistically like a disaster actually be an opportunity for truly family-oriented lifestyles and true religion to flourish?
Perhaps the world is moving toward the fulfillment of Nephi’s prophecy that in the last days there will be two churches only. And perhaps the two “churches” are: 1. Those who believe in family — and in the commitment, responsibility, and sacrifice that goes with them; and 2. those who believe only in the individual — and the “individual freedoms” and options and lack of commitment that go with looking out only for oneself.
The first group will always be more “religious” or at least more spiritual than the second. There is an inevitable and irrefutable link between an orientation to family and a belief in God. And a decline in family priority always leads to a decline in religious feeling. There are many reasons for these connections:
- Having a child is a transcendent, spiritual experience.
- Loving another person, a spouse or a child, more than you love yourself lessens the self-centeredness that associates with secularism.
- The responsibility and sacrificing that comes with kids aligns with religious tenets.
- The deep caring and feelings of inadequacy that come with parenthood lead to sincere prayer. (Just as there are no atheists in foxholes, there are very few in pediatric intensive care units.)
Will the movement to secular selfishness attract its huge share and leave the rest to look for the other alternative — to sincerely seek a committed lifestyle of natural family and soul-and-mind satisfying true religion?
It seems to many that we live in a day when the bad is getting worse and when the good is getting better. Will the sharper separation remove the gray areas in between and help people see the two alternatives more clearly? Will the very absence of order and priorities in the rest of the world funnel the real truth seekers to the last traditional family culture left? Will it be, as Brigham Young prophesied, a simple matter of people coming to Zion because it is the only place left on Earth where they can find peace and order?
And if it happens that way, will we, as a church and as a people, be ready?
Richard and Linda Eyre are New York Times best-selling authors who lecture throughout the world on family-related topics. Visit them anytime at www.EyresFreeBooks.com or www.valuesparenting.com. Their latest Deseret e-book is “On the Homefront."