Why the Unhappiness in Family Life?
THAT question is often asked today. Yes, more so than in former times. But why is family life so often unhappy today?
Well, what is needed for one to be happy? For a person to be happy, his physical, emotional and spiritual needs must be cared for. But how is this accomplished? Is it accomplished through striving always for material things? If that were true, you would expect countries with a high standard of living to be enjoying happy family lives. But what do the facts show?
In prosperous lands, such as Denmark, there is evidence of increasing unhappiness in family life. Said Danish teacher Estrid Nielsen: “Many homes have become simply small boardinghouses where each member of the family looks after himself as best he can.”
And in many lands where people enjoy the “good things” of life, including a cozy home, there is often a high rate of suicide among family members. A Copenhagen daily newspaper recently said: “It is such in present-day Denmark that suicide has again crept up to third place in causes of death for persons between 15 and 45 years.” As to the significance of this, a writer in the Copenhagen newspaper Berlingske Tidende states: “There is this one important thing we must not forget in this apparently so unworried welfare country, and that is that we have the next highest suicide rate in the world. To me this is a sorrowful evidence that material welfare is not the same as happiness.”
Despite material comforts, there is also unhappiness among family members due to alcoholism. In Denmark the number of persons treated for alcoholism is 25,000 a year. “It does not surprise me,” states Social Counselor Birgitte Winkel, “that husbands give out under stress—a natural result of the continual increased demands from his work for increased production and from his wife for increased earning capacity. Neither am I surprised that the housemaking housewife gets bad nerves because of monotonous and dull housework, which does not give her enough contact with other people and that she often seeks refuge in the darkness of alcoholism and pills.”
Further, what about the unhappiness of youthful family members, evidenced, for example, by frequent misuse of drugs? The Danish Minister of justice stated that the number of persons in Copenhagen involved in drug-abuse cases increased more than 1400 percent from 1963 to 1968! The greatest increase has been among youths.
Blame for drug abuse among youths has been placed on the housing problem, among other things. But the head of Copenhagen’s Police Narcotics Division stated: “It is not usual that these misusers come from small and bad apartments. The majority come from larger and better dwellings where they have their own rooms, tape recorders, phonographs and whatever else they wish. Drug users do not always come from what we understand as a bad home. . . . their relationship with their parents is insecure. . . . The truth is that parents are not concerned with where their children are.”
So what is evident? That unhappiness among youthful family members is often related to lack of parental supervision and especially to a lack of a worthy purpose in life. The overemphasis on material things in many lands has led to an unbalanced family life.
Many families have turned away from the Bible. As a result, moral values have been shattered, and many families have virtually no moral direction.
Some authorities thus believe the real cause for so much unhappiness in family life is that the people have abandoned the church. In Denmark about 97 percent of the population are registered as church members, but less than 3 percent are believed to attend church, and then not very regularly.
But is this apathy in attending church the reason? Is the church a bulwark against immorality? Does it really advocate and hold to high Bible principles, such as the counsel, “Flee from fornication”? (1 Cor. 6:18) Or does the church contribute to the moral decay?
Well, what kind of moral help does the family, especially youths, get from the church? The majority of clergymen in Denmark say as did the dean of Holmens Church in Copenhagen: “Everyone must work out his own moral standards . . . If you look in the New Testament for moral laws you will look in vain.” When the Bible is so misrepresented by the church, how can the family be helped?
Who would benefit, for example, by seeking counsel on family life from a church where the minister stated in the parish magazine: “Nothing is gained by limiting all sex to marriage. . . . It can be correct from an ethical and Christian viewpoint for young people to have sex relations before marriage, and it can be just as correct for married persons . . . to have sexual relations outside of marriage. I do not say it is always correct but it can be correct, yes, necessary”?—Vedbæk-Gl. Holte Kirkehilsen, July-August 1964.
No wonder another clergyman said: “Young people in Denmark hardly expect any help from the Church.” And a different clergyman wrote an article in a newspaper under the title “The Church Has No Morals,” saying: “In this time of moral confusion the Church has only one thing to say: Your sins are forgiven.”—Rødovre Avis, March 12, 1964.
In view of this, one can ask: Have Christendom’s churches really helped create a happy family life? Have they helped families to avoid overemphasizing material things to the neglect of instruction in God’s Word? Have they filled the spiritual needs of the people? No!
Though families may feel abandoned by the churches, they have not been abandoned by God or by true Christianity. God’s Word has helped hundreds of thousands of families to find true happiness, as you will learn from the following article.