Divorce -- practically non-existent in the '50s (I grew up without ever knowing a divorced person) -- turned into a key entitlement of modern life. No-fault divorce laws extended the right to write "Cancelled" on relationships gone sour. And never mind what solemn pledges had initiated those relationships. Why, darling, no one can tell how things will work out! More and more Americans entered upon marriage with fingers mentally crossed. Maybe yes, maybe no, we'll see -- an attitude not strictly conducive to the cultivation of character. When quitting becomes second nature instead of a public shame, guess what those does for perception of the virtue that underlies hard work and determination?
As for children! Loving parents (to their vast personal credit) dwell among us in vast numbers. They just don't have the cultural encouragement they used to. The culture has switched sides since the '60s and '70s, when the counter-culture beat the old authority figures to a frazzle.
Marriage? Modern culture yawns, open-mouthed, at the old-time ideals. Why shouldn't everyone be married who wants to be -- or, for that matter, not? The rooted considerations that commend the marriage of one man and one woman -- stability, complementarity, the satisfactions and pleasures of birth and child-rearing -- lack the hearty affirmation our culture used to bestow on them.
Same-sex marriage? Male-female marriage? Same as hamburger versus fried chicken -- if you're listening attentively to the culture. Take your pick. Which piece of advice provides no cover at all for the push to crush the old marriage norms and set up new ones, lacking sexual boundaries. You can see what goes on when we turn the honorable estate of matrimony into one more have-it-your-way custom. The sight more than discourages. It lacerates.