In many ways, the American home faces the danger of becoming a vanishing institution. Along with its extinction, the family unit as we know it is in danger. Children are not growing up in homes anymore. They are growing up in terminals.
In reality, the American family does not need a home. We are born in a hospital, educated in a college, courted in an automobile and married in a church.
We get our food at the delicatessen and restaurant. We spend our mornings at golf, our afternoons at the club and our evenings romping through the local mall.
When we die, the undertakers will bury us. We do not need a home; all we need is a garage.
Comparing today's home with its counterpart of 100 years ago, there is quite a difference. With all of our advanced technology, are we, to quote a famous American president, "any better off now than then?"
The average housewife (to use a term not used since adultery was sin) has more timesaving gadgets than her century-ago counterpart. Still, she does not have enough time for her family.
Where does "saved time" go? Is there a time warp somewhere in outer space where time goes, like a retirement center for misspent minutes?
Why is it, the more time I save the less time I have? If only I could collect time in a bottle and save it for old age when I will really need it.
If anyone knows, please let me know for I do not have the time right now to figure it out.
Right now, I would not miss an hour here or an hour there.
Today's mother can cook the family meal in a fraction of the time her grandmother did, but families no longer have the time to eat together. Most families today eat in shifts, thanks to modern technology like the microwave oven.
It seems like many of today's women are more interested in bringing home the bacon than cooking it. Why didn't dear old dad marry a woman like grandma?
In years gone by the family spent quality time together. There was a strong sense of family camaraderie and families actually knew each other, and all things considered, loved each other.
People today seem to be so busy trying to make a living that they never really get around to living. I know there are a few high holy days when they do meet, like Thanksgiving and Christmas. Sometimes they even recognize each other.
For many people, the only picture we have of the great American family is the television sitcom.
"Sitcom" is an interesting word. It is a combination of two words; "sit," which means to watch for long periods of time without moving or speaking, and, "com," which is short for comatose.
When you put these two words together, it means that the American public will not stand for morality or ethics in their home.
We sure have come a long way, baby. My only question is, how do we get back? Was it really necessary to come this far?
One thing missing in this whole situation is the lack of humor in the family.
I have come to believe in what I call, "laughter therapy." This is the ability to get yourself back into good humor, and believe me, many people are in a bad humor.
As a pastor, I guess I see this side of people more than other professionals. The violence in the home today is a reflection of this bad humor. Parents are in danger of being murdered by their own children in their own homes.
Just ask any schoolteacher and he or she will tell you that the schoolyard, once filled with the excited voices of innocent children at play, is now the modern war zone in our country.
People today are filled with rage, and the blame rests with the home. It is in the home people learn the skills enabling them to cope with the outside world.
The reason so many people are not able to cope with society in general is that they have never learned to cope within the confines of the modern family unit.
I think that is why God designed the family unit as He did.
Try as we might, we can never improve on God's creation. An important thing we need to develop within the home environment is the ability to laugh.
Laughter is important. God created us with an enormous capacity to laugh. What a shame so many people have yet to discover this great and wonderful gift from God.
It is the responsibility of the home, I believe, to cultivate a healthy sense of humor. The family that laughs together can face any situation.
As the old saying goes, "Laugh and the whole world laughs with you; cry and people wonder why you didn't get the joke."
The Bible clearly instructs us, "To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven ... A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance." (Ecclesiastes 3:1,4 KJV.)
The problem with many is that we do not know when to do what.
Again the Bible says, "A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones." (Proverbs 17:22 KJV.)
A sick world needs some powerful medicine. It is my conviction that this hilarity begins in the home.
Dr. James L. Snyder is pastor of the Family of God Fellowship, 1471 Pine Road, Ocala, FL 34472. He lives with his wife in Silver Springs Shores.