Sunday Sermons

Sunday Sermons

Martial Trends

Marital Trends

God is always right. The more you familiarize yourself with what He says in His written word, and the longer you live, the stream of evidence continues to stockpile. What a blessing to serve a God of such infinite wisdom, Indeed, “Let God be found true” (Romans 3:4). Many members of society, especially young adults, are poorly informed and therefore disenchanted with the idea of marriage, choosing statistically less desirable family arrangements. Man has been seriously tinkering with the concept of marriage for the last 50 years and if we have been paying attention, what we have learned is that marriage works best the way that God designed it. [Note: Many of the statistics in this lesson were gleaned from “The Marriage in Society Report” published by the Oregon Family Council Education Foundation, P.O.Box 13367, Portland Oregon 97213.]

Living Together Compared To Marriage

For years people have argued the wisdom of a trial-run of living together first before marriage. Seems logical on the surface. What better way for a couple to find out if they are right or wrong for each other? After all, it is asserted, you would not buy a car without driving it first — would you? Well, here is what we have learned as a culture:

  • Living together does not prepare one for marriage. In fact, it tends to do the opposite. The risk of divorce is 50% higher for people who have lived together prior to marriage. And the divorce rate is even higher for those who have had several living together relationships.
  • Couples that live together report lower levels of happiness, sexual satisfaction, and poorer relationships with the parents of their partner.
  • The poverty rate for married couples is half that of couples who live together.
  • Couples that live together break up at a far higher rate than married couples. By one estimate in the United States, the rate is five times as much. One British study noted that nearly one in two cohabitating couples with children split up before their child’s fifth birthday, compared to one in twelve among married couples. Three-quarters of children born to a cohabitating couple will see their parents split up before they are 16.

Little wonder God created marriage (Genesis 2:18; Matthew 19:4-6) and has a very dim view of those who seek the benefits of marriage without committing to the responsibilities marriage (Hebrews 13:4). Turns out, even hipsters still need Biblical morality to make their relationships work. Think the Bible is too antiquated and modern man too sophisticated to still need its wisdom? The statistics speak otherwise.

Leaving and Cleaving: Still Important

The advantage that marriage has over living-together arrangements is the commitment, dedication or agape love that is involved (1 Corinthians 13:4-8). Marriage is truly unique in its obligations, which include such things as sexual faithfulness, permanence, mutual care and support of each other and the raising of children.

Lessons Learned from Divorce

Our generation and the generation in which the New Testament was written both had big problems in terms of divorce. For those paying attention, here is what the latest statistics say:

  • Divorce is not the instant fix that so many people once claimed. Dr. Bill Doherty notes, “Divorce is like an amputation. Sometimes it’s necessary but it should be avoided if at all possible”.
  • When divorce first became popular it was claimed that it would be better for the children who had parents who were unhappily married.  The facts say otherwise. Children of divorced parents often suffer big time — even into adulthood. The consequences often include poverty, less education, eventually the children's own troubled marriages, and other various symptoms of psychological stress.
  • Divorce is not as necessary as people claim. Jesus was right to give just one cause (Matthew 19:9). The fact is that two of every three divorces occur in what relationship experts classify as "low-conflict marriages". With some work by both marriage partners, many of these marriages could have been saved.
  • There is also no proof that separation or divorce makes most people happier. Two out of three unhappily married adults who avoided divorce reported being happy five years later.
  • Divorce often brings regrets. Studies across different states report that between 46% and 66% of divorced people wish that they had tried harder to work through their differences. A survey of divorced men in Oregon found that three out of four wished they had worked harder to save their marriages. 

The High Cost of Unmarriage

“They say it takes a village to raise a child.That may be the case, but the truth is that it takes a lot of solid, stable marriages to create a village” (Diane Sollee, More than 40% of children are born to unmarried mothers — that's more children born outside of marriage than any other time in our nation’s history.Of course, there are huge risks associated this is trend, especially for the children in those homes. Non-married families levy a heavy social and economic cost to society. One study by the Institute for American Values put the annual cost of divorce and non-married parenting at 112 billion dollars.The societal costs include higher rates of crime, drug abuse, child abuse, illness, domestic violence and poverty can all be in part attributed to not living our lives according to the instructions of the Creator of this world.

Marriage and Faith

There are factors that can contribute to divorce, make marriage harder or tend to undermine the relationship or prevent it from flourishing such as lacking of financial preparation for marriage, living together before marriage, failing to educate oneself or not acquiring good job skills.   Another factor is virtual infidelity. Many divorce lawyers are agreeing (more than 60%) that Internet pornography is a major factor with many of the divorce cases they are handling. In fact, they are saying that less than a decade ago, pornography did not even surface in most divorce cases. Another factor that can be dangerous for marital survival is when a couple has no religious affiliation. Research indicates what common sense tells us that couples who involve themselves in a local congregation have happier and longer lasting marriages. The local congregation is important (1 Timothy 3:15) that's why our gathering together as Christians is stressed by God in Scripture (Acts 2:42; 9:26; 11:26; 20:7; Hebrews 10:24). How does the local congregation have the potential to strengthen marriages?

  • Churches make sure that the individuals in the marriage are being nourished spiritually. If the people in the marriages are producing the fruits of the spirit rather than the deeds of the flesh (Galatians 5) and are otherwise spiritually healthy, then it is an impossibility for the marriage to get sick.
  • The culture of the local congregation is supportive. Such things as sexual fidelity, forgiveness, diligence, and the way that husbands and wives are to treat one other are both taught and modeled. Everything that God says goes into a successful marriage is being taught in faithful churches.
  • Premarriage counseling is available and this prevents some potential problems from even taking root. 
  • Newly married Christian couples already know what is expected of them as husbands and wives. There is little to no guess work here. If a couple is having problems there is post-wedding counseling that is available, not from strangers, but from friends.
  • Martial success and fulfillment is closely linked with having other Christian couples as friends. A congregation provides opportunities for Christian couples can interact with each other. 

Lessons Learned About Marriage

The Oregon Family Council's “Marriage in Society Report” reached the same conclusion as those walking in the light of divine guidance: Virtually every sector of society benefits from healthy marriages, especially children, and when marriage works, it works very, very well.

Mark Dunagan  |
Beaverton Church of Christ  |  503-644-9017