This morning, I did a little digging around about divorce statistics, and I learned that the perception of divorce in America is different from the reality. This is both good and bad. The good news is that I have been told that divorce is on the rise and hovers around the 50% rate; however, I read a few reports that showed that divorce was on the decline and was somewhere around a 40% rate in America. Forty percent is still very high; however, this shows an improvement and also makes me wonder if not everyone feels that marriages have to end in divorce. I learned that there are some things that will make a marriage more likely to end in divorce such as if you lived together prior to marriage you were more likely to divorce. If one person is a smoker in the marriage and the other is not, that marriage is more likely to end in a divorce. One statistic I learned according to the Barna Group was that one of the lowest divorce rates in America was among "evangelicals." The Barna Group termed someone "evangelical" based on seven faith criteria not on what church they went to or how often they went to church. Evangelicals had a divorce rate of 26%, while non-evangelical born again Christians had a divorce rate of 33%. You can find more information about the Barna Group research at their website. During the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said a few things about divorce; please read Matthew 5:27-32.
Jesus first talks about adultery in these verses. Adultery is having sex with a married or engaged woman. He explains that even looking at someone lustfully is committing adultery and it would be far better to cut out your eye than cause yourself to sin in such a way. Jesus never really beat around the bush, did He? These verses are a pretty graphic view on how God feels about adultery and marriage. We can see how important the bond of marriage is to God. Jesus continued in these verses to explain that divorce is not to be considered lightly. The only time Jesus said divorce should happen is if there has been unfaithfulness in the marriage.
Look, I am not condemning people who have been divorced; I am a child of divorced parents and I understand that there are circumstances where divorce is necessary. There are times when a spouse is battered or the children are being abused; and I believe that safety is very important! In fact, I believe that we in the church need to be careful not to judge those who are divorced because we do not know the circumstances surrounding the divorce. Besides, we need to be more concerned about preserving our own marriages than worrying about why someone is divorced. But I also believe there is a reason that Jesus spoke so strongly about adultery and divorce. I have also seen the effect of divorce on children and the link between poverty and single parent homes is staggering. Marriage is a beautiful gift from God and we have an enemy who wants to destroy it. Let's pray for the protection of our marriages rather than focusing on divorce.
Do you pray over your marriage?
This post is linked with Sharing His Beauty and Monday Musings.