We live in a culture of divorce. Divorce in and of itself is not the problem. The problem is that we live in a world that devalues marriage. More specifically, we live in a world where people devalue “what God has joined together,” namely the one-flesh union that is marriage. Over the past two weeks I have been collecting various articles that I have come across that are telling about where the culture in which we live is headed in regards to the most holy of earthly unions, so I thought I would share them with you.
- No Way to Live – If premarital cohabitation is like a “trial marriage” then you would think that those who live together before marrying would be less likely to divorce right? Such is NOT the case according to Michael McManus, president of Marriage Savers and author of Living Together: Myths, Risks and Answers, who writes:
- Couples who live together are gambling and losing in 85 percent of the cases. Many believe the myth that they are in a “trial marriage.” Actually it is more like a “trial divorce,” in which more than eight out of ten couples will break up either before the wedding or afterwards in divorce. First, about 45 percent of those who begin cohabiting, do not marry. Those who undergo “premarital divorce” often discover it is as painful as the real thing. Another 5-10 percent continue living together and do not marry. These two trends are the major reason the marriage rate has plunged 50 percent since 1970. Couples who cohabit are likely to find that it is a paltry substitute for the real thing, marriage.
- Divorce, Unwed Parenting costing taxpayers – David Crary of the Boston Globe reports that, “divorce and out-of-wedlock childbearing cost U.S. taxpayers more than $112 billion a year, according to a study commissioned by four groups advocating more government action to bolster marriages.” This is an interesting article both from a moral perspective and an economic perspective. It is interesting that there seem to be economic consequences for our the unethical decisions we make. This should not surprise the Christian, indeed, it pays to be faithful in marriage. The article also mentions that nearly 40% of children are now being born out wedlock. This is perhaps the most troubling report I have read this week.
- Divorce Hard to Get for Some Married Couples – The Boston Globe reports:
- Gay couples who still live in the state where they got hitched can split up with little difficulty; the laws in those states include divorce or dissolution procedures for same-sex couples. But gay couples who have moved to another state are running into trouble.
- Study: Divorce May Not Cause Kid’s Bad Behavior – My dog could make the ridiculous argument that is made in this article from USA Today. Here is an except:
- “It really depends on the individual marriages and the family,” says Allen Li, associate director of the Population Research Center at the RAND Corporation in Santa Monica, Calif. “My conclusion is that divorce is neither bad nor good.”
You could say that about virtually any divorce. I say this a lot, but its not the consequences that determine whether an action is good or bad, there a tons of bad things that have little or no immediate consequences. Divorce, however, is deceptive in this regard, I think studies such as this one simply cannot measure the effects divorce has on children because the effects are not merely immediate but long-term–i.e. when these victims of divorce grow up to have families of their own and have so been taught to devalue marriage that they become the one’s committing divorce and victimizing their children.
- Living Together While Keeping Money Unmarried – Kimberly Palmer from U.S. News and World Report writes: “Pasha Carroll and her boyfriend, Matthew Krise, follow a strict his/her money system: The Chicago couple split rent and groceries down the middle and pay credit card debt separately. He pays for dinner when they eat out, and she cooks. As they consider the next step—buying property together, which they plan to rent out—they will probably form a corporation first to help keep their investments and rental incomes separate . . . While Carroll and Krise’s approach may not be the most romantic, personal finance advisers say it’s the smartest. Couples who live together without first walking down the aisle face financial vulnerabilities that married couples don’t. Investments in shared assets, such as a home or car, can be lost during a messy breakup if only one person’s name is on the title. Money or labor that went into redoing a former partner’s kitchen may never be recouped. And while details vary by state, even assets such as joint savings accounts can go to the person who is first to make the withdrawal.”Call me old fashioned, but I think its smartest and most romantic to save living together until after marriage. Given the fact that more couples who live together end up divorcing than those who do not, it seems the simplest way to avoid these financial pitfalls would be to delay cohabitation until marriage. It’s almost as if our culture has so devalued marriage today that the process preceding marriage becomes less romantic.
- They Plight Their Troth — And Mean it – According to Jillian Melchior of the Wall Street Journal, a growing number of evangelical Christians are returning to the ancient practice of betrothal. And by betrothal, Melchior is referring to something similar to the ancient practice which Joseph and Mary underwent before getting married. Today this could mean an essentially arranged marriage or it could simply mean a very closely monitored and parentally guided form of dating. This is a fascinating article, so I’ll let you read it yourself but I do want to ask you what you think about this. As a Christian, I think that our view of dating should be vastly different than the world around us, but should we go back to something like betrothal? What about arranged marriages? Do you think they could work in America today?
I hope that was helpful to you. Its imperative that we understand where our culture is headed concerning the most fundamental of human institutions so that we as Christians can stand against the tide and be faithful witnesses to Christ in our own marriages (and future marriages).