Hope for Millennial Marriages
- 2010 23 Dec
In the past few weeks, a new couple has made headlines with what some would say will be the biggest event of 2011 - the royal wedding between Prince William and Kate Middleton. Since the formal announcement of their engagement was made Nov. 16, the world has been aflutter about the upcoming event. Many are eagerly waiting for the details to unfold regarding the nuptial ceremony on April 16, 2011.
While weddings are most definitely exciting events, we've probably all heard the statistics that 50 percent of marriages end in divorce. These days, couples seem to be practicing for divorce by doing everything backwards. Culture has told us that we should live together, see how that goes, and then if happy, go ahead and commit. If something goes wrong there is no problem in walking out the door. Too many in our society have also seen the debilitating effects of a broken marriage through their parents' divorces and this has affected their worldview. Even those who do go as far to walk down the aisle to the altar often still have the mentality that when things get bad, just get out.
Recent surveys confirm that this Millennial generation is not one to quickly jump into marriage. The Pew Research Center, in conjunction with Time magazine, recently conducted a survey of 2,691 Americans and found that nearly four in 10 think marriage is becoming obsolete. Of those with that opinion, 44 percent were between the ages of 18 and 29. The National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia conducted a study with some similar findings. They discovered that marriage among blue-collar Americans with a high school education or less is in sharp decline.
It would be really easy for individuals to read these two new studies and think, "Marriage just doesn't work. Why even try?" But it is not the institution of marriage that is the problem. The problem exists in the human nature of the sinners involved in the marriage. But there is hope.
Ephesians 5:21-33 paints God's picture of what marriage is supposed to be, though this passage is one of the most contested within our liberal world. The passage tells us that marriage requires a very humbling trait - servanthood. The thought of submitting to another person implies giving up rights, something to which many individuals feel entitled. Yet, God's call to submission is intended to strengthen, not prohibit. It is done out of love and humility. Christ is our example and when men and women in loving, committed relationships recognize this, they will begin to see truly become one, as God intended.
My wife and I are living examples of this. Though I am currently very happily married, marriage hasn't always been a walk in the park. Just over 10 years ago, my wife and I were only one step away from becoming a statistic.
We come from very different backgrounds. I was raised in a Christian home with loving parents who taught me the ways of the Lord even though I didn't act accordingly. My wife Missy's experience was different; she accepted Christ later in life at an evangelistic event in which I was preaching. Missy had a very different concept of love and marriage because of sexual abuse she experienced from ages nine to 16. Having two parents who modeled love, I dreamed of marriage from a young age. So I had preconceived notions of what a marriage relationship should look like. When Missy and I got married, I was excited to begin the journey with her but there were unexpected complications in our relationship.
Our marriage's demise started simply - a movie on my own, finding reasons to stay late at work, hanging out with the guys. But soon, the divide between Missy and I began to grow deeper. I began to dread going home. All the while, not only was I experiencing a crisis in my marriage, but I was also experiencing a crisis in my faith - two things that are sure to equal destruction.
My upbringing in a Christian home taught me divorce was not an option. Nonetheless, Missy and I sat down and decided that - while I would support her and our children - we would go our separate ways.
I justified these choices, but thanks to some very encouraging friends who refused to let Missy and me give up, we turned to help. We were able, after much pastoral counseling, prayer and hard work, to restore our marriage and our faith.
Unfortunately, not every story of marriage hardship results in restoration. I know we are in the minority. But I also know that God created marriage between a man and a woman and everything created by Him is not only right but also perfect (Genesis 2:24).
Through our struggles, Missy and I both had to learn the invaluable trait of humility and service. Only when we put Christ and then each other first, did our marriage begin to thrive. Until the Millennial generation understands this concept, our society will continue to see the percentage of unwed couples and divorces rise. The next generation may dream of fairy tale weddings, but only when they begin to put their significant others first as Christ commanded will we see marriages really thrive.
Evangelist Jay Lowder is the founder of Jay Lowder Harvest Ministries, an organization dedicated to reaching diverse groups of people with the message of Jesus Christ. Through his ministry, Lowder travels the globe to football stadiums, schools, churches and even under shade trees in Africa to provide a message of hope to the hurting. He resides in Wichita Falls, Texas, with his wife, Melissa and their three children Lane, Kayley Faith and Graham.