It is the first institution created by God; the structure under which children thrive; the basic building block of every civil society; and the relationship in which men and women complete each other.
Yet, it is often the institution most forgotten by the Christian church.
Churches have youth programs; outreach for divorced couples; men's bible studies; mom's day out clubs; and ministries for singles, the elderly and international visitors. The list of worthwhile services is varied and impressive. But strangely missing in most is a ministry dedicated to the most sacred of human institutions created by God himself: marriage.
Since the Church has neglected to nurture marriages, is it any wonder that the divorce rate is a whopping fifty percent, and that the institution is vulnerable to being completely destroyed by a secular society?
The havoc that failed marriages wreak on human beings and society is devastating. The precious children of divorced parents are five times more likely to live in poverty than children whose parents are married, three times more likely to be engage in behavior that causes them to be expelled from school, three times more likely to become pregnant, five times more likely to commit suicide, and 12 times more likely to land in jail.
And what about the public financial cost? Tens of billions of tax payer dollars in social aid are spent each year by the government trying to fix the many problems that result when families are torn apart by divorce. Simply put, if we could figure out a way to save marriage in America, we would grow happier, healthier individuals; keep more women and children from entering a life of poverty; strengthen our nation; and drastically cut federal spending and taxes.
The fastest way to address this epidemic that is destroying America is for our churches to take the lead.
Yes, "no fault divorce" laws need to change, extending the waiting period for divorce, and other legal reforms that would actually strengthen marriages need to take place too. Government can work to protect the institution, but we cannot count on government to save our families. We should, however, be able to count on our churches.
For those in troubled marriages: Please seek biblical counseling right now. It's not enough to go to a secular "marriage counselor" - the sad fact is that many of them are not advocates of saving marriage at all. Find a pastor or layman within a faith community that believes in forgiveness, restoration, prayer and is committed to helping your marriage thrive. If you aren't sure where to turn, log onto www.FamilyLife.com and click on the "Counseling" button to find real help in your area.
For pastors and church leaders who want to save your congregations and your communities from the tragedies of shattered marriages, www.MarriageSavers.org has a solution that can cut the divorce rate in half.
As champions of the proven "Community Marriage Policy", Marriage Savers has an astounding track record of helping local pastors from across many denominations to join hands in order to preserve God's first human institution. In the cities and towns where churches have adopted the Community Marriage Policy, divorce rates have fallen by miraculous rates. In Shreveport, Louisiana, for example, the divorce rate fell by 31 percent; in Kansas City pastors were successful in a span of ten years in reducing the annual divorce numbers from 650 in 1995, to 196 in 2005. In some 114 cities that have established Community Marriage Policies, an independent study by the Institute for Research and Evaluation estimates that some 31,000 - 50,000 marriages have been saved.
The model and materials are available to you now to get started. Contact Mike and Harriet McManus at 301-469-5873 or through www.MarriageSavers.org and make marriage a top priority in your church and community.
January 16, 2010
Rebecca Hagelin is a public speaker on the family and culture and the author of the new best seller, 30 Ways in 30 Days to Save Your Family. Visit her website at www.HowToSaveYourFamily.com. where you can sign up to receive her free e-newsletter containing the Culture Challenge of the Week and how to fight back. Hagelin is also senior communications fellow for The Heritage Foundation.