is the church ruining marriage?
(disclaimer: this post does not represent anyone else’s thoughts rather than my own! it is meant to foster healthy discussion, not merely controversy)
something just hit me right now as i read this interesting U.S. Today article entitled “Is Secularism Saving Marriage?” (go ahead and click to read if you want)
basically, the main supposition of this piece is that while the Church provides many great tools and principles to help marriages last, the overall divorce rate is down this year possibly due to “secular” values that married couples are embracing.
one of the cultural shifts taking place is that people are getting married later nowadays and I guess studies have shown that people who marry later generally have a better chance of lasting. I see a practical reason behind this: the older you are, the more mature (supposedly) you become, and the better able you are to handle emotional and relational walls– “irreconcilable differences” may be better worked out when you are 35 as opposed to when you are 21. Not always the case, of course, but a healthy theory i must say…
i don’t know if there’s a mandate in the Bible but it seems like there is a culture of “get married young, get married now!” mentality in our American churches… especially in the midwest and south (my guess based on people i’ve met, not fact). it seems like it’s the “Christian” thing to do and i blame the Apostle Paul for this: “… if they cannot control themselves, they should marry, for it is better to marry than to burn with passion” (1 Corinthians 7:9). Basically, church people generally get married young because (plain and simple) they have bodily urges that will only get satisfied (with a clear conscience) after the marriage vows have been exchanged. Great wisdom from Paul but it’s also sending virtual kids into marrriage commitments they may be unable to keep!
there is also a church culture that confuses doing “God’s work” with simply being super busy at church, often at the expense of time spent with our spouses and children. could this be one of the main contributing factors why crappy marriages exist in such “God-centered” institutions? Being busy at church doesn’t always mean you’re doing God’s work. some people need to say no and go home to spend time with those closest to them!
i have heard it said that marriages amongst Christians end in divorce about as frequently or in some cases, more than, the society at large. could this be because we are ignoring some of the “practical” and even common sensical knowledge that our “secular” friends embrace?
i guess my main conclusion outside of this marriage/divorce discussion is that contrary to popular “Christian” belief, the Church is not the main gatekeeper of truth. some of you might find this hard to believe or even heredical but it’s the truth! yes, those of us who profess Christ as Lord uphold the Bible as the ultimate book of truth but we also tend to entrust the Church with too much authority and in some cases, lift it as the only gatekeeper of truth. God’s truth is everywhere and sometimes it comes in the form of “secular” wisdom. Church culture is great but there is a responsibility for everyone to use common sense, discernment, judgment and reason.
for the record, I got married relatively young (24 years old) but I make choices daily to keep my marriage thriving. i don’t have a perfect marriage and we have our buttload share of issues, but we’re in this to win this! i learn so much from our church community but i’m not afraid to embrace truth when i hear/see it.
despite my lame, try-too-hard-to-be-controversial title, i do NOT believe the church is ruining marriages. obviously this is not what this post is really about. please spare your comments of blind rage and look beyond the headline!
i also realize this post is not the most comprehensive and i’m sure you may have many thoughts to bash me and theologically uppercut me… go ahead. I never said I was an expert in this stuff!
Appreciate your thoughts!