The media continues to be full of stories about the ongoing efforts of homosexual activists to make same-sex marriage legal in all fifty states. Professed believers are understandably concerned about this issue. Some have openly declared their opposition, while others quietly fret over the potential consequences of this push by the homosexual lobby. In sermons, letters to the editor, and in public displays, the biblical teachings on the subject of homosexuality are being strongly and accurately proclaimed. This is a stand that must be taken if we are followers of Christ, but there is another, related issue that also needs open discussion.
While talk of same-sex marriage dominates the media, an equally serious problem is virtually ignored. That subject is divorce. We have long heard that 50% of all marriages end in divorce. That number is actually inaccurate and is based upon faulty extrapolation of the data. In 2011 the Centers for Disease Control reported 6.8 marriages for every 1,000 people in the U.S. For the same year, the CDC also reported 3.6 divorces for every 1,000 people. That looks very close to 50%, but it is an inflated number because it includes children and those who have never married.
A more accurate survey was conducted among married women in 2008. This survey revealed that there were 16.9 divorces per 1,000 married women for that year. While this number appears to be much better than the 50% of the other survey, it is still alarming. Part of what makes this number so much lower, however, is that more people are living together without being married. If these couples split up, as many of them do, it is not reflected in the divorce rate because they were never married in the first place.
These statistics demonstrate that we have a serious marriage problem in our country. A large number of people either have no idea of the biblical teachings on marriage, or they choose to ignore those teachings. If we ever hope to make a dent in the number of divorces and live-ins in our nation, we must return to the divine plan instituted by God in the Garden of Eden in the beginning.
In Gen. 2:18-25 God saw that it was not good for the man to be alone, so He did two things. First, He brought all the animals to Adam to see and to name. In Gen. 2:20 the scripture says Adam named all the animals, but none of them was suitable to be the helper God knew he needed. Then God did the second thing. He put Adam to sleep, took one of his ribs, and from it made a woman. The woman was the suitable helper Adam needed and God gave her to Adam for that purpose. Thus, the first marriage was instituted.
During His earthly ministry the Lord referred back to this first marriage as the example of what God intended for mankind (Mt. 19:3-9). Although divorce was allowed under the Law of Moses, the Lord said this was only because of the hardness of men’s hearts, and from the beginning it was not so. The Lord taught that divorce should only be because of marital infidelity (Mt. 5:31, 32).
The Lord’s teaching went beyond the incidence of divorce, however. In Mt. 5:27, 28 the Lord went to the heart of the matter. The Law of Moses said not to commit adultery, but the Lord said not to lust after a woman. This is the root of the divorce problem. If our hearts are not committed to the Lord’s way for marriage, we will sin against our spouse and sow the seeds of divorce. On the other hand, if we commit to the Lord’s way, our marriage will be blessed, and it will last until death, as God intended from the beginning.