I heard a statistic on the radio today while I was driving to work, that really got me thinking. The statistic said that over 50% of marriages today, end up in divorce. Most of us know that one. But the one that got me, is that the divorce rate among CHRISTIAN couples, was slightly HIGHER than non-Christian couples. Yes, you read that right – HIGHER than non-Christian couples.
What that is telling us, is that not only are we no different or more successful at marriage than secular couples, we’re actually WORSE at it! What’s even more embarrassing is, we as Christians claim to serve the God that CREATED marriage! CREATED IT! Oh, and did I mention that He left us a book called the Bible that tells us how to have a successful marriage? And we still don’t get it. If this doesn’t convict us as Christian couples, I’m not sure what would. Here we are, as Christians, commanded to be the “salt and light” in the earth, and show people that even though marriage is hard work, and at times very trying, it can be done, and be one of the most rewarding relationships here on earth, if you follow the principles in His Word! But what have we done instead? We’ve actually proven the opposite point of what we should be!
If I’m a non-Christian “looking in”, why in the world would I want to bring Christ into my marriage, if the odds are actually BETTER if I don’t?!
Sorry if this post is suddenly a hard one to read, but it’s as much aimed at me, as it is anyone else, and we can’t keep looking the other way and excusing it. It’s ridiculous.
So what am I saying? That Christ doesn’t help in marriage? That’s it no use? Not at all! What I’m saying is that WE HAVE FAILED as “Christian” couples to FOLLOW principles laid out in the Bible, that lead to having a successful and fulfilling marriage. No, put the rock down, and really think about it. You can get all “huffy” and start in with the “well, come on now, I think that’s a little harsh…” garbage, but may I direct your attention to the glaring statistic mentioned above? Yeah, it’s still there.
Maybe we as “Christian” couples, are a lot better at “looking good” to others, than really applying the principles in His Word to our marriages. Like the whole “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her – Eph 5:25” thing. Easy to say, but hard to do. Or how about “Do to others as you would have them do to you – Luke 6:31″. Also an easy one to preach, but hard to live out. How about Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. – Eph 4:29″ I could keep going, but I think you’re starting to get the point.
Now I’m not suggesting that Christians are supposed to be perfect. Romans 3:23 says “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” – I get that we fail, and we are human. What I don’t get is why if we call ourselves “Christ followers”, we don’t live that out in our marriages. No one’s asking us to be perfect, but what God is asking to do, is use His Word. To study His Word. To apply His word. Why is it that we are more likely when we have an issue in marriage, to listen to what the latest book, or “expert” has to say about it, than we are to say “you know what honey, let’s see what the Bible has to say about this”? And don’t try and tell me that the Bible doesn’t say any thing about “your problem”. That’s just an excuse to let yourself off the hook for digging into the Bible, and finding it. Just because you don’t know of it, doesn’t mean it’s not in there. You just have to go find it, and that takes a little effort. Something we don’t like to put out.
Or when was the last time you actually PRAYED over a problem in your marriage? You know – prayer?! How long has it been since you’ve both gotten down on your knees, grabbed each other’s hand, and prayed something like this: “Lord, we’ve got a problem here that we can’t seem to overcome by ourselves. We know you’ve put us together in this marriage, and we need your help understanding one another. Please help us find some common ground as we discuss this, and help us figure out what to do. In Your name, amen” If you’re like most of us, it’s been a while. Why? Why do we depend on the “Dr Phils” of the culture to help us with our marriage, when the very one who CREATED marriage, is supposedly the very God we claim to “follow”? Are we just lazy? Are we just so weak in our walk with Christ that we don’t know how? Yes – these are hard questions to ask, but I think it’s high time we asked them.
Marriage is not about us! The whole point of having a good, fulfilling, Christ centered marriage, is not for us to be able to jump around and go “hey, look at us! We have a good marriage!” No, the whole point of a successful, fulfilling, Christ centered marriage, is to proclaim to the world, “Look at how the Lord has brought together these two sinful, selfish, and imperfect people, and given them an unconditional love for one another – against all odds, against all trials, against all the things that have come against them. Isn’t God amazing!?” It is to bring HIM glory, not ourselves. It’s not to boost our own egos, or congratulate ourselves that we have somehow “cracked the marriage code” and have a good marriage. On the contrary! I believe God created marriage to be a challenge. He never said it was going to be a walk in the park. What He did do however, is give us a manual to guide and help us through every situation. One that as “followers of Christ”, we’re supposed to be using.
Val and I have couples come up to us and say things like “man, you guys just seem to have the perfect marriage”, or “do you guys really have issues too?”. Do we have issues? Really?! That’s like asking if the sun is “really all that hot”. Our marriage is just as hard, and has just as many issues as anybody else’s does. But it’s humbling to know that people NOTICE our marriage, because of the way we treat each other, and how we seem to actually “love” each other openly. It’s almost like it’s so rare in today’s culture (unless you’re newlyweds) that when you do have a close marriage, it almost sticks out like an “odd” thing! But here’s the key! When we get those comments, we have a choice to go “yeah, I guess we are pretty good at this” and take the credit ourselves (even though we don’t deserve any of it), or say “You know what, we haven’t done anything different from any other couple, besides follow what the Bible has to say about marriage as close as we can.” Have we had several trials, struggles, and rough spots in our marriage? Too many to count. But if you commit to seek out what HE has to say about each issue you encounter, instead of relying on your own emotions/feelings to rule the situation, you CAN overcome any trial/hardship that comes your way. It takes work. It takes determination. It takes the Lord working on your hearts. But it CAN be done.
I truly believe if we as Christians really began “living the lingo” instead of just talking a good game, and then going home and complaining, back biting, withholding sex from each other, loving only if they love back, harboring hurts, using cutting words, calling names, not accepting blame for our own faults, etc – we could bring the percentage of successful Christian marriages well into the 90% range. There is NO REASON this isn’t a real possibility. Well, besides ourselves. We are the only ones that can limit what we allow God to do our marriages. He’s a gentleman. He’s not going to barge his way in and fix our marriages for us. He waits for us to ask. And that’s all it takes – just inviting Him into your marriage. Inviting Him to help two sinful, self-centered, short-sighted human beings, and allowing him to work in our hearts first, and then our relationship with each other.
So let’s challenge ourselves! Let’s see what the Bible has to say about marriage! Is your sex life struggling? Maybe check out Song of Solomon. Are you having anger problems? Look up “anger” in your concordance, or even Google “scriptures on anger”. Having struggles with communication? Raising kids? Or (insert problem here)? Find it in the Word! Now this isn’t to say there aren’t GREAT resources and books from amazing Christian authors, pastors, etc. that we should use and take advantage of – I’m just saying let’s start with the Bible, and then go from there, Instead of starting with everything else, and forgetting the Bible all together.
The world is looking for hope when it comes to marriage. And so far, they’re not finding it in “Christian couples”. Up to this point we have been more apt to throw in the towel than the world. Not only is that incredibly sad, I think it’s high time we change that. Let’s start acting more like the Christ followers we say we are, and less like the world we claim to not be a part of.