Saturday, October 20, 2007

Why Marriages Fail: Observations From A Single Guy.

Those of you who keep up with current Christian literature, including books, magazines and Internet articles, are probably aware of the grim statistics concerning Christian marriages. Couples who through the years have proclaimed Jesus as their Lord are now statistically more liable to divorce than their secular counterparts. In fact, within the Church itself, it seems the more evangelical the couple, the greater likelihood that they will divorce. Many Christian couples of my acquaintance have recently divorced or separated. In asking ourselves why this is the case for God's Church in America, the obvious answer of course is sin. Instead of remaining committed to each other, as they pledged to do before God, husbands and wives decide to do as they please, no matter what, no matter the effect upon their children. Whether the roots of the problem are monetary or sexual, husbands and wives follow their own feelings rather than God's counsel. This is the primary reason the Church finds itself in this situation.

Adding my own observations to the discussion, I don't pretend that the factors I am about to address are the main reasons for broken marriages; the following observations most likely deal with the secondary causes. But these observations need to be shared nonetheless.

When young people make a commitment to follow Jesus, when they forsake all for Him, some find it easier than expected for two reasons. First, they are too young to have that much to forsake. Second, they still haven't fully counted the cost. Let's address the second reason. Some people believe that when they think they have forsaken all, what they really have done is put their dreams aside for a few years. When they hear Christ's words "But seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you..." (Matt 6:33, NKJV), consciously or not, young Christians tell themselves that if they lay aside their greatest desires for Jesus for ten years or more, then later God will bless them by fulfilling these desires. In other words, they expect to experience a form of delayed gratification by the time they are forty. In many cases, God does later reward his children with the fulfillment of dreams that had been forsaken for God. But it is also often the case that there are some things forsaken that God expects to remain forsaken forever. And when that is finally understood by many a Christian, they cannot handle that truth.

Sometimes non-Christians are more honest about what they want out of life and what they expect from their marriages. They want to achieve a certain status by a certain age and if one partner seems to be lagging in their efforts to achieve, then warnings are given by the other partner. (I know of two wives who told their husbands that if they did not seek promotions, then the marriage would be over. The husbands were satisfied with their positions, but both sought promotion to maintain their marriages.) But it is different with many Christian couples. When young and in love, it is exciting just starting out in life. Living a simple life style has its enjoyments, but when people still live that way at thirty-five, some begin to be weary of it. They yearn for the life style of their youth. They become nostalgic for times past. As home-schooled children approach college age, one spouse may worry about what kind of educational opportunities their children will have. (Don't misunderstand me here; I am a supporter of home-schooling.) Peoples dreams change. What we want out of life can alter as we age. But some Christian spouses choose not to speak of how they feel inside. They think that to do so would be sinful, whether they unburdened themselves to their spouse, or to God. Perhaps they hope the feelings will go away. Sometimes they do. But often they don't. And then they get intolerable, and then, one spouse either leaves, has an affair, or both. And neither the other spouse, nor anyone else, saw what was coming.

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