Listen to the talking heads of our popular culture and you might sadly conclude that traditional marriage is a failed idea doomed for the ash heap of history. You’ve probably heard time and again that the divorce rate in the USA is higher than 50%! It has been reported that traditional families are now only a tiny slice of the population. And as if that’s not bad enough, you might have read somewhere that the rate of divorce among Christians is even higher than it is among irreligious Americans.
Many years ago, I concluded those statistics simply don’t match my experience serving churches and communities across the country. I refused to cite those numbers. Now a Harvard researcher has crunched the actual statistics of the US Census Bureau to find the truth about marriage and divorce. No one has been able to challenge her findings, but many have chosen to ignore them:
- 72% of Americans who have ever been married are still married- to their first spouse!
- The remaining 28% includes widows and widowers who enjoyed their original marriage for years until their spouse died. Yes, most marriages in the USA last a lifetime.
- It’s hard to pinpoint the exact percentage of first-time marriages that end in divorce, but it’s closer to 20-25%. It has never even approached 50%.
- Church attendance decreases the likelihood of divorce by 25 – 50%.
The larger story is found in a book, The Good News About Marriage by Shaunti Feldhahn. It’s been in bookstores for almost a year, but most media outlets have never bothered to report the stats. They don’t fit the cultural template, but they do reflect well on the biblical standard for one-flesh, covenant marriage.
It’s true that young Americans are delaying marriage, but that’s not because so many of them saw their parents crash and burn with divorce, as we’ve been told. Most young Americans obviously did not have that experience. Rather, delayed marriage has a lot more to do with the ease with which young men can find sex without commitment today, and perhaps the difficulty of finding real jobs after graduating college.
Bottom line: traditional marriage is good, even for irreligious people. And marriage among followers of Christ is even better. If you’re going through a dry spell in your marriage, be patient and keep at it. The odds are in your favor.
Lift up the Cross!