Good News About Marriage

Ever heard the stat that 50% of marriages end in divorce? Or that the divorce statistics in the church are the same as that in the world? I just read a fascinating article that debunks those stats. The writer of the article is Shanti Feldhahn, who has written two extremely helpful books on marriage. One is called For Men Only, the other For Women Only. I highly recommend them.

Below I’ve included some excerpts from her fascinating article, Everything We Think We Know About Marriage and Divorce is Wrong:

Perhaps most surprising, half of all marriages are not ending in divorce. According to the Census Bureau, 72 percent of those who have ever been married are still married to their first spouse! And the 28% who aren’t includes everyone who was married for many years, until a spouse died. No one knows what the average first-marriage divorce rate actually is, but based on the rate of widowhood and other factors, we can estimate it is probably closer to 20-25 percent.

For all marriages (including second marriages, and so on), it is in the 31-35 percent range, depending on the study.Now, expert demographers continue to project that 40-50 percent of couples will get divorced—but it is important to remember that those are projections. And I’m skeptical because the actual numbers have never come close, and divorce rates continue to drop, not rise!

 

Even among the highest-risk age group—baby boomers—seven in 10 are still married to their first spouse. Most of them have had 30 years’ worth of chances to get divorced … and they are still together.Now, any amount of divorce is still too high! But still, knowing that most marriages last a lifetime is good news that urgently needs to be part of our conventional wisdom.

Another myth that is begging to be debunked is the notion that “Barna found that the rate of divorce is the same in the church.” Actually, the Barna Group found no such thing, and George Barna himself told me he would love to correct this misunderstanding. Because he wasn’t studying people “in the church.”

The Barna Group studies were focusing specifically on the divorce rates of those with Christian and non-Christian belief systems and didn’t take worship attendance into account.

So I partnered with the Barna Group and we re-ran the numbers: and if the person was in church last week, their divorce rate dropped by 27 percent. And that is one of the smallest drops found in recent studies: Overall, regular church attendance lowers the divorce rate anywhere from 25-50 percent, depending on the study you look at.

 

“The implications are enormous.”

A few years ago, when I first shared these facts and others at a conference of marriage and family pastors, one ministry leader came up to me with a stunned look on his face.

“If this is true,” he said, “the implications are enormous.”

Since then, I have heard similar statements from hundreds of pastors, counselors, and average men and women. They have felt as though for too long they were—as one put it—“held hostage to bad data that we couldn’t contradict.”

And they see the dramatic difference it will make to know the truth … and be able to share it.

Imagine the difference for pastors to know that they can stand on stage and tell their congregations with confidence that going to church matters for your marriage.

Imagine the difference to be able to tell a struggling couple, “Most people get through this, and you can too.”

Imagine equipping the average young person with the ability to counter the cynical statements of his college professors, or the “why bother getting married” comments of friends who are living together, with the solid truth that, actually, most marriages last a lifetime. (And are happy! We cover that in The Good News About Marriage, too.)

Those of us who work with marriages may secretly wonder whether there is reason for our ministry if the news about the divorce rate is better than we think. And the answer is a resounding yes.

Because I have seen in the research what every marriage counselor knows intimately: Divorce isn’t the greatest threat to marriage.

Discouragement is.

What marriages need today is hope. And of all people, we in the Body of Christ should be the most ready to offer hope—not just for our spiritual life but for our marriages.

And now, we can.”

Help Me Title My Book!

I need your help. I just finished writing a book about the Holy Spirit. The book offers a balanced, Biblical and practical guide to experiencing the Spirit in our everyday lives. (How we can experience His love, hear His voice, pray for the sick, etc). While I have a title for the book–“More”–I am in need of a creative, interesting sub title.

Right now, I’m considering a couple possible sub titles:

What Happens When You Invite the Spirit Into Your Everyday Life

                                                or

Going Deeper With the Spirit…Without Going Off the Deep End

But I’m not convinced either is the right one.

I would love to hear your best ideas. I will pay $50 to the person who submits a subtitle that I end up going with. Feel free to email me directly if you would like more information about the book. My email address is alank@cccgreeley.org

Thanks for your input!

A Mother’s Day Remembrance

My mom died of cancer three years ago. I miss her. A few weeks ago, I had an idea–why not plant a tree in honor of my mom. Raylene loved the idea, so last weekend–when my dad was in town–we went and picked out a tree for our backyard. My mom’s favorite color is purple (I assume that hasn’t changed in heaven). So we found a beautiful plum tree that has purple colored leaves. We planted it right outside Raylene and my bedroom so that we will see it anytime we look out the window.

A really interesting thing happened when we went to pick out the tree. As we made our way up to the nursery, I noticed that Pastor KJ was there with his wife. He asked what we were doing and I told him: “We’re picking out a tree for my mom.” He said, “That’s exactly what we are doing as well.” His mother died a few years ago also. What are the odds that at the exact same time on the exact same day at the exact same nursery, we both are there picking out trees of remembrance for our mothers. Coincidence? I don’t think so. I believe God orchestrates things like that. Maybe to remind me that I’m not alone. Maybe as a hint that our moms are chatting it up in heaven. I don’t know…but I felt wonderfully encouraged, like I was a part of something much bigger than my grief.

With my family today, I will celebrate my wife–who is an incredible mom. She deserves a day to honor and thank you–and give her a break! But I will also take time to look out the window and remember my mom… all the sacrifices she made and the love she gave, so that I could be enjoying the things I’m enjoying today. So Happy Mothers Day, Raylene….and Happy Mothers Day, Mom!

 

 

Washington DC Trip

My friend Doug Brown and I recently went to Washington DC for an event sponsored by The Evangelical Immigration Table. We went to learn and gather information regarding the issue of immigration and our Biblical response to it.

We flew out a day early so that we could catch some of the sights in DC. So on Monday–within a 6 hour period of time–we saw the Martin Luther King Memorial (powerful), the Lincoln Memorial (really cool), the Korean War Memorial, the Vietnam Memorial, World War II Memorial (very moving and impressive), The Constitution and Declaration of Independence at the National Archives (No way Nicolas Cage could break into that place), The Smithsonian American History museum (saw an actual uniform worn by George Washington and saw the flag that inspired the Star Spangled Banner), the Smithsonian Air and Space museum (including the actual Wright brothers plane and the Apollo 11 capsule), the room the Supreme Court meets in, and the White House. It was a really fun day, filled with so much appreciation for those who gave their lives in service for our country.

On Tuesday, we attended an “Evangelicals for Immigration Reform” event in the morning. At that meeting, we experienced some wonderful worship and then heard some tremendous speakers talk about the need for a compassionate and sensible response to the immigration challenges. We then headed over the Capital Hill for 2 appointments with the staff of two of our Colorado congressmen: Scott Tipton and Cory Gardner.

From those discussions, I got the sense that, while a few bills related to immigration are in committee, none of them are comprehensive in their approach, containing the elements that many believe are critical for this issue to move forward–things like a clear path to citizenship as well as more effective border security. Pretty discouraging.

As many observe, there seems to be very little dialog, compromise and problem solving happening in Washington these days. I think everyone is so focused on getting elected that they can’t really work toward any solution that would be seen as “compromise” by their political base.

One thing we can do is pray. You can check out here the immigration table prayer suggestions. And you can read their official statement on immigration reform here. I think it offers a great foundation for helpful dialog on this issue, rather than intense political rhetoric.