Christians should reevaluate marriage and divorce
The church needs to find new ways to fight divorce in the country. | Eliana Park/ THE CHIMES
One in two marriages ends in divorce in the United States according to the American Psychological Association. How often has everyone heard this statistic? How often was this statistic met with the shaking of heads, disappointment and disgust within the church? Another statistic preached throughout many churches is that the divorce rate within the church is equal to the national average: 50 percent. This statistic seems to nullify the role the church plays in marriages. It even questions the rationale of having a faith-based relationship if it will only end in division. The church’s disappointment in these statistics often results in shunning divorced people within the church attempting to save their own marriages. In doing so, the church only furthers an issue continually plaguing America.
Delving into divorce rate
In delving into the divorce rate within the United States and the church, a solid number is hard to come by, yet some have spent years searching for truth in the numbers. Harvard-trained researcher Shaunti Feldhahn spent eight years researching America's divorce rate and the divorce rate for Christians. With a 50 percent divorce rate, marriage can feel optional because many do not treat it as a lifelong commitment, and it is therefore not set apart from other relationships. This idea that the church makes no difference in a marriage was alarming, and Feldhahn was not buying it. She wrote a book about it titled “The Good News About Marriage,” where Feldhahn lays out proof dispelling the belief the divorce rate within the church is on par with the national average. She found that the actual rate of divorce for Christian marriages is about 15 to 20 percent and the national average is around 31 to 40 percent, a low number in comparison to the supposed national average, yet not far off from the real average.
This number is estimated to be lower than the national average for Christians, according to Chris Grace, professor of psychology and director of the Center for Marriage and Relationships. This number does, however, reflect the benefit of faith-based relationships and involvement in the church. It gives hope to Biola students who are seeking a deep faith-based relationship.
The dispelling of false information regarding divorce rates should pump the church with newfound vigor and hope. It needs to alter the way the church handles divorce. The church needs to accept, not shun, divorced individuals. The process of healing and coming out of a time of pain needs to be nurtured by the church. In teaching couples through premarital counseling, the church can equip them with the ability to work through the problems which will arise throughout a marriage. In fact, the Journal of Family Psychology found that couples who go through premarital counseling are 31 percent less likely to get a divorce. It is critical for couples to not rush into marriage, as is common at Biola, but to have an idea of what their relationship and marriage will be like.