I was doing a little research the other day because I was curious about what the current divorce rate was in the United States. I found what I was looking for but in the process, I also found ads for a 139.00 dollar divorce, a DIY divorce form (what the heck), a link to the “best” divorce lawyers, and many other quick and easy ways to dissolve your marriage in 3 steps or less. Keep in mind I literally googled, “divorce rate in the United States” but in just a few moments I was given everything I would need to end my marriage. Then I finally found what I was looking for the divorce rate. At the moment the divorce rate is somewhere between 40%-50%. So basically half of everyone that gets married will make the choice to file for divorce. 50% will decide that marriage is simply not worth the work and leave. This broke my heart. How is this ok? How did we let this happen? How has ending your marriage become as quick and easy as a Google search?
I found one answer to these questions in a book I am currently reading, “The Meaning of Marriage” by Timothy Keller. We live in a very self-centered culture. We have spent the last two blogs touching on selfishness and that is because it is rampant. EVERYONE deals with selfishness at times but for most, it is a lifestyle. People no longer look at marriage as a covenant that is met to last between two people. They go into it as a consumer. People look at every situation from a “how can this benefit me” perspective and one of the fallouts from this perspective is the divorce rate. Let’s take some time to dive into this.
We live in a very consumer-driven, highly competitive world. Everyone wants the best deal. That is great when it comes to material items. We get to do research, search out what products have the best reviews, price difference, etc. We base our decision on what business can offer us the best product at the best price. The relationship is a great one as long as the business is meeting our needs with the stipulations we require. However, as soon as that business no longer meets those needs OR we find a business that offers a better product or a better price we leave. There is no commitment or loyalty to the business itself, just the need it is meeting, so when the need is no longer being met the relationship is terminated. Because of this consumer relationship, we have the freedom to get the best product at the best price with no strings attached. The freedom that a consumer relationship brings is great as long as it is used correctly.
So What is the Problem??
The problem is our Western Culture as taken this consumer mindset and has made marriage a part of it. People are willing to stay in their marriages as long as THEIR needs are being met in the way that THEY see fit. As soon as the needs stop being met appropriately or something seemingly better comes along people are ending the relationship like it had no real value at all.
People are always on the lookout for the next best thing. This should not be happening in our marriages. When it comes to your spouses we should be looking at them as the best thing that ever happened to us.
So if marriage is not a consumer-based relationship what is it?
Covenant is not a word that you hear much in today’s society but it is a word that you will find over and over in the Bible. A covenant is an agreement which brings about a relationship of commitment. We find this covenant relationship established by God in Genesis when He performed the very first wedding ceremony.
Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh. Genesis 2:24 KJV
I broke out the KJV because it uses the word “cleave” The Hebrew for the word cleave literally means to be glued together. It is something that is supposed to be permanent and binding. We understand this with literal glue. When we glue something together it is with the intent that it is to stay together forever! Let’s use this very elementary concept of glue with our marriages.
We are not to go into a covenant with the mindset of leaving hence we should not go into a marriage with the mindset of leaving because marriage is a covenant relationship, not a consumer one. It is met to be pernament. What is glued together should stay glued together.
Another thing that is beautiful about the marriage covenant according to Timothy Keller is that it is both a vertical and horizontal covenant. When we go into marriage we are making a covenant with our spouse horizontally and a covenant with God vertically. Hence marriage is the strong earthly covenant that we can make.
Below are a few excerpts from Keller’s book. In chapter 3 “The Essence of Marriage”-
“The covenant made between a husband and a wife is done “before God” and therefore with God as well as the spouse. To break faith with your spouse is to break faith with God at the same time.”
“It is a relationship far more intimate and personal than a merely legal, business relationship. Yet at the same time, it is far more durable, binding, and unconditional than one based on mere feeling and affection. A covenant relationship is a stunning blend of love and law.”
Simply put the covenant we make on our wedding day is the greatest promise we can make. It should be taken seriously. In a consumer relationship, it is the individual’s needs that are of the utmost importance however in a covenant relationship it is the relationship itself that should take precedence.
It is time for a shift!
Why not you? Why not now?
It is time that we change our culture. It is time that we go into our marriages with a new mindset. A mindset that says I am in this. I will do whatever it takes to make this marriage work because I am in it for the long haul. A mentality of servanthood, not selfishness. We made a promise it is time to honor that promise! It is time to make a declaration over your marriage today!
THE PROMISE STILL STANDS!
The fuzzy feelings might fade…
The butterflies might not flutter exactly like they use too…
THE PROMISE STILL STANDS!
On the unbelievably hard days…
When sharp words and harsh tones are present…
THE PROMISE STILL STANDS!
When moments of defeat creep in…
When you feel like you have failed completely…
THE PROMISE STILL STANDS
In the moments of reveal glory when you see the beauty of marriage and the potential of your spouse…
On the days full of love and abundance…
HALLELUJAH, THE PROMISE STILL STANDS!
Gain Your Happiness by Standing Your Ground
I want to end with this mindblowing bit of information. According to longitudinal studies if a couple will just commit to staying married and working at it in five years they can be happily married. Five short years and you can have a happy marriage if you will not give up and put effort into it. Sadly most marriages are not making it five years total. Alex and I have been married 7 and someone told me the other day that we had “beaten the odds”. Statistically, they are accurate. Let that sink in statistically 7 years is beating the odds. That is unacceptable. It’s time for a change!
Let it start with us, Father! Let the shift start here and now!
I pray that you make the same decision! Make the declaration that your marriage is a covenant and the promise still stands!
You can do this! We are praying for you!