Marriage by Travis Evans
January 28, 2009, 8:00 am
Filed under: Culture


By: Travis Evans

This year, both of my grandparents will be celebrating their 60th wedding anniversaries. I think that part of the reason that they have stayed together for so long is that they understand the commitment that marriage is, something that our culture has lost. They married with the knowledge that “till death do us part” really meant something and that their vows had weight as they were making a covenant with each other before God.


Age Women Men
Under 20 years old 27.6% 11.7%
20 to 24 years old 36.6% 38.8%
25 to 29 years old 16.4% 22.3%
30 to 34 years old 8.5% 11.6%
35 to 39 years old 5.1% 6.5%

The divorce rate in America for first marriage, vs second or third marriage: 50% percent of first marriages, 67% of second and 74% of third marriages end in divorce, according to Jennifer Baker of the Forest Institute of Professional Psychology in Springfield, Missouri.

Why do you think that fewer and fewer marriages have the lifespan that my grandparents’ have?


20 Comments so far
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Phenomenal question Travis! I have a lot of thoughts on this, but since I have homework I will keep it at the root for now.

Essentially, the falling numbers of committed relationships go back to two things, and we have American culture to thank for a lot of this (not to mention the fact that sin is rampant among humans).

1. Marriage is not honored. Scripture calls us to honor marriage, and it isn’t light on the subject either. There is a very stern and heavy charge on marriage in scripture. So serious that God has set it up to be a picture of the relationship between Christ and his Bride the Church. Now thats serious, yet the world likes to twist sex and relationships into a recreation of sorts. We don’t honor marriage and the marriage bed.

2. Truly, marriage is a relationship meant to be set up between two of God’s people. Most marriages are started based on feelings or sexual desires and are not founded on Christ. We should be perusing marriage through Christ, and the glory of God should be the main focus of all relationships. Unfortunatly, this is not the case when we look at American culture. Scripture is constantly telling us that things happen through Christ, so should marriage be a covenant through Christ.

I think these are the 2 basic problems, what do you think?

Comment by Tyler Thayer

Is this graph showing the percentage of marriages that fail if the people who get married are between the ages provided? So for people 20-24, for example, 36.6% of women and 38.8% of men will get divorced?

Comment by Maverick

That’s how I read it.

Comment by Tyler Thayer

Same. If that’s the case, I’m scared for many of my friends who have gotten married so young.

Comment by Maverick

I would be more afraid if they are not Christians than if they were. Then I would be even more afraid if they did not build that relationship on Christ. Sounds cliche, but it is so true.

I know many young couples who I bet are better off than many older couples. All because they wish to love Christ more than each other.

Comment by Tyler Thayer

I disagree, Tyler. I’m equally as scared for my Christian friends as my non-Christian friends. Actually, I really don’t have many non-Christian friends who are married that young. It seems to be a Christian phenomenon to me, and that is not necessarily a good thing. Plus if you look at divorce statistics, they are higher in the church than outside of the church.

What does “building a relationship on Christ” look like to you? I’d be interested to know what people mean by that. I hear it all the time, and it’s some great sounding “Christianese”, but practically, what does it even mean?

Comment by Maverick

I think that it is due to the selfish nature of our society. When both people go into a marriage with their own interests in mind the marriage will be difficult if not impossible. If the marriage was entered into as a covenant representing Christ and the church as scripture states then the focus will be on how they can serve each other and Christ in their relationship. This is ultimately so much more rewarding because when both people are serving each other and their focus is not on themselves but on Christ the problems and differences will be something that can be overcome or changed and do not have to rule the relationship.

Comment by JRam

Going to have to go with Bonhoeffer on this one, “Love doesn’t sustain marriage. Marriage sustains Love.” Too many people have that backwards.

Comment by Bill S

Bill S,

Marriage sustains Love? I would like to see scriptural evidence for that. If anything sustains love, it is Christ. Granted, love is a fickle thing, especially when we rely on what feels good.

We need to bring clarification between “Falling In love” and “Love.” The first is merely feelings that are fleeting, the latter is grounded in Christ, not marriage. Maybe marriage will help prolong the fleeting feelings of “In Love,” but those feelings don’t stay around forever, they come and go like waves hitting a shore. Marriage is an earthly institution between two humans, there is not much to rely on. However, if you throw God into the mix, suddenly marriage means something, in fact it means a lot.


Maverick, I will answer about my “Christianese” tomorrow. ’til then. Peace and grace.

Comment by Tyler Thayer

Truly these statistics sadden me. I think that people rush into marriage arrogantly. They do not take counsel or seek counsel and this can result in two immature people getting married and then realizing that it didn’t make them happy at all. The most important thing regarding relationships (marriage or lesser) is that our contentment is in Christ because nothing on this world will satisfy us apart from Him. Its a temptation to think “Hey this is what will make me happy” but we are just lying to ourselves.

Comment by Jeremy O.

Sort of why I don’t particularly like blogs. Not enough space for nuance.

I was pointing out that most individuals expect the feeling of love to sustain their marriage and that just doesn’t happen, as was pointed out by Tyler. When the feeling goes away, it seems people give up.

Marriage is great, though, for sustaining love when the couple is committed to (as accurately as is humanly possible and as God graces them to do, see what I mean about nuance,) portraying Christ and His relationship with the church. If wives lived for their husbands, and husbands died for their wives these statistics would surely be different.

Comment by Bill S

Because people don’t like to fight for a good thing.

Comment by James Baby

If you read the chapter titled Marriage in the book Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis your mind will be opened to why people get divorces.

Comment by James Baby


I looked up the quote you were quoting. I agree with you, blog’s are difficult to communicate the full story.

If we would live for Christ and for the love of others, and if we would serve the other spouse, I agree, these sad statistics would be different.

And I also agree with you James, it seems that our culture has wimped out in some areas.

Comment by Tyler Thayer

So to the “Christianese” thing. Perhaps the problem we see with the divorce rate among churchgoers, is that the world’s approach has encroached on scripture’s model.

I think often marriage is not taught in church or in our youth groups. So the end result is a passion to be holy, righteous and living a life worthy of the gospel, yet few examples being taught that exemplify the model set forth by scripture. So in essence, the hormones are still raging, but they don’t want to act on them in a way that would be sinful. The solution: get married, which since the beginning of time has been a tradition. If you are going to get married, the sooner the better. Even Paul said this, get married if you are tempted and can’t withstand it.

So some couples are no doubt really trying to get married so that they may live within the covenant set up by scripture. Good thing, right? Yes and no.

A marriage is meant to, first and foremost, be a picture of the relationship between Christ and his Bride, the church. This is to bring God glory, which is always first and foremost. Is this even preached in every church wedding? Not really. Out of all the weddings I have been to, only about half usually mention this.

So comes my understanding of the “building a relationship on Christ” phrase. In Luke 14 Christ calls us to hate our own father, mother, WIFE, children, etc. or else we cannot be his disciple. This is hard to reconcile, especially if Paul, in Ephesians, calls us to love our wives.

We must not love anyone more than Christ. He demands all if we are to be his disciple. A godly relationship would recognize this, and the husband would love Jesus Christ more than his wife and the wife love Jesus more than she loves the husband. Jesus must be first priority. When this is the case, the end result is that they will love each other more than they could have if they placed each other before Christ. Why? Because the love now offered is the love of Christ, something given by the Spirit, something eternal in nature.

This works with the pre-marriage life too… if the daters/courters are satisfied in Christ, then neither will become an idol in the other’s heart. It’s the application of the charge in 1 John 5:21 “Little children, keep yourselves from idols.”

The first greatest commandment is to love our God, the second is to love our neighbor. You can’t have the second without the first. So if you love Christ first, then you can’t help but love your wife; it’s the second commandment. The difference is that it is a love through Christ. I like this illustration by Shai Linne:

‘A love triangle: on the bottom right is Jim
On the bottom left is Kim, at the pinnacle is Him
So the closer Jim gets to Him and Kim gets to Him
The closer Jim gets to Kim’

Comment by Tyler Thayer

The church I went to today (The Vineyard) had a good sermon about marriage (they are doing a 3 part series on the topic). When it gets up on podcast I will post it for you to listen here if you want.

Comment by James Baby

you guys dont know

Comment by Him, Jim and Kim

I am not saying it always happens, and I am not saying it is easy. I am merely pondering the ideal informed by scripture.

Comment by Tyler Thayer

Like I promised:

Comment by James Baby

As an addition to my post 5 up^, I thought I would clarify that the love of Christ is sacrificial in nature. And this doesn’t only apply to marriage/courtship/dating (Though it is super important in these). It applies in general to all relationships that a Christian has with his/her friends and even enemies.

We must love our God and neighbor sacrificially. Pick up your cross and follow Christ (Matt. 16:24).

Comment by Tyler Thayer

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