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“If we do not define the purpose of marriage we cannot protect the definition of marriage,” asserted Princeton Professor Robert George at the summit that produced the Manhattan Declaration. My contention has long been that beyond even the purpose we must reassert the design, the value and the integrity of marriage or adopting amendments will ultimately fail to stop the destruction.
The truth is that marriage was in trouble for decades before same sex marriage rolled onto the scene and in fact is what produced the moral chaos driving that train. Divorce, adultery, cohabitation, sexual promiscuity before and after marriage all laid the foundation for the assault.
One of the shining lights in bringing positive solutions to reverse course and restore the institution is Mike McManus of Marriage Savers, an incredibly effective plan to mobilize churches to cut divorce rates as well as increase marriage rates.
There are many secular and faith based marriage counseling, marriage improvement, marriage intervention programs, resources and organizations doing good work. The problem is that the institution charged with promoting and protecting God’s first institution of marriage – the church – has been largely ineffective at even stopping the tide of divorce within our own families.
The premise of the Community Marriage Policy that is the centerpiece of Marriage Savers is a city/community wide covenant by pastors to stand together on fundamental priorities such as:
- Minimum courtship period for pre-marital couples
- Promote abstinence and chastity before marriage
- Pre-marital preparation and an “inventory”
- Marriage Mentoring – seasoned couples serving young couples
- Actively teaching marriage as a covenant before God
The good news is that cities have cut divorce rates in half or more all over the country by executing these actions by churches as well as fundamental policy changes. The tragic truth is that it is too easy to get a divorce in essentially every state.
Public policy changes such as reversing the chaos of no-fault divorce are critical also.
As Mr. McManus points out, it takes two to enter into a marriage; it should require two to dissolve it, especially when children are involved. His proposal for “Mutual Consent Marriage” that involves extended waiting periods for divorce as well as both party consent except when fault such as adultery, abuse or abandonment are proven.
A study by the Institute for Research and Evaluation shows that Community Marriage Policies in 114 cities/counties reduced divorce rates an average of 17.5 percent over seven years – double the rate of those without such policies.
The real time benefits for women, children, social stability, economic stability and governmental load and budgets are dramatic. Amazing concept – when we do things God’s way, everyone wins.
Examples from Marriage Savers data include:
Modesto (CA) – divorce rates reduced in half and marriage rates nearly doubled.
El Paso (TX) – divorce rate fell 48% more than expected, averting 4,313 divorces
Shreveport (LA) – pastors helped reduce divorce 28% in one year
The economic impact of family breakdown is staggering, costing taxpayers billions in social, medical, justice system and other costs.
Very simply, we cannot afford not to make marriage restoration a centerpiece of every church’s mission and pastors must stand together in every city to do this with enough critical mass to achieve these results in every city and state in the country.
What would our nation look like in five years if just 75 percent of children were being cared for and nurtured by their married, biological parents in a happy, healthy home? What if we just tried marriage God’s way – starting in our churches?
If we are to save America, we must find out and it is worth whatever it takes to get there. To do that we need pastors boldly standing in our pulpits preaching truth, confronting sin and supporting the changing of laws and lawmakers as necessary to win this fight.
I love McManus’s closing challenge in his call to churches:
“What God has brought together, the church must hold together.”