In his book, The Marriage You’ve Always Dreamed Of, Greg Smalley (son of Gary Smalley) describes a dream God gave him regarding the condition of marriages in America.
He dreamed he was in New York City on September 11th, 2001, and became an eye witness of both planes crashing into the Twin Towers and then falling with a great crash only moments later.
The dream was so real he could smell the smoke and taste the dust. He goes on to say, “I quickly realized that…this dream was symbolic: the collapsing towers represented a husband and a wife. In the shadow of their catastrophic fall stood dazed children, wounded families, and crippled communities, all bleeding profusely from the catastrophe of divorce”.
In his dream, he was driving a M*A*S*H ambulance filled with a team of men and women who were well trained to help failing marriages that were falling with a great crash—much like the Twin Towers.
Is Smalley over-stating the matter? Research tells us he isn’t. Approximately one half of all marriages are ending in divorce. That’s a statistic that is widely known. However, a statistic we don’t hear much about is this: only 12.5% of married couples say they are truly fulfilled in their marriage. Even among clergy the divorce rate is stunningly high. Two thirds of clergy marriages are ending in divorce. That’s higher than the divorce rate among non-Christian couples.
George Barna chimes in with these words:
Marriage is not dead but is losing ground. Americans’ infamous independence and individuality, combined with our revised values and the deterioration of key interpersonal skills (e.g., communication, conflict resolution) have contributed mightily to the decline in marriage among adults.
This is causing less people to choose marriage. As Karina Rollins has stated, “One of the worst demographic trends in this country is the marriage rate, which has been plunging for decades”. According to Smalley, America desperately needs a marriage revival.America desperately needs a marriage revival. -Greg Smalley Click To Tweet
Here are a few facts that strengthen his position:
- Every day 2,700 children will watch their parents either separate or divorce
- Second marriages fail at a rate about 10 percent higher than the rate of failed first marriages
- Many first marriages end in divorce in the first three to five years. (In 2000, for example, among women aged 25 to 29 whose first marriages ended in divorce, the median length of marriage was 3.4 years.)
- Marital distress puts both adults and children at increased risk for mental and physical problems. (Common maladies include increased incidence of illness, decreased work productivity—especially for men, suicide, violence, homicide, significant suppression of the immune system, mortality from disease, and increased rates of automobile accidents)
The God-ordained institution of marriage is in dire straights in America, and more importantly, in the church. The very institution of marriage is in question, not only because of the fight to redefine it, but also because of the unhealthy condition of heterosexual marriages—inside the church, and outside the church. With heterosexual marriages in the condition they are, it fractures the platform from which we were meant to speak.
However, Hebrews 13:4 says, “Marriage should be honored by all”.
Gary Chapman says these words regarding the urgency of this matter:
In the contemporary world, few things are more important to the church than addressing the needs that exist in Christian marriages. In the past, many have felt that marriage enrichment was simply a sideline activity for the church, that once in a while the church should do something to emphasize marriage. But with the increasing number of divorces among Christian couples and the alarming number of missionaries and pastors who are leaving the ministry because of marital failure, we realize that marriage enrichment is not a sideline. It is at the heart of the church’s mission in today’s world. If a couple cannot experience the saving power of Jesus Christ and the transformation of the inner man so they can gain a measure of freedom from self-centeredness and experience something of the love and joy that Christ came to give, and to share these in their marital relationship, they will not have the internal motivation to continue to be involved in evangelism and world missions”.Marriage should be honored by all. -Hebrews 13:4 Click To Tweet
Chapman’s words strike to the heart of the matter. Unhealthy marriages affect much more than one individual home. The heart of healthy families is healthy marriages, and healthy churches are built upon (in large part) healthy families. On an individual basis, a healthy marriage is the platform upon which ministry in the local church can happen.
One thing is true–institutions, organizations, churches, corporations, etc., are turned around by effective leadership. If church history tells us anything, it is this: great revivals and revolutions are spawned (in large part) by great leadership. Who will lead this revolution? Who will spark this revival?If church history tells us anything, its that great revivals & revolutions are spawned by great leadership. Click To Tweet
The answer to those questions will be the focus of my next several posts. For now, let us agree upon this:
- America needs a marriage revival
- It will be sparked in, and through, the church
- Great revivals begin with appointed leaders
- Husbands must emerge in there homes as those leaders
That’s the journey we’ll go on together in my next few posts: the need for husbands to emerge as Christ-like leaders in their homes because the church needs a marriage revival.
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