A few weeks ago, as is my habit, I pulled up “The Briefing” and was surprised to learn that, according to a new study, divorce rates are steadily declining. Why? It seems that our generation has a different perspective on marriage than previous generations.
New data show younger couples are approaching relationships very differently from baby boomers, who married young, divorced, remarried and so on… The result is a U.S. divorce rate that dropped 18 percent from 2008 to 2016, according to an analysis by University of Maryland sociology professor Philip Cohen.
At first, the drop in the divorce rate sounded hopeful, but after a closer look, I realized the divorce rates are only falling because millennials are marrying less. They are waiting to marry until they finish college, acquire financial stability, and are on their way up the corporate ladder. “Millennials have considered marriage to be more of a capstone than a cornerstone institution.” Millennials see marriage as a luxury only for those who have their lives put together, not just for any old Joe or Mary…
But for many, the deeper reason for their unwillingness to marry is because they fear choosing the wrong spouse. “This lack of formal commitment, in my opinion, is a way to cope with anxiety and uncertainty about making the ‘right’ decision,” says Rhodes in a Gottman Institute article. “In previous generations, people were more willing to make that decision and figure it out.” Furthermore, many have watched as their parent’s marriages have fallen apart, making them skittish to start their own.
But don’t think the millennial generation is avoiding relationships. In fact, our generation has hundreds of possible dating options because of the rise in dating sites and social media. Instead of marrying, however, young people are “shacking up,” to use the old euphemism. They are cohabitating, hoping to acquire the benefits of marriage without the commitment. Or as the Atlantic reported a few years ago, “people who opt for cohabitation over marriage tend to cite the fear of divorce as the central reason not to get married.”
Not much has changed
It seems we have come full circle and, for better or for worse, not much has changed. The divorce rates are down but so are the marriage rates. And as the marriage rates go down so do the divorce rates. Our generation’s solution for divorce is to avoid marriage. “Let’s just live together,” they say.
From a biblical worldview, we know that this solution is ultimately hopeless and will not bring the desired results. Living together doesn’t solve the commitment issue or take away the fear of divorce. Those who cohabitate still “divorce;” they just avoid the legal headache. What this generation lacks is a basis for marriage. They ignore or don’t know that their Creator has given them the basis for marriage and the solution to their fear of divorce and commitment.
Hope for Lasting Commitment
The gospel is the solution found in the Scriptures.
The gospel is the good news that God, the Creator of each man and women, sent His beloved Son in the form of man, to live, die, and rise again for sinful, rebellious mankind. We rejected Him, but He freely gave Himself for us that we might be saved from the wrath to come. And when sinful man accepts God’s free gift by faith and surrenders his all to Him, he or she becomes the bride of Christ.
The gospel is relevant to this topic because God created marriage to illustrate his great love for his creation as found in the gospel. The husband’s servant leadership demonstrates how Christ “loved the church [you and me] and gave Himself for her.” The wife’s willing submission points to the church’s [you and I] willing surrender and humble obedience to Christ.
An objective standard in Scripture commands a marriage partner to commit to their spouse for the rest of their life. Both spouses are under a higher authority, Christ Jesus, and He has commanded that, as His love for His people is unending, so should a husband and wife’s love be for each other. If both the husband and wife are believers, they can go into marriage with faith that it will last. The basis for a committed marriage without the fear of divorce is the Word of God.
In the midst of the confusion and chaos that surrounds marriage, our generation needs a sure foundation. As believers, we rest on the Word of God and the gospel. If you have the opportunity, talk to unbelievers about the gospel and the biblical perspective of marriage. Don’t take God’s gift of His word for granted. With this foundation, we no longer need to fear divorce, but we can commit ourselves to a spouse for the rest of our lives.
|Aaron Beery and his wife, Sadie, live in Elnora, Indiana, where he serves as the Administrative Assistant at the Elnora Bible Institute. He enjoys playing the piano, singing, reading and horseback riding. He hopes to use his counseling training to speak into people’s lives in this sin-cursed world for the glory of God.
- A podcast by Albert Mohler on current events. He airs it five days a week.
- Romans 1-8; Ephesians 2
- Ephesians 5:25 (NKJV)