In recent years, the end of marriage was predicted and even promoted, but is this the case and is it the best? What is the state of the union for marriage in America?
Hi, I’m Rex Rogers and this is episode #81 of Discerning What Is Best, a podcast applying unchanging biblical principles in a rapidly changing world, and a Christian worldview to current issues and everyday life.
Whether you’re married, have been married, or have never been married, you’ve probably thought about it and interacted with couples who are married.
Aside from making a personal decision about one’s spiritual condition and Christian faith, I’d suggest that the most meaningful and significant decision any of us make is to get married and to whom.
And the trends seemed to suggest this might happen.
“The U.S. marriage rate reached a historic low in 2018, according to federal data spanning more than a century.”
“Both marriage and divorce rates in the United States declined from 2009 to 2019 but rates vary from state to state. In 2019, there were 16.3 new marriages for every 1,000 women age 15 and over in the United States, down from 17.6 in 2009. At the same time, the U.S. divorce rate fell from 9.7 new divorces per 1,000 women age 15 and over in 2009 to 7.6 in 2019…In 2019: Wyoming's marriage rate was among the highest in the nation. Delaware's marriage rate was among the lowest.”
“The 2020 national marriage rate fell to 5.1 per 1,000 people, its lowest level in 121 years.”
Then, post-COVID, “the rate of marriage increased in nearly every state in 2021 and went up 18% overall…That marked the biggest year-to-year jump since the end of World War II.”
“Getting married is a public demonstration of love and lifelong commitment between two people. For Christians, there is an extra dimension – marriage is part of a pattern of life established by God when he created humanity. He recognized that it was better for the first man, Adam, if he had a partner, Eve. Christians believe marriage is a partnership of love…Jesus acknowledged this in the Bible book, Matthew, when he said, ‘for this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh. They are no longer two but one...Like many people, Christians also believe a marriage is the best place to bring up children…Christians believe that the binding partnership of marriage is a powerful symbol of the relationship between Christ and the Church.”
Sarah and I are approaching our 49th Anniversary. Hard to believe, as the quick passage of time always is. I remember our halcyon dating days, of course. I remember getting married the summer following our graduation from college. We were in love, certainly, but looking at it from the perspective of 40-something years, I think, we had no idea what real love and commitment is, as we do now.
This makes me think of the providence of God. He directed us together. He gave this unbelievable woman to me, the one who for fun I call Good Wife, capital letters on both words, when I write about her on social media. If anyone has the gift of hospitality detailed in Scripture, Good Wife is one of them. Clearly, as they say, I “married up.” How but for the grace of God was I blessed with a woman like this?
I know a few friends from college days, couples who married as did post-graduation. But a few of those marriages didn’t make it. This is grievous indeed because, though praise God I have not experienced divorce, I know if hurts all involved, sometimes for a lifetime. It is said that it “takes two to tango,” and I suppose there are circumstances wherein this applies. But I’ve lived long enough to know that sometimes divorce “happens to you.” It comes because the other spouse walks awry.
But marriages that last for the right reasons are wonders to behold, and experience. My parents were married for 66 years until Dad went to heaven. I don’t think they were ever apart more than 3 days in that timeframe, and they were blessed beyond measure, which meant my sister and I were blessed beyond measure.
It’s generally sad to read about so-called Hollywood marriages that are about convenience or short-term attraction or status but not about love and commitment.
And it’s sad to read about celebrities who go through 5-6 marriages and often even more partners during their lives, only to reach their older years living alone. Sometimes they claim they want it this way and are happy to be alone. Maybe, if they’ve had bad experiences with others and are burned out by their own fame. But just as often it is not that. They are alone, facing the sunset of their lives without the deep, trusted, reinforcing companionship born of years of walking side by side through the trials and triumphs of life together.
I think of this when I see former NFL great quarterback Joe “Broadway” Namath, a man who in his prime was known the company of women around him, yet now he is, you guessed it, alone.
I thought of this when I watched Burt Reynolds negotiate his ending days, a hunk, the man every woman supposedly wanted to be with, or at least he seem to think so, and who lived at times with starlets, yet ended his life alone.
I think of this when I remember Gloria Steinem, the 1970s feminist credited with inventing the phrase “reproductive freedom” and who maintained she did not need men, who then later in life at 66 years of age got married. Sad to say for Ms. Steinem, the gentleman passed away just three years later.
God looked at Adam in the Garden of Eden and said, “It is not good for the man to be alone” (Gen. 2:18). Likely the Lord knew that men would make a mess of things in the world if they were left to their own devices. But it was more than that.
God designed marriage as a practical and enjoyable relationship bespeaking the Trinity itself. The Trinity is God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Not three Gods but one Sovereign God of the universe in three persons.
Marriage is two persons who become one. That unity is a gift from God that fills the longing in each human being’s heart for love, unreserved commitment, and support. There is nothing else like it on earth.
Now I know that God does not call everyone to be married, so this podcast is not intended to somehow question or cast aspersion on the single person.. God made it clear in Scripture that the ultimate relationship a human being can and should experience is with God himself, and this is available to every person, married or single. So, the single person can live a fulfilled and complete life in God’s will and calling.
I cannot begin to imagine my life without Sarah in it. I consider myself not lucky, because I don’t believe in luck, but blessed in the providence of God, and this without having talked about our four children and spouses and ten grandchildren.
I’ve chosen not to list contemporary challenges and threats to marriage, but they are legion, ever present in media, social media, and culture, unremitting, unscrupulous, certainly unbiblical, and now incessantly promoted.
Satan is the Father of lies and division, evident in his first interaction with Eve in the Garden of Eden, evident today in the onslaught of his minions upon marriage. Only the Lord can place a hedge around us to protect against such sinful destruction.
Good marriages are gold. Good marriages are a gift of God. Good marriages are possible because of the lives of the good spouse God gave you. Celebrate him or her today.
Well, we’ll see you again soon. This podcast is about Discerning What Is Best. If you find this thought-provoking and helpful, follow us on your favorite podcast platform. Download an episode for your friends. For more Christian commentary, check my website, r-e-x-m as in Martin, that’s rexmrogers.com.
And remember, it is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm.
© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2023
*This podcast blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact me or read more commentary on current issues and events at www.rexmrogers.com/, or connect with me at www.linkedin.com/in/rexmrogers.