A few days ago, I picked up and posted the reports about South Dakota's rising divorce rate.
Today I caught this good news on SD conservative blog Dakota Voice. Christians need to teach and act on their God-given view of marriage. We do have our unique understanding of marriage and should act on it in shaping our people as disciples of Jesus Christ.
But even non-Christians should have a big investment in marriage,
The social implications and benefits of stronger marriages are massive, especially with regards to children, organizers say. Economic stability, thriving children, fewer people going to prison...
These same earthly benefits obtain in stable non-Christian homes. The Book of Common Prayer rightly understands that marriage is not the church's invention or sole property:
The bond and covenant of marriage was established by God in creation... and Holy Scripture commends it to be honored among all people.
The church does not consider a non-Christian marriage as false or unworthy of honor. Couples who convert to Christianity are not required to have their wedding "done over" - at least I've not heard of that... I better get ready for the horror stories. (Some couples choose to have a church blessing after conversion, but this is a chosen addition to their marriage, not a required "repair" of some kind.)
And the article had this welcome paragraph:
The blame for the high divorce rate in the United States, the increasing number of out-of-wedlock births and the falling percentage of adults getting married does not fall on secular society, they say. It falls on the church.
Amen to that. We've been more concerned with keeping "members" happy (and contributing) than in challenging them to live as though "in the world but not of it." We have not been the "salt and light" that Jesus asked us to be.
Almost all couples are thankful for premarital counseling, even when the sessions become uncomfortable or challenging. I use the well established Prepare/Enrich program, but there are other good ones and some clergy are even good at their own home-grown methods. And yes, some couples do discover that they are rushing in rashly and decide not to marry. More grief is avoided, more stability and happiness nurtured by premarital preparation.
I know this is the Northern Plains, and there will be tales of "Aunt X and Uncle Y who met at the bar and ran off and started a farm and they were always happy." Fine. But that is the anomaly, not the norm. God can take care of the anomalies - we need to be responsible for tending the norm.