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February 14, 2013
Column #1,642
Valentine’s Day – Sad for Millions
By Mike McManus

Valentine’s Day is not a happy one for tens of millions. Three-quarters of Americans used to be married; now only half are. So many will never receive flowers or chocolates. Why?

People make major mistakes. Christians call them sins.

However, if they are avoided, millions of individuals would have a much greater chance of finding the right person and of building a lasting marriage.

In fact, it is possible to reverse current trends, if Scriptural wisdom is considered.

A major scientific study supports Paul’s advice, written to the Corinthians in two words, “Flee fornication.” A study by the National Survey of Family Growth reports that of couples who married in 1980-83 who remained chaste – only 14% had divorced by 1991. But those who were sexually active in 1980-83 experienced a 24% divorce rate by 1991.

Thus, those who ignore Biblical rules were 71% more likely to divorce!

My wife and I have mentored 61 couples, 51 of whom were sexually active. I point to this data, and look a young man in the eye and say, “You can’t become a virgin again. But there is something you can do to increase your odds of a lifelong marriage: remain chaste until the wedding, that’s only four months away.” How many couples signed an “Optional Premarital Sexual Covenant? Guess! Write the number down, and see the answer at end of this column.

Two-thirds of high school kids plan to compound the sin by living together. So what? Nine-tenths who do so will either fail to marry or will divorce. Of 7.6 million couples living together last year only 1.5 million married. And those who do so are more likely to divorce than those who observed Biblical rules.

What’s worse is that most unwed births are to cohabiting couples. A report last year, “Why Marriage Matters,” asserted “Today the rise of cohabiting households with children is the largest unrecognized threat to the quality and stability of children’s family lives.

“Today’s children are much more likely to spend time in a cohabiting household than they are to see their parents divorce (42% v. 23%)…Children in cohabiting households are markedly more likely to be physically, sexually and emotionally abused than children in both intact married families and single-parent households...Multiple transitions are linked to higher reports of school failure, behavioral problems, drug use and loneliness.”

Jesus is quoted in three Gospels: “What God has joined together, let no man put asunder.” What does that mean to Billy Miller, who got a divorce he did not want? “This means NO ONE..no mate, no lawyer, no judge, no court, no pastor, priest or rabbi or church has GOD’S PERMISSION, POWER OR AUTHORITY TO UNDO.”

In fact, his wife married two other men, and they divorced her. Billy still hopes for reconciliation and sees her regularly to be helpful.

No nation has a higher divorce rate. Since 1970 there have been 47 million divorces shattering the lives of 42 million kids. Our 23% divorce rate after five years is triple the 8% in Britain or France.

If you are unhappy in your marriage, divorce may not be the answer. I just read a powerful article, “What I Wish I Had Known Before I Got Divorced” by Georgia Shaffer (marriagemissions.com). First, she says life will change more than you realize. Lori thought she’d enjoy being alone, but says, “I’m lonely.”

Parenting was also much harder. “You are the sole breadwinner, spiritual adviser, disciplinarian, housekeeper. The stress levels of this responsibility can become staggering.”

Second, “Your life won’t be more carefree.” Actually hidden emotional wounds pop up when least expected or at predictable times. “Every Christmas I become depressed,” Jan says. “After 20 years it still hits me suddenly. I was first married in December, and my childhood sweetheart left me for another woman 15 Decembers later. Every year I have a weepy week.”

Third, “You trade one set of problems for another. If there’s a remarriage, blending children from previous marriages brings problems that can range from emotional chaos to stoic tolerance.” One friend said, “My new stepson ignores me.” I feel like a second class citizen in my own home.”

Fourth, “Feelings can be deceiving.” Kathy divorced because her husband traveled so much and she met a “man who made me feel alive.” Five years later he left.

I Corinthians 13 defines love as a decision, not a feeling. “Love is patient…” Are you naturally patient? It is an act of the will which God rewards.

(Of the 51 couples we mentored, 43 signed a pledge to be chaste!)

The good news is none have divorced that we know of.

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