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There is a great need for the church to stop lying to people. That is a critical first step to resolving some of the marital illusions and the rising divorce rate even among Christians.
Christian Sunday School instructions to girls–even if only implicit–go something like this: go to school, get a good education, get married, have children, and live happily ever after. You can do all things through Christ, and you will remain happily married until death separates you. We subconsciously assume there will be no physical or emotional pain because we will die at the same time as our spouses, spending our final moments holding hands together like the elderly couple in The Notebook. (By the way, I love that movie!)
The problem with the lessons, of course, is the formula rarely works. As Her.meneutics writers have noted, some women don’t find their mate. Some wait longer to get married, while others don’t get married at all (and yes, we need to remind those women that singleness, too, is a gift from the Lord). Some women can’t have children. If the statistics are true, most women will become widows later in life and will deliberately choose to live the remainder of their lives happily ever after without a life partner.
I observe and regularly pray for the challenges that consistently threaten Christian marriages. Reflecting on Elisabeth K. Corcoran’s recent article series entitled “The Unraveling of a Christian Marriage,” I was brought to a place of sadness, compassion, and grace. I wonder, how many Christian marriages unravel before they even begin because the bride and groom have blindly bought into mixed messages? I think we need to revamp our lessons to include a bit more truth telling on these points.
For starters, we need to ask ourselves, “Why would anybody want to get married in the first place?” Most of the time, young people talk about how happy they are in their current relationships. Young engaged couples are often so happy. So the premise is that folks get married because they are happy and they expect to always remain happy together. It is on this principle that they seek to take their relationship to the next level. If they are wise, they will first seek premarital counseling.
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