Marriage and Divorce: The Good News and the Bad


Text: Psalm 50

 

I.         An article came out in the paper in April of 2007 trumpeting the news that divorce rates are falling

            A.        Divorce rates rose rapidly in the 1960s through the 1980's with the adoption of no-fault divorce laws in the United States.

                        1.         At its peak in 1981 there were 5.3 divorces per 1,000 people.

                        2.         But today that has dropped to 3.6 divorces per 1,000 people.

            B.        Great news! Isn’t it? Well, not fully. You see, the rate of marriage is dropping too.

                        1.         The peak was in the 1940, 12.1 marriages per 1,000 people, after the Great Depression delayed marriages and there was a strong rebound.

                        2.         The rate people are marrying is the lowest it has ever been at 7.5 per 1,000 people in 2005

II.        The Bad News

            A.        The number of people choosing to live together is continuing to increased dramatically

                        1.         The Numbers

                                    a.         Between 1960 and 2004 there has been a 1,200% increase in the number of couples living together without being married

                                    b.         It has increased 72% just since 1990.

                                    c.         In 1960 there were 90 married couples for every one cohabiting couple.

                                    d.         In 2004 there were 12 married couples for every one cohabiting couple.

                                    e.         If the trend continues, in 2010 there will be 7 married couples for every one cohabiting couple.

                        2.         The Reasons

                                    a.         The stigma of having sex outside of marriage has been removed

                                                (1)       People are not concerned about being accountable to God - Hebrews 13:4

                                                (2)       People only give lip service to God - Psalm 50:16-22

                                    b.         Technology has allowed people to have sex without producing children

                                                (1)       With the consequence removed, people were no longer restrained

                                                (2)       Without consequence, people tend toward evil - Ecclesiastes 8:11

                                                (3)       Just like a child unrestrained - Proverbs 29:15

                                    c.         Worse, even if a slip up occurs and a child is produced, many people have no restrain on removing the inconvenience by aborting the child

                                                (1)       Currently there are 1.3 million abortions occurring per year, down from a peak of 1.6 million in 1990.

                                                (2)       God will not justify the wicked - Exodus 23:7

                                                (3)       In condemning the sinful - Isaiah 59:7

            B.        People are choosing not to marry

                        1.         The Numbers

                                    a.         The number of people who never marry has been rising since 1970

                                    b.         What is particularly alarming is trend is higher among the younger people.

                        2.         The Reasons

                                    a.         People focus on self, but marriage is a commitment to another

                                                (1)       Feminism emphasizes independence from men. Dependence on a man in any way is seen as offensive - Ephesians 5:22-24

                                                (2)       Men are rejecting their responsibility to support a wife and children - Ephesians 5:28-30

                                                (3)       We emphasize the gaining of things, but marriage is the sharing of things.

                                                            (a)       Prenuptial agreements which define what are my things before a marriage so I can take them with me when I divorce.

                                                (4)       People are reluctant to become one, so they remain two.

                                    b.         No reason is seen for marriage

                                                (1)       Though never marrying the majority of these people are still living with the opposite sex and producing children

                                                            (a)       In 1960 5.3 percent of children were born to an unwed mother.

                                                            (b)       In 2004 36.8 percent of children were born to an unwed mother.

                                                            (c)       Don’t forget that aborted children are not counted in these numbers!

                                                (2)       People are getting what the want without apparent cost to themselves.

                                                            (a)       How different is God’s advice - I Corinthians 7:8-9

                                    c.         A fear of failure

                                                (1)       You can see this as people put off marriage until they are financially set.

                                                            (a)       In part, they are being selfish, but another part is an unwillingness to start unless you are certain of success.

                                                            (b)       So many see their parents or their friends’ parents divorce.

                                                            (c)       Living together, they see their own relationships break multiple times, and the relationships of those around them. The median duration for cohabiting is only 1.3 years! [“Cohabitation Facts”, http://members.aol.com/cohabiting/facts.htm]

                                                (2)       In other words, they lack courage

                                                            (a)       The fearful put off when they are uncertain what the outcome will be.

                                                            (b)       It takes courage to follow God - II Corinthians 5:6-10

            C.        People are waiting longer before marrying

                        1.         The numbers

                                    a.         Around the turn of the century men delayed marriage because they and to prove they could support a wife and children.

                                    b.         As Americans became wealthier, this pressure was relieved and with World War II, many soldiers married young.

                                    c.         But now the age is rising both among males and females, not because of financial pressures but because people aren’t as eager to marry.

                        2.         The Reasons

                                    a.         Because teenage marriages have a high rate of failure, people have come to believe that the longer you delay, the more likely the marriage will succeed.

                                    b.         But our own history shows this to be false.

                                                (1)       People are marrying later, yet half the marriages are failing.

                                                (2)       Just a few generations ago people married younger and those marriages lasted!

                                    c.         Marriage is meant for the young - Proverbs 5:18; Malachi 2:14

                                                (1)       With the delay, people who marry late are so set in their ways that they are unwilling to adapt to another and mold their life around someone else.

III.       The Good News?

            A.        People still see that marriage is a commitment - Malachi 2:13-16

            B.        Some of those who are marrying are working at keeping those marriages functioning. They are willing to learn what it takes to keep a marriage together.

                        1.         Unfortunately, since 1975 the rate of divorce has remained at about half the rate of marriage.

                        2.         Meaning half the marriages in the United States have been failing.


Marriages and Divorces from 1900 to 2005



Year

Marriages

Divorces

Number

Per 1,000 Population

Number

Per 1,000 Population

1900

709,000

9.3

55,751

0.7

1910

948,166

10.3

83,045

0.9

1920

1,274,476

12.0

170,505

1.6

1930

1,126,856

9.2

195,961

1.6

1940

1,595,879

12.1

264,000

2.0

1950

1,667,231

11.1

385,144

2.6

1960

1,523,000

8.5

393,000

2.2

1970

2,158,802

10.6

708,000

3.5

1980

2,406,708

10.6

1,182,000

5.2

1990

2,448,000

9.8

1,175,000

4.7

2000

2,329,000

8.5

[1,150,800]

4.2

2001

2,327,000

8.4

[1,108,095]

4.0

2002

2,254,000

7.8

[1,155,897]

4.0

2003

2,187,000

7.5

[1,108,080]

3.8

2004

2,279,000

7.8

[1,081,064]

3.7

2005

2,230,000

7.5

[1,070,400]

3.6



Source: Information Please Database, 2007, http://infoplease.com


Those Who Never Marry, 1970 - 2004


Percentage

Age

1970

2000

2004

Male:

20 to 24

35.8

83.7

86.4

25 to 29

10.5

51.7

56.6

30 to 34

6.2

30.0

32.2

35 to 39

5.4

20.3

23.4

40 to 44

4.9

15.7

17.6

Female:

20 to 24

54.7

72.8

75.4

25 to 29

19.1

38.9

40.8

30 to 34

9.4

21.9

23.7

35 to 39

7.2

14.3

14.6

40 to 44

6.3

11.8

12.2




Median Age at First Marriage, 1890 - 2003


Year

Males

Females

1890

26.1

22.0

1900

25.9

21.9

1910

25.1

21.6

1920

24.6

21.2

1930

24.3

21.3

1940

24.3

21.5

1950

22.8

20.3

1960

22.8

20.3

1970

23.2

20.8

1980

24.7

22.0

1990

26.1

23.9

2000

26.8

25.1

2001

26.9

25.1

2002

26.9

25.3

2003

27.1

25.3


Source: Information Please Database, 2007, http://infoplease.com