Do you have friends, children, grandchildren, or other loved ones who are contemplating marriage? If so, there is a high chance their marriage will end up in divorce. That’s the bad news. The good news is this does not have to be the case. By providing your loved ones wise counsel concerning the concept of Biblical love, you might improve their chances of enjoying a marriage that lasts a lifetime.
America has one of the highest divorce rates in the world. Consider the following statistics about divorce in our country:
Approximately 41 percent of first marriages end in divorce.
Approximately 60 percent of second marriages end in divorce.
Approximately 73 percent of third marriages end in divorce.
The divorce rate in America has actually declined over the past two decades, but this fact is deceiving. The decline is not because fewer people are divorcing; it’s because fewer people are marrying in the first place. The number of people who are choosing to cohabitate without the benefit of marriage has skyrocketed in recent years. Divorce statistics don’t include the broken relationships of unmarried but cohabitating couples.
REASONS PEOPLE GIVE FOR DIVORCING
People who divorce give a variety of reasons for the break-up of their marriages, most of which miss an important point. That point is this: Without Christ at its center, a marriage is likely to fail regardless of the following factors people blame their divorces on:
Lack of commitment of one of the spouses
Frequent disagreements over important issues
Infidelity on the part of one or both spouses
Immaturity on the part of one or both spouses
Lack of preparation for marriage
Abuse by a spouse—physical or emotional
All of these reasons can be rolled up into one major reason people divorce: they don’t have Christ at the center of their marriage. Let me be quick to clarify that marriages centered on Christ are not problem-free. All relationships have their ups and downs. However, a major difference between a Christ-centered marriage and one based on what I call ice-cream love is a commitment to Christ gives couples a loving-and-caring way to work through the inevitable problems they face.
ICE-CREAM LOVE VERSUS BIBLICAL LOVE
Christ-centered marriages are based on Biblical love as described in 1 Corinthians 13. This is the defining chapter in Scripture when it comes to Christian love. It makes the point that love is a verb, not just an emotion or a feeling. The world talks about “falling in love” and “falling out of love.” Love you can fall into or out of is not Christian love, it's ice-cream love.
People claim to “love” ice cream, but they really don’t. Rather, they love what ice cream does for them: the way it looks, tastes, and makes them feel. They love the way it satisfies their urge for something sweet, creamy, and cold. Ice-cream love is based on selfishness, and selfishness is a marriage killer.
What the world calls love is better referred to as infatuation. Infatuation is a feeling of intense attraction that is often temporary. This is why there are so many couples who once promised to love and cherish each other until “death do we part” who, though still alive, are now divorced. They were temporarily infatuated with each other, but they were not in love. Christian love as described in 1 Corinthians 13 is not something you fall into or fall out of, or is it just a feeling. It is something you do. The kind of love God expects of us is a verb. Further, Christian love is about “you” not “me.” When you love someone in the Biblical sense, your chief concern is for their best interests not what they can do for you or how they make you feel.
Love is demonstrated by doing certain things that are prescribed in Scripture and not doing other things that are proscribed. 1 Corinthians 13:4-6 explains Biblical love in the following terms:
Love is patient
Love is kind
Love is not envious
Love is not boastful
Love is not arrogant
Love is not rude
Love does not insist on getting its own way
Love is not irritable
Love is not resentful
Love does not enjoy indulging in wrong doing
Love is truthful
Marriages based on these 11 factors are less likely to end up in divorce than marriages based on ice-cream love.
HOW YOU CAN HELP PREVENT A DIVORCE
When it comes to helping unmarried loved ones avoid divorce, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. By providing people who are contemplating marriage wise counsel concerning Biblical love as explained in 1 Corinthians 13:4-6, you can help them lay a foundation on which to build a lasting marriage. You can give them an understanding of marriage that transcends what they learn from the prevailing culture in his country.
Too many young people think love is what they see in the romantic movies they watch or the romance novels they read. It’s not. To improve the chances of a lasting marriage for people you care about, don’t let them proceed on the basis of ice-cream love. Go to Scripture and show them what Biblical love is. Explain that love is more than just a feeling; it is a verb. It’s about what you do, not just what you feel.
Dr. Goetsch is the author of Veteran’s Lament: Is This the America We Fought For? and Christian Women on the Job: Excelling at Work without Compromising Your Faith, Fidelis Books, an imprint of Post Hill Press.