This past weekend after Pete's dad left to go back home, I helped Pete do some research for the little seven-minute mini-sermon he was asked to give on Sunday. His topic was "Being Thankful for Spouse and Children". Pete is just all-military when it comes to speaking publicly, he has to have the whole thing written out so he doesn't mess up the grammar and he actually covers every point he intended to make. I could very well post a word-for-word transcript...but I won't. Instead, I'd like to delve in a couple of minutes to something that we learned that shocked us both.
It flabbergasted me to learn that there is a divorce happening every 45 seconds in the United States. Okay, maybe not during the wee hours of the morning, but unless you're a staunch literalist like some teenage girls I know, you get the gist. We were also dumbfounded to learn that in the year 2005, there were over 2 MILLION divorces in the US. When you consider that the estimated population of the United States in 2005 (not accounting for the ebb and flow of birth and death rates) was 295 million....that's just mind-boggling. That number hit home for us, because 2005 was the year we very well could have become part of that statistic. Ouch.
We had a conversation over lunch with one of the couples at church we've become good friends with about divorces and how widespread they've become. One of the snippets from Pete's lesson yesterday that thay said kind of 'stuck' with them was that if your Thanksgiving celebration consisted of people who were completely untouched by divorce, you were in the minority. None of us cold think of a single family NOT affected somehow by divorce. Just in Pete's family alone, he's got a set of divorced parents, divorced grandparents, two divorced aunts, a divorced uncle (twice divorced, in that case), and four divorced cousins. My family isn't that bad, but we're still not unaffected.
What is this doing to our country, and the future of the church? I can think of some smaller churches we've been a part of that will not have any men qualified to serve as elders and deacons becuase of divorce within the next 25 years. I know of too many kids who have expressed a lack of desire to marry, because they just don't have any faith in commitment. That's pitiful. What's frightening in all of this is that the legacy of divorce for America translates into 37% of American children being raised in households that do not include both biological parents. That's the highest rate in the Western world, folks!
The facts show that the divorce rate in the US is on the decline...however, that is a bit deceiving, because the marriage rate is also WAY down. People are far too willing to just cohabitate rather than to 'risk' marrying the wrong person. That's not fixing the problem!
Why aren't we teaching our children the value of commitment, even through the hard times? I'm not proud of the mess our family went through in 2005, but the result of all of that on our children is far different BECAUSE we fought the battle together and kept our union intact even when we had the "right" to dissolve it. Jon and Kelsey got an up-close view of how a married couple can work through even the worst of issues, and they learned that commitment is much bigger than most people believe it is. I had a discussion with Kelsey not too long ago about the permanence of marriage, and to my surprise, she's just as staunchly grounded as I am now. They are both very concerned about choosing the right person to marry, knowing firsthand that even the best of intentions can't prevent problems, but that it all comes down to underlying values. It was a hard-fought battle, but the kids have learned the lesson I hoped they'd learn from our struggles. They learned that stick-to-itiveness is far more important than emotions, and that being happy ain't everything!
(eww, I just used "ain't" in a sentence.....)
America, have we forgotten the part of the vows that pledge our devotion during the "worse"?