It certainly is tempting to curse the darkness right now as we witness the epic moral decline in America.
What’s happened in our world when 40 percent of Americans and 80 percent of Europeans no longer believe in marriage? Two-thirds (65 percent) of couples live together prior to marriage; yet only 1 in 10 stay together after ten years.
How is it that fewer than one in four children in America live in a home with both their mother and father?
The Result: Divorce, broken homes and more than half of all children born out of wedlock have created the perfect storm for Family Disintegration – the “father absent family.” Families with an absent father are the single highest predictive factor of poverty, drug use, depression, gang involvement, promiscuity, violence, juvenile delinquency, incarceration, and teen suicide.
I can hear you thinking about now, “Chip, you better give me that one candle pretty soon because these are depressing realities.”
What happened? And what can we do?
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I believe the answer and the solution to those questions are tucked away in a landmark study by Harvard sociologist Carle C. Zimmerman. In his still-pertinent Family and Civilization, Zimmerman studied major empires and how they fail. In every instance he observed a final phase that included a predictable pattern in family life. Notice how prophetic it sounds!
“Marriage has lost its sacredness, and alternative forms of marriage were advocated. In addition, feminist movements flourished, adultery was celebrated instead of punished, and alternative expressions of sexuality including bestiality, incest and homosexuality became the norm.”
FAMILIES are the FOUNDATION of civilizations, and strong, healthy MARRIAGES are the FOUNDATION of FAMILIES.
When marriage loses its sacredness (especially among God’s people), the cultural and moral decline is pervasive and predictable.
If there were only one “candle” that we could light in our current day to make a difference, I believe it is helping Christians boldly live out Marriages that Work!
So what does that mean? It means re-educating this generation and reminding the previous one of God’s design and specific instructions for husbands and wives. What does that look like?
MARRIAGES THAT WORK HAVE FIVE THINGS IN COMMON:
- Couples view marriage as a HOLY COVENANT before God; not a SOCIAL CONTRACT between people. – Genesis 2, Malachi 2
- Couples understand God’s COUNTERINTUITIVE design to meet their deepest needs and longings. – Ephesians 5:22-30
- Couples view themselves as POWERLESS to fulfill their roles apart from Christ’s SUPERNATURAL enabling. – Ephesians 5:15-21
- Couples embrace their uniquely defined roles in a spirit of MUTUAL SUBMISSION to God and one – Ephesians 5:21, 23,25, 29-33
- Couples believe conflict and challenges with finances, in-laws, sex, children, and communication are NORMAL and result in “heart-makers” not “deal-breakers.”
You can get the full story on each of these things in my new book by the same name – Marriage that Works.
There are so many excellent books on marriage skills, understanding your mate, personality differences, and resolving conflict – so why another book on marriage?
Because God’s Church has lost its way. Divorce, porn, children out of wedlock and sexual abuse within the Church (major evangelical leaders and the scandal in the Catholic Church) have left generations suspect of marriage and ignorant of God’s design, purpose, roles, and the beauty of becoming soulmates, best friends, and passionate lovers.
I recently taught a message on Marriage that Works. A man in tears thanked me and said, “You saved my marriage today!” A former NFL quarterback told me, “My wife and I have gone to every marriage workshop and seminar on the planet; but this was super clear, simple, practical, biblical, and the best message I’ve ever heard on the subject.”
I can’t take credit for this message. I’m simply sharing without apology what the Bible teaches on what it means to be a man who “steps up” and loves his wife, and how to be a woman who “steps in” to love her husband. In our rapidly changing and sexually confused culture we need clear, biblical direction like never before.
To go deeper in exploring God’s design for marriage, check out Chip’s series Marriage That Works and Experiencing God’s Dream for Your Marriage.
Founder & Teaching Pastor, Living on the Edge
Chip Ingram is the CEO and teaching pastor of Living on the Edge, an international teaching and discipleship ministry. A pastor for over thirty years, Chip has a unique ability to communicate truth and challenge people to live out their faith. He is the author of many books, including The Real God, Culture Shock and The Real Heaven. Chip and his wife, Theresa, have four grown children and twelve grandchildren and live in California.More Articles by Chip