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For some time we have been saturated with bad news about marriages in the United States. From the abandonment of a view that marriage is between one man (born as a man) and one woman (born as a woman) to the reported divorce rate, it is discouraging news.

As someone once said, bad news isn’t motivating. People become discouraged about the prospect of becoming married, enter it with a less-than-permanent commitment, and feel a demoralizing sense of doom regarding their marriages. The more we refer to the marriage “statistics,” the more discouraged we become. As one person observed: A couple’s futile feeling that “we aren’t going to make it” ends up being one of the reasons they don’t make it. So sad.

A chief reason for a doom and gloom perspective about marriage has been the oft-reported 50 percent divorce rate. Adding more discouragement is the addendum that Christians divorce at the same rate as those outside the faith. However, a recent book* by Shaunti Feldhahn declares there is good news about marriage, and that much of the so-called data reported about the state of marriage is anecdotal, without factual foundation, even though it has been continually perpetuated. Feldhahn refers to a culture-wide futility that causes live-in couples to ponder whether they should even bother getting married. But her fresh research discovered this: Instead of 50 percent of marriages ending in divorce in the U.S., 20 to 25 percent of first-time marriages conclude with divorce.

That’s still not great, but it reveals a failure rate that’s half of what we have been led to believe. Additionally, Feldhahn points out that the divorce rate is actually falling. The first-time marriage divorce rate of churchgoers is in the single digits or teens. Furthermore, Feldhahn states that 80 percent of marriages are happy. What?

This news is significant. The odds are not stacked against marriages. Most do not end in divorce. We need to speak against the hopelessness about marriage that has consumed our culture and is affecting a generation’s view of wedlock. As Feldhahn said in an interview, “We need to change the paradigm of how we talk about marriage – from marriage being in trouble and all this discouraging stuff to saying, ‘No, wait. Most marriages are strong and happy for a lifetime.’ That makes a total difference to a couple who can now say, ‘You know what? Most people get through this and we can, too.’” When people in our culture learn that Barbara, my wife, and I have been married for 43 years they are often amazed, especially if they are younger, as if such a thing could not be possible. Yes, there is good news about marriage, especially when it includes two people who love God, each other, and are resolved to remain that way. Marriage works!

*Feldhahn, Shaunti. The Good News about Marriage. Colorado Springs, CO: Multnomah Books, 2014.

About The Author

Randall Bach
President of Open Bible Churches

Randall Bach delights in opportunities to serve the Lord, including his current assignment as president of Open Bible Churches. He and Barbara, his wife, have been in ministry for over 46 years and call it “Our adventure together.” Randall loves the church, pastors, and church leaders and is convinced that God loves to work through them to make disciples, develop leaders, and plant churches.