Church and Marriage: Part 1
A couple of weeks ago I posted an article to this blog on the statistical advantage of a healthy marriage for couples that attend church regularly. Recent research has served only to back-up my own empirical observations as a pastor through the years. In short, there is a direct correlation to a happy marriage and church involvement.
After writing the article I felt that there was an aspect to the story left unsaid. Namely, WHY does the simple act of regular involvement in a church equate to a happy and healthy marriage? Over the course of the next four-blog posts I want to answer that question. The goal, of course, is to make the case for deeper, more significant involvement of Christian couples in their local church. I am convinced that this is not only the key to better marriages, but better churches, and ultimately a better society. Jesus really was on the cutting edge of societal revolution when he ordained the existence of his church.
#1 – Life Separates, Church Unites
Never before has our world offered such opportunity for individual fulfillment of dreams and goals than now. But marriage is not about the individual; it’s about the family. It is the norm today for a man and a wife to each have their own careers. This in and of itself is not a bad thing (although it could be, but that’s another blog post) but in the absence of a local church experience, the stage is set for divorce.
Let me introduce you to Bill and Mary. Bill works as a manager for a local bookstore and Mary has her own career working as a loan officer for a bank. They are both busy and work long hours. Bill even has to work Saturdays and some Sundays. Bill and Mary have two kids as well, both of whom are involved in soccer and baseball and various school activities. Bill and Mary live two separate lives. They even have two separate “friend” bases, each involving work. When Bill and Mary are not working they are juggling the kid’s schedules, with both of them usually going in opposite directions. They rarely eat dinner together. Mary usually grabs something on the way home and leaves it on the table for the family to grab and go as they can. Bill and Mary share nothing in life other than a bank account and a roof. As the years progress their marriage does not. They understand each other less and less. They get on each other’s nerves. When they have those rare moments of togetherness, being together is the last thing they want. They’d each rather do “their own thing.” They each work with people who have been through a divorce (or two) and it seems that things worked out for them so… a seed is planted. The questions becomes: Why stay with this person? What advantages does this relationship offer anyway? And to add to the confusion, Bill and Mary each have developed friendships with members of the opposite sex that are more fruitful than their relationship with each other. The grass looks much greener on the other side.
You can see where this is headed. Maybe you’ve been there yourself or know someone who has. Now, let me insert ONE component into this all-too-close-to-real-life scenario. Church. Bill and Mary end up at church one Sunday morning. It doesn’t matter how they got there. Maybe a friend invited them. Maybe they just decided they should go because it would be good for the kids. But somehow they end up at church. And Bill and Mary fall in love with the church. They make a conscious decision to make going to church a priority. They join, get plugged into a Bible study class, and even start giving to the church.
So what does this add to the marriage? Everything. All of a sudden, instead of going in two opposite directions in life, they find common ground at church. They find a common experience. You see, marriage is about sharing life together, not living two parallel lives under the same roof. Life separates, church unites. Their church gives Bill and Mary a common, powerful worship experience once a week. Their church gives them something to TALK about together. Their church gives them friends. Their church gives them opportunities: ski trips, mission trips, family fun day, etc. Every time Bill and Mary do something with their church they are doing something together. And that’s the point. In a world that glorifies the individual, church glorifies God. And Bill and Mary get to glorify Him together. For the first time they find themselves on the same page.
The world says to spend your life, money, and time gathering possessions. I know lots of couples who have all the toys. But they are empty. Possessions never equal a happy marriage. Never. My wife, Julie, and I have adopted a goal in our marriage: Accumulate experiences, not possessions. Cars, and iPads, and HD televisions break, get old, and become obsolete. But experiences live forever. My wife and I talk about our nearly 19 years of experiences together all the time. And the vast majority of our marital experiences were provided by our church.
Life separates, church unites. Save your marriage. Go to church.