I have two goals that seem to be incompatible and irreconcilable. It is going to be difficult for me to achieve them both. It seems as if to emphasize one is to minimize the other. Let me explain.
On the one hand, I want to emphasize the value and dignity of marriage. Jesus himself in the passage from Matthew 19 is emphatic about the divine design for marriage: “What God hath joined together, let no man put asunder.” Therefore, sundering or severing what God has forged or united is a serious matter. The problem is that marriage is not held in high regard in our society. Even worse, it isn’t held in high regard in some of our churches across the land. When it comes to marriage, our standards have gradually eroded until we’ve come to view it as merely a temporary arrangement between two people rather than a permanent covenant. Whether or not people stay married has become an issue of what brings immediate happiness or instant gratification, rather than an issue of obedience to the Word of God.
Whereas statistics can often be twisted to prove just about anything, when it comes to the problem of divorce in American society the message is loud and clear. In 1910 only 1 in every 10 marriages ended in divorce. By 1920 it had risen to 1 in 7. By 1940 it was 1 in 6. By 1960 1 in every 4 marriages ended in divorce and by 1970 it had escalated to 1 in 3. Today, for every marriage that lasts a lifetime there is yet another that does not. In other words, 1 of every 2 marriages today will end in divorce.
On the other hand, however, and here is my dilemma, I want to eliminate the stigma and shame that divorced people live with, especially those in the church. Divorced people are held in contempt and viewed with suspicion. They are regarded a