Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Breaking Faith

Janine Cate of Why Homeschool? posted this mind-boggling comment on my No Victims Here article encouraging Christians to re-think the ease with which we divorce.
"As part of an outreach program to encourage families to attend church, we noticed a trend. Most of the individuals who no longer attended church or who had never attend church, did so due to a divorce. They stopped going to church after their own divorce or the divorce of their parents. The third group where children who grew up in homes with no religious training because their parents stopped going to church in their youth after the grandparents' divorce. "
If this is a nationwide or even a worldwide trend, then divorce is not only devastating the family but the church as well. Surely this merits attention by church leaders, and should begin to inform how the church deals with hurting marriages. Perhaps we need to shift our focus from comforting those who have chosen to end their marriages to shoring up floundering marriages and strengthening engaged couples to prevent and to resist the conflicts that might torpedo their union.

Perhaps it should not surprize us so much that as goes marriage, so goes the church. The Old Testament is loaded with imagery that identifies God's relationship to His people with the marriage relationship. The Epistles come out and say it systematically. And we humans seem to know this even when we don't know the Scriptures.

So maybe it isn't so shocking that when marriages fail regularly, no one can hope that a relationship with God could be permanent. When marriages are a dance of selfishness rather than a dance of deference, how could God's chastisements be anything but self-serving power plays?

It seems that marriages hold in trust the heart of both society and church. What we do in marriage is not just a personal decision that affects no one else. What we do in marriage is perhaps the most powerful witness of what we really believe God can and will do in His relations with His people. Our neighbors get it. The world is watching. What will we Christians say to them?

Have any of you conducted or seen research on the correlation between flagging church involvement and failed marriages? Why do you think people who are touched by divorce leave the church?

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