My neighbor is having his front entry repaired. Old houses need attention and restoration on a regular basis. As the workers were laying brick I couldn’t help but watch them rebuild the arch. You have to know what you are doing to set the keystone. It is absolutely the most important stone in an arch; it is the crown that locks the other pieces in place. Without it, the arch will collapse. As I watched the craftsmen I thought about the hundreds of churches we have worked with and realized marriage is the keystone for the local church.
With marriages in the church falling apart at an alarming rate, the church is losing its voice. Not only are we losing our voice, we are also not being seen. The welcoming arch that displays to the community all the wonderful ministries churches work so hard to develop is slipping and our voice and visibility is lost.
My neighbor had not inspected his front archway into his house for a while; fortunately, he caught it just in time. Just like my neighbor, I believe the local church has forgotten to take a look at what is happening to the marriages for which they are responsible. If we don’t address the issues, the whole thing will continue to crack and eventually will be gone.
We see this demonstrated in the fact that the fastest growing divorce rate is in those who have been married 15 to 25 years. It does not take a very intensive search to discover the cause. Life gets busy and so we put our priorities in other places like raising children, pursuing a career, and trying to have a social life. Not to mention a culture that says you have to have more and you have to have exactly what you want in order to be happy. Whatever the reason, according to a study I recently examined we are seeing a travesty take place in our country. It is proven in study after study that pre-marital coaching is a proven help to the first years of marriage. Many churches are taking steps to do a better job of helping couples prepare for marriage, which is good! My question is this: Have we taken our eye off the keystone, and is it slipping in other areas, like the marriages of 15-25 years? Studies show that by the time couples are married 15-25 years those who are still married have the same divorce rate whether or not they had pre-marital training. These couples slip out the side door and we lose them. The problem is that we get so involved with all the other bricks of ministry that we are forgetting to keep an eye on the keystone (marriage).
I read a provocative article this past week entitled: “Mum’s the Word on Divorce” by Eric Metaxas. Metaxas allows the thought to arise that as we are silent on divorce we are also silent regarding marriage in general. Listen to this quote out of the article by Albert Mohler, “The evangelicals allowed culture to trump Scripture….that divorce is no big deal…it is a private matter.” He goes on to say that the “real scandal” is the fact that “evangelical Protestants divorce at rates at least as high as the rest of of the public” which creates a “significant credibility crisis when evangelicals then rise to speak in defense of marriage.”
If marriage is the keystone for the church, are we making sure the marriages in our churches are healthy, from pre-married to golden anniversaries?