Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. Proverbs 4:23
I recently attended a national Christian convention and it was great! The worship was inspiring, the preaching was passionate, the exhibits were informative, the missions were encouraging and the emphasis on mission was courageous. But there was a lack of emphasis on what I consider the greatest mission in America today; marriage.
There were workshops on leadership, preaching, and worship arts, and there should have been. There were workshops on finances, church technologies, and ministering to the elderly and we need to learn about all of this. But there was no workshops for the oldest, and the foundational institution for all of civilization; marriage.
The convention had an exhibition hall filled with hundreds exhibitors, advocating for very worthwhile causes. But there was only one advocating for marriage even though our nation has the highest rate of divorce in the world at 4.6 divorces for every 1000 in population.
Marriage is the oldest institution in the world established by God in Genesis 2:24. That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh. Upon this foundation all of society is built.
Marriage is such a high and holy thing that the word of God uses marriage as a metaphor for the relationship between Christ and the Church in Ephesians 5. “’For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.’ This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church.” Clearly marriage is a vital to our society.
That is why Proverbs 4:23 tells us,” Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it”. Guarding our marriages should be a top priority, because every other good thing we have in society flows from this relationship.
That is why the enemy of our souls is fighting us so fiercely over marriage. He understands that if he can weaken and crush marriage, he can create many other problems as well. As the Church we must understand that he is waging war on many fronts by assaulting and terrorizing marriage.
We are fighting the war against poverty when we guard marriage. David Ellwood of Harvard observes, “The vast majority of children raised entirely in a two-parent home will never be poor during childhood. By contrast, the vast majority of children who spend time in a single-parent home will experience poverty.” Marriage is the unsung anti-poverty program.
We are fighting against juvenile delinquency by strengthening marriage. Children of divorce are 3 times more likely to be expelled from school and 3 times more likely to drop out. Divorce increases a child’s risk of being incarcerated by 12 times.
The war on drug abuse is fought by healing marriages. I have had numerous addicts tell me in agonizing terms about the breakdown in the family they grew up in because of the breakdown in the marriage of their parents.
And our churches are decimated because of marriages that are falling apart. Very rarely do divorced couples tithe to the church, so it hurts the church financially. After a divorce couples often stop attending church altogether. But perhaps the worst side-effect of this assault on marriage within the church is glaring lack of young people who are active members of a church or even become Christians. A statistic that parallels the decline in marriage is the decline in church membership. Studies show that 89 % of the Builder generation were Christian or involved in the Church. Whereas, the millennial generation only has 9% Church involvement.
That is why we must guard our hearts, especially married hearts.
Rex Robinson is the Co-director of the Marriage Resource Center of Greene County and guest religion columnist.