Summary: As we look at marriage, we need to understand what is going on in the U.S. by contrasting God’s plan to man’s variations upon it.

We All Suffer When Families Are Messed Up

1. When gospel singer Larnelle Harris and his wife Mitzy had their first big argument, they began to pray that God would teach them how to "fight fair." Larnelle wrote, "Why did we pray like that? Because for us divorce is not an option. We know that as Jesus Christ is our focal point, we will be able to remain true to our commitment to each other."

The Daily Bread

2. It was at this time forty years ago, that the husband and wife team of Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward starred in the movie From the Terrace.

They played the roles of two who married for all the wrong reasons. The pair then grew steadily apart until they divorced, for failed thinking as well.

Newman was once asked how his off-stage marriage was fairing. He replied: "I’ve been sent packing a few times, but we’re not quitters." Today the duo is still strongly committed to their union.

(from Pulpit Helps)

3. Two illustrations: a Christian couple and a secular couple.

4. Two divorce rates: about the same.

5. Today, I am beginning a series on the family and marriage, and I am attempting to make it interesting to all, because it is relevant to all.

6. The broken family affects us all: crime, taxes, work environment, economy….and certainly church.

Main Idea: As we look at marriage, we need to understand what is going on in the U.S. by contrasting God’s plan to man’s variations upon it.

I. God’s Plan Is Best

A. One plan is SINGLENESS (I Cor. 7:7)

B. The more common MARRIAGE (I Cor. 7:2)

1. no sex OUTSIDE of marriage, plenty within (Hebrews 13:4, I Cor. 7:1-5)

2. a lifelong, legal commitment to ONE partner (Matt. 19:6)

3. rearing children TOGETHER (Eph. 6:4,)

4. no divorce except under EXTREME conditions (Matt. 19:9, I Cor. 7:11)

5. ACCEPTING nature and working with it (Eph. 5:22-29)

Although we often look at such verses as matters of authority [and sometimes replace reasonable compromise with a military mentality by over-exaggerating these verses], they are also matters of working with a gender…

Success in marriage is not finding the right person but becoming the right person.

II. The Effects of Man’s Variations to God’s Plan

? Most people do not go into marriage planning to get divorced

? Perhaps 2/3 of all divorces are for greener pastures (discontent), not issues like physical abuse, drugs, or criminal activity

? Marriage means having to put up with some things, and in our age of demandingness, we don’t like that

? So we want to discourage divorce except for truly extreme circumstances, even if it means I am not happy

A. Single parenting: The Loss of Social Stability

It is important to understand that many of these statistics have been controlled for income level, race and education…

1. Crime

? children TWICE as likely to commit a crime (never married); the rest are for married or divorced…

? less attached to their parents and more to their peers

? Single women are 4 to 5 times more likely to be crime victims (except for widows)

? Living with a step parent greatest FACTOR in increasing odds of child abuse

? Mother’s boyfriends 27 times as likely to commit child abuse

2. Promiscuity

? girls more than THREE times a likely to have a baby out of wedlock (17% vs. 5%)

? boys more than TWICE as likely to father a baby out of wedlock

? more liberal views of sex

3. Finances

? wives standard of living DROPS 27%

? husbands standard of living INCREASES 10%

4. Health

? After divorce, kids have 50% more health problems

? Stomach sleeping babies 13 times more likely to die of SIDS

? Single mother stomach sleeping babies 56 more likely to die of SIDS

? Children whose parents divorce live an average of 4 years LESS

? 4-year olds 3 times more likely to die from divorced homes

? 56% more likely to show signs of mental illness

B. Cohabitation: Giving Up on True Intimacy and Commitment

? Physical violence HIGHER among cohabiting couples 13% vs. 4% of married

? Cohabiting women 8 times more likely to have sex with someone other than their partner compared to married women

? Cohabiting men 4 times more likely to have sex with someone else

? Couples who cohabit before marriage are TWICE as likely to divorce

? More than half of cohabiting relationships end within 3 years

? Only 12-15% last ten years

? 90% of first marriages last 10 years or more

? Breaking up can hurt as much as divorce

? All the problems of marriage with FEW of the benefits

"In matters of the heart, no less than the market, a bigger investment means better returns…..marrriage for most people is the means to health, happiness, wealth, sex, and long life. In love, victory goes not to the half-hearted but to the brave: to those ordinary people who dare to take on the extraordinary commitment marriage represents."

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