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Summary: what does Jesus have to say about divorce? In our Scripture today, the Pharisees asked Jesus, "Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any reason?"

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When Things Don’t Work Out

Matthew 19: 1-12

Scott Grant writes about a Time Magazine article where Caitlin Flanagan observes that, while the divorce culture has become a fact of life over the past twenty-five years, the middle class has turned weddings into “overwrought exercises in consumer spending, as if by just plunking down enough cash for the flower girls’ dresses and tissue-lined envelopes for the RSVP cards, we can somehow improve our chance of going the distance.” In our culture, marriage means less, but we spend more on our weddings. Go figure. Flanagan concludes with these ominous words about the future of our country: “What we teach about the true meaning of marriage will determine a great deal about our fate.” That’s been the purpose of this message series to share God’s teaching about the foundation of the institution He created, marriage, and the keys to a successful, lifelong and highly happy relationship.

Last week, I shared Shaunti Feldhahn’s research on marriage and her startling findings that 80% of all marriages self report they are happy or very happy. We shared the 12 Secrets she has found of Highly Happy Marriages and that the actual divorce rate is less than 30%. But even that is too high and we’ re paying the price. Here are some shocking facts about divorce:

- There is a divorce every 13 seconds. That’s 6,646 divorces per day, and 46,523 per week

- Both spouses have a significantly lower standard of living after divorce

- The divorce rate of couples with children is 40 % lower than couples without children

- The divorce rate is the same for same-sex couples as for both sex couples. IN fact, after the Supreme Court decision on sam-sex marriages, the first couple who lined up at the Jefferson Parish registrars office did so to get a divorce

- People who wait to marry after 25 are 24% less likely to get divorced

- Living together prior to marriage increases likelihood of divorce by as much as 40%

- Divorce costs individuals, communities, and government $33.3 billion annually

But perhaps those who pay the biggest price in divorce are the children. Christian Counselor Norman Wright shares his own experience. “’Come into the living room, children. We have something we need to tell you.’ That's how our parents told us they were not going to be together anymore. After they told us they were divorcing, I sat under the table and my mind replayed again and again the words my father said. I didn't know then what it all meant, but I soon learned. After Dad left, I looked through the drawers where he kept his clothes and found an old sweatshirt he left behind. I hid it in my room and kept it for years. I would cling to it when I was lonely for him. My father came back to see us a few times, but his visits became less and less frequent. Finally his visits stopped completely. I always wondered where he went. I wondered if he thought about us very much. I hoped that he did. But I guess I'll never know.” Now an adult, that pain is still very much a part of his life.

- 43% of children growing up in America today are being raised without their fathers. This is the engine driving our most urgent social problems, from crime to teenage pregnancy to child sexual abuse to domestic violence against women

- 28% of children living with a divorced parent are at or below the poverty line

- Children of divorced parents suffer academically, are twice as likely to drop out of high school and less likely to attend college.

- Children of divorce have higher levels of depression as well as lower levels of love, commitment, and trust in their future relationships with the opposite sex

- Kids whose parents divorce are substantially more likely to be incarcerated for committing a crime as a juvenile

- Teens from divorced homes are much more likely to engage in drug and alcohol use, as well as sexual intercourse than are those from intact families

There are few people here today whose lives haven’t been touched in some way by divorce. What are the top signs of an impending divorce? 1) dreaming of life without the spouse; 2) the bad in the marriage outweighs the good; 3) a lack of communication. Dr. John Gottman has identified what he calls “the 4 Apocalyptic Horsemen” that when present predicts divorce with a 94% accuracy. They are a) Criticism b) Contempt: long simmering negative thoughts about your partner that turn into disrespect. c) Stonewalling: which is withdrawing emotionally or physically from the conversation. d) Defensiveness which leads to denial and an unwillingness to take ownership and thus, usually turns into a blame game. Fourth, one spouse feels like they are the only one trying to solve problems; and 5) the couple rarely, if ever has sex.

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