Wednesday, May 28, 2014


Today's Sunday School class was on evangelism.  One of our faithful class members is a professional counselor.  He raised his hand, I called on him, and he shared that evangelism begins in the home.  He said that the family was so important to the children in following Christ, and then noted the high divorce rate.  I added that the Christian Church wasn't doing a whole lot better.

Another Sunday School member had heard a piece on Christian Radio that disputed the commonly cited statistic that 50 % of all marriages end in divorce.  The colleague shared that the person in the interview claimed the US marriage success rate was about 75%.  That would put the divorce % at closer to 25 than 50!

Hmm, this is a lot tougher statistic to track down than I first suspected.  First of all, the divorce rate, like all rates, is the number of divorces per unit time.  The common unit of time is "per year".  The best data suggests that the "divorce rate" is about 4 per 1000 marriages per year.  This tells us how many people per 1000 divorce in one year, it does NOT tell us how many marriages, what percent of all marriages, end in divorce.  The marriage rate, the number of marriages per 1000 people is about twice the divorce rate.  If the total population stays stable (does NOT grow), then about twice as many marry as divorce in any one year.  BUT, this doesn't tell us how many marriages end in divorce.  Some of these marriages are people who divorced last year, or the year before.  Some of these marriages are to widows and widowers.  Some folks lived together, and neither married or divorced.

On the other hand, a survey of a large group of some 277 million people over the age of 18, found that 53% of this group was married.  This doesn't tell us much about divorce.  Another part of the table surveyed  a large group of some 166 million MARRIED people over the age of 18, found that 75% of this group was on their FIRST marriage.  Hmm, again this does NOT tell us what we need to know.  Some of these folks had only been married a couple of years, and some were even the newlyweds.  Many of these marriages will end in divorce at some point in the future.  25% of the sample were already divorced but on their 2nd or 3rd marriage.  What we need to know is how many of the 75% will remain married?  For this group the % of marriages that will end in divorce is a prediction of the future.

The only obvious way to determine the % of divorce is to look at the statistics of those already dead, as they will NOT be divorcing in the future.  So what we need to do is survey the families to determine what percentage of their dead forefathers and foremothers divorced one or more times.  It appears that those data are not routinely collected.  At least I have not yet found them. Apparently there is a Christian lady who has somehow tracked down accurate data.  I think her radio claim was the same as i found of those still on their first marriage, about 75%.  If the data I found are accurate, then her estimate is clearly an over-estimate.  If I get to read the book, maybe I'll write a blog post on it.

Matt 19:6-8 Lets us know that G^d's desire is that we make a commitment before HIM and we keep that commitment.  Divorce is hard and NOT G^d's desire.  It doesn't matter what the data really show, what is crucial is that keep our word, and keep our marriages strong.

L^rd make it so.

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