Hope for marriage when there's so much divorce

FullSizeRender Is it folly to hope for marriage when divorce is happening all around you? That's the gist of the question I answered this week on Boundless. A young woman wrote,

Over the past two years I have noticed more and more people separating and getting divorced after 15, 20, even after 30 years of marriage. Although none are in my family, they are all in close connection with my family. My brain is finding this increasingly difficult to compute, make sense of and deal with.

I hope to marry one day. I pray that my marriage will be as successful as those of my parents and grandparents; however, with more and more long-term marriages failing around me, I find myself increasingly closing myself off, unwilling to take the risk of even trying to get to know men with a potential to marry.

How can I practically accept and come to terms with the increasing number of failing long-term marriages in my life while still being able to keep my heart open to the hope of marrying, and without letting the fear of the risks increase to the point where I let my desire for marriage die?

A recent commentary for the Religious News Service noted that given the consumeristic approach westerners have toward getting and staying married, as well as the decline in cultural incentives to stay married, “routine mass divorce is inevitable.” This is bad news for marriage. But it is not new bad news, nor is it adequate reason to lose hope in marrying for life.

The ability to stay married, and especially to stay married in a godly, loving, sacrificial and fruitful marriage, has never been something we can achieve in our own strength. ... Staying married may not be easy, but it is simple. Marriage is a matter of obedience. For two believers who have been given hearts of flesh in place of their hearts of stone (Ezekiel 11:19-20, 36:26-27), obedience is possible in the strength of Christ (Philippians 4:13, John 15:5).

Obedience is an outmoded idea, but it is essential to keeping one’s marriage vows. Obedience may not be sexy, but it is durable and dependable. And most hopefully, for the believer, in the power of the Holy Spirit, it is possible.

To read the rest, visit Boundless.org.

How can I break up with an unbelieving boyfriend without turning him off to the faith?

Last week I received an email from a woman wondering about the best way to break up with her unbelieving boyfriend. She wrote,

I have decided to break up with my non-Christian boyfriend. Should I tell him that my main reason for doing so is his lack of faith and thereby risk turning him off to Christianity forever? Or should I withhold this information so that he won't associate my faith with the pain of being dumped?

I care a lot about him, and I definitely want him to find God on his own someday. I'm just afraid that I will do or say something to jeopardize his journey. Is there a way to do this kindly and honestly without damaging his view of God?

I love getting questions like this, especially when they're full of faith in the God who convicts us of sin and gives us strength to obey. I replied,

I'm so thankful you're willing to do what's painful in order to obey God's Word (1 Corinthians 7:39, 2 Corinthians 6:14). This is evidence of the Holy Spirit's conviction. You're right that how you do this is important for how he perceives God. I don't think you should tell him your main reason for ending your romantic relationship is his lack of faith, however. Instead, I think you should tell him it's yours. ...

It's not your boyfriend's fault that this is ending so much as it's your responsibility that it began. As the believer in the relationship, you are the one who knows what God requires. If you're trusting in Christ's atoning work on the cross, you have the Spirit of Christ within you to empower you to obey. Rather than telling him it's over because of a faith he doesn't have — and risk a false conversion or, as you fear, a reason for him to be bitter about Christianity — explain that you were wrong to date him once you knew he didn't believe the Gospel. Tell him you're sorry for misleading him about your faith.

You can read my full answer at Boundless.org.