For Better, for Worse . . . Forget It?

The bride and groom pictured on the cover of Time magazine looked like the bridal couple you'd find atop any wedding cake. The bride wore a long white gown and carried a bouquet. The groom was garbed in a tux. But for this couple, the bonds of matrimony promised to be especially tight. A piece of twine was twisted tightly around the bridal pair. They could hardly breathe, much less walk out on each other. Talk about the ties that bind. The artwork illustrated Time's cover story about the growing movement to strengthen marriages and prevent divorce. The twine seemed to be a reminder that marriage is forever—or ought to be. In fact, the whole story was a secular acknowledgment of what the church has said for years: That divorce wounds adults and damages children. That it wreaks "enormous social and economic costs." That maybe it shouldn't be quite so easy to get a "quickie" divorce, after all. For example, Time writes that marital therapists are moving away from telling troubled couples to please themselves in favor of telling them to please grow up and consider the needs of others. President Clinton, during his recent State of the Union address, made a point of introducing and—saluting—marriage counselors John and Diana Cherry. Believe it or not, even divorce lawyers are getting into the act. They've founded a group called the Preserving Marriages Project. The group sends attorneys out to warn high school kids that marriage requires lots of homework, too. It seems everyone is recognizing that too many couples are poorly trained for marriage. The result is that when the going gets tough, the bride and groom get going—straight into divorce court. The good news is that secular authorities are not only recognizing that marital mayhem is a problem; they're also promoting marriage-saving programs invented by the church—programs that have a proven track record. In preparing its cover story on marriage, Time interviewed Michael McManus, author of the book, Marriage Savers. McManus researched the causes behind America's 1.5 million divorces a year. His newly revised book has taught thousands of couples how to prepare for lifelong commitment—and what to do when the marital ship hits rocky shoals. For example, McManus explains how people who engage in premarital sex increase their odds of divorce by 60 percent over those who remain chaste before marriage. He encourages engaged couples to find out how compatible they are with a test called PREPARE. Couples in good marriages are advised to make them even better by attending a Marriage Encounter weekend. And McManus describes how something he's dubbed "Community Marriage Policy" can help entire towns lower their divorce rate. Of course, nobody wants to literally tie a rope around couples to force them to stay together. But Christians ought to applaud when even secular magazines admit that divorce is destructive and that we ought to find ways to prevent it. Why don't you join me during the next few days when I'll be talking more about Mike McManus's excellent book. You'll discover how you and your church can become marriage savers, too.


Chuck Colson


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