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David C. Pack
Greater numbers of people are questioning the institution of marriage every day. Many are concerned with the direction of current trends. Some ponder whether marriage can even survive. Still others get married on their own terms or only on a “trial basis.” Millions simply live together, unmarried—and ever-greater numbers now cohabitate in “same-sex” partnerships.

All of this would have been unthinkable just 50 years ago. Virtually everyone back then planned and expected to “grow up, get married and have children.” And marriage was for life! Entire communities—and nations—functioned on this premise!

If dating and courtship were practiced correctly today, they would form the foundation of a beautiful relationship between a husband and wife as God ordained it. The two would spend a lifetime together enjoying much happiness and joy. This God-plane relationship would include expanding the family to children who would experience more productive and abundant lives, because their home and family would provide a strong, positive environment, capable of nurturing them to adulthood and into their own successful marriages with children. Parents would teach children all they need to know, and the process would continue through successive generations.

Does this sound like a fairytale—a children’s bedtime story? Today it does! This is because modern society is shot full of wrong education, misinformation, hollow opinions, pop psychology, ignorance, bad advice—or no advice—all of which virtually prevents young people from having any hope for true happiness in marriage.

The following are revealing statistics, trends and facts derived from census data, and what sociologists, psychologists, marriage planners/counselors and others report. While shocking, this is only the briefest thumbnail—a very tiny sampling—of all that could have been included. Take the time to consider the enormous implications of these statistics. Make them personal, and imagine the individual lives behind them:

• 50% of married women and 66% of married men in the U.S. commit adultery (combined, these statistics indicate that five out of six marriages—over 80%—involve at least one adulterous partner).

• Divorces per 1,000 marriages: 1969—140; 1990—380 (up 171%); 1996—451 (up 222% since 1969).

• Compared to first marriages, remarriages are 50% more likely to end in divorce during the first five years, and tend to be unstable, break up more often, and more quickly (Statistics Canada).

• Divorced status in America is the fastest growing marital category. Between 1970 and 1996, the number of divorcees more than quadrupled, going from 4.3 million to 18.3 million.

• The National Institute for Healthcare Research says that divorce now ranks as the number one factor linked with suicide in major U.S. cities, ranking above all other physical, financial, and psychological factors.

• More than 50% of people in their 20s, interviewed in a Gallup survey, agreed to the statement, “One sees so few good or happy marriages today that one questions it as a way of life.” Among single young adults, more than half stated that one of their biggest concerns about marriage is “the possibility that it will end in divorce.” Incredible!

About half of all marriages fail! How can this be? Try to imagine the pain, suffering and frustration that so many experience. Is there a reason for all of this? Is it merely because many people just cannot get along? Most have no idea—no realization—that if they follow the correct way—God’s way—they could avoid all this misery and unhappiness!

But divorce is not the only sad and shocking effect of wrong dating and courtship. Improper dating and courtship practices carry the side effect of leading the large and growing ranks of wounded, jaded, cynical people to decide to just live together—or, more accurately, share a bed together—instead of committing to marriage.

Consider just these statistics from Britain: In 1972, there were 480,000 couples who chose to marry. By 2001, less than three decades later, only 286,000 weddings took place, even though the population had grown by seven percent. Just since 1986, the number of women choosing to cohabitate has more than doubled, going from 13 percent to 28 percent. The figures for men are only slightly lower.

All of this describes a world in revolt against the institution of marriage!

The Young Victims

Cohabitation is not the only bad side effect resulting from divorce. It is important to stop and look at the children—the most painful fruits—of these failed marriages. Again, you will be shocked by the far-reaching implications of the telling statistics below, describing the United States, and reflecting the disintegrating fabric of what is considered the most powerful nation in the world:

• 75% of children of divorced couples also end up going through divorce.

• The school dropout rate among children from divorced families is twice that of children from intact families.

• Among teenage and adult females, parental divorce is linked to daughters’ lower self-esteem, earlier sexual activity, greater delinquency, and difficulty establishing fulfilling, lasting adult heterosexual relationships. Yet, their parents’ divorce usually occurred years before any difficulties were observed.

• 50% of children today will spend at least part of their childhood in single-parent homes.

• In 2000, 33% of babies were born to unmarried women, compared to only 3.8% in 1940. (More than 1/3 of children never experience a married home!)

• The high divorce rate directly affects one million children every year.

• In a recent survey, 62% of men agreed that “while it may not be ideal, it’s okay for an adult woman to have a child on her own if she has not found the right man to marry.”

• Studies show that children from broken families are twice as likely to have emotional and physical health problems. Again, these are also more likely to suffer from low self-esteem, with this leading to difficulties in friendships.

Many children today are victims of their parents’ ignorance of the correct way to date and court. If their parents had only taken the time to study God’s principles on the subject, these children would not suffer in the way that they do—both during childhood and later in their own unhappy marriages.

Will your children, or future children, be statistics? Will they suffer in uncounted ways? Will you wait until you experience all the wrong effects of improperly dating, courting and preparing for marriage before addressing the gaping wounds you and your children will experience? Or will you deal with the cause now—before it is too late?

Other Shocking Statistics

Let’s return to the subject of unmarried couples who live together. Over half of all first marriages today are preceded by cohabitation, compared to virtually none early in the twentieth century, just 100 years ago.

Young adults now so often postpone marriage until their late 20s to early 30s. While most men and women are choosing to establish themselves in jobs and careers before marriage (which can be good), they also most often spend a long period unmarried but sexually active. This newer phenomenon has been described as “sex without strings, relationships without rings.”

Yet, looking at destroyed marriages, wounded children and broken families does not paint the full picture of the effects of wrong dating habits today. Sadly, dating today directly leads—almost universally—to premarital sex. “Leads to” is probably not even the right term, because “dates” today often involve sex on the first date! Actually, more often than not, sex is the expected norm as part of the first date, and most of the “dates” that follow. Millions do this.

So many, blinded by pure lust, are committing fornication as a veritable way of life! Surrounded by illicit sex on every side, and often guided solely by their hormones—and what the dating partner almost certainly expects—rather than by what is right, couples routinely commit every kind of sexual sin imaginable. And many do this without the slightest pang of conscience giving them pause. Within minutes, often induced by a variety of drugs, alcohol and an unwholesome environment, young people unconsciously reject the possibility of a healthy, fulfilling, God-ordained and designed wonderful relationship of husband and wife. Instead, they choose to dive into mindless, instant gratification, giving little or no consideration for the devastating long-term effects they will surely experience.

One shocking previous statistic brings this trend to the forefront: One-third of all children in the United States today are born out of wedlock! Think what this means! One out of every three children now begins life without a proper family and lacking the environment that the Almighty Creator designed and intended.

The Downward Spiral

Breaking this down, we can begin to understand the compounding trouble afflicting most families today. What happens to all those in our generation who have lost even the most basic knowledge of how to have a happy, abundant marriage? What will happen another generation from now? What will happen to today’s children’s children?

While statistics reveal that teenagers from intact families are less likely to be sexually active, adolescents from broken families are twice as likely to have children out of wedlock. Also, as mentioned, 75 percent of children who have suffered through their parents’ divorce will experience it themselves. In other words, the choices people make now regarding dating and courtship may well lead to divorce, which, in turn, could destroy the marriages of their children, and their children’s children, in an endless and worsening cycle. The effects of dating habits yesterday have caused horrible conditions in countless lives today, and the trend can only grow worse for greater numbers tomorrow!

Relationship destruction spreads like an infection, like a cancer, making it easier for others to follow bad examples and take the easy way out themselves. The tragic end result is that divorce and ruined lives breed more divorce and more ruined lives. On the present path, this worsening trend would continue until the marriage institution and the entire concept of traditional families are irreversibly destroyed—except that God will soon intervene in the affairs of mankind and cut short the downward spiral before such extinction is permitted to happen!

David C. Pack

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