Last night, I attended True Love Revolution‘s event Will You Marry Me? Restoring a Culture of Marriage.

Patrick Fagan, the speaker, revealed some frightening statistics:

  • Only 45% of children grow up to age 18 with both parents together.
  • Children of divorced or never-married mothers are six to 30 times more likely to suffer from serious child abuse.
  • Teenagers in a married family have, on average, a GPA of 2.98 (out of a possible 4.0). Teens in divorced families only average 2.64.
  • A 10% increase in the percentage of children living in single-parent homes leads typically to a 17% increase in juvenile crime.
  • The difference in crime rate between white and blacks can be explained almost entirely by the number of out of wedlock births.

My heart sinks at the knowledge that more children will grow up without both parents than with them: that more children will be abused, will do poorly in school, and will become criminals.

There’s a case to be made for correlation, not causation: perhaps the people whose children are delinquents are more likely to divorce. Perhaps levels of high religiousity among those who stay married correlates with giving children more encouragement to do well in school. Nevertheless, it makes sense that parental stability – having one’s parents in a loving and stable relationship – would translate into children’s stability – getting good grades and avoiding crime.

Christians often make an awfully big deal about what gay marriage would do to the meaning of marriage. At the event, Fagan didn’t really touch on homosexuality, and I will leave the religious arguments about it out of this post. But to me, it seems like divorce – 50% of all marriages ending – affects the meaning of marriage a great deal more than allowing 2% of the population to marry someone of the same gender. Half of our society is setting the example that a lifelong commitment only lasts until you get sick of it.

I don’t know how to change these facts. I have no clue as to how to make the situation better.

But I do know that some of those people ending their marriages are Christian. I know that Christ said, “anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, and marries another woman commits adultery” (Matt 19:19). Many Christians ignore this verse and get divorced anyway. Marriage is difficult: it requires compromise and hard work. But imagine if every Christian did follow this passage: the divorce rate would drop substantially and society’s conception of what marriage means would be dramatically altered. We would prevent child abuse, reduce juvenile delinquency, and improve performance in school.

If Christians only followed Christ’s teachings, we could set an example for society and turn America upside down. The only question is: will we?