Photographer: Will Foster
Driscoll is pastor of Mars Hill Church in Seattle, Washington.
Last week, my wife Grace and I took the biggest risk in our ministry lives with the launch of our new book, “Real Marriage: The Truth About Sex, Friendship, & Life Together.”
In the book, we’re brutally honest about the hardships we’ve faced as a couple. We’re expecting a lot of criticism from both liberal and conservative critics, as we talk about relationships and gender roles in marriage in a very traditional and biblical way and also talk frankly about the sex questions people in our culture deal with. (Among them: masturbation, birth control, cosmetic surgery, cybersex, sexual medication, and marital sexual assault.)
Why would we take such a risk?
Simply said, the state of marriage in our country is perilous, and we want to help. Here are few of the startling stats:
• For the first time in U.S. history, single adults outnumber married adults.
• For those who do marry, over 40 percent of marriages end in divorce, according to the New York Times.
• Between 25 to 50 percent of Americans commit adultery, depending on the study.
• Three out of four of Americans have premarital sex before the age of 20.
• Over half of all first marriages are now preceded by cohabitation according to Population Studies, and this figure is rising.
Perhaps most depressing are the stats associated with cohabitation:
• Studies almost always find that cohabitation is associated with a higher divorce risk, with estimates ranging from 33 percent to 151 percent increased risk of divorce.
• Annual rates of depression among cohabitators are more than three times higher than among married couples, according to Psychiatric Disorders in America.
• Women in cohabitating relationships are twice as likely as married women to suffer physical abuse, according to the Journal of Marriage and the Family.
• Two studies in Aggressive Behavior and Canadian Journal of Criminology found that women in cohabitating relationships are about nine times more likely to be killed by their partner than married women.
• Couples who cohabitate before marriage report less marital happiness and more conflict when married, according to the Journal of Marriage and Family and Family Relations.
The facts tell the story: Marriage in our country is broken. And the implication is clear: many people need a new marriage, which first requires a new understanding of marriage.
Sadly, for many this means trading in a spouse for a newer model in a never-ending search for the perfect relationship and happiness. But this isn’t the answer either, as the divorce rate for second marriages is even higher than first marriages, 60 percent! You can change spouses, but if you don’t change, nothing changes.
So, what is the answer? Start a new marriage with the same spouse.
This begins with understanding that marriage is not about you and what you want but about the two of you glorifying God together, serving one another selflessly, and redefining what makes for a great marriage for you and your spouse—all centered on biblical truths and Jesus.
For many this will sound crazy. But what’s crazy is everyone continuing to do what already isn’t working.
This is the essential truth Grace and I discovered in our own marriage, which was rough for both of us for many years, leading to a functional marriage that was not much fun.
We thank God that over the years, he has brought healing to our marriage. Today, we are great friends and lovers. But it hasn’t always been that way. It took stepping on a lot of land mines to learn some important lessons about ourselves and our marriage to get to a point today where we enjoy a great marriage together.
Some of these lessons for a successful marriage included the importance of friendship, a biblical understanding of the role of men and women in marriage, and the necessity of a fulfilling sex life for both the husband and wife.
These are the lessons we share in our new book, and which I will be sharing with you in part on this blog over the next few days.