The “new game plan” for Church marriage renaissance

IFS studies has an article by the same name and why I put “new game plan” in quotes.

1. Preach regularly on marriage and relationship health.

In the small churches I attended as a young person, most of the sermons on marriage focused on the “sin” of divorce without much attention to the meaning, purpose, and good of the marital bond. This is not the way it should be, according to Van Epp and De Gance, who emphasize that churches should “preach, teach, model, and celebrate” marriage on a regular basis. This preaching, they explain, requires authenticity from the church’s leaders, who should share about their own relationship ups and downs when they can: “Sharing your own personal struggles places any ‘negative’ message within your own life experience, giving credibility and allowing others in the church to identify with it.”

2. De-stigmatize relationship enrichment.

This recommendation is so important for helping churches get rid of the damaging myth of the ‘perfect’ Christian marriage and the shame that often comes with it. “The single biggest barrier to a successful marriage and relationship ministry is the perception that the only people who attend or participate in such a ministry are people who have problems,” Van Epp and De Gance write. “By making a positive case for relationship ministry—that it’s for everyone at this church, especially for people with great marriages—you allow those who are struggling in their marriage to attend without any shame.”

3. Stress that every marriage has seasons.

“Advancing a message that marriage has different seasons (and some are more challenging than others) can help couples see their struggles as part of the norm of relationship life,” the authors write. “Every couple should be told and understand, through your preaching and teaching, that such ebbs and periodic unhappiness are normal for all marriages—including great marriages.”

I can’t say enough how much this message matters to a church’s marriage ministry, especially for those who come from broken families and need to hear it again and again. As I shared earlier, this is not a message I consistently heard from pastors or church leaders growing up—or even as a single or newlywed—in the small, Evangelical churches I attended. The ideal of Biblical marriage that is too often presented from the pulpit often feels like a pinnacle of relationship perfection that is impossible to reach. Being assured that there is nothing abnormal about experiencing hard times in a relationship can encourage couples and free them to seek help when needed.

4. Publicly recognize relationship milestones and new marriages.

Van Epp and De Gance note that marriage is declining in the United States, writing that “every church in America should lean into the catastrophic decline in marriage by holding up and encouraging marriage in creative ways.” They recommend highlighting couples who are engaged or newly married, as well as celebrating the anniversaries of long-time married couples. Putting the spotlight on both new and long-term unions in the congregation also helps connect newlyweds to more mature couples and vice versa. Moreover, celebrating couples who have been married 30, 40, or even 50 years sends an inspiring message to the entire congregation that stable, lasting marriages do exist and are attainable. It is a great way for a church to hold up the beauty of marriage and to applaud those who have gone the distance, while offering support to those who are new at it and may have never seen a strong marriage in their own families.

Of course, there is much more churches can do to strengthen family life in America, and De Gance and Van Epp provide a game plan for faith leaders, including recommending that churches realign their “vision statement to prioritize marriage and family health,” conduct regular assessments of relationships in their congregations, and institute “skills-based relationship supports that address the most relevant needs of their people.”

There is evidence that church-led marriage enrichment efforts can strengthen family well-being in entire communities. In Jacksonville, Florida, De Gance led an extensive three-year marriage campaign working with area Protestant and Catholic churches and non-profits. A study of that campaign found that divorce in the Jacksonville area dropped by over 20% during that three-year period—significantly more than the rest of Florida and similar counties across the nation.

I won’t argue that these aren’t some good things, and that they should help some. At least the study confirms it’s helping some.

The big issue is clearly that they’re still dancing around the topics like most complementarians.

Let’s ignore what the Bible actually says about marriage such as headship and submission, love and respect, not defrauding each other, and all of the other marital roles and responsibilities. Not a peep about the Biblical marial roles and responsibilities in Ephesians, Corinthians, Colossians, Titus, etc much like the YouVersion Bible “marriage courses”.

As long as these things are ignored, you may get minor improvements but you will never really fix the issue. God instituted the structure that works best for marriage and how to go about it, and we’re ignoring it in favor of putting cosmetic makeup instead of preaching what the Bible says.

Frustrating to say the least.

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10 Responses to The “new game plan” for Church marriage renaissance

  1. jorgen says:

    Marriage can only be solved societally. As long as the laws are still supportive of women cheating, divorcing, and getting the house the kids and a salary from the man, then all the preaching in the world is moot. All it takes is for wifey to question the Bible or become more liberal, and bam the govt helps her rob hubby blind. Marriage worked under the Roman empire not just because of different preaching but different laws in society. Society (the govt) has to at least be theistic for marriage to work; our athestic gynocracy actively destroys marriages by enticing women to use divorce as a retirement plan or get rich quick scheme.

  2. Sharkly says:

    Yep! The Churchian Egalitarians and Complementarians are proverbially only rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic, None of this proposed churchian cheerleading would have changed the trajectory of my marriage or the destruction of my boys’ home or prevented their being deprived of a father. My wife needed discipline! And she still does.

    Those cowardly gynogrovelers, who claim to be the head of the body of Christ, practice lawlessness and have neither the desire nor the cajones to enforce God’s laws. Nor will they ever back up a husband’s assessment of what needs to change in his marriage. They are all idolatrous whore worshippers! They reflexively are convinced the husband must be wrong in some regard, for his wife to treat him poorly. Every last one of them worships any whore who defies her husband, above God’s clear command to wives of submission to their husbands in everything as unto the Lord. They hearken to women and not to God, for in their minds the woman clearly has far greater worth-ship to be obeyed than God. Jesus Christ’s instructions for church discipline are considered DOA when they are asked to use them to discipline a rebellious wife. The Son of the living God is openly defied to placate the will of any whore who defies her husband under their watch.

    Ezekiel 16:32 You unfaithful wife! You desire strangers instead of your husband.

    Yet the churchians can never get past their woman-worshipping belief that a woman can do no wrong apart from a man’s influence. if she has done wrong surely the innocent goddess must have been forced into it by a cruel and abusive man, for they hold it as an article of faith that women are pure by nature and that men are the wellspring of any female sin. They make God a liar and ignore the pattern of the very first of all transgressions in Genesis 3.

    Their churches all combined are a great array of whores a vast smorgasbord of illegitimate substitutes for the actual bride of Christ. Their churches are all the whoring daughters of the Mother of Harlots, spawned from the Great Whore of Rome during the reformation or through some other series of schisms. The real bride of Christ is only a small remnant (like a rib) separated out from the body of Christ (the Last Adam) to be made into His bride, just as God made the bride for the first Adam from a remnant separated out from his body. The bride worships Christ in spirit and in truth. The churchians deal in lies and excuses like their father the devil. Ask why their women aren’t held to any of the Bible standards, that they are not being held to, and the lies and excuses come pouring out. They can’t admit that they have supplanted God with the worldly goddess of Feminism.

  3. Oscar says:

    @ jorgen

    Marriage worked under the Roman empire not just because of different preaching but different laws in society.

    That’s completely false. No fault divorce was common in the Roman Empire long before the Church era. Either spouse could divorce the other by, for example, marrying someone else.

    1st Century Christians didn’t wait for the Roman Senate to change the laws, and neither should we.

  4. Bardelys the Magnificent says:

    It helped immensely that Church and state were once intertwined. Once we separated Church and state, all sorts of anti-God legislation could be passed. We will not be able to reform secular law to fit Church teachings; the Church must gain control of the law again. There is no other way.

  5. Paul says:

    The biggest mistake is when state got a say in marriage. Marriage is a God-given institution, right from the beginning of Creation. By what authority does the state claim to have authority to close and break up marriages? Only if they can claim an institution not theirs, and label it “marriage”. And by the same token redefine it to include “gay marriage”. Or to set up divorce “law”.

    The latter was actively pursued by the US Women’s Movement (Elizabeth Cady Stanton in 1852) : “She challenged both the sentimental and the religious views of marriage, defining marriage as a civil contract subject to the same restrictions of any other contract. If a marriage did not produce the expected happiness, she said, then it would be a duty to end it”. Soon men were giving the Women’s Movement what they desired, starting with women’s voting rights. And it was and is celebrated, instead lamented for the tragedy it is.

  6. Oscar says:

    @ Bardelys the Magnificent

    It helped immensely that Church and state were once intertwined. Once we separated Church and state, all sorts of anti-God legislation could be passed.

    Back when state and Church were intertwined, the state had Christians persecuting other Christians in Christ’s name with the Church’s blessing, like when Mary Tudor burned 280 protestants at the stake. Catholics murdered Protestants, Protestants murdered Catholics, and Protestants murdered other Protestants, all of it legally, and with the Church’s blessing. Is that “ati-God legislation”, or not?

  7. Bardelys the Magnificent says:


    I find your argument no different than those who excuse divorce because in the past there existed husbands who beat their wives. This is the “eye for an eye” that Jesus forbids. You can’t create a large evil to try to solve a smaller one. Christendom ruled Europe for 1000 years. Our modernity is ruining souls and falling apart before our very eyes. Choose wisely.

  8. Oscar says:

    @ Bardelys the Magnificent

    Thanks for the lame attempt at evading a simple, direct question. Is governmental persecution of Christians in Christ’s name, with the Church’s blessing, an example of “ati-God legislation”, or not?

  9. Bardelys the Magnificent says:

    I don’t argue with women. Enjoy your secular hell.

  10. Oscar says:

    @ Bardelys the Magnificent

    Thank you for the ad hominem, thereby proving you’ve never given the issue even a second of thought.

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