When Justin and I lived in Brooklyn we were constantly making friends with single atheists. Which only makes sense as NYC is full of single people with no religious affiliation.
As we spent more and more time with our new found friends, they almost always noticed two things. The first had something to do with a Christian stereotype. They’d say, intending a compliment, “I had no idea Christians could be fun… well-read… normal…”
The second usually had something to do with our marriage. We sat on our couch in our small Remsen St. apartment and laughed awkwardly as people who’d never even considered marriage as a sane choice said things like “Most married people make me uncomfortable, but you guys are so easy to be around” or “I’ve never met a married couple before who actually seemed happy” or even “I can’t help but wonder if your marriage is so good because of your faith.”
I have a friend living in Austin who’s seen this same kind of interest in his marriage. Friends and acquaintances of all ages frequently ask him what it is that makes his marriage so different.
I know many of you have experienced this.
For Justin and I these kinds of comments seem strange. Our marriage isn’t perfect. But in today’s culture, even a healthy marriage turns heads.
Most people’s lives are rife with divorcees, dissatisfied co-habitators, serial daters, and angry married people, many cynical toward even the idea that two people might genuinely love one another forever.
According to a recent survey, 39 percent of Americans say marriage is becoming obsolete. One in three kids lives in a home with divorced, separated, or never-married parents.
Because of this, we Christians have been given a unique opportunity to show Christ to the world. A good marriage is such a rare thing, it’s guaranteed to get people asking questions. People want healthy, happy marriages. And if we have them, they’ll come to us for answers.
Unfortunately, according to research done by the Barna group, Christians are actually more likely than atheists to see their marriages end in divorce. We also have the highest divorce rate of any religious community in the country.
Here’s why that’s so terrible: Because we’re making Jesus look bad.
Whether or not you realize it, your marriage is an indicator of the power of God to change a life. People on the outside are watching you to see if your life is any better than theirs. If it’s not, why should they listen when you talk about God?
Because Justin and I did mission work for a little while, we often get asked about evangelism tools. What works best? What’s a sure-fire way to make our church grow?
Those people are usually looking for an advertising strategy or a campaign tactic, but honestly, I’d say a healthy marriage is as good a tool as any.