Both marriage and divorce rates have been in a state of flux in North America, particularly over the past few decades. Divorce rates have skyrocketed, at least in part due to no-fault divorce laws which were introduced across the entire U.S. by the early 1980s. Divorce rates would be even higher if it were not for the large number of couples simply living together and informally separating without being married. Divorce is itself a cause of more divorce. As increasing percentage of couples end their marriages, society has become more accepting of divorce. This lowers the bar so that even more spouses feel that it is acceptable to bail out of their marriage. The social sanctions against divorce of previous generations' have almost completely evaporated.
Some feel that opposite-sex marriages are too easy to get into and too easy to terminate. So has same-sex marriage in the state of Massachusetts and for Canadians. 3 Covenant marriage (CM) has been promoted as an alternative form of marriage that might increase family stability and lower divorce rates. It consists of a return to divorce based on fault, coupled with pre-marital counseling. CM is available in three states in the U.S. These marriages are more difficult to get into and more difficult to escape from. Before a couple can marry, the legislation typically requires that the couple engage in pre-marital counseling and sign a covenant marriage contract. Termination of a CM by divorce typically requires either a long period of separation, or proof of the guilt of one spouse -- generally some form of abuse or adultery. The legislation may also require the couple to seek counseling before considering a divorce.
Promoters of CM hoped that it will motivate couples to take a long, sober look at their relationship before they decide to marry. The end result, promoters hoped, would be more stable, happier, long-lasting marriages.
Covenant Marriage Sunday:
The Covenant Marriage Movement (CMM) was founded at a meeting of conservative Protestant groups in Dallas, TX on 1999-FEB-23. Representatives from 19 marriage and family ministries and para-church organizations attended. Their initial motivation was to reverse the increasing divorce rate in the U.S. by promoting marriage as a permanent covenant among the spouses and God. A second goal is to promote the exclusion of same-sex couples from marriage. By early 2005, the CMM had grown to include over 65 cooperating marriage and family ministries.
CMM has designated the second Sunday of February as Covenant Marriage Sunday. In 2004, over 500 congregations participated in the event. The 2005 observance was held on FEB-13, one day before Valentine's Day. They hoped that over 5,000 churches would take part. The movement appears to be closely linked with Evangelical Christian denominations. This has cut off the movement from marriage supporters who are from more liberal Christian churches, who are secular, or who are followers of other religions. 4
CMM selected as its 2005 theme: "Embracing the Heart of Marriage." Their web site states:
The term "Bride of Christ" is a phrase used by many conservative Protestants to refer to born-again Christians who have trusted Yeshua of Nazareth (Jesus Christ) as Lord and Savior. CCM differentiates between the view of marriage as a contract -- which the parties can terminate by mutual consent -- and a covenant which is initiated by God and is intended to be permanent.
Their 2007 theme was "Move beyond the Mundane." Their web site states:
CCM offer three congregational kits to help participating congregations celebrate Covenant Marriage Sunday.
The CMM appears to be winding down as an organization. Most of the recent postings to their web site refer to various marriage amendments that are designed to prevent same-sex couples from marrying. Their most recent news item about Covenant Marriage Sunday was issued on 2006-OCT-01 and referred to the event in 2007-FEB-11. As of 2008-JAN-06, there was no announcement about the event for 2008. Their list of upcoming events hosted by "... various Cooperating Ministries of the Covenant Marriage Movement" was empty.
The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.
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