George Barna has documented this fact: the divorce rate in this country is the same for people who claim to be Christians as it is for people who don't claim to be Christians. (I just read a summary of a Barna report that now says it's higher for Christians, but I can't locate that report.) Without stomping on those who've already suffered through divorces, isn't there a way we can address this? Is there a disconnect between our calling to follow Jesus and the high failure rate of our marriages? Doesn't the demand for family-friendly legislation and family values lose some steam when the people who claim to be Christ-followers have a higher divorce rate than those who don't? How can the church be hard on divorce while being gentle with those who have suffered through divorces? (They don't need to suffer again, made to feel like second class citizens of the kingdom!) What's the disconnect here? And how do we help local church leaders who are forced to deal with these issues all the time? Honestly, it's one of the most difficult parts of being a leader. What I'm especially interested in is how the church, the community of believers, can be more helpful in supporting one another's marriages. These ten thoughts come to mind quickly: 1. By faithfully holding marriage in the realm of discipleship (i.e., we keep our vows as a part of living out the deep inner goodness that comes from following the Way of Christ -- Mt. 5:31-32); 2. By refusing to make marriage a place where all needs are supposed to be met (which is idolatrous and forces it to bear a load it can't); 3. By learning to be more open with one another -- confessing, sharing, and praying -- so that we aren't afraid to say "we need some help"; 4. By fostering a greater sense of "first family" where the church -- married, divorced, single, children -- is seen as our primarily relationship; 5. By reminding each other that we relate to each other in marriage as brother and sister in Christ as well as husband and wife; 6. By offering whatever resources are available for prevention and intervention: wise elders, insightful therapists, caring friends and guides; 7. By encouraging each other openly to resist materialism and out-of-control debt; 8. By opening ways for conflict and conflict resolution that involve true listening, affirming, exploring, and forgiving; 9. By helping people to pursue a path of spiritual formation, expecting people to change through time into the image of Christ; and 10. By keeping alive and open the stories of older believers who can share their journey, thereby offering hope and guidance for troubled times. What other suggestions do you have?