My daughter will be getting married in about two months. Her fiancé is a great guy and of course, I think my daughter is a fantastic young woman and I am very proud of her and glad for both of them. Our family will be richer for the addition and I hope that their lives together are long, meaningful and filled with love.
I heard a recent statistic that shows that Millenials seem to stay married more than the few generations before them. Of course, the data is young since no Millenials have twenty years of marriage yet and a high percentage of them waited longer to get married.. My wife and I were twenty-two when we got married. My daughter will be twenty-nine and her fiancé is a bit older. Most Millenials have only been married about a decade or less.
However, there does seem to be some seriousness with which they are taking their covenant when they do get married. Because there is much less pressure to get married, those who do truly are more likely to want to. In addition, by waiting and deciding more fully about what is important in life, they are likely making more well-rounded and informed choices. This surely increases the chances of longer lasting relationships.
But there is likely to be one more thing. If Millenials are taking their covenanting process more seriously than many of their parents, it is likely that much of their marital durability can be contributed to the act of covenanting. A covenant, unlike a contract, is focused on relationships and the things needed to sustain them. As such, it doesn’t set up the rules for a partnership but sets the conditions for a relationship.
When a covenant is established, the conditions are set in which a relationship can thrive. This biblical model reminds us why God stuck it out with Israel when they failed, why God came to us in Jesus when we were sinful and straying, and offers a glimpse into a way of living in relationship with others that is gracious, accountable and hopeful.
People often criticize Millenials for their unwillingness to commit to the church. But there is good evidence that they are more than able to make and keep commitments. Perhaps the church needs to look at a different, more covenantal relationship with the next generations. They may be less interested in joining an institution, but they seem more than ready to commit to a meaningful and lasting relationship.