Having had the chance now to look more closely at what has been statistically revealed, there are a number of revelatory comments to be made.
Marriage (man and woman) on raw statistics is up from 2011. 123,244 marriages in 2012 and increase of 1,492 (1.2%).
This is the major statistic of these revelations. In 2012, 80.8% of all brides and 79.2% of all grooms had not married previously. In other words young people are still choosing to marry, and these young people are on their first marriage.
In 2012, of the 34,613 marriages performed by Ministers of Religion, the most common rites used were Catholic (31.8%) followed by Anglican (16.2%). That means that 52% of religious marriage ceremonies were either of other Denominations (Baptist, Salvation Army, Uniting, Lutheran, Pentecostal …..) or other faiths.
A more concerning figure for evangelicals is that the majority of couples registering their marriage in 2012 cohabited prior marriage (77.6%) which was an increase of 445 in raw statistical terms.
The report from Marriage Week Australia noted that in 2012, there were 49,917 divorces granted in Australia, an increase of 982 (2.0%) compared to 2011. People between 40-44 years of age had the highest percentage of divorces granted, with 16.9% of males and 17.6% of females being granted a divorce falling in the age group in 2012.
â€¢ The report further noted that in 2012, there were 24,144 divorces involving children, that is 44,834 children under 18 years of age. This represents 48.4% of all divorces granted.
The critical factor of these figures are the overwhelming statistics of first time marriages are young people – moreover we are unaware of any proclivity towards divorce in twenty years time.
If current research is anything to go by, the current generation of young people are doing all that is in their power not to follow in their divorcing parents footsteps.
Marriage today is very optional. Cohabiting is such a factor in our society that to actually make the effort to marry is something of an enigma. There is some evidence that only in a limited number of cases do children have any bearing on whether cohabitors marry or not.
Moreover the nature of cohabiting and the law of division of property and assets is such that whether one marries or not is based on family tradition or of religious conviction.
The idea that in cohabiting one partner can pack up and leave at any time is largely psychophysical – it is not that easy emotionally after building a partnership to simply pack the bag and walk out. There are many more factors associated with such events that simply a change of mind.
Moreover we were pleasantly surprised to see a recent News.com article on 20 celebrity marriages that have lasted. (www.news.com.au)
On two occasions now, I have been associated with congregations where couples who for all looks and wants, appeared the typical married couple and with children, only to reveal great joy when their intended wedding was announced.
Many of the older members of these congregations were a little beside themselves, more so than not being kept in the loop. In each of these two situations, the cohabiting couple had no theological idea that there was expectation of marriage as a Christian. It simply illustrates we're living in a post-Christian society.
But, this is where the Christian churches can bring warmth and fellowship to those in such situations. Churches can develop excellent marriage ministries and there is a real push today for adopting life-span approaches for the couples.
Local churches today are re-examining preparing youth and singles for healthy dating and eventual marriage. A new wave of premarital education is being seen as crucial. Marriage mentoring is a another ministry in development. More seasoned couples are also taking advantage of all this.
In Australia there is a fresh wave of interest in marriage and marriage for young Christians. This evidenced as even two years ago the research is showing that young Christian peers were challenging why marriage was necessary at all – to marry has become a bit radical – now we're seeing the pendulum beginning to start on the proverbial swing back.
Dr Mark Tronson is a Baptist minister (retired) who served as the Australian cricket team chaplain for 17 years (2000 ret) and established Life After Cricket in 2001. He was recognised by the Olympic Ministry Medal in 2009 presented by Carl Lewis Olympian of the Century. He has written 24 books, and enjoys writing. He is married to Delma, with four adult children and grand-children.
Mark Tronson's archive of articles can be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/mark-tronson.html