The National Conference of Catholic Bishops (NCCB), the Southern Baptist
Convention (SBC) --  and two umbrella groups representing scores of Protestant
denominations, the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) and the
National Council of Churches of Christ (NCCC) have committed to reduce the
nation's divorce rate.  The effort represents 240,000 churches.  The core strategy,
which can reduce the divorce rate in an individual congregation to near zero, is simple.
In every congregation, there are couples in strong marriages who really could be of help to other
couples, but have never been asked, inspired or trained to come alongside
another couple and share their wisdom of how to make a marriage work.
 

A Christian Declaration on Marriage

November 14, 2000, Washington, DC

    As we celebrate the 2000th anniversary of the birth of the Lord Jesus
Christ, entering the third millennium, we pledge together to honor the Lord
by committing ourselves afresh to God's first institution, marriage.

    We believe that marriage is a holy union of one man and one woman in
which they commit, with God's help, to build a loving, life-giving, faithful
relationship that will last for a lifetime. God has established the married
state, in the order of creation and redemption, for spouses to grow in love
of one another and for the procreation, nurture, formation, and education of
children.

    We believe that in marriage many principles of the Kingdom of God are
manifested. The interdependence of healthy Christian community is clearly
exemplified in loving one another (John 13:34), forgiving one another
(Ephesians 4:32), confessing to one another (James 5:16), and submitting to
one another (Ephesians 5:21). These principles find unique fulfillment in
marriage. Marriage is God's gift, a living image of the union between Christ
and His Church.

    We believe that when a marriage is true to God's loving design it brings
spiritual, physical, emotional, economic, and social benefits not only to a
couple and family but also to the Church and to the wider culture. Couples,
churches, and the whole of society have a stake in the well being of
marriages. Each, therefore, has its own obligations to prepare, strengthen,
support and restore marriages.

    Our nation is threatened by a high divorce rate, a rise in cohabitation,
a rise in non-marital births, a decline in the marriage rate, and a
diminishing interest in and readiness for marrying, especially among young
people. The documented adverse impact of these trends on children, adults,
and society is alarming. Therefore, as church leaders, we recognize an
unprecedented need and responsibility to help couples begin, build, and
sustain better marriages, and to restore those threatened by divorce.

    Motivated by our common desire that God's Kingdom be manifested on earth
as it is in heaven, we pledge to deepen our commitment to marriage. With
three quarters of marriages performed by clergy, churches are uniquely
positioned not only to call America to a stronger commitment to this holy
union but to provide practical ministries and influence for reversing the
course of our culture. It is evident in cities across the nation that where
churches join in common commitment to restore a priority on marriage,
divorces are reduced and communities are positively influenced.

________________________________________________________________________

    Therefore, we call on churches throughout America to do their part to
strengthen marriage in our nation by providing:

         - Prayer and spiritual support for stronger marriages
         - Encouragement for people to marry
         - Education for young people about the meaning and responsibility of
            marriage
         - Preparation for those engaged to be married
         - Pastoral care, including qualified mentor couples, for couples at all
            stages of their relationship
         - Help for couples experiencing marital difficulty and disruption
         - Influence within society and the culture to uphold the institution of
            marriage

    Further, we urge churches in every community to join in developing
policies and programs with concrete goals to reduce the divorce rate and
increase the marriage rate.

    By our commitment to marriage as instituted by God, the nature of His
Kingdom will be more clearly revealed in our homes, our churches, and our
culture.  To that end we pray and labor with the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

    May the grace of God, the presence of Christ, and the empowerment of the
Holy Spirit be abundant in all those who so commit and be a blessing to all
whose marriages we seek to strengthen.
 

Bishop Anthony O'Connell, Chairman,
National Conference of Catholic Bishops,
Commission, Committee on Marriage and Family Life

Dr. Richard Land, President, Ethics
and Religious Liberty
Southern Baptist Convention

Dr. Robert Edgar, General Secretary
National Council of Churches of Christ

Bishop Kevin Mannoia, President
National Association of Evangelicals
In the USA