Since 2004, China’s divorce rate has risen for ten consecutive years. In 2013 more than 3.5 million couples applied for divorce. We recognize that this is not only a social problem; it is also a spiritual problem--a spiritual battle within the church for the families of believers. Many pastors do not think that messages on family issues are spiritual enough for their sermons. We pray for more Biblical and practical teaching on marriage in churches.
There have been various reasons given for an increase in divorce in China--money, property ownership, relationships. Some couples may also arrange divorces to avoid paying taxes, arrange household registration (hukou). or accomplish other ends. Pastors in China really do not have the time and training to provide marital counselling. Since divorce is no longer a stigma, many believers simply go ahead without informing their pastor. We pray churches will have better ways and means to minister to those who have marital difficulties.
Some Chinese initiate a fake divorce in order to purchase a second home. That is because some cities in China prohibit one couple from owning more than one home. One way around this is for the couple to obtain a legal divorce, but to continue to live together. Cohabitation and premarital sex are no longer uncommon in churches in China. To speak against it is not popular and usually means that people are driven away from the church. We pray for wisdom, boldness, and sensitivity for all pastors in China who find it awkward to teach Biblical truth.
Chastity is no longer the only standard of virtue by which a Chinese woman is measured. Women can be very financially independent and in fact, many have opted to stay single or simply living together without marriage. Many churches have a large number of divorced sisters. Although they are generally accepted, it is not easy for them to be involved in the fellowship. We pray for more efforts intentionally ministering to those who are divorced to help them grow spiritually.
“We marry for a good life and divorce for a better life” is the mantra for many Chinese couples now. They stress quality of life and marriage, rather than holding onto the traditional "stay-married no matter what" attitude. We pray for believers in China who are struggling with their marriages. May the Lord provide them with competent spiritual mentors who can guide them well. We pray, too, for healing for believers whose grown children are considering divorce.
The internet has a huge impact on the attitude toward marriage and divorce in China. Liberal sexual attitudes and all kinds of online dating tools have paved the way for widespread premarital cohabitation and affairs in the marriage. We must be cognizant of Satan's schemes to destroy the marriages of believers. We pray for more teaching and resources on marriage and the family for both urban and rural churches.
Some reasons contributing to an increase of divorces in China are: marital strains of migrant workers, the capricious and unyielding approach of the one-child-only generation towards marital struggles, people waiting longer to get married, and greater convenience and rights protection in divorce cases. The marriages of even young Christian couples are at risk. We pray for wisdom, godly advice, and the healing power of God for many mature couples in the churches who serve as mentors and mediators for young couples in their churches.