Gospel of St Matthew

Matthew 19:3-6 “And Pharisees came up to him and tested him by asking, “Is it lawful to divorce one's wife for any cause?” He answered, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” [ESV]

Back on the 27th November the Australian Bureau of Statistics issued its 2019 report on marriage and divorce which escaped the notice of many. The ABS state in their report that “There were 113,815 registered marriages in Australia in 2019, a decrease of 5,373 (4.5%) compared to 2018 (119,188).” Included in this figure were 5,507 SSM, that is 4.8% of all marriages, in 2019. It should be noted that the 2018 was the first full year where SSMs were legal - the changes to The Marriage Act 1961 came into effect on the 9 December 2017

The table below contains data extracted from the “ABS Data Cubes” and includes extrapolated data so that a clearer position could be seen for marriages that what we believe to be God’s design. The number of marriages continues to decline. In 2017 total marriages were 112,954 (likely to include a few SSM occurring between 9 December and the year-end but apparently not separated by the ABS) to 108,308 for 2019.

In 2017 the number of all marriages performed by a Christian Minister of religion was 22,021 falling to 19,585 in 2019 unfortunately from the ABS data it was not possible to separate out the data for God’s design of marriage to this level, although it can be seen that at ‘Minister of Religion’ level only 152 SSM’s occurred.

Divorce levels have returned to near 2017 levels but in round figures there are some 42,000 children (approaching one third of the population of Darwin) affected by divorce and who are likely to carry a fractured picture of marriage amongst the trauma they may have had and the resultant ‘scarring’ of emotions etc.

General William Booth gave this challenge to his son Bramwell in 1888, ‘Now that you know – go and do something!’ – we in the church are in the position to do something to increase the weddings occurring through the Christian Church and also to equip couples for marriage, parenting and life to reduce the divorce levels and thus the harm they cause on future generations.

Overview Marriage and Divorce 2017 2018 2019
% on prev year % on prev year % on prev year
Total Marriages inc SSM no. 112,954 -4.7 119,188 5.5 113,815 -4.5
SSM's * no. 6,538 N/A 5,507 -15.8
Crude rate 4.6 4.8 5.5
Gods Design - Man & Woman
112,954 -4.7 112,650 5.5 108,308
Marriage celebrant all marriages
Ministers of religion
Number no. 24,886 24,178 22,296
Proportion % 22.0 20.3 19.6
Civil Celebrants
Number no. 88,061 95,003 91,446
Proportion % 78 79.7 80.3
All marriages ~ Christian Minister 22,021 21,143 19,585
Gods Design - Man & Woman
Ministers of religion
Number no. 24,886 24,099 22,144
Proportion % 22.0 21.4 20.5
Civil Celebrants
Number no. 88,061 88,540 86,099
Proportion % 78.0 78.6 79.5
Marriage Celebrants SSM
Minister of Religion no. 79 152
Civil Celebrants no. 6,463 5,347
Total Divorces no. 49,032 5 49,404 0.8 49,116 0.6
SSM no. N/A 72 104 44.4
Man & Woman no. 49,032 5 49,332 0.6 49,012 -0.6
% of Total Involving Children % 47.1 47.3 47.0
No. of Children no. 42146 42,523 41,923
* from 9th December 2017 SSM could occur.

There may appear to be discrepancies in some of the figures but these are explained separately by the ABS in their ‘Methodology’ appendix.