This fall, Biola University launched the Center for Marriage and Relationships, a new endeavor that seeks to address one of the most pertinent issues in society: the decline of biblical understanding supporting today’s marriages and relationships.
“We are witnesses to a growing cultural angst concerning the institution of marriage,” said Chris Grace, the center’s founding director. “Underlying these stresses are widely held — and mistaken — notions that the majority of marriages will fail.”
The Center for Marriage and Relationships will conduct research that applies scholarly analysis and biblical teaching to the critical questions facing society, Grace said. Each year, the center will collaborate with faculty and staff from Biola and other institutions, presenting their research at regional and national conferences and seminars. In addition, the center will partner with Biola’s Talbot School of Theology and Rosemead School of Psychology to bolster the center’s integrative Christian thinking.
In addition to offering relationship retreats, conferences and topical seminars, the center will present annual training opportunities for anyone interested in marriage mentoring and premarital education and counseling. It will also invite local pastors to an annual luncheon focused on issues they are facing in their churches.
On its website — cmr.biola.edu — the center will provide media resources, such as interviews, blog posts and videos, focusing on providing practical and relevant tools for anyone seeking to explore the complexities of not only marriage, but of relationships at any level.
Grace, a longtime Biola psychology professor and former vice president for student development and university planning, brings an extensive background of scholarship and relationship expertise to his position as director. He and his wife of more than 25 years, Alisa, regularly speak around the country about marriage, dating and love through their Marriage by Grace ministry.
“I am excited about the future of marriage and relationships,” said Grace. “There is increasing pressure from a rapidly changing culture. More people are delaying getting married, if they get married at all, because of the emotional and financial costs of broken relationships. But for those seeking practical help, there is hope.”
According to a recent Pew Research survey, marriage rates in America continue to hit all-time lows. A record one in five adults ages 25 and over has never been married, and about half of all never-married adults (53 percent) said they would like to marry eventually, down from 61 percent in 2010 — though the number remains higher among younger adults.
“Ninety-one percent of 18- to 34-year olds still plan to marry or are open to marriage, in spite of the trends,” said Grace, in response to the Pew Research survey. “The key, then, is to help shape this generation on how to best ensure having a healthy, happy marriage that lasts.”