I love following pop culture, technology advances, and fashion trends. When one monitors these things, one comes across many juicy tidbits on relationships’ of the famous. And as a Christian who is an advocate for lifetime marriage, I notice when marriages fall apart even among our cultural VIPs.
There are a few couples in Hollywood I have my eye on right now. Unbeknownst to them, I’m the quiet cheerleader behind the laptop screen or the fashion magazine who is cheering when I see they are still together. It’s true, I pray for Jennifer Garner and Ben Affleck; I’m in exhilarating awe at the marriage longevity for Faith Hill and Tim McGraw; I’m thankful that Jada Pinket Smith and Will Smith still make their marriage work--15 years and counting. My heart sings when I learn of a limelight marriage that has lasted for over 20 years. In celebration of Tom Hanks’ 25 year marriage milestone Parade Magazine took a look at 15 of the longest lasting marriages. I don’t expect Hollywood’s elites to have perfect marriages, but I celebrate when they stick it out.
I realize personal life behind the public glamour is different all together; but I hope for their success. Angst creeps in when I consider the reality that – given the trend of marriages among the rich and famous – it is highly possibly their union may come to screeching halt.
It’s true, I’m the one who grieves when a Hollywood couple’s marriage breaks down. But even among us every day citizens, I am praying for the couples in crisis, going to counseling in hopes of restoring their marriage. I am the one who wants to do a jig when I can celebrate a couple’s marriage of 50 years or more. Yes, that’s me.
It’s both amusing and disturbing how much Hollywood influences us. Our natural inclination as a human being is to pursue influence and popularity and so we often end up elevating, envying, and mimicking the “rich and famous.” For many, the American dream is one of wealth, beauty and popularity and we begin to follow the examples of our stars, without weighing the consequence. We watch the screen and slowly, unconsciously, adopt the ideas, wardrobe styles, and famous one-liners as our own. As movies or TV shows no longer portray sexual purity or defend the sanctity of one man one woman marriage, one can begin to see the impact on our society. A special report done by the Parents Television Council in 2008 notes:
“…Sexual content on television is predominantly extra-marital; the institution of marriage is regularly mocked, undermined, and denigrated; adulterous relationships are treated sympathetically; and criminal sexual behavior such as sex with minors or prostitutes fuel story lines on many popular series.
“According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, children in the United States watch nearly
4 hours of television a day. By the time a child reaches age 8 he or she will have seen 58,400 scenes of sexual content.
“Given the prevalence of sexual messages that undermine marriage and celebrate promiscuity and high-risk behavior, this statistic should alarm all parents and grandparents of young children.[page 16 http://w2.parentstv.org/main/MediaFiles/PDF/Studies/Marriagestudy-PDF-4.pdf]
Up until a few years ago, it was normal to assume that couples who had been married over 20 years had beat the odds of divorce and would most assuredly stay together ‘til death parted them. But slowly I’m observing a new trend: marriages lasting over 30 years saying “See ya later.” And it looks like I’m not the only one to notice the trend.
This seems to be an important lesson to teach children (and ourselves) today: what we see in Hollywood does not define reality, or necessarily reflect God’s ideal for romance and sexuality. Where Hollywood fumbles, we must aim for a higher standard.
I may not be married, but I find ways that I can silently celebrate and support the institution of marriage. I applaud those singles who are being intentional with their dating-relationships as they move forward with marriage in sight. I pray for those whose marriage is hanging together by a thread. I advocate for marriage within the realm of public policy and train candidates and grassroots leaders to acknowledge that marriage is worth defending. Even if I’m a cheer team of one, I celebrate marriage at any stage. Cheering for this cause can feel unusual and lonely and may make me look like a fool. But bring it on: marriage is worthy of cheering.
I wonder what would happen to Hollywood if they knew that people were praying for their marriages. What if we could encourage and affirm them in this endeavor? Perhaps we would see their children, communities, and even their professional careers thrive. And if our Hollywood heroes are in thriving marriages, perhaps we--on the watching side of the screen--might be inspired and blessed.
I wish I knew the Hollywood elites, not (merely) to shake their hand or to get a picture for my desk. But I would love to applaud them for taking the step, committing to one another and actually getting married. I’d also like to thank them for staying married. Yet, while I may not rub shoulders with Hollywood’s elites, I have friends and family members who deserve the same accolades.
We know that divorce damages the couple divorcing, their kids, the community, and even those simply observing. Imagine how we would all benefit, if we celebrated when couples stay together. So here’s prayers and cheers for those--in the limelight or out of it--sweating to make it work. Hang in there. I’m praying for your marriages and I know that with God’s help, the best is yet to come.
Consider checking out the Hollywood Prayer Network: join others in praying for the lives, including marriages, of those involved in the Hollywood scene.Media: