The problems behind divorce

Knowing that not all that many people read my blog allows me a great amount of freedom in writing on it. I like that, and shudder at the thought that I could one day influence someone through this blog. What would the world come to?

Anyway, I want to discuss something that is horrible in America...that is our divorce rate. First of all, the bad news: Between 45 and 50% of all first marraiges end in divorce, according to the website Divorce Statistics. That is disgusting. It makes me ill.

However, the church's current stance on divorce is unacceptable. Why? Because it fails to accept the reasons behind divorce. I grant you happily and willingly that many divorces end for ungodly reasons. After all, Christ only gave one reason to end a marraige, that being infidelity. Unfortunately, divorce in America is not always caused by "no fault" reasons.

For example, did you know that approximately 32 million Americans are abused each year? Would you like a wife to stay with her abusive husband? And keep her kids in that marriage as well? I hope your answer is no.

Here is the problem. In our black and white world, the church will gloss over things that don't work right in the equation. Since divorce doesn't compute in the conservative evangelical's mind, then he or she must gloss over things like abuse.

Instead, we should be leading the world in holding abusive men accountable...and I mean old school accountable. In the Navy it was once called Deck Plate Counseling, although that's not allowed anymore so I can't say it. Ok, so that's too far probably, but I guarantee that our churches should be safe havens for women and children who have been abused. We should flock to them, hold them, comfort them, counsel them, and confront the abusive party. Instead of doing what we have done for too long: "Many churches encouraged women to stay in unhappy marriages, even those that were abusive." 

Rev. Dick Klaver, senior pastor of Ferry Memorial Reformed Church in Montague (MI), said, "I'd hear people expounding how religion validates male violence. The church has covered up (domestic) violence by encouraging women to try harder ... to behave better ... and then you won't be beaten. That is a travesty."

It is a travesty. Stop worrying about divorce until you are willing to deal with abuse. And once you've worked on that, start next on adultery. Then start working on other reasons for divorce. Divorce is always the byproduct of something else. Whether it is money, lack of committment, infidelity, abuse, poor communication, etc. Some of those reasons are petty. The offending party should get over his/her love of money (greed) or lack of committment or learn how to communicate better. However, the church should deal harshly with those who are abusive...those who are unable or unwilling to love thier wives as Christ loved the church.


Unknown said...

In Catholic, there is no divorce, but there is annulment. The grounds for annulment are:
* Most annulments are based on canon 1095, psychological reasons. These include a wide range of factors. Some of them may be misrepresentation or fraud (concealing the truth about capacity or desire to have children for example, or about an preexisting marriage, drug addiction, felony convictions, sexual preference or having reached the age of consent)
* Refusal or inability to consummate the marriage (inability or refusal to have sex)
* Bigamy, incest (being married to someone else, or close relatives)
* Duress (being forced or coerced into marriage against one's will or serious external pressure, for example a pregnancy)
* Mental incapacity (considered unable to understand the nature and expectations of marriage)
* Lack of knowledge or understanding of the full implications of marriage as a life-long commitment in faithfulness and love, with priority to spouse and children.
* Psychological inability to live the marriage commitment as described above.
* Illegal "Form of Marriage" (ceremony was not performed according to Catholic canon law)
* One/both partners was under the influence of drugs, or addicted to a chemical substance.

Taken from:


Don the Baptist said...

Divorce is the unpaid bills of an unhealthy relationship. Evangelical Christians need to recognize all the failings involved, not just the end product. Good post.

Jin-roh said...

In my opinion, if there is a violently abusive relationship then the marriage is already gone. I would see no harm in annulling it "on paper" at that point.

I am not exactly sure, how we should deal with violent individuals in general. It seems that kind of things needs to be dealt with itself. Before we can talk about marriage. How do we prevent people from being violent, and how do we turn them from it is a question in itself.

There are many reasons for divorce, and you are right to mention money. That actually is reason #1. However, I don't think it is "one person is greedy, the other isn't" kind of scenario.

The Navy Christian said...

Thank you all for your replies. Divorce is an ugly issue, and the reasons behind divorce are even uglier in most respects.

David, I have my theological differences with annulments, namely that they (I believe) were created by the church, not Christ or Biblical history, but your thoughts are appreciated. The fact is that I didn't know most of what you shared. Thank you!

Don, thank you for the encouragement and wow...what a great statement at the beginning of your comments!

Jin Roh, to be honest, I don't know how to deal with violent people either. I'm big enough that thankfully I don't get challenged frequently because I'm definitely no fighter. And the fact is that many violent people have been abused themselves, thus the cycle of abuse continuing at their hands. So it would be difficult then to condone violence to attempt to end violence (a reason I don't agree with the death penalty). Still, it has to end. There is just no reason for abuse.

Unknown said...

I have ever read a book about this topic. Basically it said that churches make a wrong interpretation about divorce. In Israel, last time, wife was considered as one of their possession, as could also be seen in the 10 commandments as well:

Exo 20:17 Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's wife, ....

As such, if a man does not like his wife anymore, for whatever reason, he could divorce his wife easily.

Jesus does not agree with that. He said that we need a very very serious reason in order to divorce a wife. Not just because our wives do not cook delicious food for example. Jesus quote an example of infidelity as one of the serious reason.

Catholic has expanded the example to include a few circumstances that warrant divorce/annulment.

Off course the high rate of divorce in US, as you quoted, could be an indication that marriage is taken lightly nowadays, which Jesus does not approve. But it does not mean divorce is forbidden for whatever reason. There reasons for divorce that are "legitimate". And Catholic annulment is one of a good guideline to start with.

Eric said...

Good post -- abuse must be dealt with and it's criminal to hide it. Although much rarer, there are cases of women abusing men, especially when we include emotional abuse.

I also love Don's "unpaid bills" comment. We've focused on the evils of divorce for so long that we have lost sight of the many other (and sometimes worse) evils of bad marriages.

The Navy Christian said...

Eric, you hit it on the head there...overlooking bad marriages is only done to our detriment in Christianity. We should honestly be the most pristine marriages around. Not because we fake it, but because it's real. I know I have faults too, so maybe that's just a dream, but we have work to do no matter how one looks at it.