This is timely, at a time where I am considering whether I would do more good supporting Christian/conservative groups on campus as an assistant professor or as a free speech lawyer defending campus groups from student governments.
No one is better at these kinds of issues than the ADF.
The longer I live, and the more time I spend in the Christian conservative movement, the more keenly I’m aware of the extent to which divorce is devastating the Body of Christ. It’s destroying children’s lives, destroying their parents, and destroying our cultural witness. I’m 41 years old, and by this point I’ve seen friends’ marriages end because of adultery, because they felt “trapped,” because the other spouse was cruel, because they allegedly “fell in love” with someone else, because of addictions, or because they simply “wanted to be happy.” Every single time — every time — one or both of the spouses made a series of deliberate decisions to place their own desires over those of their husband or wife, over the best interests of their children, and over the explicit admonitions of the God they allegedly serve.
I am increasingly of the opinion that the Christian community simply will not prevail in the cultural battle to preserve marriage — especially when the argument for marriage absolutely depends on the fact that marriage does not exist merely to fulfill adult desires and sustain adult happiness — if we treat our own marriage vows so shabbily. How can we tell any population of Americans — whether inclined to homosexual behavior or even polygamy — that marriage is the earthly model of Christ’s relationship to his church if we treat it as an instrument of our own happiness?
[…]Frequently I hear talk of “divorce recovery” or someone saying they’re “going through” a divorce. This passive language detaches individuals from the acts of will that cause the dissolution of their family. You “recover” from the flu. You decide to divorce. Divorcing couples are capable of almost-epic feats of rationalization. Divorce without adultery? They rationalize it by saying that their spouse’s failings are the moral equivalent of adultery. Fall in love with someone else? They rationalize it through facile arguments that God loves them and wants them to be happy. Children devastated? They rationalize their actions as ultimately for the best because (despite all social science to the contrary) divorce is better for kids than living in conflict. Couples float away on oceans of psychobabble — incapable of confronting the hard truth: They are making a deliberate choice to defy God.
A bit more from a follow-up post.
Marriage is particularly fragile not just because of very real cultural changes in the Body of Christ, but because of a key (and catastrophic) legal change — the institution of no-fault divorce.
[…]And so we’re faced with an enabling church and an enabling legal system — two escape hatches that are all too tempting in times of distress. The enabling church (including, sadly, many pastors and Christian peers) argue that various real or imagined spousal sins are the “equivalent” of adultery or the “equivalent” of abandonment. The enabling church tells you that “God’s best” or “God’s plan” is not the cross but a happy life, a joyful life. And the enabling legal system is all too ready to take your check, put you in the system and process your (sometimes) very fast, and (occasionally) very cheap divorce.
It then lists the well-known damage done to children, and continues:
How, you ask, can parents be so much happier when their children are so much worse off? Wouldn’t the emotional and sexual collapse of their own children cripple the parents’ emotional well being? Not if they long ago shifted their life priorities — away from the Biblical model of self-denial and to the world’s model of personal fulfillment.
Divorce is child abuse. Period. I’d like to see the church come out and preach sermons with the facts and statistics on what divorce does, and then provide people with practical advice and STRICT RULES about how to conduct courtships, marriages and parenting to the glory of God.
Marriage as an engineering problem
God is the customer of the marriage product, and he expects adults to love each other self-sacrificially, to honor moral obligations, and to raise the children to know him and serve him effectively.
There is no room in marriage for amusement and self-centeredness.
- No emotions
- No intuitions
- No “chemistry”
- No “fun”
We should be designing marriage as a solution to specific problems with the aim of serving God in our relationships.
If we can’t agree to do that, then we should all serve the Lord as singles. Marriage isn’t about YOU.