Alliance Defense Fund’s strong opposition to divorce

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.

Here’s the article.

Excerpt:

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.

Excerpt:

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.

17 thoughts on “Alliance Defense Fund’s strong opposition to divorce”

  1. My spouse decided to divorce me after almost 2 decades of marriage. The no-fault divorce language in my husband’s petition alleged that the marriage was irretrievably broken. My attorney “tolerated” but didn’t understand my insistence on responding in the Answer to the Petition by saying that I didn’t believe that the marriage was irretrievably broken, but knew that if my spouse said it was, the law would accept that claim despite my desire to work on improving the marriage.

    I was stunned when my husband left me, and left our almost teen-age daughter in a broken marriage. It was a major source of sorrow and loss in her life. It was a source of shock and pain for me, and it took me several years to recover (with the help of my faith community and professional therapists).

    As I look back, it turns out to have been a blessing for me….forcing me into growth as an adult and ultimately allowing me grow spiritually and yes, personally. God’s providence is funny that way.

    My daughter approaches 40, and I still can’t be sure I know the ultimate effect upon her. She and her husband are deeply committed to working out any problems they may have in order to protect their children from the divorce trauma.

    In my work I have encountered people who have been devastated by the decision of a spouse/parent to leave emotionally and financially.

    Bottom Line: I think the law makes divorce too easy and fails to name infidelity as an offense against the marriage that can be taken into account by judges in awarding assets and/or spousal support (alimony).

    I also think that faith communities have not done enough to require extensive pre-marital counseling and commitments from those seeking to be married. Ditto church support & counseling for couples at different stages in their marriages and parenting.

    Just because the State grants a license doesn’t mean the churches should perform the ceremonies as if they were faith-filled commitments.

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  2. Divorce without adultery? They rationalize it by saying that their spouse’s failings are the moral equivalent of adultery.

    I’d like to know your opinion on this scenario, actually true of a secular couple I know:

    Middle class young man moved in with lower class girl, claimed it was to protect her from a physically abusive stepfather. He got her pregnant and married her. She smoked through all her pregnancies, he is a non-smoker.
    She was a housewife, he works 10+ hours a day. She did not neaten the home (the place was downright dirty), did not prepare food, did not try to look good when he got home from work. He came home and prepared dinner himself every night.
    When the kids were babies, he woke at night to feed them, she did not. She neglects the children to such a degree that the tot is underfed and the pre-teen badly overweight. (The older kid go and make a sandwich whenever she is hungry, the little one does not.)
    When he gave her money to pay accounts, she spent it on other things (not her husband and kids) so that he found himself deeply in debt. He should be a rather well-off man (a colleague with the same salary owns a house with a swimming pool, a good car, and has a child who takes and excels in several extramural activities), but he is carless.
    She moved back to her parents. (That same stepparent that she, prior to the marriage, clamed abused her so much that she rather wants to move in with the man,)
    Weeks after she moved out, another woman moved in with him, and he filed for divorce just after that.

    People who say that adultery is the only reason for divorce, will probably say the failure of the marriage is all his fault. But do cheating him out of his money, and spending his money that she should spend on the household on other people, not count as morally equivalent to cheating on a spouse? Is moving out of his house not some step in the direction of unfaithfulness? This is not asked because I want to make divorce easy. It is said because sexual faithfulness can’t be the only requirement in marriage.

    Divorce is child abuse. Period.

    Amen. But right now, I am not blaming this guy for divorcing. I am blaming him for something else, though.

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    1. I am blaming the guy for marrying her in the first place. Men are responsible for leading the courtship. I pre-courted a woman once who ended up not being ready for marriage. She pretty much did ever bad thing listed in “The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands”. I could tell you guys some funny horror stories. The point is that once the self-centeredness and focus on happiness was detected, it was over. And we never so much as held hands.

      The main thing I learned from that is that some women are offering nothing more in a relationship other than sex. If you don’t want sex from them, then it becomes very obvious very quickly that they have no intention of serving or helping you in any way. You just have to make the relationship about real stuff and not fun, and then it emerges pretty quickly that they are self-centered.

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    2. I actually disagree with Wintery on his chief criticism. This man got the woman pregnant, so it was his moral duty to his child to marry her once he’d done that. He shouldn’t have slept with her in the first place.

      The whole thing is a mess – on both sides. She’s selfish, wasteful, and neglectful. He shouldn’t have let her move in with him, he shouldn’t have slept with her outside marriage, and he shouldn’t have had an affair.

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      1. Sorry, we don’t disagree. You are right. What I meant to say was the man is to blame for HAVING SEX WITH HER before marriage. That’s what I should have said. They way you said it is much better.

        I am just saying that you can’t blame a woman for being bad when bad is all she was selected for. It’s HIS RESPONSIBILITY to vet her to see if she can do the the things a wife and mother is supposed to do. There are a billion average-looking women out there who are qualified to be wives and mothers. Why didn’t he choose one of them? It’s his fault. It’s not her fault. She was just being who she really was. He chose her.

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        1. Ah, then we do agree on what he did wrong.

          And yes, he should have chosen better. But I still think both are responsible for making a mess of it.

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          1. I blame the man completely. This is exactly the reverse of the Mark Driscoll case where I blamed the woman for choosing the bad man and then complaining and blaming the bad man for acting bad – which is what bad men do!

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          2. Yes. I blame the man for choosing a bad woman and the woman for being bad.

            C’mon Wintery!! Bad people are bad because they do bad things. Next are you going to say that we can’t blame a rapist for raping because that’s what rapists do? That sounds like pathetic logic to me!

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          3. You misunderstand me. I am not excusing the bad things, I am saying that you can’t change people to be good after you DELIBERATELY SELECTED THEM when they were bad. A lot of people choose a mate who will have recreational sex before marriage, then expect fidelity after. It makes no sense. If life is about fun, then marriage is about fun. And if marriage becomes no fun, then a person who thinks it’s about fun will get out. Everyone has to test the other person to see if think life is about selfishness and personal satisfaction.

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          4. read this from a theological point of view and this sounds pretty heretical:
            “I am not excusing the bad things, I am saying that you can’t change people to be good after you DELIBERATELY SELECTED THEM when they were bad.”
            Wait a min, didn’t God chose us when we were bad? ;)
            Just doing ma lobster thang, you know :)

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          5. Michael: As a mere human being, I would not presume to have the irresistible redemptive drawing power of the Holy Spirit. Ah, it makes so much sense to be a Calvinist. ;-)

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          6. Haha, oh I know.

            By the way WK, here at oxford one of my christian friends who also does PPE is a libertarian (economically and socially), and i was wondering if you could give me any advise on persuading him towards social conservatism. He admits he finds it difficult being a libertarian, i) because of living in Britain and ii) because of Christianity being associated with social conservatism.
            Here is what he said:

            “So I agree with you on abortion…, and obviously freedom of religion and speech flow straight from libertarianism. With marriage, I simply say that the state should not be involved in saying who is and is not married. That would be God’s job. “Legal” marriage isn’t Christian marriage at all; it’s a contract about sharing property rights. It really has nothing to do with Christian marriage. Hence, when Christians get upset about gay marriage being allowed, I think their annoyance is misplaced. There’s still no change in who is *actually* married. There’s just a change in who is allowed to engage in certain kinds of property rights contracts. And frankly we shouldn’t exclude anyone from making voluntary contracts.”

            On-the-other-hand, I have another christian course mate but who is a one-world socialist!! I think i mentioned him to you before, he is very left-wing, and socially liberal (except for abortion), he even believes in banning private schools!!!
            How would you approach talking to him?

            Thanks for all your help in this!!

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