A while back Christian blogger Terry Breathing Grace was kind enough to write a post on Does Your Church Measure Divorce. Overall the reception was positive but I would also say somewhat cool. I guess the mix probably looked like one would expect of a group of westerners, whether Christian or Atheist. Some expressed horror at the devastation divorce was inflicting on their neighborhoods and congregations. Others were concerned that social pressure against divorce might result in unhappy women. One thought I was prideful for thinking that pastors should do differently than they have for the last 50 years. Many were also in the middle. Something should be done, so long as no adults are made to feel worse than they already do.
Karen wrote a powerful comment which echoes the flyer sent home with our daughter:
over the past 10 years we have seen lots of kids come and go from our home, seems like we are somehow drawing children in who have family troubles. Whatever the reason for divorce even biblical The Children Suffer. I have seen kids from unhappy homes and they were seemingly coping with it, fall apart when it turns to divorce. I never want to hear that they are divorcing for the childrens sake. I also see that the children feel venom toward the parents even the one who had biblical rights to a divorce. I have seen this in these children and it is always the same I have not seen one situation that was made better for the children…and not so much improvement for the adults either. I have seen a full load of sexual abuse by “boyfriends ” of mom ,out and out neglect of children, lies being told, children being used as pawns , children who never seem to bond with anyone I am just so sick and yet I don’t know that the church takes this seriously and the people who attend church seem to have the worldly view that if mom is happy the kids will be too. At least someone is trying , don’t know if it is the right way to do it ,I don’t know what to do, I just know people even in the church are swallowing a pack of lies.
Terry herself made an excellent point:
I think “I’m not happy!” is a terrible reason to divorce and the biggest thing the church can do to help avoid this particular pitfall is stop teaching the world’s view of love and marriage to the congregations.
Can marriage be romantic? Absolutely! Is it always? No, and we shouldn’t expect it to be so.
Teaching a biblical foundation of what marriage really is will stem the tide of “frivolous” commitments and the “frivolous divorces” that result.
This reminded me of another excellent comment Haley made on her blog entry on Eat Pray Love:
I think the biggest cause of divorce is the easy availability of divorce and the belief that lack of “happiness” is a legitimate reason to sever the marriage bond.
A number of the commenters felt that my suggestions were unbiblical. This is a fair point as I’m nowhere near a biblical scholar. I’m looking for practical solutions, and they certainly don’t have to be mine. The Muellers made the following comment:
As for the sign, well… that’s a bit much in my opinion. I’m not sure posting how many ‘frivilous’ divorces a church has is really a biblical way to handle divorce. If a member of a church is truly being divorced for totally unbiblical reasons, then the church leadership has the right and the responsibility to approach the couple and try to counsel and even, if need be, discipline them. I realize that very few churches actually take the responsibility of spiritual accountability and discipline seriously, but if we’re going to look at the biblical model there it is.
Bike Bubba reinforced the point in his concluding line on his blog post on the topic:
Sometimes, it really is as simple as…..the Gospel.
For the record I’d prefer to not make any women unhappy, nor make any adults feel worse about their divorce. I’m not looking to maximize the number of loveless marriages. I also don’t think my proposal is the only possible way to address the problem. But don’t the kids count? What about the fact that these folks swore before God and everyone they knew that they would stay together until death? Is Christian marriage no different than being boyfriend and girlfriend?
I’d be ecstatic to see any methods which have produced concrete results. Based on the flyer and Karen’s comment I would say so would millions of kids. I’m heartened by the knowledge that Christians already know how to solve this crisis. This makes me think this must simply be a problem of the media failing to get the message out of how churches across the nation have already fixed this. Please share your success story of dramatically reducing the rate of divorce in your congregation in the comments section of this post. I’ll devote a separate post to sharing these success stories, so please include the name of the church and the (low) congregation divorce rate you were able to achieve.