Vol. 4, No. 9
~ Page 10 ~
For less than $30 you can now purchase a "Do-It-Yourself Divorce Kit" that claims to be legal in all fifty states (see "Divorce Kit"). Our society has so effectively streamlined the divorce process that "drive-thru" divorces are advertised in states such as Nevada. By simply driving up to a window, individuals can get the papers filed and pay the necessary fees that begin the divorce process. In just a few weeks an official decree will be mailed to the couple -- effectively ending that marriage in the sight of the government. For those who cannot wait those few weeks, one Internet site is now offering its services, making it possible to fly down to Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic -- where they have the "fastest divorces in the Western Hemisphere." This legal service invites unhappy individuals to "fly down to Santo Domingo one day, fly home divorced the next!" (see "Nevada Divorce")
The 2002 Census Report documented that the median duration of marriages ending in divorce is just under 8 years (Kreider and Fields, 2002, p.19). In their projections of marital events, they stated that nearly everyone marries, and nearly half of these first marriages will end in divorce. They then added that most of these will then remarry after divorcing from a first marriage. Marriage has become a disposable product in our society -- something that, once the user tires of, he or she simply tosses it aside in hopes of then obtaining a new one. Almost one-half of adults in America are unmarried and, for the first time, single-person households outnumber married families with children. Conventional marriages are now viewed as obsolete and are quickly becoming endangered.
In an effort to keep marriage numbers up, Wendy McElroy recently suggested that we privatize marriage. She stated: "Let people make their own marriage contracts according to their conscience, religion and common sense. Those contracts could be registered with the state, recognized as legal and arbitrated by the courts, but the terms would be determined by those involved" (2002). McElroy goes on to comment that "imposing a 'one-size-fits' model of marriage is a folly." She then points out the confusion that same sex marriages bring into the picture as proof that we need more options. As such, she summed it up this way: "A legal marriage is whatever contract for a committed relationship is agreed to by those involved."
We have reached the point where humans not only want to redefine marriage, but they also want to tailor-make it to fit their own wishes and circumstances. We have forgotten that marriage is a covenant that was first formed by Almighty God, and as such, we have no right to change the terms. On the sixth day of creation, after Adam was finished naming the animals, God put him to sleep and performed history's first human surgery. He fashioned the female of the species from a portion of the male's body. God then presented the woman to the man -- no doubt in what we would refer to as the first marriage ceremony! Observe Adam's response: "And Adam said, 'This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of man'" (Genesis 2:23). It would be roughly 4,000 years later that Jesus would have to remind the Pharisees that God intended this union between man and woman to be for life.
In addressing the Pharisees' question regarding divorce in Matthew 19, Jesus pointed out that they had altered God's original plan. From the beginning God intended there be "no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder" (Matthew 19:6). Christ then goes on to outline the only exception for divorce and remarriage -- fornication. The Pharisees did not bother him further with hypothetical "what if" situations, or plague him with their opinions regarding the waiting game and the innocent party. These men understood (as does a twelve year old child today who reads that passage) that God intended marriage to be for life -- period. The only exception that broke this covenant in the eyes of God was when adultery was committed in that marriage -- period. However, these are hard sayings, and so now we have preachers and elderships all across the country trying to water down or make exceptions to this clear passage in God's Word. Compromises are being made as individuals look diligently for acceptance, all the while disregarding the "God-breathed" Word of God.
The popularity of divorce should be a wake up call for all Christians. And rather than trying to figure out ways to twist God's Word into accepting "what if's" or "certain circumstances," we need to focus on the words of Christ. We need to recall what God intended marriage to be from the beginning and start teaching on it. Preachers need to mount the pulpit and proclaim God's original plan for husband and wife. Elders need to ensure that their flock not only realizes what God's Word teaches on this, but they also need to let individuals know they will not openly accept Christians who are in marriages that God does not recognize. Additionally, we must realize that the same TV stars and Hollywood actors that our children often try to emulate and dress like are also teaching them very worldly practices regarding marriage.
If we are going to stem divorce in the church, we must start teaching our young people sooner! It makes absolutely no sense for the church to be filled with 4 and 5 year-olds living in broken homes or to have friends with step-parents, and yet we do not start teaching about marriage and divorce until high school. We can act like it does not exist, in an effort to protect those in elementary school -- but this does not make the reality go away. Most congregations of the Lord's church believe that the topic of marriage and divorce should be addressed just prior to our children leaving the home (as well it should), however, that is not good enough. This is one of the most important decisions our young people will ever make, and yet we do not even start emphasizing the importance of a life-long commitment until they are almost already married. Many teens are already actively dating by the time Bible classes begin to cover this topic. As such, hormones and youthful lusts often cloud the eternal importance of this issue. Many of our young people are rushing headlong into marriage simply so they can fulfill physical pleasures, only to wake up several years later realizing the problem. How many of our Christian young people run off and get married, and then four or five years later they find themselves single -- desperately wanting a Christian mate, but not scripturally able to remarry. Consider how many tears could be prevented if we were to properly educate our young people on this lifelong decision.
We can either start teaching the Truth regarding God's original plan for marriage, or we can watch as our children line up in divorce drive-thru's. As parents and teachers, we can start spending time and money showing our children the benefits of healthy Christian marriages, or we can set aside the $30 and allow them to "Do-It-Themselves" when they find themselves negotiating a divorce. The answer is not to bend the Scriptures to fit a certain situation, or find a congregation that will welcome anyone with open arms -- the answer is to educate our young people about the authority of God's Word. If we are ever going to turn the tide, we are going to have to start sooner!
Divorce Kit (no date), [Online], URL: http://www.netshopsusa.com/shop/divorce.kit.html.
Kreider, Rose M. and Jason M. Fields (2002), "Number, Timing, and Duration of Marriages and Divorces: 1996," U.S. Census Bureau [Online], URL: http://www.census.gov/prod/2002pubs/p70-80.pdf.
McElroy, Wendy (2002), "It's Time to Privatize Marriage," Fox News [Online] .
Nevada Divorce (no date), [Online], .
(Brad Harrub earned his Ph.D. degree in anatomy and neurobiology from the College of Medicine at the University of Tennessee in Memphis. He is a member of the Society for Neuroscience, and was listed in the 2001-2002 edition of Who's Who Among Scientists and Researchers. Dr. Harrub is the author or co-author of numerous scientific articles published in refereed science journals, and the book Diamonds in the Rough: Nuggets of Truth from God's Word. He is popular speaker on Christian evidences at lectureships, youth rallies, etc. Currently, he serves as the Director of Scientific Information at Apologetics Press and as associate editor of Reason & Revelation, a monthly journal on Christian evidences. He and his wife Melinda attend the Eastern Meadows Church of Christ in Montgomery, Alabama. They have two sons, Will and Reese.)