The Evils of Divorce

One of the “out of the closet” evils of our society is divorce. Decades ago divorce carried a shameful stigma, but cultural values changed and were reflected in “no fault” divorce and other legislation that normalized the practice. Now the attitude is: If the marriage doesn’t work out just get a divorce and try again. No big deal. Or is it? Is divorce merely a personal preference or a harmless second chance? Or, according to the “law of unintended consequences,” has divorce done unspeakable damage to individuals who experience it and thus to society in general?

Divorce is often publicly spoken of as a utopic solution, a right that wouldn’t be opposed by any right-thinking person. Divorce should be quick, easy and affordable. To justify it we are told such things as: It is psychologically damaging to stay in a loveless marriage; everyone deserves to be happy; the children will be fine. But we are not told the other side of the story because it doesn’t support the narrative.

First, here’s what Jesus says about consequences/limitations of divorce:

“Whoever divorces his wife for any reason except sexual immorality cause her to commit adultery; and whoever marries a woman who is divorced commits adultery” (Mt 5:31-32).

“‘He who made them at the beginning “made them male and female, and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and shall be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’”? So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate … Whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced commits adultery’” (Mt 19:4-6, 9).

From a spiritual perspective, divorce for reasons other than adultery begins a chain reaction of adulterous remarriages. But God did not arbitrarily limit marriage to one spouse; He stipulated this because of the great harm that is done by tearing apart marriages and the family structures that are built on them. That damage, in turn, undermines society by producing poverty (especially among divorced women); absentee fathers; child abuse among revolving-door boyfriends; children who feel rejected, disoriented; disrespect toward marriage as a failed institution; acts of violence by those feel deprived of their parental rights; court battles over and the complexity of shared custody … the list goes on. While divorce corrupts societal well-being, political agendas that strengthen marriage are unpopular.

To Christians in the market for marriage …

Choose wisely. If we are honest, we ought to be able to reasonably determine whether our love interest has a legitimate spiritual core. True, people can fool us or change over time, but in the vast majority of cases “you will know them by their fruits.” People often marry inadvisably when the unfitness of their prospective mate is clearly visible.

Stay married. When society destigmatizes divorce and glorifies second-chance marriages, it is tempting to walk away from a relationship that is falling short. But there are hidden land mines that will blow up the happiness you think you will find elsewhere. We have a God-given duty to honor our marital covenant, and duty is sometimes a hard road to travel.