Christians have a commendable respect for family, marriage and the importance of children. In fact, they often want to claim the high road, that those who embrace God and Jesus are inherently better parents and have happier, healthier families. Organizations like "Focus on Family" even make claims like this:
"The panel first suggested that newlyweds should establish and maintain a Christ-centered home. Everything rests on that foundation. If a young husband and wife are deeply committed to Jesus Christ, they enjoy enormous advantages over a family with no spiritual dimension."Unfortunately, the facts don't bear this out. The most religious Christians are the most likely to get divorced! (For more information see Southern Baptist Convention's Resolution On The Scandal Of Southern Baptist Divorce, which lays it out in detail.)
Well, enough is enough. They've decided to Get Tough on Divorce.
On the surface this seems like a laudable mission. Divorce is a terrible time for a family. It's a time of broken dreams, a time when love turns to bitterness and often hate, and when children's idyllic vision of parental love and home stability is shattered.
But when you read Southern Baptist Theological Seminary president Rev. Albert Mohler's key essay, none of that seems to matter. His writings, and all the others I could find, are strangely devoid of any concern for the actual families. Instead, you find stuff like this:
- Mohler contends high divorce rates make it hard for evangelicals to claim moral high ground.
- Christian divorce is "an indictment of evangelical failure and a monumental scandal of the evangelical conscience."
- The high rate of evangelical Protestants divorces "creates a significant credibility crisis when evangelicals then rise to speak in defense of marriage."
- "An even greater tragedy is the collapse of church discipline within congregations ... divorce is considered only a private concern," that is, none of the church's business.
Mohler's essay has one paragraph that started to get my hopes up. Three sentences are devoted to the husband, wife and children. But then the last sentence blows all of that out of the water:
"But divorce harms many more lives than will be touched by homosexual marriage. Children are left without fathers, wives without husbands, and homes are forever broken. Fathers are separated from their children, and marriage is irreparably undermined as divorce becomes routine and accepted. Divorce is not the unpardonable sin, but it is sin, and it is a sin that is condemned in no uncertain terms."In other words, never mind what might be best for the family. The Bible says no divorce. End of story. Mohler's essay ends with this:
"Divorce is now the scandal of the evangelical conscience."Got that? If you get divorced, you're embarrassing Christianity.
I guess we know where the President of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary stands.
I've been through divorce and wouldn't wish it on anyone. At one of the lowest points in my life, I was talking with our family therapist about how awful divorce would be for my three wonderful children, and she told me this:
"There's no doubt about it, divorce is a complete disaster for children. There's no upside to it. Every study shows that divorce is one of the worst things that can ever happen to a child.In other words, keeping unhappy families together for the sake of the Church's reputation is the worst thing you could do.
"The only thing worse is not getting divorced."
If the Christians want to show real concern for their families, they should focus on realistic family therapy, using the excellent, proven techniques that family psychologists have developed over last few decades. They should look into why Christian families are getting more divorces than non-Christians. That would show true love.