Friday, March 28, 2014

Marriage Is Under Attack

This week I was saddened to learn that  a couple I knew from my Bible college days is getting a divorce. I'm not that close to either of them,but they are people I've looked up to. So it caught me off guard when she posted on Facebook that he had filed for a divorce. She seemed pretty distraught. I felt a little distraught too.

Gweneth Paltrow and Chris Martin also announced their divorce this week. Not such a big shocker. Celebrity marriage, what did you expect? It is the way they announced it that surprised me. They did not call it a divorce, they used a much nicer sounding word - conscious uncoupling. And the talk show hosts and bloggers all thought it sounded really nice too. You see, they decided together that it was time to end their marriage. It had reached it's natural lifespan. Although they claim to still love each other and have kids together, they decided to go their separate ways amicably. It's better for the kids that way. No fighting. No emotion.

I think I am a little sadder about Gweneth and Chris than my friends from college. Their story is so cold and impersonal. If divorce is so easy for them, then their marriage must not have meant that much to begin with. How can you end a marriage and not feel angry? How can you break a sacred trust without feelings of jealousy and rage? "It's better to feel pain than nothing at all." I don't think the Lumineers were the first to coin the adage, "The opposite of love's indifference."(1)  The messiness of a divorce is directly proportionate to the love that once existed in the marriage.

God describes marriage as two people becoming one flesh (Gen 2:24). Marriage is supposed to be so intimate and loving that each person loses a part of their separate identity and together they become a single family unit. They become one. And somehow that one is greater than the two that formed it. As my mathematically inclined  readers will know, dividing two is easy. Dividing one gets messy. The resulting pieces are never whole numbers.

If two become one flesh, then to rip apart that union is like ripping off part of your body. It always hurts to rip off your part of your body. Therefore, ending a marriage should be exceedingly rare, and always painful. Even if one partner is an abusive, unfaithful jerk, and the other completely innocent, it should still be agonizing for the innocent person to leave the marriage. It should hurt for the children too. I weep for the pain that innocent children face in their parents' divorce. But when divorce has to happen, it can not be easy. It should hurt like the non-anesthetized  amputation of a a gangrenous arm, excruciatingly painful, but necessary for life. Divorce should hurt like Hell. (2)

Your marriage is under attack and it has nothing to do with same sex-marriage laws. It is under attack by the temptation to do nothing. It is under the direct fire of complacency.Your selfish refusal to love will destroy marriage faster than anything anyone else can do.

The answer to saving your marriage is love. Sorry if you wanted something more complicated. I don't have the five easy steps to save your marriage (There are plenty of people that will sell them to you, though).  The truth is, only a stubborn, relentless, Jesus-like love will stand up to the attack on your marriage.

I have learned in almost 11 years of marriage, that self sacrificing love, not only does a lot for your spouse. It will do a lot for you. "For where your treasure is, their your heart will be also." (Matt 6:21) Treasure your husband or wife. Invest into them daily. Your love will grow. They will capture your heart. Their love for you will  grow too. And marriage will grow, if not easier, better. And there's a chance you will beat the odds and make it.

1. The Lumineers,"Stubborn Love"  Dualtone Records, 2012.

2. I am not cursing for cursing's sake. I sincerely believe the pain of the separation of divorce is one of the closest things people in this life will feel to the pain of the final punishment of the wicked, whatever you believe that looks like.


  1. Interesting post (far from a rant). You're right; marriage was under attack in this regard since long before same-sex marriage came into play. Complacency and not-caring-enough have been around a lot longer, and are a lot more insidious.

    Although I agree that love is the primary (only?) answer, I cannot help but think that there are actions that can be taken to make it easier. Communication is the biggest thing that comes to mind. Communication and personal self-submission, seeing the other person as better than yourself (Phil 2:3). Then again, I suppose those are both part of what adds up to love, aren't they?

    1. I'm nothing close to a marriage counselor, so I can really only speak from my experience and common wisdom. But I think most of us already know the things we need to do in our marriages: communicate, compromise, submit our will and preferences, affirm and encourage our spouse. Most of us know our spouse well enough to know what they need to feel loved. We just don't do those things much because we tend to be pretty self-absorbed. So I wold include all those things in loving your spouse, but I think it looks a little different for each relationship.