This commentary originally appeared on 4gfc.wordpress.com.
It’s true; apparently the divorce rate among older, 50-ish couples is skyrocketing. Much speculation about the causes of this startling fact is being slung around the news world, but this post is not about the causes or even about the unhappy fact itself. This post is meant to point out the bizarre irony in the way this fact is being presented.
Look, for example, at the nauseating way in which the divorce boom is being framed by lawyer Vikki Ziegler in this Fox Business interview. Please click on this link to Fox; the picture is not actually an embedded video.
Essentially, she frames this boom as a good thing, that people are waking up in their 50s and deciding that they’re not happy and have the “right and freedom to leave” their marriages and focus on themselves and their happiness. I don’t disagree with the fact that people have the freedom to leave their marriages. It just strikes me as ironic that the marriage covenant, which is much more than a contract, is viewed by our culture, as clearly expressed in this video, as the very first relationship to be discarded when people aren’t happy.
Why do I think this is ironic? Because of the dozens of other relationships in life that people obviously see as far more indissoluble than a marriage, when in fact it should be the other way ’round. Let me give you some examples:
1. Work: How many people do you know trapped in miserable, life-shortening jobs who do not consider quitting an option? MOST PEOPLE! What’s wrong with us? Quit your damn job. Have a little faith. Yeah, you’ll probably have to downsize your starter-mansion, but it might just save your marriage for Pete’s sake. Maybe save your life, too.
2. Friends: How often do you lie to your closest friends because you’re afraid they will hate you if you tell them the truth? Don’t do it! You are no friend if you cannot tell them what they need to know, even if it means you must walk away from the friendship for a while. Many friendships have survived this and become better because of it.
3. Country: Don’t get me wrong. Your country is important. Personally, I love my country, and I don’t say that lightly or without full knowledge of it’s warts. But when it comes down to it, you should be able to betray your country for God in a heartbeat. No country or state has power or virtue that does not come from God. Period. And yet, just in the last year, our own country has tried, and is currently trying to make our bond indisolluble. Congress and the current administration have been working to make it literally impossible for American citizens to leave the country if there is any dispute whatsoever with the Internal Revenue Service over taxes. That could happen over the simplest of things, and the consequences are frightening. And what of the rights of the States to secede from the Union as implied by the Constitution? Do the States not also have the “right and freedom to leave” if the Federal Government becomes hostile to them? They absolutely do, despite what we’ve been indoctrinated to believe ever since the 1860s. That’s a freedom that we should not lightly give up, but it appears we have done just that.
4. Blogging Community: Don’t laugh. I only include this silly example because I recently got serious advice from someone I respect that I should not lightly abandon those who are “family” in the on-line community. That even dishonorable behavior should be tolerated with silence, because that’s how families survive. Bullshit. On-line communities are just communities of friends, and if those “friends” cannot tolerate the slightest dissent, then you leave. Period. They’re just stupid blogs. It’s not like a marriage, which SHOULD be preserved if at all possible.
And that’s my point, after all. Unlike all these other relationships, which are viewed as permanent when they shouldn’t be, marriage is a covenant. What good is the language from Scripture, quoted at almost every Christian marriage ceremony about the “two become one” if the two remain apart? And that’s the real problem, isn’t it? Divorce is only the result. The problem that causes divorce is that no one listens to the words recited at their own weddings. They become friendly roommates. Like Amelia Earhart wrote to George Putnam on the day of their wedding: “I want you to understand I shall not hold you to any midaevil [sic] code of faithfulness to me nor shall I consider myself bound to you similarly.” Wonderful. I view that the same way I view the Fox interview with Vikki Ziegler: shockingly cavalier about something that no one should view that way. But please don’t take me the wrong way, as being critical of those whose marriages fail. I do NOT wish to do so. I am critical of those who do not take marriage seriously in the first place. Like these two clever women in the Fox Business video. But I have nothing but sympathy for those who suffer through the results, and many of those who do are entirely innocent. Even those who are not innocent are only human, after all. God bless all those who try to enter into it with an open heart.