Last night, someone emailed and asked me to write about the gay marriage case in Virginia. This morning, a woman from Wisconsin asked if I would blog about the gay marriage case in her state. A few readers in Utah have also requested that I chime in on the gay marriage fight there.
And so I was going to do just that. I sat down to type a scathing rant about gay marriage. I sat down to tell the world that gay marriage is the greatest threat to the sanctity of marriage.
But then I remembered this:
That’s a sign I saw on the side of the road a little while back. Divorce for sale! Only 129 dollars! Get ‘em while they’re hot!
And then I remembered an article I read last week about the new phenomenon of “divorce parties.” Divorced is the new single, the divorce party planner tells us.
And then I remembered another article claiming that the divorce rate is climbing because the economy is recovering. Now that things are getting a little better, we can finally splurge on that divorce we’ve always wanted!
And then I remembered that – ebbs and flows notwithstanding – there is one divorce every 13 seconds, or over 46,000 divorces a week in this country. And then I remembered that, although the “50 percent of marriages end in divorce” statistic can be misleading, we’re still in a situation where there are half as many divorces as there are marriages in a single year.
And then I remembered no-fault divorce. I remembered that marriage is the ONLY LEGAL CONTRACT A PERSON CAN BREAK WITHOUT THE OTHER PARTY’S CONSENT AND WITHOUT FACING ANY LEGAL REPERCUSSIONS.
Sorry to scream at you.
But I remembered that marriage has for decades been, from a legal perspective, the least meaningful, least stable, and least protected contract in existence, and I think this fact should be emphasized.
And then I remembered how many Christian churches gave up on marriage long ago, allowing their flock to divorce and remarry and divorce and remarry and divorce and remarry, and each time permitting the charade of “vows” to take place on their altars. And then I remembered that churches CAN lower the divorce rate simply by taking a consistent position on it — which is why practicing Catholics are significantly less likely to break up — but many refuse because they are cowards begging for the world’s approval.
And then I remembered that over 40 percent of America’s children are growing up without a father in the home. And then I remembered that close to half of all children will witness the breakdown of their parent’s marriage. Half of that half will also have the pleasure of watching a second marriage fall apart.
And then I remembered that more and more young people are opting out of marriage because the previous generation was so bad at it that they’ve scared their kids away from the institution entirely.
I remembered all of these things, and I decided to instead write about the most urgent threat to the sanctity of marriage.
Divorces are as common as flat tires, and they often happen for reasons nearly as frivolous.
The institution of marriage is crumbling beneath us; it’s under attack, it’s mortally wounded, it’s sprawled out on the pavement with bullet wounds in its back, coughing up blood and gasping for breath. And guess who did this? It wasn’t Perez Hilton or Elton John, I can tell you that.
This is the work of divorce.
I am an opponent of gay marriage, but we here in the “sanctity of marriage” camp are tragically too afraid to approach the thing that is destroying marriage faster than anything else ever could. Gay marriage removes from marriage its procreative characteristic, but rampant divorce takes away its permanent characteristic. It makes no sense to concentrate all of our energy on the former while all but ignoring the latter.
To make matters worse, some of the loudest mouth pieces for “traditional marriage” in media and politics are bigamists, adulterers, and men with two, three, or four ex-wives. It’s not that you can’t defend the sanctity of marriage when you have been divorced multiple times, it’s just that you have zero credibility on the subject.
If you beat and abuse your children so badly that they have to be removed from you, you could, I suppose, still complain if you found out that your kids are also being mistreated in their foster home. But your anger must first be directed at yourself, because it is YOUR FAULT that they are suffering in this way.
So whose fault is it that the institution of marriage is beaten and broken? I don’t think we want to contemplate that question, for fear that we might see ourselves in the answer.
Should laws be written to “defend marriage”? Sure, and let’s start with legislation to make divorces at least somewhat harder to obtain than a magazine subscription. How serious are we about this? Anyone up for a law to criminalize adultery? What about putting some restrictions on re-marriage?
There are certainly times when a couple has no choice but to go their separate ways. What else can you do in cases of serial abuse or serial adultery, or when one party simply abandons the other? But infidelity and abuse do not explain the majority of divorces in this country, and they are not the leading causes of break-ups. According to these “experts,” the top causes of divorce are a lack of individual identity, “getting into it for the wrong reasons,” and “becoming lost in the roles.” A survey done by the National Fatherhood Institute found lack of communication, and finances to be the leading culprits. An article in The Examiner also cites finances as the most potent divorce-fuel.
In other words, these days marriages can be blown apart by the slightest gust of wind, coming from any direction, and for any reason. Noticeably absent from all of these polls about the reasons for divorce: gay marriage.
That’s because gay marriage is not the biggest threat to marriage.
We are, when we vow on our very souls to stand by someone for the rest of our lives, until death do us part, only to let financial troubles and communication difficulties dissolve that union we forged before God. We are, when we forget about those Biblical readings we picked out for our wedding service:
My lover belongs to me and I to him. He says to me: “Set me as a seal on your heart, as a seal on your arm; For stern as death is love, relentless as the nether world is devotion; its flames are a blazing fire. Deep waters cannot quench love, nor floods sweep it away.”
For stern as death is love.
When we marry, we die. Our old selves die, and we are born anew into each other; into the unbreakable marital bond.
We are a threat to the sanctity of marriage when we let our selfishness fool us into thinking that our wedding vows weren’t that serious.
Indeed, despite popular sentiment, they were serious. They are serious. They’re as serious as death.
The struggle to protect marriage is also serious. It’s an important battle.
So maybe it’s time we actually start fighting it.
*NOTE. To answer your questions: no, I have not actually been divorced four times. I’ve been married once, and I’m still married to her, and I’ll never be married to anyone else. The title was tongue-in-cheek. I was writing it from the perspective of the sorts of people who rant about the sanctity of marriage, yet have racked up multiple ex-spouses. Perhaps I should have been more clear about this. In any case, there it is. I appreciate your concern.