Next in my series on alleged violent attacks against the family is divorce and remarriage. This has been a hard one to wait for because I really wanted to touch on this in previous post. Divorce often leads to single parent families, after all. Some say cohabitation increases the odds of divorce, but all lot of people commented on that post saying it was a good idea to live with a lover before marriage. At the end of the day, divorce is never really a good thing, but is it a thing to be condemned?
I once listened to a radio host who was saying there’s no such thing as a bad divorce. Being trapped in an unhappy or abusive marriage is sad. The ability to escape that is not. To say divorce doesn’t affect families negatively would be wrong. Many of my friends have divorced parents and, while they seem pretty well off, you can still see where it effected them. Some divorces are worse than others and are always made more tragic when children are involved.
There’s no way to sugar coat this. Divorce can and does destroy families, but I have to wonder if divorce is really at fault.
The Ideal of a Happily Married Family
My father often looks back on the “good old days.” He’ll look at old black and white photos and think of how right the world was then. I look at those pictures and see women with little to know choice or voice in their lives. I see religious and racial minorities left without equal rights. No, that is not a world that I want.
But it was a world where people got married and stayed married, right? Morals were stronger and the world less violent.
Maybe that’s what the church wants us to think, but I disagree. Statistically, the world is less violent than it has ever been (although what violence does exist is thrown in our face far more often than it used to be). Just think of all the laws we had to make for large groups of people to be treated equally. Can you imagine having a husband who beats and/or rapes you and having those actions be legal?
We live in a different world now, and it’s far from perfect. Still, getting rid of divorce will only cause people more pain and suffering. Maybe divorce does tear families apart, but in many cases life would have been worse for all parties without divorce. Life is hard and never perfect. A person shouldn’t feel condemned or be made to feel it is their fault when life doesn’t work out the way they imagined it.
Divorce: The Easy Way Out
I’m sure this is the idea most Christians think of when they condemn divorce. It follows the same logic of women who seek abortions as an easy way out or form of birth control. I’m sure there are plenty of people out there who could have worked harder to make their relationship work. There are people who got divorced for petty or greedy reasons. However, I’d argue those people are in the great minority.
No one dreams of getting divorced one day. No one gets married thinking it’s not going to work out.
Marriage takes two, so if only one person wants to try and the other wants an easy escape, the marriage is bound to fail anyway. Simply being divorced doesn’t mean you are at fault for what happened. It doesn’t make you any better or worse than the next person. It makes you human.
The Keys to Avoiding Divorce
I think the Catholic church has lost the ability to foster healthy families. They have created a cookie cutter into which no one fits. If you ask me, if any religion truly cared about divorce, they’d search for actual ways to prevent it. As it is, some of the most religious states in the U.S. also have the highest divorce rates. Some studies theorize this is because people in these areas also tend to have less education and marry younger (two things that are not shameful or reasons not to marry. It’s just that statistically, those two groups tend to have higher divorce rates). Given these stats, perhaps the frowns churchgoers give to divorced people would be better aimed towards people from those two risk categories who marry.
Nah, that’s be crazy. It’s way easier to hate people who have already done wrong then to hate people who are at a higher risk of doing wrong. Of course, we could just not hate and make things a lot easier.
I may have mentioned this before, but my biggest problem with most religions is that they restrict questions. We just assume it’s wrong to live together before marriage because that’s a rule. We never stop to think that maybe, in this world that is so different from the world that existed 2015 years ago, maybe that actually leads to less divorce. What if many of the things the church tells people actually leads to more divorce?
And I’m not saying it does; I’m saying these questions deserved to be asked. It’s not enough to condemn divorce and it’s not to say “well, if you only trusted in God more, your relationship would have worked out.” If religious people, if any people, are pissed off about divorce, how about working to find what characteristics of relationships reduce the divorce rate. How about promoting those and leaving the people whose life didn’t work out the way they wanted alone.
We can’t be perfect and I don’t think that we should be obligated to feel guilty because of our imperfections.
Has your family been affected by divorce? Do you think people who get divorced are usually seeking an easy way out, or do you feel they tried? What suggestions would you give couples to lower the risk of divorce?
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