Recently, a friend of mine shared her concern for some dear friends of hers who are teetering on the brink of divorce. Unless they make some significant changes, it is likely this couple will not make it much longer. It was clear that my friend was devastated by what she had learned, and she made a statement which keeps coming back to my mind: “I can’t imagine a world without John and Jane.” (names changed)
Though not related to my friend, financially supporting my friend, or in constant contact with my friend, their divorce would break her heart and alter her world. My point in sharing this story is not to discourage those who have been through the pain of divorce, but to encourage young dating couples to think through their decision thoroughly and to understand the commitment they are considering. We are not the sole heirs to our consequences.
We Miss You, Joshua
Months ago, I was heartbroken to read that someone I had respected, Joshua Harris, was divorcing his wife of over twenty-years. Though I never fully embraced the principles in his flagship book, I Kissed Dating Goodbye (because, let’s face it, I found dating to be quite enjoyable), I did think a lot of him as a person and wished him well in all his endeavors. And please don’t get me wrong, I am not placing angry judgment on him for his decision. My heartache comes from the fact that something went wrong somewhere along his journey. I have not walked a mile in his shoes, nor have I walked a mile in his wife’s shoes, so I cannot point a finger in his face and say, “How dare you?!” I guess I just want to know what happened.
Joshua, what led you from writing a best-seller on relationships, to pastoring a large church, to moving to Canada, to separating from your wife? Were seeds of bitterness planted? Were you deeply hurt somewhere along the way and never fully healed? Were you living a lie the whole time?
Even though I know the root of his decision is sin, I wish I knew what led him there. Based on what I have watched and read, many people who love him are wondering the same. None of us are immune to sin this side of Heaven.
Truly, I am not entitled to any of these answers. Still, I look at one who has not only walked away from his marriage, but from the Lord and gospel of Jesus Christ he declared for so long. I want to beg of him, “Joshua, please repent and come home to your Savior and family.”
It Touches Us All
Divorce is such a tough topic to broach because so many of us have experienced it personally and none of us are completely immune to it. Even those of us whose parents never divorced can still be affected (though, not as directly) by divorces in our family and community circles. We all love someone who is divorced, making this topic close to all our hearts. Eric and I have certainly argued about it and there is a good chance you and your partner will not see eye-to-eye on divorce. Even if you agree with the overall position that divorce is bad or good, there are likely subpoints or scenarios about which you will not agree at all.
With that said, start the conversation now. Even if your views evolve over time with growth and experience, you both need to know where the other stands before your relationship progresses further.
How has divorce affected you personally? What trauma or concerns regarding divorce are you bringing into this relationship?
Some common reasons couples cite for divorce include:
- Growing Apart/Different Goals
- Money Fights/Money Problems
- Selflishness/Poor Priorities
- Imbalance of Power/Imbalance of Responsibility within the Family
Are you prone to any of the above reasons? Or, are you worried about any of them for your future marriage? Can you think of more not on the above list? What about your partner? What does he or she think?
Pull Out Your Creed Notebooks Once Again!
Consider the following questions and then discuss your answers together:
- Do I have an extremely strong stance on divorce? (Explain.)
- What divorces have I witnessed in my life and how did they affect and/or shape me?
- Under which circumstances would I pursue a divorce?
- Would I agree to a divorce if my spouse initiated one?
- How do I interact with divorced friends and family?
- Am I happy with my interactions with them?
- Do I treat them with enough grace?
- Am I willing to speak truth into their lives?
- Am I struggling with the fear of divorce?
- If so, how is this fear impacting my relationship?
- What steps can I take to overcome this fear?
- What story do we want to tell the world with our marriage?
- What opinions do we share and differ on regarding divorce?
- Are they substantial differences?
- Are they differences we can overcome?
What Does the Bible Say?
So the LORD God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep, and while he slept, He took one of the man’s ribs and closed up the area with flesh. And from the rib that the LORD God had taken from the man, He made a woman and brought her to him. And the man said: “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called ‘woman,’ for out of man she was taken.” For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh. (Genesis 2:21-24, ESV)
For the man who does not love his wife but divorces her, says the Lord, the God of Israel, covers his garment with violence, says the Lord of hosts. So guard yourselves in your spirit, and do not be faithless. (Malachi 2:16, ESV)
But I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of sexual immorality, makes her commit adultery, and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery. (Matthew 5:32, ESV)
And Pharisees came up to him and tested him by asking, “Is it lawful to divorce one’s wife for any cause?” He answered, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.’” (Matthew 19:3-6, ESV)
He said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery.” (Matthew 19:8-9, ESV)
To the married I give this charge (not I, but the Lord): the wife should not separate from her husband (but if she does, she should remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband), and the husband should not divorce his wife. (I Corinthians 7:10-11, ESV)
To the rest I say (I, not the Lord) that if any brother has a wife who is an unbeliever, and she consents to live with him, he should not divorce her. If any woman has a husband who is an unbeliever, and he consents to live with her, she should not divorce him. For the unbelieving husband is made holy because of his wife, and the unbelieving wife is made holy because of her husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy. But if the unbelieving partner separates, let it be so. In such cases the brother or sister is not enslaved. God has called you to peace. (I Corinthians 7:12-15, ESV)
Though completely up to you, we hope you will consider adding something about divorce into your couple’s creed – even if indirectly (e.g., “We believe it is important to pray for the health of our marriage daily.”; “We believe couples should prioritize weekly meetings where they can share their hearts with each other.”; etc.). A mistake young couples often make is saying, and with the best of intentions: “Divorce is not an option for us.”
Perhaps you have said this yourself? The problem with making such a bold claim (especially before your relationship has been put to the test) is that it takes your eye off the ball. You have said to yourself, “A divorce is impossible.” If something is impossible, why should you worry about it? Then, while you are not paying attention, your relationship can completely fall apart. Divorce is very possible which is why marriages must be guarded and covered in prayer. Check out a previous post I wrote called, Why Couples Should Stop Saying Divorce is Never an Option.
Hopefully, your date night discussion this week will be fruitful and enjoyable. Though a tough topic, discussing it can be a cathartic and bonding experience. If you are seriously considering a future with this person, be willing to be vulnerable and share your heart. If you are typically comfortable sharing with friends or family, but you feel discomfort in sharing your heart with your significant other, that may be a red flag. Take some time to explore what is causing your hesitation.
Have a blessed week everyone!
Love is grand; divorce is a hundred grand. – Anonymous
Divorce isn’t the child’s fault. Don’t say anything unkind about your ex to the child, because you’re really just hurting the child. — Valerie Bertinelli
I can usually tell when a woman is going through a divorce because they look so gaunt and tired and sad. It’s just a huge sadness. It’s horrible. It’s like death. You mourn, but the person’s still there. – Andie MacDowell
I am my biggest marriage problem – it’s me: Without a doubt, you will be sinned against in your marriage, but you still bring your own sin into conflict. – Paul David Tripp, What Did You Expect: Redeeming the Realities of Marriage
Be careful who you marry because the only thing worse than being lonely is wishing you were. – My great uncle, Willie
When you get to the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on. – Franklin D. Roosevelt
The remedy for most marital stress is not in divorce. It is in repentance and forgiveness, in sincere expressions of charity and service. It is not in separation. It is in simple integrity that leads a man and a woman to square up their shoulders and meet their obligations. It is found in the Golden Rule, a time-honored principle that should first and foremost find expression in marriage. ? Gordon B. Hinckley, Standing for Something: 10 Neglected Virtues That Will Heal Our Hearts and Homes
You can learn a lot from your mistakes when you aren’t busy denying them. — Unknown
The following song has touched my heart, helped me cry, and also inspired me to keep going in some tough days of my marriage: Broken Together by Casting Crowns.
What do you and your significant other believe about divorce?