October 22, 2020

Thoughts about Divorce

sheilacoppsOnce in a while a statistic comes along that grabs a hold of me, chews me up, and then spits me out, leaving me wondering what just happened. This week had me experiencing another one of those occurrences.

To put it into perspective though, I need to back up a number of years.

When I first moved to Hamilton, Ontario in 1994, I lived in the East End, not far from the belching of smoke and flame from the steel factories. It was a tough part of town, dominated by heavy industry, and none was tougher than our Federal Member of Parliament Sheila Copps. She came from a political family. Her father was Mayor of Hamilton for 16 years, but he was eclipsed politically by his daughter. Sheila had a remarkable run as a parliamentarian, with 3 years in the provincial legislature followed by 20 years as an elected official at the federal level. In her time in Government she served at various times as the Minister of Canadian Heritage, the Minister of Multiculturalism and Citizenship, the Minister of the Environment, and the Deputy Prime Minister of Canada. She had strong second place finishes in her bid to lead the Liberal Party of Canada, both as Prime Minister, and as Party President.

I never voted for her.

To be honest, I only had one chance, in 1997, before I moved to Dundas where I still live, but I still remember vividly the reason why I didn’t vote for her. You see, Ms. Copps was on husband number three. My reasoning at the time was that if someone couldn’t be faithful to their marriage; if they couldn’t be trusted to keep the vows that they had made to their spouse (or in her case spouses), then how could I trust her to keep her word for what she would do as a political leader. Obviously my opinion was not shared by the vast majority of voters as she easily won election after election. Maybe I was being a bit smug and sanctimonious about not voting for Sheila, but at the time it was an opinion that I sincerely held.

So here then is the statistic that I read last week that jumped up and slapped me in the side of the head. Eighty-five percent of elected federal politicians in Canada have been divorced. Eighty-five percent!

To put this in perspective, in Canada, since the late 1980s the likely that a marriage would end in divorce within 30 years has varied between 35 and 42%. (American and British numbers are similar but slightly higher.) The percentage of adults who are currently divorced is significantly less than that as most have not yet made it to the thirty year point from when they were first married.

So a Canadian politician is more than twice as likely to have been divorced as the Canadian average! Does it matter which political party they belong to? I don’t have the party breakdown (pardeon the pun), but based upon seat distribution it is hard to imagine that any of the larger political parties have a majority of members who are not divorced. Even if every never divorced member was in the Conservative Party of Canada (the party that Evangelicals tend to vote for), at least 70% of their members would have been divorced.

So why does this happen?

The article above states:

While many of the divorced politicians split up before they got elected, MPs work long hours away from home, are often separated from families four days a week and spend a lot of time socializing and at functions. There are also a lot of young staffers on the Hill, a problem for some marriages. “Every potential stress point in a marriage is alive and well in political life,” says Jim Armour, a lobbyist and former Stephen Harper staffer.

I was reminded of my post last week where I talked about work and home life balance. Apparently political life is one place where you won’t find it. Sheila Copps certainly found life in Government a challenge, but by no means was she the only one. As for me: I am married to my wife, and not to my job, and I intend to keep it that way.

And maybe, just maybe, I owe an apology to Sheila Copps. What do you think?


  1. What do I think?

    Newt Gingrich.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      You mean “Godly Gingrich”, God’s Anoninted Choice for POTUS for a whole TWO WEEKS back in 2012?

    • Steve Newell says

      I am outraged about politicians who are divorced!! They have no moral standing.

      Rush Limbaugh

    • Oh please….

      • Oh please what? You can’t deny that his marital conduct is a reflection on his character in general. And voters should care about that. Not every divorce tells the same story, but multiple divorces, and brutal treatment of a deathly ill spouse, sure tells you something you should be interested in knowing about the man.

    • You can’t blame Newt Gingrich. It is all the fault of the gays. We know that gay marriage destroys REAL TRUE MARRIAGE, and so every time a gay person gets married, they cause the divorce of a straight couple. That is why Newt wants to defend marriage from the gay people, so that he won’t have to get divorced again.

      • Again… oh please…

      • Seen on a poster of Newt Gingrich (during the 2012 primary season):

        “FAMILY VALUES: Using daughters from your first wife to convince everyone that your second wife is lying about your third wife”

    • Some Democrats may not divorce, but they cheat on their spouses, giving them more than grounds FOR a divorce.

      Bill Clinton.

      Teddy Kennedy.

      John F. Kennedy.

      Remember, some visitors to this site are right wing and Republican. I tire of the right wing bashing that goes on. Not all readers here are liberal / left wing / Democrat.

  2. What do I think?

    Please. There were a LOT of good reasons not to vote for Sheila. Political dynasties in a democracy are always disgusting and should be discouraged. I think your instincts were correct, she was not particularly trustworthy, and her boss whom she toadied to, Chretien, certainly was a disturbingly amoral man. When Tout Monde end Parle asked about the scary strong arm tactics used in that scandal about his hometown buddies’ golf course, and all his other brazen embezzlements/lies/crimes etc he shrugged and laughed and said, “Hey, politics is a game and I’m the master player….”
    The ideas that ethical questions should still dog his reputation literally made him laugh. He just said hey, I won, that’s all that matters, move on. So kudos for not voting for her.

    And those steel factories sure aren’t ‘belching smoke and and flame’ this morning. Thanks to our skyrocketing price of electricity, nobody would consider making steel here anymore…. Working at Dofasco sure was fun though. They treated me really well, until they got bought out by Arcelor, from Luxembourg, who then got bought out by mittal. When the smoke cleared, one guy, Lakshmi Mittal, now controls the majority of steel production on the planet….

    When I was hired at CN I was told that the divorce rate for CN Rail conductors is also 85%. CN expects conductors to view CN as the most important thing in their life, to be prioritized ahead of family or anything else…
    so Maybe it’s a similar deal. Sheila’s CV may look good on paper, but it was only accomplished by neglecting her family, there’s no other way, working in Ottawa and the family in Hamilton….

    • Every election cycle I take the current election issues, and any additional issues that I might consider, and evaluate the candidates and parties based upon them. Typically I find myself either a Conservative Liberal or a Liberal Conservative. I have voted for other parties if both of these two parties smell too much at the time. I also tend to find that after about 8 years, any party in office tends to pass its best before date.

      • Mike Bell: I also tend to find that after about 8 years, any party in office tends to pass its best before date.

        I couldn’t agree more, the longer a party is unchallenged in office, the more entitled it behaves. In BC the Liberals are in their 4th term, God help us!

    • Seneca Griggs says

      I wonder if hypergamy didn’t play a part in her divorces – leaving a man of lesser status for a man of higher status.

      • Not in Sheila’s case. If memory serves me correctly Austin (the third husband) was not a man of status.

      • Some American Democrat (Kerry?) married a woman for her wealth, IIRC – she was a ketchup heiress, had millions. Sometimes men “marry up” in this manner, too.

  3. What do I think?

    Well, since I’m married to a divorced woman, who was previously married for a very brief time while she and her then husband attended a well known evangelical Christian college in upstate New York, he in seminary and she in the church music program, and since my wife’s rigidly evangelical family is rife with divorce and other glaring imperfections similar to the rest of the populous, I think that people are people whatever religious flag they wave.

    To paraphrase the Buddha’s first noble truth, life is hard. Some people’s lives are harder than others, either through their own choices, or because of circumstances that have been imposed on them, or both. If a society asks people to work in institutions that are high stress and require unbalanced commitment, like politics, the military or police work, and that have a tendency to grind up marriages, then where exactly does the blame fall for the devastation that befalls these people and their families? In a sense, aren’t they sacrifices that the rest of us accept as the price that must be paid to maintain our societies and our way of life?

    • Well said and thought-provoking. Thanks Robert F.

      • ” In a sense, aren’t they sacrifices that the rest of us accept as the price that must be paid to maintain our societies and our way of life?”

        Pretty profound comment.

    • @ Robert F

      Thank you for that post. I’m over 40 and never married, and it’s disturbing to me to see how so many Christians are judgmental against the divorced.

      It’s just assumed by many Baptists, evangelicals, and other Christians, that if a marriage ends, it is only because one or both partners were lazy or something that blames them.

      Sometimes there can be external influences that break a marriage apart – or even internal, maybe the two just drifted apart over time, and it’s neither person’s fault.

      But Christians always want to shame and blame one or both partners when a divorce happens.

  4. Many in the USA wanted to have a culture war over same sex marriage, while little was said about Christians having divorce rates as high as anyone else. It is very hard to hold onto two passions simultaneously. You really can’t step into the same river twice, and your commitment to God, spouse, and family are forever.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      That’s because Homosexuality(TM) is the OTHER’s sin.

      But Divorce? Never know when you might want to use that escape hatch yourself…

  5. You only owe her an apology if you thought it wasn’t OK to vote for her but OK to vote for another candidate on their 3rd marriage.

    I’m very surprised at that statistic. The article says “85 per cent of MPs are divorced, well above the 70 per cent that were prior to the last election in 2011”. So perhaps in the last electoral cycle, the parties were less afraid to preselect divorcees or more likely to draw from pools of people with high divorce rates (lawyers, union officials).

    • Lawyers and union officials do seem to make up a large percentage of the candidate pool.

      • Adam Tauno Williams says

        It might be a correlation with those seek status positions [politician, actor/actress, athlete] both (a) have more opportunities to get into interesting situations and (b) by virtue of being the type to desire those types of positions may be more inclined to certain evils [conversely the hermit has evils of his own].

        I’ve looked at a lot of these kind of stats – most don’t mean exactly what they can superficially be taken to mean, there are tricky issues of syntax and definition. What I’ve seen is that religiously devote people [self reported] do actually have a lower divorce rate, but not all that much lower. Note that we cannot take “devote” to mean Christian [nor Protestant].

        The powerful leading far-and-away correlation is with relationship serialization. Those who have many romantic relationships continue to have many relationships [an thus in the marriageable years, to have a higher divorce rate]. One can interpret that several ways: (a) well, duh! (b) human sexuality has a habitual, if not pathological, component (c) it may still be self selecting, those with many relationships are those with the opportunity to do so [due to status or whatever] or (d) those who take relationships/sexuality seriously or carefully have more success at managing them.

  6. Statistics for “committed” Christians are lower than the national average. The reality is not.

    My mother-in-law and father-in-law come from strict fundamentalist stock. Needless to say there is not option for divorce. It is not the way Christians behave. You need a testimony of a strong marriage.

    How strong is their marriage?

    My father-in-law lives in a travel camper parked directly next to the house. He is only allowed in to shower and eat – and he is expected to pay the mortgage on the house and pay for the food he eats. His fault? No. They are incompatible people. He is funny and laid back and she is serious and practical. They have been working toward this for 40 years – ask my husband.

    • @ EV
      Oh geeze. They should just divorce and be done with it. They are already divorced all in name only at this point.

      If they divorce, they may decide to stay single, which is fine, but they could be freeing themselves to find someone more compatible to share life with.

      God forgives sin… even if divorce is a sin, God would forgive it. People like what you describe are more afraid of man’s opinions than in just living life on their own terms and than they are mindful of God’s mercy and grace. They are making themselves miserable for no good reason.

  7. Life happens.

    And we sinners often mess things up. I’m divorced. My second wife was also previously divorced. May pastor was divorced.

    What kind of a god do we have, though?

    Loving and forgiving. We all ought do a lot of things in our lives. But quite often things just go haywire.

    I would never hold that again anyone in the performance of their job.

    • What do I think? “Cogito, ergo sum.” (Rene Descartes)

      Seriously, I used to think like that much more than I do now but then I concluded that there’s a big difference between electing someone for public office and electing someone to be church officer. In the case of a politician I am much more concerned with governing and administration skills and stance on certain issues than I am with ensuring that their house is free of any skeletons. I doubt I would ever vote for a convicted murderer, rapist, embezzler, or child molester, but my standards of morals for politicians have declined a bit. Besides, If I raise them any higher I would have to eschew the voting booth.

      With regard to church elders, deacons, ministry leaders, and so on the moral standard is much, much higher.

      • PS: Not sure how my comment above ended up as a reply to a comment, except that I obviously hit the wrong button. Anyway, it was intended to be a general reply.

      • I do find that I am tired of politicians who say they will do one thing, then after elected go on to do something quite different. Maybe we do need to hold them to higher standards.

        • Agreed. But as with some other people I encounter in this life, I am quite selective as to my expectations. For instance, the last time I had surgery I did not require a “Certificate of Virtue” from the surgeon, just that he had successfully completed residency and that his list of dead patients was short.

          • I would add, though, should we not hold all Christians to the same standard we hold Elders, Deacons, Pastors etc.?

            Since a marriage is a union of 2 people, but you can only be responsible for one person – you can’t control other’s responses. There are definitely times a divorce is the most loving thing that can happen: abuse, financial ruin (i.e. gambling), bigamy (or however that is spelled). To never permit divorce is to make an idol out of marriage. Jesus was specifically addressing Jewish husbands (who had the power over divorce, and all the advantage), not giving a world wide play-by-play on permissible times for divorce. So, you can’t always assume a divorced person couldn’t “manage their home” or whatever. That said, the real “sin” is actually remarriage, since Jesus said that there were cases where the man was excused from not divorcing (adultery).

            What I find curious is how Christians assume a divorced person can get remarried (adultery) without a bat of an eyelash, while a cohabiting couple at the same church wouldn’t be permitted church membership. Jesus’ answer is very telling, after telling men they cannot divorce their wives, the disciples protested that it would be better not to marry. Jesus says:
            Matthew 19
            11 Jesus replied, “Not everyone can accept this word, but only those to whom it has been given. 12 For there are eunuchs who were born that way, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by others—and there are those who choose to live like eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. The one who can accept this should accept it.”

            But, that teaching relates to a larger theme that has been dropped by the Reformation church for the last, oh, 500ish years: celibacy. When I read the OT – it is very pro-fertility – lists after lists of ancestors, men and women being blessed with children and grandchildren, women and men ordered to procreate and so on. When we arrive at the NT, the main theme is sacrifice. Sacrificing the ‘blessings’ of this world for Jesus’ Kingdom. There is no land covenant, no promise of blessing via offspring, and, more importantly, celibacy is considered above marriage, marriage above sub-marital affairs (Paul ordering men to love their arranged-married wives, likely over their lovers), and prostitution as the lowest and worst sort of act – defiling oneself with a prostitute. I don’t know what the teachings would have been for a young mother left destitute by a divorce (but a true Christian man would never leave a woman and his kids destitute, only a poser would). However, I suspect that the church took care of their own, and no abandoned woman was left “out on her own” by the church, so financial remarriage wasn’t an issue. I wonder what Jesus’ verdict would be on our society today? Christians in multi-million dollar mega churches, yet no one to financially help an abandoned wife and her kids. It is likely our fault people are financially pushed into remarrying, and that isn’t a good witness for North American churches.

            I don’t think the modern evangelical church has good teaching on celibacy, or what role it played in early Christianity. It exalts marriage too highly to fit easily into the New Testament teachings on marriage So, we are very laze fair about remarriage, because we can’t fathom celibacy. But, perhaps church leadership would be better if we only chose those willing to sacrifice and remain celibate (at least in adverse circumstances, like after a divorce) – I mean we would at least get the leaders who are willing to sacrifice – less Rock Star pastors, as it is hard to be considered “hipster cool” and celibate.

            I don’t know. I like Pope Francis a lot better than any famous major evangelical pastor out there now. No formula is a guarantee, but I think we want all the blessings of the Old Testament (the wrong Kingdom to strive for) yet none of the sacrifice of the New Testament.

            So when I “hold” Christians to standards I don’t hold the world to, I expect to see Christians at least strive to live sacrificially, to be willing to do hard things for their faith, to not be so capitulated by culture. Even Jesus says, the Kingdom isn’t for everyone. In order to garnish as many bodies as possible into church plants, we cut out all the sacrificial requirements (except money, tithing is somehow a New Testament teaching, and then, only to the local church, not to the poor, as it was in the Old Testament).

          • There are moral and ethical standards for elders and deacons (1 Timothy 3.1-13 & Titus 1.5-9) which are not absolutely required of those who are not serving in leadership. Ideally all Christians would aspire to these qualities, for instance, being “above reproach, the husband of one wife, children are believers, not open to the charge of debauchery or insubordination, not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain, but hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined.” (Titus 1.6-8)

            Given the teachings in these passages, I believe that those in church leadership should be held to a higher standard and be a role model for the rest of the congregation–even society at large.

            And note the “husband of one wife” qualification, also mentioned in 1 Timothy 3.2.12. This is widely accepted to mean that elders and deacons may not practice polygamy. That’s straightforward enough, but is that the only thing it means? What about “serial” polygamy, i.e., divorce-remarriage-divorce-remarriage-…?

            In practice this applies two ways. First, that s/he is not just faithful but “heart-faithful” to his spouse. Second, should there have been a divorce in the past then the matter will be taken up by the elders of the church who must consider each case and determine the outcome.

            By the way, we are what you would call “complementarians,” that is, we appoint only men as pastors/elders but both men and women as deacons/deaconesses.

          • Seneca Griggs says

            ” For instance, the last time I had surgery I did not require a “Certificate of Virtue” from the surgeon, just that he had successfully completed residency and that his list of dead patients was short.”

            I’m still laughing. Can I buy you lunch Sir? I think you’re my kinda guy. – grin

          • Know any good Cuban restaurants?

          • CalvinCuban : “should there have been a divorce in the past then the matter will be taken up by the elders of the church who must consider each case and determine the outcome.”

            Hmmm, how is this any different from a Catholic Priest making directives?

            But, my main point is this: IF you are going to use the Bible as a marriage guide, the outcome is CELIBACY. Nothing else. If the woman remarries due to financial hardship, the sin of adultery falls at her ex’s feet, and, the church’s. Plain and simple. There is NO Christians who can act as priests to other Christians and declare their re-marriage ability. The Protestants split for several reasons, a huge one was buying of indulgences (or excused adultery).

            Annulments make no sense, indulgences are a sin, no elders have any spiritual ability to override Jesus’ teachings on this. You marry one living human for a lifetime, only death can free one from that obligation. You can divorce if your spouse is a threat or they no longer wishes to be with you, but you CANNOT remarry. According to the Bible, if you are trying to use it as a marriage guide. It amazes my how ignorant people are about this. People somehow think if divorce isn’t adultery (in certain circumstances) than nor is remarriage. Sorry, it is. Marry carefully is my advice. No 20 year old should be encouraged to marry, I think all young adults should get post-secondary degrees and a job before marriage – good insurance if one spouse loses their job. Remember, as long as your ex is alive, you are an adulterer if you marry someone else. Why is the church even getting involved in remarriages?

            I would prefer to see common-law permitted before remarriage, I think remarriage is more damaging to the institution of marriage then gay marriage ( unless, of course, it is a re-marriage).

            Why? Simple, you take a vow to a person, your word needs to be gold. If they take off, so be it, but your word still needs to be gold. You need to be a witness that you took a vow, it didn’t work out, but you will remain faithful on your part. Ancient Christians died for the right to remain celibate (so many young women were thrown to the arenas for refusing to marry who their fathers arranged for them to marry that the Romans began to put in laws to prevent so many executions). Who are we to re-write the Bible to suit our fleshly needs?

          • I don’t think we are rewriting Scripture, and certainly not applying it in such a way to gain profit. What we do is in many respects similar to decisions made by the courts. But it’s not exactly like what priests do, for the context I wrote in was about appointing elders and deacons, not church membership and certainly not excommunication.

            I don’t see how “common-law” marriages would produce the type of commitment necessary in a marriage. It’s not like a “30-day free trial” thing. For this reason Christ taught that “what God has put together let no man (including the groom) put asunder.”

          • It’s not like a “30-day free trial” thing. 🙂 Agreed!

            No, it was just sussing out the difference between making a vow/commitment for life (weather it is reciprocated or not) and plain old adultery.

            I know women who have never married. It would be scandalous if they met a guy and co-habited with him (adultery), however, if their peers divorce (for a legitimate reason) the church happily remarries them (also adultery).

            So, let’s take two women of equal age, social status and looks, who both don’t want to be alone in life. Woman ‘A ‘waits for the right man (job, decedent, hard working, loyal) while woman ‘B’ falls for the charmer (no stable job, wandering eye, drifter, irresponsible). While woman A is waiting, building a career, etc. Woman be has a fun time, a child or two, but it soon unravels. about 10 years in, Woman A has a nice job, but is lonely, she could date a non-christian guy, but they would not agree to wait for sex until marriage, and most wouldn’t marry without first living together. The church, her upbringing and family would all not allow it, it is clear to everyone that is adultery. Woman B has no stable career, 3 kids and no savings. Her husband has now run off on her with a PYT , rarely pays child support and she is finical straits. She begins to date a new Charmer, and eventually they decide to marry, also adultery. The church, her family and her conscience all approve – but, it is actually also adultery. She is remarried in her church. Woman A is still single, and beginning to wonder if this is right.

            In my view, woman B is actually a strong example of the problem with “Christian” marriage. Let’s say Woman A questioned all this, she is now mid-late 30s, then decided to “try out” a new boyfriend. Not to justify one as worse/better, but Woman B, who married the charmer, despite obvious warnings signs, was entering into a covenant for LIFE, her quick re-entry to the dating scene and subsequent remarriage shows she had no sense it was a life-long covenant, nor did her congregation, pastors or family. Yet she is an adulterer. Woman B, may look to Christians like she is “trying it out”, but she is just committing adultery. Lets say she ends up marring a man who she co-habited with, he is supportive of her faith, yet not evangelical (perhaps mainline or Catholic). However, they both make a commitment to each other they intend to keep for life, they don’t like divorce (one or both may even be from a broken home, and don’t want to repeat that mistake). They end up getting married, and stay married for life. They originally committed adultery, but they take the vow/commitment of marriage very seriously. More seriously than their own pastor does (supposing they go to the same church as woman B). Woman A’s family, church and community however, are more disturbed by her actions than woman Bs.

            See, I would much rather teach young women (my daughter included) to wait, get a job and education, and move slowly before getting married. Church culture often pushes young, quick marriages with little to no thought about how the family will support itself long-term. When these marriages end in divorce (it is an alarmingly high rate), the church just moves on. Nothing to see here, lets remarry everyone. My in-laws are Dutch too, the extended family is supporting on of my cousin-in-laws marriages, yet acting as if his sisters “shacking up” is the ruin of Christiandom. My other Aunt-in-law is wringing her hands over her well educated daughter going into speciality medicine (she is in her mid-twenties and hasn’t met a man yet, it might all be too late! She has years more schooling to go, I told her to be a family-doc.). Well, what if she does meet a great man, live together (a huge step toward marriage in Canada, not sure about the US – I flag myself as “Very Religious” at work if I tell anyone I didn’t cohabit first, just met and got married), yet the marriage lasts.

            Ask this: what is worse, “trying out” a person before you marry them or marry someone to try them out?

          • ‘the extended family is supporting on of my cousin-in-laws marriages’
            should read:
            the extended family is supporting one of my CIL’s re-marriage

          • @ Loo.
            I am in my 40s and still single and still a virgin, and I had wanted to be married. And you are right, most Christians and denominations have made marriage (and the nuclear family) into an idol.

            Most of them are oblivious to their idolatry of it, however.

            They think it’s proper to put “family” right under “God” in the list of life priorities, despite what Jesus said about Himself and the body of Christ (other Christians) taking precedence over your flesh and blood family.

            I don’t know if I share your view that re marriage is adultery, though. See: What God Has Joined / What does the Bible really teach about divorce?

            I am puzzled and offended why Christians do not teach life long celibacy and singleness as an option for all people, including the divorced. Christians just assume that any and every previously married person SHOULD re-marry.

            Most Christians just ASSUME being single, or staying single, are abnormalities, or weird, or failure.

          • reply to Loo.

            Warning to singles! Don’t follow Loo’s advice if you want marriage!!! Voice Of Experience speaking here!! Warning!!

            Loo said,
            “See, I would much rather teach young women (my daughter included) to wait, get a job and education, and move slowly before getting married.”

            I could write ten pages about this topic. I am in my early 40s, never married, wanted marriage. Was a Christian since childhood.

            I don’t believe in pushing for early marriage either, as Christians these days are wont to do,

            But Loo, telling Christian single women who desire marriage to be patient, pray, and wait for a spouse (and/ or “serve in church to meet a man!,” etc.), results in single women being never-married into their 40s, like I am.

            And that is a FAIL strategy.

            Statistics show there is only ONE unmarried, adult Christian man for every age-comparable single woman in evangelical / Christian land, meaning, two out of three Christian single women will never marry, if they stick to the idiotic, “be not yoked to an unbeliever” teaching.

            As a 40-something, single woman who desires marriage (who was raised as a Christian, accepted Jesus as a child), I have already kicked the “be not yoked” teaching to the trash can, and I have given up on ‘pray and wait and go to church to get a spouse’ teachings (there are no single, adult males in churches over age 25).

            You have to be practical and pragmatic about things. If there are not enough Christian men out there and not in churches, you start dating Non Christians.

            Apparently, God is NOT answering the prayers of tons of evangelical and Baptist women for Christian partners, so we are left to our own devices.

            Churches moan and gripe about singles being single but will NOT lift a finger to help us singles get mates. It is beyond hypocritical.

            Preachers, Christian lay persons, and conservative Christian writers and radio hosts, complain that helping Christian singles get married “turns churches into meat markets!”

            Such Christians also whine and complain that a Christian single woman looking for a spouse, and taking practical steps to get dates and marriage, supposedly makes such women guilty of “idolizing marriage” or makes them guilty of “trying to replace Jesus with a spouse.”

            Seriously, this type of stupid thinking and guilt tripping runs rampant in 99 percent of Christian teaching about marriage!

            Married Christians and preachers gripe we singles are not married but then forbid Christian singles from taking actual steps to make marriage happen!!

            We are told joining a dating site, trying to start up a social group at churches for singles to meet and date, etc, means we have turned marriage into an idol, we should “be content in our singleness,” or that asking friends to fix us up on dates with ‘husband material’ makes us guilty of replacing Jesus with a spouse.

            If the idiots out there in Evangelical World, Neo Reformed Land, and Baptist Land are truly as concerned about single women being single, then stop shaming us for admitting we want husbands, and take practical steps to get us spouses!! Do not guilt single Christian women for using dating sites and for looking and trying.

            Prayer, Bible reading, and “serving in the church” has not done didley squat to get evangelical, Baptist, and Reformed women married. There are droves of us still single in our 30s and older.

            I will start dating again in a few years and will be modifying my dating preferences to de-select “Christian only,” and I will be checking off “Atheist okay” etc.

    • “I do find that I am tired of politicians who say they will do one thing, then after elected go on to do something quite different.”

      That is status quo these days.

  8. This has been an issue in my family as long as I can remember. My mother was divorced in the mid 50s, when divorce Didn’t Happen. Always a fervent progressive Republican, she campaigned for Nelson Rockefeller for the GOP candidacy in 1964. Needless to say, this made the conservative Republicans in her district howl with fury. Rockefeller had divorced and remarried a year earlier. In 1968, she campaigned for a moderate Republican running in the primaries for Congress. He was divorced as well. The local press pilloried him mercilessly.

    The winner, a staunch Dutch churchman of a type probably only those familiar with western Michigan can imagine, was found in his bed with his mistress, shot through the head by his jealous wife. He was wearing black silk stockings.

    Life may be hard, but it is also endlessly creative and entertaining.

    • “Life may be hard, but it is also endlessly creative and entertaining.”

      And so the Buddha had a profound sense of humor.

    • Adam Tauno Williams says

      >The winner, a staunch Dutch churchman of a type probably
      > only those familiar with western Michigan

      Oh, yes [as a Western Michigander]. We are so very familiar with them; and we do seem to have our own special brand. But we have fewer of them now than 10+ years ago. Progress is being made.

  9. A couple that I know, who has been living together for a short while, asked me yesterday to do their wedding. He joked that he saw a fellow church member at the grocery store, made the announcement, and said to her, “We won’t be living in sin anymore.” He said it was obvious she didn’t find any humor in the remark. My response…”Who do you know that isn’t living in sin?”

    I’m divorced and remarried, and in some circles, that’s a death sentence for someone in ministry. Just because I divorced and remarried doesn’t mean that I don’t love Jesus. I also love my wife and baby girls that are the fruit of our marriage. I don’t think Jesus is going to reject them because I was divorced.

    • I started wondering about Pastoral divorce statistics. Here is one interesting site that claims that 50% of Pastors will get divorced.


      • Michael, I can’t remember the source at the moment, but I recently read the same statistic. It was also noted that the divorce rate for Evangelical Christians was higher than the divorce rate for the rest of American culture. Interesting piece today…Thanks for sharing.

        I’m interested to hear some thoughts on the idea of a divorced/remarried pastor…I know what scripture says. At the Baptist church in which I served during my divorce, I had one fellow suggest that I should no longer serve in ministry, and one who advised me that their children would no longer attend my youth group, because I was divorced. I was crushed. I find that Anglicans/Methodists are much more gracious in terms of these types of matters…even theologically conservative ones.

        • It’s also interesting to note that as a Baptist pastor, I was told I lacked credibility in ministry when I was single. After I married and divorced, I was instructed that I would have more credibility if I didn’t remarry, and stayed single.

          I guess being divorced makes you less likely to think naked thoughts.

          • Lee,

            That’s because if you got a divorce and remained celebate you were technically still married (at least from a Catholic point of view). Not realistic but just sayin….

        • The statistic you read was misleading. The Southern states tend to have higher divorce rates than the Northern states. Most of it can be attributed to age at marriage. (The younger you are the more likely you are to get divorced.) But, because the Southern states have a higher percentage of self identified Evangelicals you end up showing Evangelicals with a higher divorce rate. If you look at the rates based on frequency of church attendance you get quite a different picture.

          • Adam Tauno Williams says

            > Most of it can be attributed to age at marriage. (The younger you are the more likely you
            > are to get divorced.)

            I’ve read some studies where that correlation breaks down. Adjusted for class/income the age-of-marriage to divorce rate levels out.

            > But, because the Southern states have a higher percentage of self identified Evangelicals
            > you end up showing Evangelicals with a higher divorce rate.

            Statistics are fun. And the issue of reporting on things people * self-identify * as is hard. As people often self-identify with labels that by most definitions would not apply to them.

            > If you look at the rates based on frequency of church attendance you get quite a different picture.


          • Mike, it’s not only the younger age of marriage, but marriage itself that may be skewing the data.

            We need to realize that the primary cause of divorce is. . . marriage! Evangelicals feel more pressure to marry than do couples among the general public, who are more likely perhaps to live together, perhaps serially, before marrying. So, if Evangelicals have a high rate of divorce it’s also from the higher (and earlier) rate of marriage.

            I have absolutely no data for this. Just my observation.

        • Lee ask;

          **I’m interested to hear some thoughts on the idea of a divorced/remarried pastor…**

          I’m divorced and remarried. My first marriage was 23 years. My present marriage is on year 16, and by the grace of God and some dedication on our part we intend to grow much older together.

          The reality that none of us escape is the certainty of sin–the deformation of God’s image–in our lives. This I know; in the reality of my sinful life Christ dies for me. Before I was born Christ dies for me. Before the creation of the cosmos Christ dies for us. The power of God’s love for us is that He moved into the midst of our muddle, lived with us, then we killed him, then he stood again out of the grave then ascended to where he sits us between himself and his Father.

          If the human race could have straightened up its act by the simple pursuit of goodness, it would have done so long ago. We are not stupid; and Lord knows, from Confucius to Socrates to Moses to Joyce Brothers, we’ve had plenty of advice. But we haven’t followed it. The world has taken a five-thousand-year bath in wisdom and is just as grimy as ever. And our own lives now, for all our efforts to clean them up, just get grimier and grimier. We think pure thoughts and eat wheat germ bread, but we will die as our fathers did, not noticeably better.

          Once again, the world cannot be saved by living. And there are two devastatingly simple reasons why. The first is, we don’t live well enough to do the job. Our goodness is flawed goodness. I love my children and you love yours, but we have, both of us, messed them up royally. I am a nice person and so are you, except for when my will is crossed or your convenience is not consulted—and then we are both so fearful that we get mean in order to seem tough. And so on. The point is that if we are going to wait for good living to save the world, we are going to wait a long time. We can see goodness and we can love it. We can even love it enough to get a fair amount of it going for us on nice days. But we simply cannot crank it up to the level needed to eliminate badness altogether.

          The second reason is more profound. The world’s deepest problem is not badness as opposed to goodness; it is sin, the incur¬able human tendency to put self first, to trust number one and no one else. And that means that there is nothing—no right deed, however good, noble, lawful, thrifty, brave, clean, or reverent—that cannot be done for the wrong reason, that cannot be tainted and totally corrupted by sin. As I observed earlier, the greatest evils are, with alarming regularity, done in the name of goodness. When we finally fry this planet in a nuclear holocaust, it will not have been done by a bunch of naughty little boys and girls; it will have been done by grave, respectable types who loved their high ideals too much to lay them down for the mere preservation of life on earth. And lesser evils follow the same rule. When I crippled my children emotionally (or when my parents crippled me) it was not done out of meanness or spite, it was done out of love: genuine, deeply felt, endlessly pondered human love—flawed, alas, by a self-regard so profound that none of us ever noticed it.

          (Robert Capon, Parables of Grace, chapt. 10)

          So, let us strive to be vessels of God’s Image, but let’s not fool ourselves in thinking that in this life we ourselves will overcome sin. Death is our only final deliverance–and that is what baptism points to.

          My pastoral service/leadership was once challenged by a couple of young brothers because I had failed in my first marriage. I understood their concern and zeal. When, a few years later one of them found himself in a crisis in his marriage he turned to me for advice and counsel. I could sympathize and understand his struggle and not have revulsion or condemnation. I thank God that he has used my own failures as a foundation for extending love and concern for others in their struggles.

          A shepherd who has been savaged by dogs will better know how to protect the sheep.

    • Lee said, ”Who do you know that isn’t living in sin?”

      I’m over 40, still a virgin, never married. Was engaged, had chances to have pre marital sex, didn’t go there.

      Not everyone is shacking up or boinking prior to marriage.

  10. Nobody who is not part of a relationship can truly know what goes on *inside* said relationship. There are so many reasons for divorce.Good reasons.

    Also, what Robert F said.

  11. I think we all are missing the point here. We make decisions in life and sometimes we fail. Divorce can fall under that for a variety of reasons. But there is also common sense at play here and in this particular situation. Let’s say you own a dog, you love that dog but your job, which is very demanding takes you out of town 75% of the time. On one trip home you find the dog has died (due to neglect and you never being around to give it any attention). Do you A). go out and get another dog or B). realize you have no time for a dog even though you love them and wait until your job life settles down before getting another?

    We want to be married or have a partner, that’s natural, but if we can, for one minute, look past our own needs then we can see that some jobs are so all consuming and stressful that it is just not fair to our partner. Even when we both go in with eyes wide open the job becomes so all-consuming that relationships don’t survive. This is not about all divorces, only relationships, or non-relationships where the career becomes the true spouse.

    • I agree, that is why I put my foot down at work as I reported last week. The good news for this week is that I am only working 4 hours on Saturday instead of both Saturday and Sunday.

      • Michael,

        I feel you pain as I am doing an implementation on Sunday. My wife and I have these talks a lot and we are coping at the moment, but I have finally reached a point where I can have the conversation with her – How long do we want to keep doing this crazy job thing and how can we prepare for the exit to something more sane….

        • How long do we want to keep doing this crazy job thing and how can we prepare for the exit to something more sane….

          I keep thinking about running off to Vilcabamba, Ecuador with a red-haired massage therapist.

          But my wife won’t let me.

    • Marcus Johnson says

      When I was deployed to Iraq, I saw a lot of my fellow battle buddies making the same mistakes regarding mate selection. It’s so easy to get married, especially in the military, when a wedding ring comes with thousands of dollars’ worth of benefits, that sometimes folks forget to contemplate on whether they are getting married because they are ready for a lifelong relationship (one which could possibly involve significantly more stress than a civilian marriage) or because they just want to get married so they have something to check off on the “life card.”

  12. This may be the wrong way of looking at this, but I’ve identified more with the screw ups and wretched sinners of the Bible (some of whom God used to write His Word) than anyone else. This being the case, I wouldn’t look at divorce as disqualifying anybody to do anything, including ministry. Personally, I would gravitate toward a minister who has struggled with the same things I have (divorce being one). The main thing with divorce as with other sins is our we (politician, minister, average joe) repentant for it?

    • Marcus Johnson says

      This may be the wrong way of looking at this, but I’ve identified more with the screw ups and wretched sinners of the Bible (some of whom God used to write His Word) than anyone else.

      So do I. Wonder if that’s the reason why God inspired writers to preserve those stories? Hmmm…

    • I agree with your post, but I do find it a little annoying when a preacher who was previously stridently anti-divorce changes his tune when it happens to him – or not.

      Case 1.
      Charles Stanley, big SB church preacher who has a weekly TV show, said divorce is wrong, and if it happened to him, he would step down from the pulpit.

      It did happen to him, but he refused to step down. He is still a preacher at that church, still has a weekly TV show.

      Case 2.
      San Antonio blowhard preacher John Hagee (also has a daily show) on a pretty regular basis screams against divorce from the pulpit but neglects to mention he married the mistress he left his first wife for (you can find that information on the internet).

      I’m not against a divorced person acting as a pastor per se, I only find it irritating in situations such as Case 1 and Case 2.

      • Yes I understand how this is irritating. Not knowing the details of these situations, I hope everyone involved has found forgiveness and peace.

  13. Marriage can be hard.

    Those of us who claim Christ have some external impetus to try harder to make our marriages work, and have the example of God’s selfless love to guide us, but even then, we fail in our humanness. Take away that external impetus to endure hardships in marriage, which is the state of our secular world, and it’s amazing that more people aren’t divorced. And it’s not like politicians are known for high moral standards (as much as some speak it with their mouths…)

    My heart is still very Evangelical on this marriage issue; I still want to be judgmental about divorce and see those who have gone that route as being in terrible sin and just wrong and foolish… As I continue to learn more about Eastern Orthodoxy, I was surprised to see that they are graceful about divorce; they don’t endorse it, but recognize that in our human fallenness, it may be best for the spiritual life of those individuals and their families to not be together anymore. My own pride and judgmentalism shames me greatly when it’s brought to light.

  14. Richard Hershberger says

    Divorce is a fascinating test case for the modern church. If you choose to argue by proof texts, the proof text against divorce is far stronger than those used for the various culture war issues. It is direct and explicit, and comes from the Man himself. Yet divorce is accepted throughout nearly all segments of American society, including the vast majority of Evangelicalism.

    How to respond to this? The usual response it to discreetly ignore it. Nearly as good is to talk in circles around it. The local megachurch puts its pastors sermons online. There was a three-parter on divorce. I was curious how he would deal with it, so I listened to the first part. He began with Jesus saying we shouldn’t get a divorce except for adultery. He then went on a remarkably long and uninteresting ramble, eventually coming around to conclude that probably what Jesus meant by that was that we shouldn’t get a divorce except for adultery. During this I could sometimes hear the audience response. They seemed nervous listening about the subject. At one point the pastor digressed to take a gratuitous pot shot against gays with the old “Adam and Steve” line. The audience response was palpably relieved laughter at this chestnut. Pointing at other people was so much more palatable. In any case, I never could bring myself to listen to the other two parts, the first one being both pointless and dull.

    Oddly, the Evangelical response to divorce gives me hope. History is littered with culture war issues that nowadays just seem weird. My usual example is Sunday baseball, the mere idea of which was for many years shocking to all decent people. Divorce is another one of these. I am hopeful that today’s culture war issues will seem just as weird to future generations.

    • Richard, in a recent blog post by Jeri Massi she reviews a book by a sociologist who lived among Christian Fundamentalists. Here is something concerning divorce, similar to what you wrote:

      [Sociologist James] Ault’s next most disarming insight is that Fundamentalism relies upon situation ethics. He expressed surprise that the preacher, a man he came to admire, would thunder that divorce was always wrong, and everybody would shout “Amen!” yet several people in the church were divorced. They felt no incongruity about condemning divorce yet also being divorced. Ault learned that the Fundamentalist mindset believed that it believed in the absolutes that it claimed, yet the culture was one of addressing every situation individually and evaluating it in light of multiple factors. While remaining conservative and morally strict, Fundamentalism, nonetheless, relied upon situation for its moral decisions, not absolutes. Divorce, in the end, was NOT always wrong if a situation was one that was intolerable or “unavoidable”. The people, he noted, saw no contradiction in what they said vs what they actually practiced. They thought they believed in an absolute morality, and they practiced situation ethics.

    • You said,

      If you choose to argue by proof texts, the proof text against divorce is far stronger than those used for the various culture war issues. It is direct and explicit, and comes from the Man himself.

      Interesting points you made, but texts can be widely mis-interpreted.

      It’s the same thing with gender complementarians. The gender comps point to the same two or three verses as a basis to exclude all women from all ministry/preaching and to harp on “male headship” while ignoring the passages, stories, and verses that mention male/female equality, God allowing women to teach/preach to men, how Ephs. also has a verse saying all are to submit to each other (husbands are to submit to wives, not just wives to husbands). Gender comps ignore the over all themes of the Bible and mountains of examples that don’t fit with their little pet, favored 2 – 3 verses.

      It seems rather the same with divorce. See: What God Has Joined What does the Bible really teach about divorce?

  15. Well,what does Christ teach? We can all find many reasons in our minds to break the marriage sacrament, but is it all about us?

  16. Final Anonymous says

    MB, my guess is the 15% who are still together are not living what we think of as marriage. I’ve been knee-deep in politics, and I can’t think of a *single* marriage past ten years that wasn’t rife with infidelity (or “wife-swapping,” which seems to be viewed as the more ethical way to live the dream).

    I also can’t blame the long work hours. Politics is a completely different atmosphere, and the personality traits that are rewarded with success and high regard are the same ones that will drive narcissism and entitlement in a susceptible person.

    It is a grimy, dirty business, totally incompatible with any values Jesus taught, which is why I become livid about things like “the Christian candidate” or the one with the “biblical worldview” or who supports “biblical values” — they simply don’t exist; when you mix religion with politics, you get politics.

    • +1. You know what your geting into in politics… is it really fair to drag some unsuspecting person along to end up as a casualty?

    • to paraphrase P.T. Barnum, nobody ever went broke underestimating the total naïveté of much of the evangelical public…

  17. Brother Shmo says

    The fact that someone got a divorce should trigger empathy instead of judgement. Who are we to judge without knowing who was to blame? It is very rude (to say the least) to jump to the conclusion that both former partners were to blame, we don’t know what happened.

    This “you should be an example for all”-attitude is a horrible way of shutting all doors to openness, forgiveness and ultimately, love.

    It seems a very common practice to project our longing for perfection onto others, perhaps to hide our own imperfection but resulting in people having to live an impossible life/lie.

    I know the pain, the rejection, the feeling of utter failure; I have been there and can’t remember anything good coming out of these. Even now that we have been remarried for 10 years those scars are still there.

    • + 1 – and so sorry for both the pain brought by others in judgment as well as the pain that brought about divorce.

      My hunch is that nobody in their right mind would *want* to go through all of that…

      • Final Anonymous says

        Amen to both posts.

        The automatic judgments from the Christian community are absolutely heartbreaking — you are selfish, shallow, uncommitted, don’t care about your kids, Christ, sacraments, unwilling to work hard at marriage which is hard work, dangit…

        Happily remarried now, I’ll tell you that co-existing with another person, creating a good home for children, and dying to self for the greater good are NOTHING compared to the back-breaking hard work of trying to maintain and save a bad marriage, and then get myself and my children through a nasty divorce.

        • I agree with the first post.


          The automatic judgments from the Christian community are absolutely heartbreaking — you are selfish, shallow, uncommitted, don’t care about your kids, Christ, sacraments, unwilling to work hard at marriage which is hard work, dangit…

          You also get some of these same judgments if you have not married by your late or mid 20s.

          It’s assumed by evangelical Christian culture you are deliberately staying single or you are said to be selfish, lazy, etc. Even if you wanted marriage and tried to get married but merely could not find a partner, it’s assume you are to blame on some level.

    • I think you are right about the projection thing, too.

  18. What do you think could be done to prevent divorce, or reduce its incidence?

    • Final Anonymous says

      Are you looking for a serious response, or is this a rhetorical questions designed to wind back around to how men should be men, and those dang feminists need to get back to knowing their place?

      • Final Anonymous says

        I don’t mean that to sound so snarky. Just wanting to know so I don’t waste my time with a genuine response, if that’s not what you’re looking for anyway.

    • I would say reducing the marriage rate would be the best way to reduce the divorce rate. No marriages…no divorces.

      Seriously, I don’t think anything should be done. My parents divorced when I was just a wee child. It was the best thing for the family. They were simply incompatible. My mother had a serious rage problem and my father was a nitpicker who enjoyed pushing the buttons to get her into a rage. They lived through 19 years of that! It was only when the 70s came along and the taboos started breaking down that they took the exit ramp from their marriage.

      My 2 sisters (who are much older) have stark memories of the conflict. I, fortunately, only have a few. I was reared by my father and had a pretty good childhood, so in my case, I think divorce was for the best. Now my father never remarried as he to this day has a pretty dim view of women (at least those not related to him) so I never had to deal with a blended family or anything like that. And I didn’t have to deal with the shared custody thing so I didn’t have to lose every other weekend, either.

      • Until human beings are either perfect, precognitive (or both), there are going to be divorces.

        One thought on the stats: I bet we can’t even begin to imagine what divorce rates (from the mid-20th century on back) would be like if our current attitude toward divorce were to somehow become retroactive. So many people married because they had to, not because they wanted to (women especially), and love matches were very rare.

    • Adam Tauno Williams says

      First step would be giving up the notion that there is some patch or tweak we can apply to Modern American Lift and they get happy fulfilling life-long marriages and excellent loving families. Everything I hear on this topic sounds like some form of the aforementioned. The belief that you can get different results by doing the same things but more emphatically.

      The key to happier family units would be to construct them more deliberately, more thoughtfully, and to build human-scale life-styles. That almost certainly means doing less of other things, more money in the bank and less spent, fewer extravagances, smaller homes, etc… The current model of pushing the limits on everything is the anti-thesis of human-scale living; everyone living as though they are the baron and baroness.

      Curmudgeonly grumpy old me is actually somewhat hopeful that, at least in some circles, that is happening. It would be a very stressful time to be younger and becoming `established`. But some younger people are approaching these stressful times with a much more deliberate and thoughtful approach then I remember much of from my youth which had a plot arc of either fatalistic defeatism or ebullient triumphalism – both of which were misguided and misinformed.

      Fewer people should marry, but the marriage levels are returning to the much lower levels seen in the 10s, 20s, and 30s from their extreme highs in the 50s, 60s, & 70s. That itself will certainly have an impact on divorce rates. Some people shouldn’t marry – if you don’t want the married lifestyle. And society should not look askance at adult singles.

      Even for my wife and I, who have no children, when that topic comes up can note the much less patronizing or sad tone in peoples responses. The “Oh, I’m so sorry” automatic response from people has greatly declined.

      • Thanks for the answers

        1) I would hazard a guess that F.A. doesn’t believe that a return to traditional sex roles would solve anything

        2) cermak’s response “I don’t think anything should be [needs to be] done” is a fine reactionary response. I believe that about a lot of things.

        3) Adam is right. Asceticism and self-denial s a good answer to a lot of our issues. Marfriage was meant to reflect Paradise, not Utopia.

        • Adam Tauno Williams says

          > Asceticism and self-denial s a good answer to a lot of our issues.

          It certainly is much less stressful than living on the razor’s edge a breath away from financial ruin. Chronic stress and marriage [or relationships in general] are not a good mix. There are both existential and pragmatic upsides to refusing the Baronic Suburban lifestyle.

        • Mule said,
          “1) I would hazard a guess that F.A. doesn’t believe that a return to traditional sex roles would solve anything”

          It won’t.

          Feminism is not a blame-all boogeyman.

          Christians fail because of their own flaws, not because of feminism or some outside force.

          I don’t even agree with 90% or so of secular feminism, but I so tire of Christians who blame feminism for anything and everything when they are not blaming homosexuals for everything.

          Your cherished traditional gender roles are not biblical – they are codependency taught under a religious veneer.

          Make a list of typical so-called “biblical womanhood” roles, and then make one of typical codependency traits, and both lists will read about identical. And codependency is condemned in the Bible by God, it is NOT esteemed.

        • Nope, because it didn’t work in the first place, where most women are concerned. I hope you will understand that someday, Mule. But to do so, you’ll need to ditch some of the thinking you’re immersed in these days, and listen to women. Really listen to peoples’ stories, their hopes and dreams, instead of hanging out with manosphere types.

          Just my .02-worth…

  19. Well, Bill and Hillary are still married, but I don’t think there’s a corellation to his fidelity / honesty, either with his wife or with the electorate.

    • I wonder about them. I think in their case, they have an honest to goodness friendship going on. And their friendship is strong enough to cope with extended absences and to turn a blind eye to any dalliances. That seems like a pretty strong marriage to me.

  20. Just want to point out that it’s only half-true that evangelicals divorce just as much as the general population, since that comes up so often. The rate is about the same for self-identified evangelicals. But when you control for religious observance, those who practice their faith and attend church regularly divorce significantly less. It is still too high, of course – something like 30% instead of 50%.

    • A survey done a few years back of church members in our association places the divorce rate at less than 10%, but appears to be higher among newcomers than long time members.

      • The problems with surveying church members are…

        1. Those who were in church, but were subsequently divorced, and as a result dropped out of church would not be included in the survey.

        You have 240 married adult attendees at a church. 30 couples get divorced (60 people in total) and of these 20 individuals stay in the church.

        You now survey these 200 adult attendees of the church. 10% report having been divorced. (20 out of 200)
        The actual divorce rate is 60 out of 240 (or 25%).

        2. However because these adults are of average age, a certain percentage will still be divorcing in the future. That is why divorce rates are calculated on the probability of being divorced before 30 years of marriage. In my hypothetical case, the divorce rate as calculated at the 30 year mark will be much higher, probably somewhere between 30 and 40%.

        • Hard to say, Michael. At the time the survey was done some folks, myself included, had been married for 25+ years. Even so I would not be surprised if the figure were higher if the points you raised were factored in, but I seriously doubt it would exceed 20%. But that’s a guesstimate, I understand

          Although this is anecdotal, I know of only a handful of pastors or their wives in our association who were either divorced prior to marrying their current spouse or who divorced afterwards. Then again, I cannot speak for the future. For the present, however, the statistics look good.

          • Doesn’t all this beg the question of whether the church should be defined as an assembly of the pure, as is the anabaptist viewpoint, or as the ark of salvation, carrying the pure and impure alike, as is the catholic tradition? The matter of what constitutes a Christian, and the statistics that can be gathered about Christians, depends on how the church is defined. I’m tending toward the traditionally catholic viewpoint that all those baptized into the Trinity are in fact truly Christian, and so should be included in statistical measurements.

          • I do agree that I have no place to know for certain who is a “real Christian.” Still, from the standpoint of how it affects people’s lives, it seems sensible to look at those who actively live into their faith.

    • Final Anonymous says

      Causation, or just correlation?

  21. I have never married. I was in a long term serious relationship and was engaged in my late 20s and early 30s.

    I think Christians are far too hard on divorced people and too obnoxiously judgmental against them.

    Oh, ironically, IMO, Christians are ten times more rude and obnoxious towards never-married adults than they are the divorced.

    Singleness is NOT respected in American Christianity. I’ve read quite a bit on this issue.

    Some Christian authors pointed out in a book of theirs that I read that rather than encourage a divorced person to just stay single, and find peace in being single, all Christian books they read about divorce just ASSUMED that the divorced person needs to be re-married, or SHOULD be.

    Such books were chock full of tips to the divorced person on how to land ‘Spouse Number Two.’

    There was not even a notion that a person might want to stay single, or that it would be better to stay single. Living single is viewed in Christian culture as weird or failure. Those views needs to change.

    The Bible does not attach stigma, weirdness, or shame to adult singleness, but churches and Christians sure as hell do.

    I do think there are some people who are too cavalier about marriage, and so they divorce at the drop of a hat.

    I’m not exactly sure where the line is in my mind, whether it’s two or three or more divorces.

    I admit my eyebrow does shoot up when I hear a self professing Christian has been through three or more spouses. (At some point, you must realize, if you could not make marriage 1 and 2 and 3 work, perhaps you should stay single for the remainder of your life.)

    I don’t with-hold one divorce against a person, especially if they married young. People change as they age.

    The person you married at age 25, and they were 25, may not be the person you need or want when you are 40, (and no, I don’t mean as far as physical appearance goes, but I refer to inner characteristics, or incompatible life goals, that kind of stuff.)

    Sometimes a marriage fails because one person wants out, and it matters not how much Person 2 in that marriage tries to make it work, no matter how much they plead or beg or go to marital therapy.

    Sometimes people just drift apart, and that’s really not either person’s fault.

    I’ve heard very sad stories online by women who did NOT want a divorce, but their husband walked away from the marriage (not the wives)- and their churches, that they had gone to for years, blamed the woman equally for the marriage falling apart, and treated the women like trash. These women found it easier to quit such churches and leave.

    In some of these stories, the wives had to divorce the husband because the guy was beating the stuffing out of them daily or weekly; had they stayed, it would have been a life of perpetual misery or maybe even their deaths by abuse – but their churches did not care about the WHY, they just enjoy treating divorced people like big ol’ sinful failures or lepers.

    I always wanted to be married. I’m not exactly sure why I’m still single in my 40s. I have a few ideas as to why, and one of them is, ironically, I take marriage very serious.

    I apparently take marriage ten times more serious than most Christians, and the rest of society, who seem to feel it’s okay to cheat on a spouse, abuse a spouse, or divorce over a toothpaste cap being left on the counter.

    I’ve actually had to re-adjust my thoughts on marriage. I’d still like to get married, and intend on doing a lot of dating n the next few years, and try to get married…. but this time, I walk into the idea realizing it’s not so serious. You can divorce a guy if he’s not meeting your needs, or you fall out of love.. you don’t have to view marriage as being permanent.

    Nobody else takes marriage that serious, but I have been taking it very seriously, which has, I suspect, held me back and kept me single.

    What God Has Joined – What does the Bible really teach about divorce?

    As a single adult, btw, I am BEYOND sick of preachers making every other sermon about marriage!

    The marital sermons, and avalanche of marriage books and seminars, have done nothing to halt the protracted singleness among Christian adults or all the divorces among Christians.

    Sermonizing and blogging about how sacred and wonderful marriage is, and how yucky and sad divorce is, has not stopped Christians from divorcing quickly or often.