The Log in Our Eye (Divorce and Gay Marriage, Part 2)

Photo by Tangopaso and Musaromana, Creative Commons

Photo by Tangopaso and Musaromana, Creative Commons

Depending on which study you look at, divorce rates among Evangelicals or Born-Again Christians are either equal to the national average or well below it. But they’re never under 25%. So one marriage out of four, at least, ends in divorce.

Whether this is better than the national average or not, it’s still very high. Much higher than you’d think, given Jesus’s strong words against divorce.

Why is this so? I don’t know, but I have a few observations.  I’ll work through them in more detail in subsequent posts, but today I’ll simply give an overview.

Idolatry of Family – we Evangelicals see the family as paramount. We ignore the Apostle Paul’s words about celibacy (1 Cor 7:8-9), and we push everyone to get married early.

The pressure is so subtle, we don’t even realize it’s there, but we’re soaking in it every day of our lives. We get married before we’re ready, and it sets too many of us on the path to divorce.

Purity Culture – alongside the pressure to marry young is the overwhelming pressure (at least on girls) to stay “pure” for marriage.

The ugly flip side of this is that girls who have sex before they are married (and something like 80% do), are often shamed, treated like damaged goods. Elizabeth Smart’s story is a chilling example of this. The emotional scars this shaming leaves can affect marriage for years down the line.

Purity Culture’s Empty Promises – If the stick wasn’t enough, purity culture has an equally damaging carrot. It’s implied, and sometimes even stated outright, that if you wait until your wedding night, everything will be awesome.

The truth is, virginity is no magic key to a perfect marriage. This should be obvious, and it’s a sign of how messed up things are that it isn’t.

Having mystically high expectations set up that reality can’t realistically meet? Not a good foundation for a marriage.

Game Face Churchianity – you’d think that at church, among your fellow believers, would be the place to share your struggles, to show vulnerability, to be true and authentic, even when it isn’t pretty.

Well, you’d think that unless you’d ever actually been to church.

Pray Away the Gay – I went to a Baptist college as an undergraduate. Several men I knew there got married right out of college, just like they were supposed to (see #1, above). Some even had kids, just like they were supposed to.

Then, down the line, they realized they were gay. Or they admitted to themselves that they were gay. Or they just couldn’t repress the fact that they were gay anymore.

Reparative therapy doesn’t work. That’s been proven to the point that the APA and AMA are both resolutely against it. Marrying a woman and hoping it will all work out certainly doesn’t work.

Dragging a woman (and even children) through that unnecessary hell is just plain inexcusable, but the greater guilt is on those who pressured the gay man to do it.

So What’s Left?

Maybe the answer isn’t found in Jesus’ words about divorce, but in his words about self-examination and self-righteousness in Matthew 7:3-5.

3 Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?

4 Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ and behold, the log is in your own eye?

5 You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.

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3 comments on “The Log in Our Eye (Divorce and Gay Marriage, Part 2)

  1. Paul Mayhan says:

    Astute observations as always. I’ll add something I’ve noticed lately, and that is the almost total lack of training in how to date effectively. By effectively, I mean the social skills in meeting potential mates and starting relationships (how to flirt if you will) and then the wisdom to ask the right questions and honestly examine the person one is dating to see if there is any potential to build a marriage with them BEFORE falling for them emotionally. I have watched many young people that had nothing wrong with them stay frustrated all through their late teens and through college because they couldn’t meet anyone. The evangelical church has done so much, especially with girls, to teach them to remain pure (which is good) that we’ve also discouraged them from developing as sexual creatures who are ready to be wives and husbands by the time they reach their early 20’s.

    • Tim Dedeaux says:

      You know, I never thought of that as the church’s responsibility, but I think you’re 100% right. I mean, if you want the next generation to be able to make good marriages and build strong families, then you need to teach them how to interact socially first.

      That is such a good point – it just leaves me speechless. I mean, the world isn’t going to break its survival of the fittest cliques, its superficial social molds. But as Christians, we should be able to reach past those, *and teach the next generation to do so as well.*

      And not just teach the popular Christian kids to reach down to those who are the losers in the world, but teach the unpopular Christian kids at least how to talk to people.

      I would have benefited a lot from this in my teenage years and beyond. But I think back then things were changing faster than adults could keep track of, and nobody knew it yet. I think it’s much more vital now, especially with the massive amounts of social isolation, online addiction, bullying, etc. going on.

      • Paul Mayhan says:

        I suppose it’s debatable if it really is the Church’s job to teach youngsters how to socialize, but if we are going to talk to them about sex and marriage then we probably owe them at least a few pointers on how to accomplish what we are asking them to. At the very least they need to receive the wisdom to have the right expectations, ask the right questions, and some idea of what it is to guard their hearts until they had determined if they were with someone viable for the long term. And I’m with you; I would have benefited greatly from having some basic training in this area, because I approached it totally wrong. It’s really the parents’ responsibility to teach kids how to make good life choices, but at the same time if the Church is going to take on the topic of dating and marriage, we should go ahead and give youngsters a complete set of training in the area.

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