THIS article on the staggering increase in divorce and illegitimacy in one county in Iowa indicates that feminism and the economic autonomy of women are major factors. The writers don’t come right out and say it but it’s clear: most of the divorces are filed by women.
The piece by Sabrina Tavernese and Robert Gebeloff only indirectly points to another factor: contemporary Christianity. Sioux County is overwhelmingly Christian, with about 80 percent of the residents belonging to a major denomination. Since 1980, the number of married people for every divorced person has declined by more than 60 percent, from 52 to 18.
The one Christian preacher quoted suggests he is uncomfortable with the idea of pointing fingers when it comes to divorce.
“There’s a perception here that you need to be perfect,” said the Rev. John Lee, a young pastor who has tried to encourage change in Sioux County by taking on taboo topics like divorce and mental illness in his sermons.
“Cars are washed, lawns are mowed in patterns and children are smiling,” Mr. Lee added. “When you admit weakness, you invite shame.”
The opposite is apparently true. There is a perception that you don’t need to be perfect at all, especially when it comes to marital vows made in a church.
Let’s face it. Feel-good Christianity hasn’t just stood by and watched the divorce rate soar. It has actively encouraged it. Christians now overwhelmingly accept the idea that the purpose of marriage is self-fulfillment and reciprocal love.
There is an enormous banner outside a local Evangelical church near my home that invites one and all in huge letters to “Fresh Start: a Divorce Recovery Seminar.” This redefinition of Christian marriage is one more example of something even more disturbing and profoundly telling: the closing of the Christian mind. Christians can no longer think their way out of a paper bag. Principle eludes them. They are truly Christians of the Heart-land, oblivious to the fact that God created their minds too. Their preachers and priests feed them sentimentalities, not truth, or ignore the whirlwind of marital disruption like babies sleeping through a storm.
The purpose of Christian marriage is not love and mutual understanding. It is to give life to and responsibly raise the next generation. Love and mutual understanding are entirely secondary. But the Christian of today is too much in awe of his or her heartbeats to perceive or think of anything higher.
Read More »