Category Archives: family law

Knickers (and Facts) in A Twist over Repeal of Texlahoma “No-Fault”

TheDunlapsby Standerinfamilycourt

It has been an exciting spring legislative session in the southwest this year, as young lawmakers in Texas and Oklahoma have introduced common-sense bills curbing non-consenting unilateral divorce, and as both bills have recently made it out of their committees fairly intact.    The liberal press has been shrieking and howling its disapproval, especially in Oklahoma, where the measure also ends the perverse economic incentives from unilateral divorce by restoring stiff marital fault penalties to property division.

As is so typical of liberal grandstanding and industry lobbying, we’re hearing not of the millions of fathers whose fundamental right to protect and raise their children is being severed though they’ve done nothing objectively wrong,  nor of the adulterers sailing off with the unconscionable award of the innocent spouse’s retirement funds after a decades-long union which is suddenly deemed “irretrievable” by the court.   Instead we are hearing about the classic “abused poor woman” who will now find it harder to get a divorce because she might now have to actually prove the abuse with (gasp) evidence thereof.    As one of the expert witnesses giving testimony in Texas accurately pointed out to committee members on March 8, lawmakers cannot legislate to the extreme case (13:00),  as the liberals would like, but must do what’s best for society as a whole.

Rep. Travis Dunlap is a young lawmaker from Bartlesville, OK who was elected to the state house from his trade as a piano tuner.    Though he does not have the constitutional law background that his Texas counterpart has, he probably drafted the more effective of the two pieces of legislation in actually rolling back the abusive “no-fault” regime.    According to media accounts,  the original HB1277 drafted by Dunlap made it impossible for a court in Oklahoma to grant a divorce for “incompatibility” (the equivalent of “irreconcilable differences”) if the couple met one of three criteria:

– married for more than 10 years, or
– had a living child under age 18, or
–  a partner involved objects to the divorce.

A committee modification allows petitioners who fall into one of those categories to have a divorce granted by the court for “incompatibility”, but they must first go through an educational program about the impact of divorce.   Previously, petitioners only had to do that if they had a child under age 18, and the educational program was focused on the impact of divorce on children.    While this does not seem a particularly helpful modification from the standpoint of constitutional protections,  this bill has a very important strength that the Texas bill lacks:  it restores marital fault to the property settlement that results, as follows,

  “However, where the court finds by a preponderance of the evidence that one spouse caused the dissolution of marriage by committing at least one of the grounds for divorce, other than incompatibility, listed in Section 101 of this title, the court shall award only one-quarter (1/4) of the marital property to that spouse and the other spouse shall retain the remaining three-quarters (3/4) of the marital property…….

“Upon granting a decree of dissolution of marriage, annulmentof a marriage, or legal separation, where the court finds by apreponderance of the evidence that one spouse caused thedissolution, annulment or separation by committing at least one of the grounds for divorce, other than incompatibility, listed in Section 101 of this title, the court shall order that party to paythe other party’s expenses, including attorney fees.”

Perverse and unjust economic incentives play such an enormous role in the abusiveness of existing family laws,  and so drives the egregious behavior of the divorce industry “professionals” who have far more interest in shredding families than defending them, that no reform is likely to be sustainable without addressing this, as the Oklahoma bill has nicely done.    As a direct consequence, Rep. Dunlap has predictably drawn the venom of the state Bar and the unrelenting scorn of Oklahoma’s leftists in the press.    The committee vote was 7-5 on February 27, to refer the bill on for a floor vote which must occur by the May 26 end of the Oklahoma 56th legislative session.   The Senate sponsor of the bill is Sen. Josh Brecheen of Coalgate, Oklahoma.   Unlike Texas, Oklahoma does not have a strong family policy council any longer,  and videos of the committee testimony do not seem to be available.      One recent article says this, “Dunlap, who represents District 10, said he now does not expect the bill to see a vote in the House but is interested in continuing his efforts. ”     We hope and pray that Rep. Dunlap  does just that.

Rep. Matt Krause’s Texas bill was the subject of an earlier blog post.   That bill, which simply eliminates no-fault grounds where there is not a mutual-consent petition has been favorably referred by a 4-3 committee vote on April 12, and must somehow achieve a floor vote by the May 29 end of the legislative session.     This bill does not address several onerous provisions that would remain unchanged in the Texas Statute which could effectively still result in a contested dissolution being granted to an offending spouse over the moral objections of the non-offending spouse, including this provision:

Sec. 6.006. LIVING APART. The court may grant a divorce in favor of either spouse if the spouses have lived apart without cohabitation for at least three years.

Often, the innocent original spouse who does not believe in marriage dissolution because of scriptures such as Matthew 19:6 and 8, Romans 7:2-3 and 1 Cor. 7:10-11 and 39,  has non-cohabitation forced on them by the offending spouse, and has little or no control over this circumstance, especially if the offending spouse is in an adulterous relationship or has a history of physical abuse of household members.    This should therefore not be left under the sole control of the offending party if unilateral divorce is to be eradicated, and constitutional protections balanced.    We should also  note that the [unchanged] “cruelty” ground  contains this phrase which still refers to “insupportability” but does not objectively or measurably define “cruel treatment” :

The court may grant a divorce in favor of one spouse if the other spouse is guilty of cruel treatment toward the complaining spouse of a nature that renders further living together insupportable 

(Apparently, rogue  attorneys and “abused poor women” can restore “insupportability” simply by alleging cruel treatment under sec. 6.005, which this bill still does not, for all purposes, make them actually prove under its ongoing vague definition — how novel!)

In the unlikely event that Texas HB93  achieves a floor vote by the end of the session, there’s no question that there will be some back doors left wide open to unilateral divorce, but the period of time required will be lengthened.    If it dies  in the 85th session  without being voted on, we hope it will be re-introduced next session with some of these issues further addressed.

We covered a list of practical actions Texas and Oklahoma citizens can take to support these bills in the last blog on this topic, but let’s run through a few briefly again:

(1) Call the state capitol and ask for a floor vote:
Joe Straus
Speaker of the House (Texas)
(512) 463-1000
(512) 463-0675 Fax

Charles McCall
Speaker of the House (Oklahoma)
(405) 557-7412

(2) Engage your church and pastor – ask for a few minutes to talk to the congregation about the religious freedom and due process issues with the so-called “no-fault” system and how it has led to every other kind of  immorality, from same-sex attraction to the high abortion and suicide rates.    Explain that citizen engagement is needed at the grass roots to counter the overwhelming divorce industry lobby and liberal press.   If they sent busloads of the faithful to the state capitol 2 or 3 years ago to combat gay “marriage”,  challenge them on why this isn’t every bit as weighty a matter to the church’s families.

(3) Call Texas Values and ask what they are doing to support HB93. (Unfortunately, we’re not aware of a functioning family policy council in Oklahoma at this time).

(4) Sign a petition if you get a chance.   The Ruth Institute has one for Texas that can be found here.

(5) No matter which state you call home, please take time to call and write to encourage Reps. Krause and Dunlap.     Pray for them, and let them know it.


Divorce Reform, Repenting Prodigals and Covenant Marriage “Standers”
While there is broad agreement in the marriage permanence community that repealing unilateral divorce is best for the future of our nation, many of us have either already been unjustly divorced and seen our spouse remarry adulterously  (by biblical standards, that is – since we, their true spouse in God’s eyes, are still alive), or others of us have come to biblical conviction that we had wrongfully “married” someone else’s divorced spouse, and needed to exit that union to be right with God.    So, though meaningful reform of the unilateral family-shredding machine remains a long shot with plenty of deep-pocketed, well-connected opposition,  we should look at where such reforms leave our wandering spouses who need to exit those immoral, civil-only  unions and rebuild their covenant families.    The subsequent divorce rate is significantly higher for legalized adultery resulting from the divorce culture, and it escalates with each round of serial polygamy under easy divorce laws.    Just how hard will divorce reform make repentance from remarriage adultery under the two bills being considered ?    Here’s an analysis for each:

Oklahoma, under HB1277:   Mutual-consent petitions continue to permit no-fault grounds, but if the adulterous union produced a minor child or has lasted at least 10 years, an education class must be attended before dissolution can be granted.     It is likely that a repenting prodigal exiting the adulterous remarriage will leave 75% of the marital assets with their ex-spouse unless that spouse has committed a serious, provable offense against the marriage.     Assets can be replaced, but souls certainly cannot.    Even so, assets brought in from the “dissolved” covenant marriage (very importantly including retirement accounts) are not considered part of the marital assets of the subsequent faux marriage and would not be forfeited by decree, however the repenting spouse would also likely have to absorb all the legal costs of getting free of their legalized adultery.     Waiting period:  180 days.

Texas, under HB93:  Mutual-consent petitions permit insupportability grounds but if the subsequent spouse does not consent and the repenting prodigal separates in order to end the practice of adultery (as he / she must do regardless), then after one year the now-abandoned spouse may file a fault-based petition which will be granted upon evidence, or they may agree to a mutual-consent petition sooner, and if HB65 also passes, the waiting period will be 180 days.   Alternatively, the if the repenting spouse moves back in with their covenant spouse,  grounds of adultery are then available to the now-abandoned subsequent spouse.  If the non-covenant still declines to file a grounds-based petition, the repenting prodigal may file after 3 years of continuous separation on the basis of non-cohabitation.    Assets would be divided on the same basis as current law but this  would not include any assets brought from the prior covenant marriage.

“Standerinfamilycourt” always encourages mutual petitions rather than dragging anyone into a pagan court (1 Cor. 6:1-8)  in the process of repenting of an adulterous remarriage, as a growing number are doing these days upon learning the biblical truth on the matter.     If prayer doesn’t produce a consenting, mutual petition, repenting prodigals can always take comfort in the biblical fact that no state has dissolved the marriage of their youth in God’s eyes, nor was the subsequent “remarriage” ever considered valid in His courtroom.    They are free to resume their union without the state’s blessing and are not actually in sin if they do so.   The Lord will then sort out the legal matters in His own way.

‘So they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate’….He said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart Moses permitted you to divorce your wives; but from the beginning it has not been this way.     Matt. 19:6, 8

And Jesus said to them, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”   Matt. 12:17

(SIFC:  Would like to give a shout-out and thanks to Bai MacFarlane of Mary’s Advocates, who has established contact with Rep. Krause’s office and has provided some of the not-yet-posted details needed to complete this post.)

7 Times Around the Jericho Wall  |  Let’s Repeal Unilateral Divorce! 











Dear Moody Radio Share 2017

by Standerinfamiycourt

On Wed, 3/22/17, Moody Radio, Share 2017 <> wrote:Subject: There’s Still Time to Give!
To: [standerinfamilycourt]
Date: Wednesday, March 22, 2017, 9:52 AMWe are so close, but we still need your help!{ SIFC noteabout 8% short of goal on the day after their recent 3-day funding campaign ended, about the same as in the four prior years.]
If you haven’t already given during Share 2017, will you help Moody Radio reach our national goal?
So many of you have already given, but we are still short of our total need. If you have considered giving, it is not too late.
Remember, when you give to Share, you are sharing the good news of Jesus Christ in your community and across the globe.
Please prayerfully consider a generous gift today and Share the Word with others!


On Sun, 3/26/17,  <“standerinfamilycourt”> wrote:

Subject: Re: There’s Still Time to Give!
To: “Moody Radio” <>
Date: Sunday, March 26, 2017, 1:13 PM

Dear Moody Radio Management,

Perhaps this shortfall Moody keeps experiencing over the past few years is the Lord’s chastening, and not the economy.   Many of us certainly love Up for Debate and most other Moody programs, but can offer no money for Moody Radio until all programs that regularly sanction legalized adultery are ceased and apologized for.  If there’s a need for a “blended family pastor” ( just because he appears to be a “successful” legalized adulterer), it’s not surprising at all.  People living in defiance of God’s clear word, rightly-divided, have homes absolutely rife with dysfunction – how can it be otherwise with the coveting and wrongful retention of another’s God-joined, covenant spouse (Matt. 19:6; Mal.2:14) ?  It is the wicked desire to cling to this soul-destructive ongoing state of sin that fuels the demand for the likes of “Pastor” Ron Deal, as well as wicked books written by a host of adulterers and adulteresses (James 4:4).

Moody has on occasion shamelessly even offered these books as a donation-spurring mechanism, tickling the ears of people who desperately need to instead repent.  Programs such as Focus on the Family, Family Life, and Building Relationships are three among many on Moody which are an affront to the kingdom of God for this reason, encouraging millions to live for self instead of taking up their cross of forgiveness and obedience to the harder commandments of Christ.

ὃς                    ἐὰν         ἀπολελυμένην                      γαμήσῃ          μοιχᾶται
whoever          if             her having been divorced     shall marry   commits [ present-indicative verb tense – Matt. 532b; Matt 19:9b-KJV, Luke 16:18 adultery  

What IS surprising is Moody’s unabashed embrace of something that’s pointing the audience to hell instead of away from hell.  R A Torrey would have been appalled, since Jesus stated on 3 different occasions that EVERYONE who marries a divorced person is committing ongoing adultery.

Torrey, in “How to Pray” (1900):  “The prevailing immorality is found everywhere.  Look at the legalized adultery we call divorce.  Men marry one wife after another and are still admitted in good society; and women do likewise.   There are thousands of supposedly respectable men in America living with other men’s wives, and thousands of supposedly respectable women living with other women’s husbands.”


It is on this same basis Paul stated twice to the body of believers that no unrepentant adulterer has any inheritance in the kingdom of God, and also stated twice that only death, not any act of men, dissolves God-joined holy matrimony or severs the God-created,. supernatural one-flesh entity (sarx mia) which Jesus described in Matt. 19:6.

History has shown that no society can stand for more than 2-3 generations after enacting unilateral divorce if church leadership also accommodates it rather than remaining salty in resistance – witness ancient Israel who had to undertake the purging repentance from unlawful marriages described in Ezra, chapters 9 and 10, to recover their nation.   Witness the late Roman Empire which was vanquished two generations after enacting the equivalent of today’s unilateral divorce — but Christ’s church survived and thrived because early church fathers were nearly unanimous in the faithful teaching that only death ends holy matrimony, and in disciplining its adulterers in the fashion Paul instructed in 1 Cor. 5.   Failure to repent always leads to an insufficient number of well-adjusted citizens to overcome the rising numbers of wounded, deranged, demented and dysphoric citizens produced when both church and state institutionalize what Jesus consistently called adultery.


Two states with rare, godly legislators (Texas and Oklahoma) are currently working to repeal this immoral and unconstitutional civil law that has cost much of the church its very integrity over the past 5 decades — why do we hear nothing of this on Moody?   Where is the call to prayer and fasting for God’s kingdom to come on earth as it is in heaven?   Could it be the snare of the fear of man is greater than the fear of God?

Respectfully, There’s Still Time to REPENT !

 7 Times Around the Jericho Wall |   Let’s Repeal No-Fault Divorce!

Will They Do It? Another State Attempts to Repeal Unilateral Divorce

KrauseFamilyby Standerinfamilycourt

It appears that the first major effort since 2006 by a state legislator to roll back so-called “no fault” (unilateral divorce) has been underway since the last session of Texas legislature, sponsored by Rep. Matt Krause, recently re-elected to a third term.

Rep Krause is the son of a Baptist pastor who attended Liberty University School of Law and is a constitutional attorney who opened up a branch of the Christian legal defense firm Liberty Counsel in Fort Worth, TX.  The  Krauses have four young children and are in their mid-thirties.

From a December 28 post by a local news service:

A one-page bill, filed by Rep. Matt Krause, R-Fort Worth, will make it harder for couples to separate, by ending [the “ground” of]  “insupportability”

FB profile 7xtjw SIFC: (“insupportability” is functionally equivalent to the civil charge of  “irreconcilable differences” in most other states.  Liberal bias in the press coverage often deceitfully implies mutuality in the assessment, by paraphrasing in terms like  “the couple can no longer stand” to live with each other.)

Per the Texas Statute, as currently enacted:

Sec. 6.001.  INSUPPORTABILITY.  On the petition of either party to a marriage, the court may grant a divorce without regard to fault if the marriage has become insupportable because of discord or conflict of personalities that destroys the legitimate ends of the marital relationship and prevents any reasonable expectation of reconciliation.   Enacted, 1997

At some point between the original 1970 enactment of unilateral divorce in Texas and 1997, there was a re-write of the statute which Judy Parejko described in her 2001 book, “Stolen Vows”,  where the provision for mutuality in the petition was surrepetitiously  taken out of the enacted language.    From Day 1, the members of the Texas Bar refused to implement the law on that enacted basis, until they finally succeeded in changing it, just prior to the time that attorney Ed Truncellito brought his failed constitutional challenge of the false language in a 2000 case.    FB profile 7xtjw

The local article continues:

Krause says ending no-fault divorces would keep the family together as well as add protection to the spouse who might not want to split up.

“There needs to be some type of due process. There needs to be some kind of mechanism to where that other spouse has a defense,” said Rep. Krause, who filed the same bill last session.   He hopes lawmakers will pick up the issue earlier in the 2017 Legislative session.

He also filed a bill to extend the waiting period for a divorce from 60 days to 180 days.


What would a successful effort by Rep. Krause mean to the community of covenant marriage standers, also to repenting prodigals, in the highly unlikely event that this attempt to repeal “no-fault” (unilateral, non-consenting) divorce succeeds in Texas?  As is all too typical in the liberal press, this local article was written in such a way as to misinform the public on both sides of the issue.
Success is actually highly unlikely, especially without ardent support from the churches of Texas, who are more likely to ignore the bill, or give it only tepid support.   We attempted to contact Rep. Krause through his Facebook page, to ask him if he at least had the support of his state family policy council, but he did not respond:

We would like to follow the progress of your bill, Rep. Krause. What is the bill #, if we may ask ?

Another question: are you familiar with what author Judy Parejko wrote in her 2001 book, “Stolen Vows” about the original statute language in Texas,and the contrary way it was implemented?

Are there any Family Policy groups supporting you at all?

Thanks, and Godspeed! 

We must nevertheless keep praying for the coast-to-coast repeal of unilateral divorce.    The bill before the Texas legislature, introduced by Rep. Krause is HB93, whose progress can be followed here.    It is telling that its sponsor would like this bill to come up for a vote “earlier in the 2017 session.”    That’s because he had to re-introduce it, since it failed to be brought to a vote in the prior session.


TX HB93_2017

Texas does indeed have a family policy council:

Texas Values
Jonathan Saenz, President
900 Congress, Ste. 220
Austin, TX 78701
Phone: 512-478-2220

The 85th Texas Legislature is dominated by Republicans in both the House and the Senate, so grass-roots citizen efforts to support this bill would appear to be fairly effective, notwithstanding the stiff, well-financed opposition that is likely to come from the Texas Bar Association and the ABA.    We would strongly encourage our page followers living in Texas to take several practical steps to give this bill a chance for enactment:

–  go to your pastor and make sure he is aware of this bill.   It seems to be getting some publicity, but mostly biased and unfair publicity.   Ask him to contact Texas Values and state legislators in support of it.   Make sure your pastor understands the connection between unilateral divorce and gay marriage / threats to religious liberty, and that “Respondents” to a unilateral divorce petition were the very first Christians to lose their religious liberty on the altars of the Sexual Revolution.

contact Texas Values yourself, and ask them to support the bill with publicity spend and legislator contacts.  To their extreme credit, their page does call out unilateral divorce as an issue.    To their discredit, a perusal of their page shows that they’ve not done a blog piece on the bill from the time it was filed in November, 2016 to-date.   (You may also need to point out the religious liberty issue to them, and remind them of what was documented in the early constitutional challenge cases by actual Texas judges in the 1970’s.

– do the obvious and keep pressure on your state legislators to support the bill.   The other side will most certainly be doing so.

re-share this post, and ecourage everyone you know to do the same.

maintain supportive contact with Rep. Krause through the link to his page that we provided above.   Pray for him, and let him know it.

For now, we just make a few practical point-outs:

(1) If this succeeds, it’s a necessary matter for full repentence as a nation (and more importantly as a CHURCH) to help stay God’s hand of judgment on this nation at its true root.

(2) The last state to make this sort of attempt was Michigan in 2006. Despite the lonely backing of the Family Research Council, the effort was defeated by heavy, well-funded opposition from the Michigan Bar who argued that people would simply cross state lines to get their “blameless” divorce, saddling the state later on with administering it. (Ironically, most of the fee revenue to attorneys comes for years after the divorce if there are children involved — so this argument, while true in its first point was spurious and dishonest in its totality – just like this article.)

(3) Make no mistake, unless there is an option preserved for MUTUALLY ending a civil-only marriage by agreed peitition with agreed terms (only), this will make it infinitely more costly to repent of an adulterous or sodomus union entered into with someone else’s spouse. Imagine going into family court with a formal charge of adultery saying “I’m the adulterer, and she is as well, because only death dissolves her original covenant marriage, not the State of Texas, Your Honor.” (No 20th-21st century judge has ever cared that the bible makes it clear that remarriage is an ongoing state of adultery, as Jesus repeated in the same words at least 3 recorded times, and that dying in this state is a matter of heaven-or-hell, as Paul stated at least twice.)   There was a time when our judges did know this, and when they ruled accordingly.

(4) Repenting prodigals under Texas jurisdiction will need to be prepared to live apart from their noncovenant, counterfeit mate immediately, and for 3 years thereafter if the forced unilateral clause is removed without replacing it with a true mutual “no fault” petition — which (contrary to the bias of the local article), NO state has ever had.
(**Except for Texas, as noted above, but only on the statute books, not in practice or interpretation).
Hopefully, repenting prodigals will realize that man’s law is inferior to God’s law and that the latter is all that is required to live morally and righteously with their true, God-joined spouse. — Expect legal hiccups for the covenant family and fiery censure from the apostate church in the meantime! Here’s where the voice of true Christ-followers in the marriage permanence community is going to need to be more grounded and resolute than ever.

(5) No state is likely to gain any traction on this issue until the neighboring states do. And that’s unlikely until the church stops performing adulterous weddings or signing civil marriage licenses, thereby boycotting the culture of serial polygamy and all of its entrenched instruments including state “jurisdiction”.

Currently, fault-based divorces in Texas must fall into one of six categories: adultery, cruelty, abandonment and a felony conviction, living apart for at least three years or confinement to a mental hospital.    Rep. Krause was also quoted on January 8 by Maria Anglin of the San Antonio Express-News as saying he’d like for the three years to be reduced to one year if the petition alleges abandonment – in our opinion, not an improvement since most experts say that the average length of an extramarital infatuation is two years.   Texas is one of the few major states that still offers fault-based divorce, with Illinois repealing all fault-based grounds in 2015 in a profoundly immoral overhaul of its “family laws”.

We will do our best to establish contact with Rep. Krause and with Texas Values, so that we can keep you informed of progress.

7 Times Around the Jericho Wall  |   Let’s Repeal No-Fault Divorce!

Let’s Take an AUTHENTIC Stand for Marriage, Christian Right

NatMarriageWkby Standerinfamilycourt

February 7 – 14 is National Marriage Week.
During this week, there will be much going on that is vital and valuable to our nation, but there will be no getting away from the fact that in the corrupted culture of contemporary evangelicaldom, it will be “finders keepers”, and millions in faux “marriages” which are not holy matrimony, will be encouraged to stay there at the peril of their very souls.  The excellent organization, promotes it in this audio link dated January 5, 2017.

Talking about marriage “permanence” is politically acceptable to this crowd, but it will not resolve the nation’s problems because it will not touch the root issue.   Rather, the message needs to be around the far more relevant and offensive topic of holy matrimony indissolubility, according to Matt.19:6,8 and Luke 16:18. This needs to be in the heaven-or-hell terms that Jesus and Paul unflinchingly cast it.

Some crucial topics not likely to be on this year’s agenda:

– When will pastors stop performing weddings that Jesus repeatedly called adulterous (and tell the congregation why) ?

– When will pastors stop signing civil marriage licenses that reflect the only unenforceable contract in American history, and which since 1970, in no way corresponds to Christ’s Matt. 19:4-6 definition of marriage?

– When will pastors stop smearing and stigmatizing the growing stream of true disciples of Jesus Christ who are coming out of adulterous civil unions to in order to recover their inheritance in the kingdom of God? [1 Cor. 6:9-10; Mal. 5:19-21-KJV)

– When will repealing unilateral divorce in all 50 states become as high a moral priority as outlawing the slave trade, or repealing Row. v. Wade, or ending sodomous “marriages” ?

Given what Jesus and Paul both had to say about remarriage adultery (repeatedly by each), true revival when it arrives, is going to look horrifying to the organizers of National Marriage Week, but it will be pleasing to God.   The horror will not be due to the repenting prodigals, but due to five decades of false, hireling shepherds not doing the job the Owner of the fold gave them to safeguard souls first, and then covenant families.


7 Times Around the Jericho Wall  |  Let’s Repeal No-Fault Divorce!

The Obstructed View from 2002: Debating One-Flesh and Covenant From the Pulpit

FoundersBaptby Standerinfamilycourt

Where is the wise man? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?   For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not come to know God, God was well-pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe.   For indeed Jews ask for signs and Greeks search for wisdom;  but we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles foolishness,  but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.   Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.    1 Corinthians 1:19-24

Sometimes in this ministry, the Lord puts an unexpected enlightenment in our hands which allows us to get a very interesting glimpse of what has gone before in the history of the remarriage debate within the evangelical Protestant church.    A late-night instant message linked SIFC to a very interesting recorded sermon where in late 2002, a Baptist pastor from Spring, TX was doing an excellent job of debunking 1 Corinthians 7, faithfully setting the record straight, section by section, on just who Paul was addressing with his various pieces of instruction, and methodically closing the door on the various evangelical heresies that proliferate (like mold) from the humanist propensity to “run with” advice that Paul meant for a different group, while ignoring the context (and even the content) of what he wrote within the same chapter.    We have also blogged recently on this 1 Cor. 7 topic.

Despite the excellent insights this man of God was bringing forward in his message, around 25 minutes in he attempted to use the term “agamos” [ἄγαμος] , as in “let her remain unmarried” per 1 Cor. 7:11,  to assert that man’s divorce was real in God’s eyes and that it indeed dissolved what both Jesus and Paul asserted could only be dissolved by death and by God’s hand.   If according to Paul she is “no longer married”,  he argued,  how can her marriage not actually be dissolved in God’s eyes?   Overlooked is the fact that this passage is silent as to whether a civil divorce is actually undertaken by either spouse,  rather than a mere separation.    “Gamos” can mean either wedding or marriage, i.e. uniting with a spouse, so Paul’s usage could simply mean in a literal sense, “without a new spouse / wedding” while remaining perfectly consistent with Paul’s overall message about indissolubility except by death.   This presumption on Rev. Caldwell’s part that man’s divorce dissolved holy matrimony was troubling, and since this message was part of a 12-part series,  SIFC couldn’t help but wonder how this pastor treated the topic of God’s character in covenant, as well as the crucial topic of the one-flesh state and its severability or inseverability by acts of men short of dying.

Fortunately, this entire sermon series is available online, so a listen to the very first installment of the series proved a bit infuriating, but still very worthwhile for gleaning some insights into the development of evangelical heresies in both of those two pivotal matters, treatment of covenant, and treatment of the one-flesh state joined by God’s hand.    So pivotal and central is a correct understanding of these, that if that foundation isn’t rock-solid, there is no adequate foundation for discerning or refuting the full range of divorce and remarriage heresies.    (The only thing that’s equally pivotal in this regard is a correct understanding of the betrothal nature of our salvation, binding on heaven, but revocable by us through choosing to die in a persistent state of willful disobedience to His commandments.)   Naturally, a Calvinist-leaning Baptist pastor is far more likely to temper his marriage permanence views on  the notion of “once saved, always saved”,  especially when faced with the discomfort of needing to admonish those who are living in a state of being adulterously “married” to someone else’s one-flesh partner, or when faced with the need to refuse to perform such a wedding.    We know of only one (part-time) Baptist pastor whose “pastoral care” is biblically faithful to that extent.

Why did SIFC find the content of that first sermon on Genesis 2:18-24 infuriating as well as enlightening?    First, it strikes us as highly unusual for a pastor, already brave enough to do a 12-part sermon series on marriage,  divorce and remarriage,  to do any sort of a studious “deep dive” into the supernatural nature of the one-flesh state.   It far better serves the evangelical marriage revisionists to claim that the one-flesh state is a gradual human process accruing over the course of the union, rendering counterfeit spouses   interchangeable  with covenant spouses, with the passage of time.   Even the very commendable, and far more accurate series by Church of Christ pastor David Sproule  in 2013 didn’t linger long on the topic of one-flesh.   What was triggering this in 2002, and why have we heard so little about it from any pulpits since?

Secondly, Rev. Caldwell of Spring, TX seemed to be coming up with a very novel treatment of Jesus’ command in Matthew 19:6, “therefore what God has joined, let no man separate.”   He argues, while stating that John MacArthur also makes this point (but we must have missed it), that Jesus was not referring to individual couples in His commandment, but to the institution of holy matrimony as a whole.   This, of course, implies that God covenants with an institution, but with regard to any given pair that He has joined, it’s a sliding covenant, that is, it is in bearer form.    The sole biblical “support” offered for this idea is tenuous at best.   Caldwell argues that Jesus’ use of the word translated “what” was deliberately chosen not to mean “whom“.   That word in the original text shows as     ( 3739 [e]
ho ), according to both and    As we drill into the concordance reference, we find that it can mean either “what” or “whom”, depending on the context.    We feel the context of Jesus’ words argues far more strongly for “whom“,  otherwise Jesus would have been agreeing with the Pharisees and Moses, which He obviously did not do.    If Caldwell got the notion and its support solely from MacArthur, it’s no surprise, the latter being notorious for the liberties he takes with his scriptural eisogesis when it comes to defending marriages that Jesus and Paul repeatedly called adulterous.   Many denominations prefer, post-1970’s, to treat this verse as though it isn’t there – ignore it.   Caldwell and MacArthur apparently prefer to redefine it.   This appears to be a concept that didn’t develop the traction to go anywhere after that. 

With regard to the first thing that’s noteworthy about Caldwell’s sermon, he mentions the work of Dr. William Heth of Taylor University in Indiana, an interdenominational Christian college.  Caldwell is impressed (as are we) with Heth’s insight in his 1985 book, co-authored with Dr. Gordon Wenham,  Jesus and Divorce:  The Problem with the Evangelical Consensus, specifically, that the one-flesh joining of holy matrimony is a point-in-time event effected by God’s hand, and not a gradually-accruing process.

It turns out that the year 2002 produced quite a lot of scholarship (and pseudo-scholarship) on marriage ethics that apparently triggered Caldwell’s sermon series.   That was the year that Dr. David Instone-Brewer published his studious, but thoroughly heretical book,  Divorce and Remarriage in the Bible

and it was a few years before Dr. Robert A. J. Gagnon of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary wrote an excellent scholarly paper rebutting that book.   In 2002, the first of the tyrannical same-sex marriage lawsuits was surfacing in Massachusetts resulting in court-ordered legalization of sodomous nuptials the following year, and several years before the hypocritical implications of fighting off this development and its totalitarian fallout while cleaving fiercely to its entrenched system of legalized institutionalized adultery would begin to plague the evangelical church.   In that same year, 2002, the Southern Baptist Journal of Theology published opposing pieces by  Heth, who had now decided to align with Instone-Brewer in a reversal of conviction,  and his former co-author Dr. Gordon Wenham who held true to the biblical position.    This journal edition was also just beginning to grapple with the political rise of the homosexualist lobby.    It is fairly likely that these 2002 developments were at least the backdrop, if not the actual trigger for Caldwell’s unusual deep-dive into one-flesh joining and God’s role in it.

For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I striving to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ.    –  Galatians 1:10

As mentioned before, Heth had recently been influenced to change his earlier position to the liberal position of Instone-Brewer, a journey he describes in this journal article.    This 2002 article reveals that Heth was not only swayed by the pseudo-scholarship of Instone-Brewer but also by two of the scholars mentioned  (and quite convincingly rebutted) by Drs. Jones and Tarwater in their 2005 paper,  Are Biblical Covenants Dissoluble?  : Toward A Theology of Marriage.   That scholar was  G. Hugenberger, author of Marriage as a Covenant,  in which he purported to cite Old Testament instances where God abandoned various covenants as evidence that the marriage covenant was dissoluble if one of the human parties declared it dissolved.
[FB profile 7xtjw SIFC  noteIf Hugenberger’s  rationale truly reflected God’s reality, this would greatly blunt the Christian community’s motivation to set aside their carnal proclivities and take a strong moral, political stand against the constitutionality of unilateral (“no-fault”) divorce, would it not?   Instead, we have religious freedom legal defense ministries shamefully adopting a blanket policy not to get involved in such cases, claiming there’s only an “incidental” violation.]

To be clear, both Heth and Wenham had always taken the politically-correct Protestant position that divorce was “allowed” for so-called biblical grounds, hence that it was recognized by God and effectual in dissolving covenant marriage, but prior to Heth’s change of heart, both men agreed that remarriage while that “former”  covenant spouse lived was forbidden by scripture.    If a premise is incorrect in some respect, it’s really difficult to be on-target in the scholarly discussion that falls out from that.    If divorce is indeed deemed to dissolve the marriage bond in God’s eyes (as per Hugenberger), what basis actually remains at the end of the day for forbidding remarriage?    Indeed if either choice, to remarry or not to remarry, has no effect on either spouse’s eternal destination, why does the debate matter at all, in the first place, against that Calvinist backdrop?   Heth  journeyed to this new place, he tells us, under “concern” for the opinion of other renowned scholars toward his earlier work (fear of man exceeding the  fear of God), and because Instone-Brewer’s arguments seemed compelling to him, as did Hugenberger’s.

What then? If some did not believe, their unbelief will not nullify the faithfulness of God, will it?  May it never be! Rather, let God be found true, though every man be found a liar, as it is written,
That You may be justified in Your words,
And prevail when You re judged.”    –  Romans 3:3-4

From the Jones & Tarwater 2005 rebuttal to Hugenberger and Heth, page 10:

“…both Köstenberger and Heth appeal to the work of Gordon Hugenberger as the basis for their belief that covenants may be dissolved. Hugenberger contends that covenants can be both violated and dissolved, asserting that these ideas are conveyed by the same Hebrew expression (Hiphil of parar + berith).32 In order to corroborate this claim, Hugenberger cites fourteen scriptural examples of covenants that were ostensibly dissolved (Gen. 17:14; Lev. 26:44; Deut. 31:20; 1 Kgs. 15:19; Isa. 33:8; 24:5; Jer. 11:10; 14:21; 31:32; 33:20; Ezek. 16:59; 17:15; 44:7; Zech. 11:10-11).33

Despite Hugenberger’s monumental contribution to the study of biblical covenants, we are not persuaded by his evidence for dissolubility. While Hugenberger correctly notes that the Hebrew word parar may be translated with the English term “broken” or “annulled”34 — connoting violation or dissolution — parar does not necessarily carry both meanings at the same time. Imposing more than one meaning simultaneously upon parar is what James Barr calls the error of “illegitimate totality transfer.”35 In other words, it is wrong to conclude that because a covenant was “broken” it was, therefore, “dissolved.” An examination of the fourteen aforementioned examples, we believe, sufficiently demonstrates this truth.

First, three of the passages (1 Kgs. 15:19; Isa. 33:8; Ezek. 17:15) cited by Hugenberger refer to treaties between men where God is clearly not a covenanting party. Thus, even if these agreements were dissolved, they would have no bearing upon this study, for we are solely concerned with covenants in which God is a part.  With that stated, it is not even certain that any of these three examples constitute an occasion on which a covenant was dissolved. In fact, the example from Ezekiel seems to illustrate the exact opposite as the prophet asks, “Can Israel break her sworn treaties like that and get away with it” (Ezek. 17:15)? The Lord answers with a resounding, “No!” (Ezek. 17:16). By allowing Israel to be punished, then, the Lord demonstrated the applicability and enduring nature of the terms of the covenant. Thus, these three examples fail to demonstrate that covenants in which God participates can be dissolved.

Second, two of Hugenberger’s examples (Jer. 14:21; 33:20) deal with the prophet Jeremiah’s consideration of whether or not the Lord will dissolve his covenant with Israel. Jeremiah records a prayer on behalf of Judah,

LORD, we confess our wickedness and that of our ancestors, too. We all have sinned against you. For the sake of your own name, LORD, do not disgrace yourself and the throne of your glory. Do not break your covenant with us (Jer. 14:20-21).

While it could be argued from this prayer that Jeremiah believed it was possible for God to dissolve his covenant, later God revealed that annulment of the covenant was not possible, not even theoretically, as he declared, “I have loved you, my people, with an everlasting love. With unfailing love I have drawn you to myself. I will rebuild you” (Jer. 31:3-4). Furthermore, in Hugenberger’s second example from Jeremiah, God demonstrates the permanence of his covenant by comparing it to the times of night and day: “If you can break my covenant with the day and the night so that they do not come on their usual schedule, only then will my covenant with David, my servant, be broken” (Jer. 33:20). Thus, these two examples fail to demonstrate that biblical covenants in which God participates can be dissolved — indeed, they seem to indicate the exact opposite.

Third, eight examples mentioned by Hugenberger (Gen. 17:14; Lev. 26:44; Deut. 31:20; Isa. 24:5; Jer. 11:10; 31:32; Ezek. 16:59; 44:7) refer to God’s people violating the terms of a covenant. A careful reading of these texts, however, reveals that such violations did not dissolve the covenants in question. For example, are we to believe that the Abrahamic covenant was dissolved (Gen. 17:14)? To the contrary, Scripture evidences that God’s covenant with Abraham was “forever” and “eternal” (Gen. 13:15; 17:8). Moreover, on at least eight different occasions, Scripture affirms that God “remembered” his covenant with Abraham.36 Thus, Gen. 17:14 cannot represent a dissolved covenant.

Contrary to Hugenberger’s interpretation, these eight examples of Israel “breaking” their covenant with the Lord beautifully illustrate God’s attitude toward the nature of covenants in which he participates. For example, Moses prophesied that the people would rebel and break God’s covenant (Deut. 31:20), and Scripture repeatedly records the fulfillment of this prophecy and its subsequent consequences (Isa. 24:5; Jer. 11:10; 31:32; Ezek. 16:59; 44:7). Yet, as we have argued above, the Lord’s punishment of his people for covenant violations is itself a de facto demonstration of the enduring nature of these arrangements. Ralph Alexander writes that the Lord’s punishment of his people affirms “his immutable faithfulness to his covenants.”37 Similarly, Andersen and Freedman comment on God’s wrath toward covenant disobedience noting that, “The punishment is not an expression of a broken relationship. On the contrary, it is enforced within the relationship; punishment maintains the covenant.”38 Therefore, as with the previous examples, these eight citations fail to demonstrate that biblical covenants in which God participates can be dissolved.

The prophet Zechariah presents the final example (Zech. 11:10-11) cited by Hugenberger. When Israel returned from exile, God implored the people not to act like their fathers had before them (Zech. 1:1-6), because real blessings, Zechariah records, will come only when God’s people obey him and walk in righteousness (3:7; 6:15; 7:9-14; 8:14-17). Sadly, however, the people acted as did their ancestors whose behavior had caused them to be exiled (Zech. 7:1-14). The people of Zechariah’s day had rejected the pleas of the righteous and consequently, writes the prophet, the Lord would withhold his covenant protection if there was no repentance (Zech. 11:10) — that is, God would “break” his covenant. Did the Lord, therefore, dissolve the covenant he had made? Certainly not, as the last three chapters of the book present an eschatological picture of God pouring out his grace upon the nation in the end times (12:10-14:11). Once again, far from dissolution, God’s judgment demonstrates his faithfulness to the covenant.

In addition to the fourteen examples cited by Hugenberger, we surveyed every example of berith in the Old Testament (267 examples), as well as of diatheke and suntheke in the New Testament (34 examples), and were unable to discover a single example of a dissolved covenant in which God participated. Like the language used to describe the nature of biblical covenants, the manner in which covenants are established, and the way in which God deals with covenant violations, the absence of any dissolved covenants in which God participates provides evidence that points to the indissoluble nature of biblical covenants.

Since Rev. Caldwell especially highlighted Dr. Heth’s writings about the nature of the one-flesh relationship, and to Rev. Caldwell’s credit he noted God’s hand in creating it instantaneously, we looked forward to seeing firsthand how Dr. Heth treated the topic of one-flesh and how he could possibly reconcile his new liberal views with what Jesus said in Matt. 19:6 about it being inseverable except by death.    It turns out that Dr. Heth’s revised view fails to mention God’s hand at all, nor the supernatural, instantaneous event.    He instead chooses to degrade  sarx mia to hen soma, citing Gen. 29:14; 37:27; Lev. 18:6; 2 Samuel 5:1; Isaiah 58:7), and steers well clear of the enlightening New Testament descriptions delivered by Jesus and by Paul, for example, Eph. 5:28-30.

I had argued that the covenant and consummation of marriage made two totally unrelated people as closely related as they will be to their own flesh and blood children.   However, the unity between unrelated persons established by the marriage covenant is not the same as the vertical blood relationship between a parent and a child nor the horizontal blood relationship that exists between siblings. The Genesis 2:24 phrase, “they become one flesh,” refers “to the bondedness which results from and is expressed by sexual union” and “refers to the establishment of a new family unit”..

(Dr. Heth, that’s not what Jesus said and you know it.)
Today we know that even sodomists claim to form a sexual union and a “new family unit” under the sanction of the civil state, but today Dr. Heth might well be the first to protest that there’s no one-flesh relationship since God’s hand isn’t joining them, given the correct views he once held but “repented” of with regard to heterosexual unions.

Heth’s co-author, Dr. Wenham, on the other hand, in his countering article tragically fails to address the one-flesh relationship at all, and only touches on the nature of covenant in passing, leaving Heth’s newly-embraced fallacies unrebutted scripturally.    Instead, Wenham embarks on a much-needed contextual argument for the invalidity of concluding that one may remarry after divorce.    He does a masterful job of starting with ante-Nicene church fathers, then working back in time to the apostles’ positions, then the person of Jesus, and finally Judaic tradition, showing quite effectively how none of these support the Erasmean view that the innocent party in adultery or abandonment may remarry.    At one point in the article, Dr. Wenham says this:

“The same is true of the second half of the statement in both gospels: “He who marries a woman divorced from her husband commits adultery” (Luke 16:18b); “If she divorces her husband and marriesanother, she commits adultery” (Mark 10:12). The Lukan form of the statement is almost the same as Matthew 5:32b.  The Markan form is unusual in envisaging a woman taking the initiative in divorce proceedings, which rarely happened in first century Palestine.   But what is striking about both forms of the saying is the implication that divorce does not break the marriage bond, so that sexual relations with anyone but one’s first spouse is adultery.

Unfortunately, this is the closest Wenham ever comes to deducing that divorce is entirely man-made and not recognized by God, i.e. that only death dissolves a God-joined union, or that not all civilly-sanctioned heterosexual unions are God-joined for that very reason.    In other words, he never brings his accurate observations to their full inevitable conclusion, and never makes the heaven-or-hell linkage with 1 Cor. 6:9-10 or with Galatians 5:19-21.   Perhaps if he had, he’d have never been published in a Southern Baptist scholarly journal.

Dr. Al Moehler was the editor-in-chief of that 2002 journal edition.    In 2010,  Dr. Moehler went on to write a convicting and influential article,  Divorce – the Scandal of the Evangelical Conscience.   How much more convicting and influential might this piece have been if the deceiver hadn’t wooed away Dr. Heth and broken up the collaboration with Dr. Wenham, curtailing their further studies into the divine and inseverable nature of the one-flesh relationship that God has now revealed to so many in the common laity.


(Our previous posts on the topics of one-flesh and God’s character in covenants with men are here and here.)

7 Times Around the Jericho Wall  |  Let’s Repeal Unilateral Divorce!







You Asked: How Can “No-Fault” Divorce Laws be Unconstitutional?



This post goes out to Barney, who raised a very valid question last weekend on our companion facebook page:

Considering the current reach of our fairly new page, there must be dozens of critical thinkers like Barney out there with the same question.    SIFC is thankful for the question and the engagement,  an opportunity to contribute some expanded thought.    All great social reform conversations began exactly this way, and we of course could have just as easily been ignored, so Barney (and his silent counterparts) are sincerely a blessing.    Our legal team will, no doubt,  get the very same question from the bench next spring.     Indeed, I can quote a recent definition-of-marriage judicial  assertion very much to the point from Judge Stephen Reinhardt of the (liberal) 9th U.S. Circuit:

“If the defendants [states of Idaho and Nevada] really wished to ensure that as many children as possible had married parents, they would do well to rescind the right of no-fault divorce, or to divorce altogether.   Neither has done so.  Such reforms might face constitutional difficulties  of their own, but at least they would further the states’ asserted interest in solidifying marriage.”      

Latta v Otter,  October 7, 2014

Judge Reinhardt, we’ll notice,  stopped well short of saying that such reforms would be unconstitutional.    As the spate of 5-4  Supreme Court decisions clearly demonstrate in cases where the competing fundamental rights of the opposing parties are actually valid on both sides, these competing rights must be prioritized and  must be carefully balanced.   Brilliant legal minds can honestly disagree on the appropriate balance of fundamental rights based on their particular world view, and hopefully they are not wasting taxpayer dollars by accusing one another of misunderstanding the Constitution.

In this blog, we could paste in links to various cases, but we’ve actually done so in several earlier posts, and will be doing so in the very next planned weekly post on relevant legal definitions, so for brevity we won’t do so here.   We’ll come back later and make appropriate linkages.

The basic rule is that a law is presumed to be constitutional if it is aimed a legitimate state purpose (however ineffectively).    That is, it is deemed constitutional unless it intrinsically, or by its means of implementation, it deprives a citizen or class of citizens of one or more fundamental rights.    In one recent example, various U.S. Circuit Courts have ruled that homosexual couples legally married in one state have a fundamental right to stay married if they move to another state:


What are some other fundamental rights?    They are basically anything in the Bill of Rights, or that an authoritative ruling has established as a binding precedent: (free exercise of religion, life, defense of property,  family privacy, parental rights in the education and direction of their children, the equal right to bring a defense against a criminal or civil accusation that would strip life, liberty or property, etc.).

If it’s established that a citizen’s fundamental right is being infringed by a state law, then it is no longer good enough just to have a legitimate state purpose behind it.    In that case, the state must prove two additional things for the law to still be deemed constitutional:   (1) that the state interest is compelling, AND (2) they are implementing it by choosing among available alternatives only the means that least infringes or deprives citizens of that fundamental right.   The Supreme Court has ruled numerous times that the 14th  Amendment requires this.   Meeting both the compelling interest and the least restrictive means tests becomes very difficult for the state where there are indeed fundamental rights being intruded upon!

And how should valid but competing fundamental rights be balanced?   For example, in late term abortions, shouldn’t a 7-month pre-born child’s right to life be prioritized over the mother’s asserted  right to privacy?   Does the state truly have a compelling interest in guaranteeing the mother’s right to privacy under the 14th Amendment, to the extent that it actually supercedes another person’s right to life?

How should someone’s fundamental right to liberty and freedom of association be balanced against their innocent spouse’s right to protection of property, to defend against a civil accusation (as “irreconcilable differences” most surely is) that would strip their freedom of association (with children) or strip their property (such as their retirement funds while the other spouse has committed financial abuse in pursuing an affair)?

Many states do not allow marital fault to be considered in either dividing property or determining child custody.   What is the state’s compelling reason for this, given that a dozen or so states do take marital fault into consideration for these purposes, and given that not doing so sets an offending spouse up to actually profit from their own destructive acts against the marriage?   In fact there may be some legitimate state reasons for this,  but this surely does not offset a non-offending spouse’s fundamental right to due process over their property and parental rights!   In practice, some states may only allow the defrauded spouse to prove any financial abuse in court if they agree with the state and their petitioning spouse that a marriage is “irreconcilable”,  which may conflict with their biblical convictions, and conflict with any right a few states still give to bring evidence that irreconcilable differences do not actually exist (as in the case of an emotionally ill spouse who in reality needs treatment more than they truthfully need a divorce).   What about a discarded spouse’s right of conscience, guaranteed by the 1st Amendment and by most state constitutions, to act according to their biblical conviction if they believe and obey the truly startling and radical words of Jesus (Luke 16:18):

 Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery, and the man who marries a divorced woman commits adultery.”    

The state may have a legitimate reason for seeking to provide a low-cost exit from a marriage, but since all 50 states’ current no-fault laws infringe on the fundamental constitutional rights to stay married, and to family privacy and self-governance for both spouses and any children, what’s the compelling state reason for not having minimum requirements and evidence of professional counseling before accepting only one spouse’s opinion concluding that “all efforts to reconcile have failed”, or that “future efforts to reconcile would not be in the best interests of the family”?   What’s the compelling state interest in not considering other impacted family members’ views on their best interests?   What’s the compelling state interest in facilitating and sanctioning adultery in preference to the existing low-conflict marriage, or in shielding the offending party from incurring meaningful natural financial consequences of divorcing for selfish reasons?    Given the vast amount of damning evidence on the cost of unilateral divorce to state and local governments (hence, taxpayers) over the past 45 years, isn’t the compelling state interest actually in the opposite direction?

It’s also instructive to look at what marriage has become under the no-fault regime.   Unilateral divorce was supposed to “reduce acrimony” (although stripping all of the fundamental rights of one spouse to give blatant legal preference to the other makes it seem like the framers were smoking something),  it was supposed to “protect the children from harm in watching their parents deal with conflict” (never mind the tenfold physical and emotional abuse that is typically in store for the kids at the hands of the live-in boyfriend or girlfriend that has replaced the legitimate mother or father).    When individual sexual autonomy started to trump the compelling interests of society and the extended family as a whole, the meaning of government’s role in protecting marriage profoundly shifted.   Another recent ruling on a gay marriage case stated this point brilliantly, in SIFC’s estimation:

“One starts from the premise that governments got into the business of defining marriage, not to regulate love but to regulate sex… can well appreciate why the citizenry would think that a reasonable first concern of any society is the need to regulate male-female relationships and the unique procreative possibilities of them.   One way to pursue this objective is to encourage couples to enter lasting relationships through subsidies and other benefits and to discourage them from ending such relationships through these and other means.     People may not need the government’s encouragement to have sex.   And they may not need the government’s encouragement to propagate the species.  But they may well need the government’s encouragement to create and maintain stable relationships within which children may flourish.”

DeBoer v Snyder,   November 6, 2014

Judge Jeffrey Sutton,  U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals

Unilateral divorce laws intrude into the integrity of the family in a tyrannical attempt to regulate mere affection.   Or, as Texas attorney Ed Truncellito describes our post-1970’s stripped-down version of matrimony in  his blog  “Why No One Is Married“:

In truth, our no-fault laws, as implemented, abolished true marriage…….Although cohabitation is handicapped in many ways, it unfortunately has one important advantage: ordinary cohabitation keeps government out of the home.    In contrast, the registered cohabitation that we still call “marriage” invokes the jurisdiction of government officers. They receive authority to manage the lives of both spouses and their children with legal force. ”  


So given all this, what would a constitutional no-fault law look like?

(1) Irreconcilable differences as a non evidence-based ground for divorce would be available only by mutual or cross petition — with fully agreed child and property terms, otherwise it would revert to fault-based procedure to protect the due process rights of the non-offending spouse who for moral or religious reasons does not want to end the marriage.

(What we currently have, while deceitfully called “no-fault”,  is actually forced, unilateral, guaranteed divorce that excuses and often rewards destructive behavior toward the marriage).

(2) Proof and balanced consideration of marital fault would be restored in all contested cases where property and child custody matters could not be agreed between the spouses, and would be done without intrusive and non evidence-based court assessments of when the marriage allegedly broke down.   Proof of dissipation and marital fault would be merged and would simply follow the full proven time frame(s) of the offense(s).

(3) Contested, non-mutual out-of-state and offshore divorce decrees where the grounds and agreed settlement terms do not conform with (1) above will not be honored against assets and child arrangements domiciled in the state, and in-state marital fault proceedings will be required to effect those divisions.

(4) Equal evidence parameters and time frames to bring proof of fault would be restored to both spouses by abolishing court rules and operating procedures which are currently designed to suppress evidence of fault in order to give preference to the Petitioner over the Respondent.

Will these reforms force people to stay married against their wills?   That’s an interesting question since studies show that 80% of spouses in this country are divorced against their will.    It’s also an interesting question because additional studies show a high rate of remarriage to the same first spouse after civil divorce  and even after subsequent remarriage(s).   Other studies show a 60-70% divorce rate for second and subsequent remarriages, and a 97% failure rate for any relationship begun in adultery (this may include cohabitation and marriage combined).     In practice, these reforms will more likely just even out the power balance between spouses in resolving their differences, possibly increasing the percentage of mutual petitions if honest reconciliation efforts fail.   It will certainly make non-mutual divorces more expensive in some cases.    In a rare few cases, people unhappily married to a non-offending religious objector to divorce may not be able to obtain an in-state divorce because they can’t prove serious fault where none exists.   Under the Fourteenth Amendment, that’s as it should be.

Parting wisdom from Jesus:   “Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning……”

The disciples said to him, “If this is the situation between a husband and wife, it is better not to marry.”    – Matthew 19:10


Indeed.   One may freely choose their behavior,  but they should not get to also choose the consequences.



7 Times Around the Jericho Wall  |  Let’s Repeal No-Fault Divorce!

www.standerinfamilycourt. com











One “Stander’s” Vote

HopeInTheLambby Standerinfamilycourt

“Like a roaring lion and a rushing bear
Is a wicked ruler over a poor people.
 A leader who is a great oppressor lacks understanding,
But he who hates unjust gain will prolong his days.”  Prov. 28:15

“But the vine was plucked up in fury,
    cast down to the ground;
the east wind dried up its fruit;
    they were stripped off and withered.
As for its strong stem,
    fire consumed it.” – Ezekiel 9:12

“I overthrew you, as God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah,
And you were like a firebrand snatched from a blaze;
Yet you have not returned to Me,” declares the Lord.”  – Amos  4:11

If you will return, O [ United States, the nation I, the Most High established], says the Lord, if you will return to Me, and if you will put away your abominable false gods out of My sight and not stray or waver,  And if you swear, As the Lord lives, in truth, in judgment and justice, and in righteousness (uprightness in every area and relation), then the nations will bless themselves in Him and in Him will they glory.”  – Jeremiah 4: 1-3

“Whoever is faithful in very little is also faithful in much, and whoever is unrighteous in very little is also unrighteous in much.”  (Jesus)                          – Luke 16:10


Not that there’s any special recognition due me, but in between election days this stander/citizen, like so many others across the country, I fasted and prayed extensively for godly leadership to be restored to our nation through the 2014 mid-term election.    I’ve  been personally serious about this since at least 2008, when my only practical choice for President of the United States was between a rabidly pro-abortion (and, as it turned out, pro-faux marriage) ultra-liberal and a conservative serial adulterer who had abandoned two prior wives, including a disabled one, because his god is his appetite.    Neither candidate seemed likely to serve our nation unselfishly, nor honor God in doing so.

2008 would not be the last time I had to hold my nose from the moral stench while casting my ballot.    It is simply the escalating curse our nation has been under at God’s hand since the 1970’s when the twin abominations of abortion on demand, and unilateral divorce were imposed across our land – the worship of Baal and the worship of Asherah (the absolute right to immoral remarriage), respectively.    I believe  God was especially provoked to bring progressive discipline on our nation  when His bride the Church was not only silent about the latter,  but chose to widely embrace it.

It was an amazing week, the week of November 4, 2014 across our nation.   I once again complained about the lack of acceptable candidates on the ballot, this time for governor of our state.    One of the candidates had signed the marriage redefinition bill in 2013, flouting God’s (Matthew 19:4-6) timeless definition of marriage.   The other is yet another serial adulterer who also supports abortion-on-demand.    The U.S.  Senate race was just as bad:  a choice between the liberal incumbent with the near-100% voting record against the sanctity of marriage, life and traditional family versus yet another adulterer who had recently made a public statement that he now favored marriage redefinition despite his 2013 state legislature vote against it.    The state family policy counsel published a link to an interesting viewpoint on how to handle that situation while staying true to my godly responsibility to cast my ballot for the upbuilding of the kingdom of God.    Early on election morning, I was personally messaged by its leader, which the Holy Spirit quickened in me as confirmation that this was how God wanted me to vote in resolution of my moral dilemma.   I was grateful not to have had to abstain in those two races, or write-in a throwaway name.

Aside from these legislative and executive candidates, several judgeships were on the ballot.   How many times in my roughly 40 years of adult citizenship had I gone into the voting booth with not a clue who these individuals are who hold such sway that with a mere stroke of a pen they can override what GOD has permanently joined as one person  (Matt. 19:5-6), and change the course of a family for GENERATIONS to come?   I spent a year, approximately 10 court sessions, finding out precisely who these black-robed marriage executioners are!      Once again our state family policy council has greatly improved my citizenship by reporting on who is endorsing and financially supporting those candidacies.   (It also helps to have an increased acquaintance with seasoned attorneys!)

With our constitutional appeal awaiting trial next spring, I realized I could also be voting on retention of two of the judges who may potentially be on the panel who will hear our case.   Of all the previous constitutional challenges to the unilateral divorce laws which I researched in other states, 2 or 3 pivotal decisions that could have spared our nation (particularly the budgets of local governments) some 40 years of evil fallout from this unconstitutional unilateral divorce law turned on the opinion of only 1 judge out of 3, while the dissenting judge’s opinion was actually far more creditable.   You can bet I burned up Google the night before, trying to find out all I possibly could!


And the outcome?   The nation was abundantly blessed that the Lord established a meaningful check on the despotic power of the current Chief Executive.    The cause itself of socially conservative godly government was also blessed when diverse candidates by age, race and gender in an overwhelming number of  states replaced liberals who were poised to continue and to step up their attacks on the traditional family.   Our own state didn’t fare so well in comparison, but largely because the fruit had already been “cast from the vine” (Ezekiel 9:12) long before the ballots were even compiled.     Nevertheless, God seems to be hearing the prayers of the saints for the leadership of our nation as a whole.

I’d urge that before we get too smug about drubbing the liberals, we keep seeking the Lord for our further repentance as a nation.    I believe He’s watching to see how we steward the graciousness He’s extended to us.   Will we return to Him?   Most of the national legal ministries do not consider unilateral divorce – which tramples on the very image of God’s covenant with ALL  of us, to be a fundamental rights or religious freedom problem,  and they fail to grasp (or admit) the very real connection between marriage redefinition 2014 and marriage redefinition 1969.    This is despite the various organizational mission statements on which they raise donor funds:

Organization A –  “Restoring the culture by advancing religious freedom, the sanctity of human life and the family.”

Organization B – ” …free legal assistance to Bible-believing churches and Christians who are experiencing difficulty in practicing their religious faith.”   

Organization C – “the spread of the Gospel by transforming the legal system and advocating for religious liberty, the sanctity of life, and marriage and family..”

And so forth.    One admirable exception of “walking the talk” is the Family Research Council who in 2006 materially supported a serious legislative challenge to Michigan’s unilateral divorce law.    Cynically, it seems there are far more numerous powerful individuals whose adultery or commercial interests have benefited from state unilateral divorce laws (some of whom are most likely large donors to these ministries)  than there are homosexuals who have benefited from  the current wave of state marriage redefinition.   (Always best to gore someone else’s ox if you are a 501(c)3.)

Did God directly reward righteous political courage around the (heterosexual) sanctity of marriage issue last Tuesday?    I’ll let the reader ask Him and judge.  The following states have either enacted covenant marriage laws or mounted recent legislative challenge attempts to their longstanding unilateral divorce laws:

Arkansas, Louisiana, Arizona, Kansas, Iowa, Michigan,  Pennsylvania, Oklahoma, and Georgia

The following states defeated a liberal incumbent to fill a Senate seat with a conservative, family-values replacement, checking the President’s amoral social agenda by the resulting gained majority of seats:

Iowa, Arkansas, South Carolina, West Virginia, Colorado, and South Dakota.  (Louisiana’s Senate race was forced into a run-off election for early December, and Kansas held on to  its conservative senator.)


Two days later, it got even more exciting as state traditional marriage referenda and traditional marriage definition legislation were upheld by the 6th Federal Circuit in their ruling on the case DeBoer vs.  Snyder  for 4 states:

Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Michigan.


Our state, on the other hand, failed to benefit from the strong citizen showing in 2013 in the state capitol which miraculously held off marriage redefinition for several months after it seemed sure to pass quickly, stunning the whole nation and chagrining the media.    Meanwhile, the unwillingness of that family policy council to publicly oppose and EXPOSE the truly catastrophic pending “family” law bill that would shorten the unilateral divorce waiting period to 6 months from 2 years, would remove any option for fault-based grounds, as well as remove legal sanctions against deliberate spouse-poachers and firms (such as employers) who knowingly allow spouse-poaching to occur, the near-universal silence ultimately allowed this repugnant legislation to pass 90-17 in one legislative chamber without the public’s knowledge or meaningful media publicity.    The real enemy of true marriage is Satan, and you don’t beat him with the resources of mere men, you beat him with the unmerited favor of God in response to obeying Him completely and trusting Him with any consequences of putting His kingdom first.   Tough to walk out before a very human ministry board, but no less what it takes.

As a result of policy leadership  mis-steps, one of the two states with heretofore the lowest divorce rates may gain the unsavory distinction of being the only state resisting the national trend of rethinking no-consequences unilateral divorce in the face of very well-documented societal damage resulting from it.   Citizens should keep in mind from past occurrence that a doubling of the divorce rates has in the past led to a proportional ramp-up in government fiscal woes, something our state could not recover from in its current financial condition.   As a Divinely-orchestrated result of all the foregoing, we now have a Republican governor who’s on record as not concerning himself with “social issues” other than the unfettered access to abortuaries,  and who is poised to retool his state party accordingly.    We have a state senator who failed to unseat an ultra-liberal U.S. senator because the Lord saw no reason to swap one LGBT partisan out for another.    And He had already delivered the U.S. Senate to the faithful without any help from our state.

I think He truly does care very deeply about this unilateral divorce issue, and He let us all know it. FB profile 7xtjw


7 Times Around the Jericho Wall  | Let’s Repeal No-Fault Divorce!









How Disgusting Is This ??

by Standerinfamilycourt


You’ve heard of “ambulance chasers” ?   Well, how about distressed-marriage vultures ??

Apparently, it’s possible to cross state lines and shop for an easier, sleazier divorce in some states.   That’s actually how it used to be before the days of so-called “divorce reform” that wound up redefining marriage altogether.   This “reform” sunk all of American society to its lowest (or so we all thought) common denominator.

Some states, as far back as the 1800’s,  saw the opportunity for destruction of out-of-state families as a lucrative industry to exploit.     This attitude will likely have to be dealt with once again as more states re-assess the toxic impact on our society, re-thinking the social wreckage left by unilateral divorce, and looking to return to more family-friendly policies.

(Texas ad: “It’s a whole ‘nother rodeo out here.” )

The feared cross-state impact of repealing unilateral divorce is probably also one of the most formidable legislative and judicial obstacles  to restoring basic 1st and 14th Amendment Constitutional guarantees that were stripped from the politically disfavored and disenfranchised class of Americans called “Respondents”.

“Family Law” firms should not be allowed to reach across states lines to increase social malaise and instability for crass commercial purposes!   (It seems that such a practice qualifies as interstate commerce – and should be regulated as such at the Federal level. )


7 Times Around the Jericho Wall  |  Let’s Repeal No-Fault Divorce!


Why No One Is Married

FB profile 7xtjw Standerinfamilycourt Blog Commentary:  Mr. Truncellito is the Texas attorney written about in the book “Stolen Vows” by Judy Parejko.   Mr. Truncellito’s research into the Texas statute after unilateral divorce was enacted exposed a fraud, but to no avail.   The original enactment of the Texas “no-fault” law was to be by mutual consent only.   However, the legal community conspired to implement it as unilateral divorce.  Mr. Truncellito appealed his case up through the Texas Supreme Court based on his investigation, but failed to win relief for the people of Texas, with the final determination entered in November, 2000.


Ed Truncellito, J.D., September 2000







Marriage today is no more than “registered cohabitation” because no-fault divorce was misinterpreted as “no cause and no proof” divorce. If you can divorce without true cause–then you were not truly married in the first place. You were merely cohabiting, as in ages past, regardless what name it’s called.

You could always walk away from a disagreeable cohabitation, but marriage was defined in its protection by law. You couldn’t get out of a marriage just because you wanted out. You had to have true cause: abuse, adultery, abandonment, or the like. And not only cause, but genuine proof of it.

When the well-meaning no-faulters tried to take adversarialism out of the divorce process, to make it friendly, it failed. The door swung wide open to “no cause and no proof” divorce. Meanwhile, adversarialism went right back into the property and custody battles.

The old “fault” laws needed overhaul to bring spousal equality, and to make the system friendlier, but no-fault’s “no cause and no proof” divorce, administered by warring lawyers, was the wrong implementation. The law should have required that spouses be taught how, and helped, to settle differences as co-equals, to deliberate justly and fairly, with self-control, while honoring their partner and the vows they made for a permanent union.

Beforehand, almost any man could rule his wife and settle disputes by physical force. But spousal equality demands at least a little education, a working knowledge of civilized diplomacy and reasoned compromise — for both genders.

The no-fault laws did not train the partners to solve any problems. The laws simply — and grievously — empowered the courts to settle all their disputes for them, in one grand sweep, by divorce, no matter how whimsical or trivial the disagreement. No-fault did not elevate the status of wives as co-equal family managers. It lowered the status of both spouses, while it elevated the courts as the new, and not-so-charitable, family managers.

The no-fault divorce system, as implemented, funded divorce. It channeled money from troubled families to divorce lawyers, now at hourly rates in three digits, in exchange for dividing children and property. The court’s officers were hired and paid to terminate marriages, not to save them.

The no-fault legal system, as envisioned, was to be a family hospital, to comfort the hurting spouses and bandage the wounded marriages. Instead, it became a family morgue. It promised to give relief from the former hostilities of the “fault” legal system, but it became more hostile than ever.

Reconciliation dollars, facilities, and assistance were promised, but they never materialized. A generation and a half later, we know that the experiment did not work as planned.

In truth, our no-fault laws, as implemented, abolished true marriage. After many years of no-fault, we no longer even respect the solemn covenants that partners make between themselves and God. Instead, we respect the solemn covenants that lawyers make between themselves and a judge.

Although cohabitation is handicapped in many ways, it unfortunately has one important advantage: ordinary cohabitation keeps government out of the home. In contrast, the registered cohabitation that we still call marriage invokes the jurisdiction of government officers. They receive authority to manage the lives of both spouses and their children with legal force.

No wonder people cohabit. No wonder we have so many broken homes. Partners can walk away from the slightest inconvenience, at any time, with court assistance. They don’t ever have to conciliate, or swallow their pride and say they are sorry, or try to please anyone but themselves.

When divorce was made into a guaranteed certainty, it became an easy way out of hard times. Partners knew they would no longer be pressed by embarrassing questions about covenants and faithfulness, as they moved on to their next cohabitation. Nor could they be stopped.

The fundamental attribute, the unique defining characteristic, the earmark, that always distinguished true marriage from cohabitation, is legal security — protection by law — protection by divorce law.

Today, that protection is gone. Genuine proof of true cause was always required for divorce, and anything else — but that — should have changed in an overhaul of divorce law.

It is one thing to let spouses decide, without intrusion, for their own private reasons, whether to live together, or to live apart indefinitely. But it is another thing altogether, for government not to question the cause, when government has already intervened, when government is asked to destroy a marriage, totally and permanently.

The legal security of true marriage cannot be a chain. But neither can it be a thread. It must be a sturdy fabric, a flexible but tough canvas, to weather the gales of life.

That’s why true marriage is so secure and stable for mates. When spouses cannot easily shake off their yoke, they soften it by mutual accommodation. In other words: spouses don’t stay together because they get along; they get along because they stay together.

And that’s why true marriage is so secure and stable for children. True marriage is underwritten by law. Children can rest assured that no passing storm will carry either of their parents away. They know that the whole force of government stands as a benevolent guard to protect their homes and both of their providers.

We are not in the midst of a divorce crisis. It is a marriage crisis.

No one is married, and no one can marry. The right to marry was taken away.

The happy voices of the bride and the bridegroom are gone from our land.

Attorney Ed Truncellito spent over 1,500 hours researching the legislation that created “no-fault” divorce in Texas in 1969. He found that the law was meant only to apply to uncontested divorces. He has filed suit against the State Bar of Texas, alleging that they, like the tobacco industry, covered up what they knew to be a destructive product, and that the State Bar knew all along that the no-fault law was being misapplied but covered it up for financial gain. See Mr. Truncellito’s website at His email address is (use underscores).


7 Times Around the Jericho Wall | Let’s Repeal No-Fault Divorce!

Our Story (7 Times Around the Jericho Wall) – Part 3



“For though we walk (live) in the flesh, we are not carrying on our warfare according to the flesh and using mere human weapons.

For the weapons of our warfare are not physical [weapons of flesh and blood], but they are mighty before God for the overthrow and destruction of strongholds,

[Inasmuch as we] refute arguments and theories and reasonings and every proud and lofty thing that sets itself up against the [true] knowledge of God; and we lead every thought and purpose away captive into the obedience of Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One)”  

   –  2 Corinthians 10: 3-5 (Amplified)


Blogger’s Note:   the discussion that follows reflects only my own research and independent thought, and does not necessarily reflect the advice of my attorneys.  

Only God could bring down the fortified wall of Jericho that had stood for 3,000 years, and was the most formidable wall in the history of the world at that time.    In the same way, this appeal won’t be what pulls the tyrannical unilateral divorce law down, but the prayers and the honor of God’s glory behind this appeal (and hopefully more appeals to come in more states) that will pull the law down.   The principle of Federalism in our American tradition requires that this be a state-by-state process, as we’ve seen with those who wish to complete the destruction of marriage by further redefinition.    Only a mighty act of God (and uncharacteristic acts of human courage and leadership) could ever result in the U.S. Supreme Court agreeing to take up the unilateral divorce issue, even if there’s constitutional victory for us at the state level.    I’m still praying for this, for nothing will be too hard for El Elyon, God Most High.

I mentioned in my first post that our constitutional law attorneys advised us that we will have to lose all of the technical points in our appeal before any constitutional arguments will be ruled on.    Now that’s discouraging- like peering up a fortified wall!

From my simple-minded layperson perspective, it’s pretty hard to separate the technical from the constitutional on several of the key points, and it hasn’t gotten any easier with all the research I’ve done since that summer day in downtown Chicago.    It seems that “abuse of discretion” and denial of equal protection or violation of my right of free religious exercise intertwine symbiotically – are cross-motivated, if you will.   I know I’ve had at least one wrestling conversation with my attorney debating whether we argue that the law itself is unconstitutional, or the law as applied to the facts of my case is unconstitutional…”arguments and theories and reasonings and and lofty things that set themselves up against the knowledge of God”  (Hopefully I’ll get a chance to understand a lot more than I do now about that distinction.)

The religious freedom case will, unfortunately, be too narrow to help anyone besides me, but if we are successful,  I’m told it will set a precedent that will be binding in the future and hopefully reform boorish behavior on the bench.   That is, if angry leftists don’t take legislative steps in response to any court victory of ours to change the Illinois Religious Freedom Restoration Act, perhaps to gut it, or to once again single out marriage law as an exclusion.    The Hobby Lobby decision this past summer thrilled us, but really riled up the liberal forces because they realize what upholding strong conscience protections will do to curb both the pro-abortion and the LGBT political agendas.    Just wait til they get their wake-up call that the City of No-Fault is also under serious RFRA attack!   A couple of my previous posts discuss RFRA and its implications for our cause of restoring balanced constitutional protections to marriage law.

For these reasons (narrowness of impact and the political vulnerability of RFRA in our liberal-dominated state), my strong preference is to “swing for the fences”,  to supplement the religious freedom portion of our case with a simultaneous effort to persuade the court to look at Respondents as a “suspect class”,  disfavored and treated with animus by the entrenched powerful interests against whom we are politically weak and are therefore stripped of a host of fundamental rights when we’ve done nothing to harm our marriages.    I believe this would greatly bolster our 14th Amendment equal protection and due process arguments, and make any motivation to gut Illinois RFRA moot, with regard to our particular cause, at least.

Why does all this matter?   In the case of religious freedom, New Mexico also had a RFRA, but unfortunately because their law excludes “laws of general applicability” from RFRA protections, it was self-defeating (not exactly sure what it actually purported to accomplish other than window-dressing).    As a result, Elane Photography was told by a pompous, arrogant judge that checking her Christian convictions at the door was the price she had to pay as a citizen for the “privilege of being in business”.   Hence, she would apply her unique artistic talent to the dignification of homosexual marriage ceremonies to which she is morally opposed, a form of forced speech which in other circumstances  has been found to violate the 1st Amendment.    The U.S. Supreme Court, unfortunately, concurred with New Mexico by declining to review, since a 1993 prior ruling set a precedent that made it much harder to apply the bare 1st Amendment religious freedom protections without an effective RFRA.   It probably didn’t take liberal interests too long to figure out that a RFRA which excludes “laws of general applicability” works a heck of a lot better for them than one that is verbatim the Federal version, since this New Mexico decision came in approximately the same time frame as the  Hobby Lobby decision.

With regard to equal protection and due process under the 14th Amendment, all of the prior constitutional challenges to the unilateral divorce law in various states failed because there was not yet sufficient case precedents to empower the courts to apply any higher standard than “rational basis” to the cases.    Under this easy (sleazy) standard of review, all a state had to do is demonstrate that the law served a “legitimate” purpose, such as easing the cost of divorce on battered spouses, or ensuring that homemakers received a fair share of their employed spouse’s retirement if divorce was necessary.    They didn’t have to prove that the law actually accomplished any particular objective, so bad laws could live on even if some disfavored group was negatively and unfairly impacted or if profound unintended consequences resulted for society as a whole.

Precedents and criteria for “heightened” review started to slowly build in 1976, but really started to escalate just in the last two years with the HHS mandate cases (such as Hobby Lobby), and with the homosexual marriage cases.    Many of the latter have come over the summer of 2014 alone.    I remember sitting in that downtown Chicago law office in early July and relating how I had been repeatedly denied due process in both of our trials.   Both attorneys looked at me and said something to the effect of  “Well, they gave you a day in court and let you present evidence, right?”

(To which I replied, “By that standard, Jesus received due process!” )    That’s what “rational basis” does to the due process rights of disfavored parties – it makes them evaporate.

Under intermediate or heightened scrutiny, it becomes possible to make the case that the law has not accomplished its purpose and that there were better options available that either were not considered or were rejected.    Under heightened  or strict scrutiny, we can start to argue that the state didn’t have a good enough reason to elevate the rights of one spouse over the fundamental rights of the other by excluding marital misconduct from the equation.    Or that if they truly wanted, as they claimed, to stop “perjury collusion” in the case of two people who both wanted out of their marriage, it was neither rational nor necessary to impose unilateral divorce on everyone else, including contesting spouses who were morally opposed to divorce and had done absolutely nothing to harm their marriage or spouse.

It was well and good that I stood a pretty fair chance of prevailing on a religious discrimination argument.   RFRA explicitly compels the application of strict scrutiny if I can prove that the law was compelling me to violate my deeply-held religious convictions.    Since to preserve my dissipation claim, I was under pressure to agree that my marriage was “irretrievably broken”, was expected to have taken action to threaten divorce or actually file a divorce petition which would disobey God who only created marriage, not divorce.   I was further expected to separate our finances,  another violation of God’s prescribed order for the family roles.   I think we can make that case of showing that the law significantly burdens my biblical convictions.   That forces opposing counsel or the state of Illinois to prove that the state has a compelling interest in dismissing my dissipation claim for my failure to meet those expectations, which I doubt they can do.   Whatever that compelling interest might purport to be, they then have to prove there wasn’t a less burdensome route to achieving that interest.

In the Hobby Lobby case, the U.S. Supreme Court skipped discussion of “compelling interest” and jumped straight to the obvious circumstance that there were many less restrictive means of achieving their aim of providing no-cost contraceptives and abortifacients to Hobby Lobby employees.    So, I had to dig out another HHS case on a local pair of firms that had worked their way through the 7th Circuit to see a good definition of “compelling interest”.   State appellate judges are influenced by but not bound by Federal court definitions,  as I understand.   In Korte v Sebelius, November, 2013,  that Federal court described a compelling government interest as follows:

only those interests of the highest order and those not otherwise served can overbalance legitimate claims to the free exercise of religion….only the gravest abuses endangering paramount interests give occasion for permissible limitation.  The regulated conduct must pose some substantial threat to public safety, peace or order… Finally, a law cannot be regarded as protecting an interest of the highest order when it leaves appreciable damage to that supposedly vital interest unprohibited. “

It’s hard to imagine what could be said to convince the court that my conscience-based refusal to declare my marriage irretrievably broken or file for divorce or separate our finances was a “grave” abuse or that it threatened a state interest of the “paramount, highest order”, or posed a public threat of any sort.   It did consume higher than average court resources, I suppose – but just whose fault is that?  I neither asked to be in court, nor harmed my marriage or husband.  Is it not more true that the exclusion of marital misconduct provision in the the law itself creates the appreciable damage to the state’s interest in conserving court resources?

As I said before, all of that was well and good, but as Kingdom-builder and as a taxpayer, I am still not satisfied!   I believe the law discriminates just as badly against a disfavored and powerless class of people who may not hold any religious convictions at all, but hold moral convictions around the wholeness and integrity of their families.    The contribution of unilateral divorce to the poverty rates is well enough documented that the National Organization of Women stood in formal opposition to the 2010 New York legislation that enacted unilateral divorce in the 50th U.S. state because of the proven harsh economic impacts on women and children.    In other words, NOW recognized that UMDA (Uniform Marriage and Divorce Act) was not meeting its stated objectives after more than a 40 year run.

While many of the cases I’d been studying on equal protection and due process can be googled for free, as I became more serious about studying this myself, I learned that I could use a nearby university law library for free, much the way pioneer Judith Brumbaugh did 30 years ago in her fight against Florida’s unilateral divorce law.   Attorney funds are low after spending almost $100,000 in trials, and I could get by well for myself by narrowly focusing the attorneys on my religious freedom relief valve, but as more Federal courts weighed in over the summer on fundamental rights, “suspect” classes, and levels of scrutiny, I was determined to learn more and try to do as much damage to this immoral law as one woman, who has been given a providential opportunity, can do.    I realized I have the opportunity right now to inspire and empower people in other states, and expand the benefit of my efforts in my own state.    As the power and move of God would have it, the summer drew to a close while some Federal judges were chastising folks I truly admire at various religious freedom legal ministries because their state government clients seem fine with unilateral divorce despite its proven toxicity to society and its corrosiveness to marriage as an institution.   Amen!

I’m looking forward excitedly to working with as many religious freedom ministries as I can, though this particular cause is not politically popular with them.   Not realizing they prefer to be contacted  through attorneys,  I contacted five of them on my own initiative several months ago when it looked apparent that the court was going to brutalize me over my strong religious objections to divorce, and an appeal, one that I might not have enough money to see through, was going to be unavoidable.    I had a sense back then where God was taking this and why.    Yet they all told me pretty much the same thing, that they “didn’t do family law” (- unless, of course, there happened to be homosexuality involved.)   Never mind that I explained I already had a family law attorney and was merely looking for a constitutional specialist.   They didn’t think my case was a true religious freedom case at its core.   Any burden on my free exercise of religion was “only incidental”.     I was so relieved that I was able to engage a constitutional religious freedom attorney with my own resources, and one whom these ministries regularly work with.    Because this battle is the Lord’s,  and the true weapons of our warfare must be spiritual weapons, I was so pleased to see the following clauses in their representation agreement:

Priority of Building the Kingdom:  This representation is undertaken by Client and the Firm to build the Kingdom of God according to the teachings of Jesus and the Bible.  Consequently, it shall be interpreted and performed with that objective.

(This blogger believes it’s not worth doing for any other goal or in any other spirit!)

Prayer:  The parties shall pray for each other frequently.   The Firm as a whole shall pray for Client monthly.

(Blogger is grateful beyond words.)

The next few weeks will have us going over trial transcripts and agreeing an approach to the appeal while meeting the various submission deadlines set by the appeals court.    I related earlier how the Lord providentially supplied the funds I needed years in advance of the need, but actually as the attack on our marriage was starting.   I’m now down to the “loaves and fishes”,  but confident that God will continue to provide all our needs.   That may include people as importantly as funds if my efforts are to benefit others.   What if the Lord moves my prodigal husband to repentance before the appeal runs its course?   Our case if not pursued with others as a class would become immediately moot, yet my highest priority would have to be my husband’s restoration to that Kingdom.   His soul is on the line here!    I covet the prayers of the saints that the Lord will have His way in everything.

Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you;
    therefore he will rise up to show you compassion.
For the Lord is a God of justice.
    Blessed are all who wait for him!

  – Isaiah 30: 18

Our Story:  7 Times Around the Jericho Wall – Part 1

Our Story:  7 Times Around the Jericho Wall- Part 2

No Day in Court for (Stander) “Jane Doe”, Our Story – Part 4


7 Times Around the Jericho Wall | Let’s Repeal No-Fault Divorce