Our friends at the Illinois Family Institute recently posted an endorsing review penned by marriage advocate Michael McManus founder of the organization called Marriage Savers, of the new book, “Don’t Divorce: Powerful Arguments for Saving and Revitalizing Your Marriage” by Dr. Diane Medved. Michael is a journalist who has for several years travelled the country and lectured in churches with various strategies for reducing the overall divorce rate among families with minor children. Diane is a PhD clinical psychologist and the wife of cultural media critic Michael Medved. Both of them are certainly knowledgeable about the toxic effects of unilateral divorce on the lives of children long after they reach adulthood, and on society as a whole. However, both of them treat unilateral divorce as a “given”, an immoveable mountain that must be appeased and “managed” rather than picked up and thrown into the sea. Both became interested in the topic due to forces external to their respective marriages, and (significantly), neither has ever experienced any serious threat or disruption so far to their long, happy marriages. Hence, both the book and the review column are written based solely on vicarious experiences. The world looks substantially different when you are bearing the heart-crushing burden of soul concern for your one-flesh, however, according to the biblical warnings. (As I understand it, the Medveds are Jewish, and Mr. McManus is an evangelical, and possibly a Calvinist one.)
In fairness to Dr. Medved, “Standerinfamilycourt” has read only a few reviews of the book and watched a couple of interviews, but has not actually read the book. This response is solely based on the content of McManus’ recent review in his column, Ethics and Religion in Parts 1 and 2.
OUR RESPONSE TO PART 1
The advice in this article to repair one’s marriage at all costs is excellent — provided that the “marriage” in question doesn’t fit the description of ongoing adultery that Jesus repeated without “exceptions” on three different occasions, in Matt.5:32b; Matt.19:9b, and Luke 16:18b where He says that EVERYONE who marries a divorced person enters into this state of sin. For this very reason, some 50-60 years ago, most pastors and all but the most liberal denominations would never have permitted such a wedding.
Unfortunately, given the statistics cited within, and the relativistic outright moral collapse of the church in this realm, Jesus’ description fits at least 40% of today’s “marriages” where warm bottoms are occupying church pews and bolstering the offering plates. But far more unfortunately, Paul warns at least twice that those who die unrepentant in this state of sin will forfeit their inheritance in the kingdom of God. You’ll never hear this from behind a pulpit, but Jesus Himself gives what amounts to the same warning at least twice, and in far more blunt fashion. (See Matt. 5:29-30 and ignore the man-inserted headings intended to chop up what Jesus was saying, as though this was a separate thought from His “next” topic, divorce. Ditto when you read Luke16:18-31 – about as graphic as Jesus could possibly have been on the matter, both making Paul’s twin admonitions in 1 Cor. 6:9-10 and Gal.5:19-21 seem pretty bland in comparison.)
A good rule of thumb is to never give a divorced-and-remarried couple (where there is at least one living, civilly-estranged true spouse) any family advice that wouldn’t also be perfectly suitable for all of the souls involved in a homosexual “marriage”. It is never good for the children to see what Jesus plainly called adultery normalized in the day-to-day life of their parents, especially in the name of Jesus, and it’s not good for society as a whole. Far better for the mother of children, who misguidedly “married” another woman’s God-joined husband, to exit that illicit union and marry an eligible widower or never-married man, (if she herself is not estranged from the true husband of her youth). A growing number of men and women we counsel with are coming to the truth of what they’ve done, and are terminating their adulterous unions, some of which involve non-covenant children born thereto. We always strongly advise them never to do this unilaterally (as the immoral civil law permits), but to heed Paul’s instructions in 1 Cor. 6:1-8 to stay out of pagan “family court” by separating under a responsible financial plan, then being patient until they are able to arrive at a mutually-filed petition with terms and ongoing responsibilities mutually agreed, even if their church is not supportive. Though many such men and women could righteously go on to marry a never-married or widowed person, the vast majority are reluctant to even have the appearance of remarriage adultery on them ever again.
McManus and his Marriage Savers organization, with whom we’ve previously corresponded, has for years advocated a tweaking of the unilateral divorce laws to restrict so-called “no-fault” grounds to households where there are no minor children. That may seem like a good, humanistic quick-fix, but Christ-followers should have some major issues with that approach, including:
(1) the ridiculous implication that covenant grandparent marriages are less valuable to a profoundly broken and crumbling society than parent marriages and therefore less deserving of the 1st and 14th amendment protections that ALL marriages should be enjoying.
(2) this approach seems less likely to encourage a biblical solution to the homes where there is documentable abuse or unfaithfulness, that is, separating (rather than divorcing — since only death actually “dissolves” a true marriage) remaining unmarried or being reconciled (1 Cor. 7:11) and relying on the biblical process of church discipline (Matt. 18:15-18). In the absence of availability of “no-fault” grounds due to the presence of children, this will increase the focus on fault-based cases with the objective of adulterous remarriage. Churches should be materially caring for these families as necessary to keep them out of adulterous remarriages, and should be encouraging more criminal enforcements in such cases.
(3) By the statistics cited within, there are some 800,000 U.S. marriages a year that have suffered the impairment of precious 1st amendment freedom of conscience and free exercise of faith protections, as well as child and property confiscation where there is no objective fault, in violation of the 14th amendment protections which invariably result from forced “dissolution”. McManus’ proposal might shave off as many as half of these on a postponed basis, but might also discourage natural or adoptive parenthood under the law of unintended consequences, just as today the unilateral dissolution laws are discouraging young marriage altogether, and instead encouraging cohabitation–as many studies are now showing.
(4) The very concept of “low conflict marriage” is for all practical purposes bogus if one spouse is serious about wanting out.
God Himself called all attempts at covenant marriage dissolution treacherous and violent! If there is either adultery or financial covetousness stealing away the marriage, as is typically the case, this is actually a high-conflict situation, but even high conflict doesn’t invalidate the married-for-life indissolubility of that union, as McManus’ concept seems to imply. Often such profound conflict, especially in an environment of ready, unilateral access to man’s “dissolution” papers, is neither loud nor outwardly violent in the conventional sense.
If churches truly came to grips with the biblical fact that our nation’s profoundly immoral civil “family” laws (and their own inexcusable complicity with those laws) has literally sent millions of unwitting souls to hell over the past 5 decades who thought they were “saved”, would we really be talking about merely “tweaking” these laws? Would we not instead be packing the church buses with people and signs, as we did a mere 3 or 4 years ago in an attempt to stave off the state sanction of sodomy, sending them to march relentlessly under the rotundas of our state capitol buildings and outside the state supreme / appellate courts until every one of these wicked laws was repealed? Sadly, we seem to have had our answer this past 2017 legislative session, when courageous young lawmakers in two states both managed to get their repeal bills past a pair of hostile committees, only to die on the floors of both GOP-dominated legislatures for want of a floor vote. Meanwhile, the idolatrous silence of the churches in both states was deafening, while the family policy groups allowed the deluge of vicious and false press opposition to go completely unanswered, even on their own webpages and blogs – “crickets” there, too. Given the still-perishing souls that will result, how will they ever answer to God for this massive sin of omission recently committed?
If we realized the cumulative impact (compounded by borrowing costs over nearly 50 years) that these immoral laws have had on state and federal budget deficits, as social costs are passed from the moral offender straight to the backs of the taxpayers – a combined total of a quarter of a trillion dollars per year, according to a 2008 study by the Institute for American Values (http://www.americanvalues.org/search/item.php?id=52), would our priorities as responsible conservative political groups still be on the symptom issues such as bathrooms and marijuana, or would they be at least partially redirected to eradicating the underlying cancer? We will be writing to Mr. McManus again. Yes, it may be admirable and tempting to take “practical” steps to cut the fiscal damage in half, but what will a man give for his soul?
Next post: Our response to Part 2
7 Times Around the Jericho Wall | Let’s Repeal Unilateral Divorce!