Sign My Petition for a Constitutional Amendment to Ban Divorce!

It’s time to ban divorce.  That’s right, I said it.  We need to protect the sanctity of marriage by following the New Testament teaching of Jesus that couples are not to divorce.  The days of Moses are over and marriage is too important to allow for anyone (unless there is provable adultery) to corrupt this holy institution by calling it quits, even when life gets hard with your partner.

I’m so tired of the statistics being thrown around about how evangelicals choose divorce just about as often as people who are unchurched. We need to make sure that those unchurched types have absolutely NO way out of their vows that they made before a judge in a courtroom.

Christian or not, our society will be more moral if we make it legally impossible for any couple to call it quits!  And what’s my defense?  Jesus said it… I believe it… that settles it! This is why, starting with this blog article, I want to invite you to sign my petition to add a constitutional amendment banning divorce to the next ballot. If we can win the battle for marriage at the amendment level, we will have won a great victory by turning this nation back toward its fundamental Christian roots.

For the past few years we’ve been so consumed with things like Prop 8 in California that we’ve failed to also impose this other basic command of the New Testament on people that don’t ascribe to its teachings.  So, get ready my evangelical friends, let’s take our fight for marriage into the public domain.  We’re losing ground on the LGBTIQ marriage issue as is evidenced by recent events in New York.  This means it’s time to take the Bible seriously and make divorce illegal. Only such action will assure the world around us that we take our sacred Text seriously.  Once we forbid divorce, we will be able to put a stop to the so-called “equality movement,” which wants to give gay women and men the civil rights to marry whomever they choose.

Ok.  I can’t keep going on with this satirical rant. Clearly, banning divorce would be ridiculous in the eyes of almost any reasonable person – evangelical or not. Divorce can, at times, be the best thing for people stuck in a cycle of physical, emotional, or sexual abuse.  To literally prohibit this in a society, wouldn’t lead to anything good.  Yet, Jesus taught that divorce is wrong. Most evangelicals also believe that Jesus would have also been against the practice of homosexuality.[1] Here’s my point: If evangelicals want to ban gay marriage through the legislative process, shouldn’t they also (with the same sense of urgency) work to ban divorce?

Recently I took a study trip where I was immersed in various elements of culture and religion.  Part of these encounters included a trip to Metropolitan Community Church, which is part of a denomination founded on the premise that LGBTIQ folks ought to be fully included in the life of the church.  As I listened to some of the stories about the discrimination and hate crimes the LGBTIQ community at-large endured early on (and unfortunately even in our day), my heart broke.  No matter what one may believe about what Scripture teaches about sexual orientation, the greater law at work is the call to love God and love neighbor.  One can’t accomplish either command while hating anyone.

When asked about gay marriage, the pastor of the church thought it odd that any Christian would desire to outlaw the practice, even based on a conservative reading of the BibleGranting that the “traditional” reading is correct, isn’t it hypocritical of Christians to not also want to make it illegal to get a divorce? Either legislate both or none. From the pastor’s perspective, any other move is hypocrisy.  I have to say that I agree with this pastor.

Personally, I believe that civil unions should be granted to both straight and gay couples by the state.  Then, at the religious level, congregations can bless those unions as marriages as is consistent with their beliefs.  Why should we allow something as holy as marriage to be in the control of secular government? Tony Campolo summarized my view well recently:

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I propose that the government should get out of the business of marrying people and, instead, only give legal status to civil unions. The government should do this for both gay couples and straight couples, and leave marriage in the hands of the church and other religious entities. That’s the way it works in Holland. If a couple wants to be united in the eyes of the law, whether gay or straight, the couple goes down to the city hall and legally registers, securing all the rights and privileges a couple has under Dutch law. Then, if the couple wants the relationship blessed — to be married — they goes to a church, synagogue or other house of worship. Marriage should be viewed as an institution ordained by God and should be out of the control of the state.

So, are you with me?  Is it time to petition our government for an amendment to ban divorce in this great nation? If it is, then you might have the most consistent political application of what you believe the Bible teaches about marriage and sexuality that I’ve seen.  If not, well, evangelicals run the risk of hypocrisy, which makes Christianity look as though it’s driven by fear rather than love.

*Sign your name below if you agree!


[1] I realize that there are some evangelicals (many of my friends who read this blog) who have adopted an “open and affirming” stance on issues surrounding homosexuality.  Debating the varying theological views isn’t the point of this article.  Rather, I assume that many of my evangelical readers hold to a more traditional view or are trying to find some sort of a “third way.”  For a great resource, see Andrew Marin’s,  Love is an Orientation – Elevating the Conversation with the Gay Community.  The point is that it’s possible for one to hold to a conservative view on the theology and a progressive view on the politics.

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Kurt Willems is an Anabaptist writer and pastor who is preparing for church planting next year by finishing work towards a Master of Divinity degree at Fresno Pacific Biblical Seminary.  He writes at: the Pangea Blog and is also on Twitter and Facebook.


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About the Author

Kurt Willems

Kurt WillemsKurt Willems (M.Div., Fresno Pacific) is the founding pastor of Pangea Communities - a movement of peace, justice, & hope. The church plant, in partnership with the Brethren in Christ and Urban Expression, is based in Seattle, Wa. Kurt writes at The Pangea Blog and is also on TwitterFacebook, and Google+.View all posts by Kurt Willems →

  • http://www.fivedills.com Greg Dill

    The satire doesn’t even work. God allowed divorce (in the New Testament too), but never allowed gay marriage. Again, I see the point Willems is attempting to make, but it falls short. Try comparing divorce to something else that God allows, but we should be against it… like war.

  • Greg

    I think that the satire is problematic, but not as much a Greg D. I’d like to see this taken to its logical conclusion, such as an amendment to allow divorce only as it is permitted in Scripture….would love to see how people would handle the end of “irreconcilable differences”…unless that’s also allowed under your hermeneutic…

    I think a far more interesting satire to attempt would be to pass a law REQUIRING marriage, since it is, after all, the foundation of Western civilization. An increase in marriages can only be good, no? And since it’s the magic of a marriage that is good, not its quality, I suggest requiring it as soon as a boy/girl shows he/she can make babies (menstruation/emission). This would certainly reduce the rate of pre-marital sex as well as babies born out of wedlock…

    • Dan

      Care to share how marriage is the foundation of Western civilization?

      • Greg

        I don’t reply to articles often, so I am still trying to get my on-line “voice” to correlate with what I intend to say. 

        First, let me say I offer thanks to Kurt for writing this piece. I think it’s on the right track.

        With regards to marriage as the foundation of Western Civilization, I intended to say that rather tongue-in-cheek. One of the major rationales against the marriage of same-sex partners is that marriage between a man and a women, besides being divinely ordained, has been a primary foundation for the stability and growth of Western culture. People ranging from James Dobson to Archbishop Dolan have offered recent critiques that propose that, without marriage between a man and woman, our morals will fall apart. My thought experiment was merely proposing the idea of compulsory marriage. Marriage for “love” is a very recent invention, so this concept should not be shocking. And, considering the other things that our country considers important enough to be compulsory (education, a license for driving a car) and they these things don’t come even close to being culturally foundational, marriage surely should be considered as compulsory. 

        I think that the fallacy I’m trying to raise is the idea that there’s something “magic” about male/female marriage. More marriage will not equal more stability. It’s about the quality of the marriage, and thus a discussion about the criteria one considers as essential to marriage is probably the more fruitful discussion.

        • Theodore Seeber

          Where I agree with Archbishop Dolan and surprisingly even James Dobson on this, I think both are trying to close the barn door 30 years after the horse escaped.

          Maybe someday we’ll be able to be moral again on this issue, and regain that stability that only sacramental, heterosexual marriage provides.  For now, though, our culture of death has many worse problems.

  • http://twitter.com/jens3073 Jonathan Jensen

    So if God allows for divorce in the case of adultery, and Jesus equates lusting with our eyes to committing adultery… don’t you think just about any marriage could fall under God’s allowance of divorce. I think you’d be hard pressed to find any man that has not had a single moment of lust in their married lives (I think it might be pretty hard to find a woman too). Just a thought… 

    However, I don’t think this article really has as much to do with divorce, any way, as it has to do with gay marriage, and really at its core has to do with placing ‘the law’ (God’s law, that is) above people. We are not only to be reconciled back into right relationship with God, but with all of creation, including people. Christ’s sacrifice took away all sin that stands in the way of relationship to God and people and creation. Why do many Christian’s act as though the world’s sin stands between them and us? Why don’t we seek out the people behind the sin as though that sin has already been taken care (and Christ has already taken care of it)? Christians should not be on a mission to rid the world of sin so that all people can be reconciled back to God, that was Jesus’ part. Christians should be on mission to know God and know people in right relationship.

    • Theodore Seeber

      It’s because sin has two effects- the eternal and the temporal.  You’re right- Jesus took care of the eternal part, reconciling us with God.  But the temporal part, reconciling us with other people, means that we need to deal with the temporal (and temporary) effects of that sin.  Homosexual behavior has sin components of lust and disobeying parents.  Until those are dealt with, there can be no reconciliation.

  • Chris

    I rather enjoyed the satire – sadly, I have to admit for the first paragraph I was taken in!  So, kudos to your writing.

    As for marriage – when we only look at the “sexual” component of marriage man/woman, man/man, woman/woman, aren’t we then just only looking at the worldy component?

    Funny how in the OT we will take homosexuality and hold that up saying, “see? God’s against it.” Yet not follow any of the other rules that preceed and follow.

    I understand why…for the most part.

    What I don’t understand is why people still hold to THAT ONE.

    So I ask: Is God EVER against love?  If so, what forms?

    I’m not going to speak for God and say that he’s okay with gay marriage, however, if we just look at the “gay” part – are we not just looking at the “worldly” part rather than the spiritual…

    What does God say about two men/women marrying?

    Nothing.

    Look at the verses…none speak of marriage.

    They speak of SEX.

    That should speak volumes to us…however, we seem to be deaf to it.

    Sex is more clearly defined than marriage…most sinful references in the Bible are directed to prostitution, unrestrained lust, and sex outside of an established marriage.

    So if we are to take a true “Biblical” view of gay marriage…well, I think it’s clear.  Whether we like it or not…then again, God’s not necessarily in the business in of doing things we “like.”

    • Theodore Seeber

      Yes.   I believe God is against eros when it is linked to usury.  Pope John Paul II taught in Theology of the Body that lust is always sinful when the other person is seen as an object of pleasure rather than a partner in procreation- that lust, even in marriage, was sinful when not done for unitive AND procreative reasons.  That is, the aim should be to become one flesh to create more flesh, not mere recreation.

      That’s what an established marriage SHOULD be.  Divorce, adultery, unrestrained lust, just doesn’t fit.  Including homsexuality.

      The purpose of marriage is “That a man should leave his mother, and a woman leave her home, and the two shall be joined as one”.  No mention of two men or two women at all- because the purpose of marriage is to have and raise children.

  • cpayne

    Rather silly article, unless the intent was simply to say, “I am morally superior to those opposing gay marriage.”  If that was the intent, why not just come out and say it?

    And speaking of banning divorce:  No, but I would be entirely in favor of a ban on no-fault divorce.  Going back to the divorce laws of, say, around 1970 would be perfectly fine with me.  If you want your divorce that badly, prove a cause (as Jesus taught).  Otherwise, no, you cannot have one just for the asking.

    If you are the age of my students, you might think of this just as a thought experiment in ancient history.

  • cpayne

    Speaking of my students, I feel sad when I hear them (almost always females) say, “Well, I am never going to get divorced.”  I want to tell them, “My dear darlings, in today’s world, you can end up a divorced person AGAINST YOUR CONSENT.  It is no longer up to you or your actions.”

    Yes, that type of divorce (no-fault) I am against.  Let’s ban it if possible.

  • http://www.debbiehaughlandchan.com Debbie Haughland Chan

    I love it!

  • Aubs

    Interesting from the standpoint of a divorce attorney. In the past two days, I have gotten two couples divorced on the only basis allowed in Florida: The Marriage is Irretreivably Broken. In both cases, I saw people that given the right circumstances migh have made it. I have advocated for a while that reinstituting causes of action for “alienation of affection” or “service and support” could greatly curb divorce. Unfortunately, we as a society are all too willing to cry “freedom” and move on with out lives.
    The institution of marriage itself was never about love, but Property Rights: Proper Inheritance for Legitimate Children. Love as a foundation of marriage was the exception to the rule, thus its inclusion in scripture. Jesus’ teaching was done in a society where women had NO right to a divorce, thus for a husband to put her away was only allowed if she were unfaithful. She had no right to “put him away” at all, whether unfaithful, abusive or neglectful.
    Whether we afford the same “rights of marriage” to the LGBT community shows a mere indication of our own faith. God knows us intimately, but we know God only in part. We have a very limited resource (the Bible) teaching us about God yet some claim complete knowledge of the Almighty Creator from a collection of 66 books, some only a page in length. How can we know God’s Love while denying Love to those around us?

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  • Theodore Seeber

    You put this forth as an argument for same sex marriage- but I’d be glad to outlaw both divorce (I’m Roman Catholic, so for me it’s already outlawed) and contraception (same thing), along with abortion and homosexuality.

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  • Bible is the only way

    One this is an absolute thruth: those who divorce will have no mercy, they are going to hell, they are sinners even if they are voctims of abuse. If a married person is abused she should pray for the mrcy of Jesus because it was Lord’s wil lfor her to suffer. If she divorces her abusive partner she is a sinner because she refuses to accept Lord’s will. Divorce is equal to adultrery to homosexuality to premarital sex. Divorce is an abomination and social shame.

  • Reginald Johnson

    Petition to Ban Divorce
    Signed: Reginald Johnson

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