Earlier this week, I came across a post on The Christian Left’s Facebook page that raised the issue of ‘easy divorce.’ I was pleasantly surprised, as this is a topic that liberal/progressive Christians tend to avoid. It was not surprising that within less than two hours The Christian Left had apparently received so much push-back (in nearly 400 comments) that they posted a new status with some backpedaling.

Is divorce too easy?


Earlier this week, I came across a post on The Christian Left’s Facebook page that raised the issue of ‘easy divorce.’ I was pleasantly surprised, as this is a topic that liberal/progressive Christians tend to avoid. It was not surprising that within less than two hours The Christian Left had apparently received so much push-back (in nearly 400 comments) that they posted a new status with some backpedaling. I was glad that they did not totally retract their first post. I think we need to have a serious conversation about this issue.

We progressive/liberal Christians seem to have uncritically followed the cultural ethos that it is cruel to ‘force’ people to stay in unhappy marriages, thus we need to have no-fault, readily available divorce. But it seems to me that making divorce so easy has caused us to trivialize our marriage vows. And it is damaging to our children.

There was a time when people really did expect to stay married ‘until death do us part.’ And it seems to me that people tended to be a bit more cautious before jumping into marriage when this was the case. More significantly, people knew that it was important to work to find ways to make the marriage succeed, even when things got difficult. Sometimes that meant people stayed or were forced to stay in spiritually and/or physically abusive marriages. Sometimes couples did not work at making a good marriage; they simply went their own way without getting a legal divorce. Obviously neither of these is a good option. But neither is the current culture around easy marriage and easy divorce.

The prevailing attitude seems to be ‘we will stay married as long as we are both having fun.’ As soon as the going gets rough, either person can simply opt out rather than putting in the effort to work on the relationship. And the spouse that wants to keep trying has no recourse — none. This is damaging to our spirits . It cuts short an opportunity for us to develop. It trivializes wedding vows. A Christian marriage is a covenant between the two people and between the couple and God. It creates a spiritual bond, as well as a legal one. Marriage takes serious work. It is not easy in the best of situations. But when two people make the effort, marriage can be deeply fulfilling and spiritually rewarding. Today’s marriage and divorce practices totally ignore the spiritual significance of this covenant. 

Easy divorce is also damaging to our children. Supporters of no-fault divorce talk about children being resilient, able to move on. But long term studies show that there are inevitably psychological and emotional consequences to the children. There are also financial consequences. Statistically, the children are likely to have lower economic status and the father a higher economic status after a divorce. We have not done our children any favors by making divorce easy.

I do not want to go back to the days when a person could be forced to stay with an abusive spouse. But I do think the bar for divorce needs to be higher than simple ‘irreconcilable differences.’  We need to create a culture that expects people to put significant effort into creating a healthy marriage before opting out. We need to create incentives for people to take marriage vows seriously.

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Eric Blauer

Grrrrrrrrrrrrreat post Deb. Thank you form speaking up and out with gentle truth and grace.

I find the same tough balance happening today in the area of health and fitness with so many overweight people its hard to talk about good health practices.

Compassion for where people are or how they got there has to be held in tension with equipping people with tools and practices to prevent further harm. The same in relationships and marriage, especially with premarital goals, values and expectations. What is trumps most people’s hopes for what should or could still be. We can’t allow one generations failures become the norms for the next.

I’m a child of divorce and its been a lifelong experience of different levels of hell that would make Dante look like a harlequin writer.

Anna Marie Martin

I agree with Eric – great post Deb.

My generation was the first generation to experience divorce of parents en masse – I was a teenager in the late 80’s, and it seemed like every other person’s parents were divorced. It took a toll, a serious toll, on several of my buddies.

When my own parents divorced, I was 37, and I was still devastated. There were some extenuating, tragic circumstances (and a suicide attempt, fun times), and it was the right thing for both of them. It was the right thing for both of them to get divorced.

In the intervening years between then and now, however, it has been both strange and wonderful for me to experience them as human beings, individual and separate. I think neither my mom nor my dad feels really “whole” without the other. My dad will flog himself emotionally until the day he dies, repenting, begging forgiveness. But each has had some measure of happiness since the divorce.

As for me and my sibs, when my dad had back surgery two years after the divorce, my two older brothers and I arranged a schedule for tending him at home in his recovery. My middle brother sounded sad when we were setting this up on the phone. I asked him about it, and he said, “I don’t know. I just feel like mom should be there to take care of him, since he took care of her all those years. It’s just hard to remember they’re not together.” This after two years! And we’ve had to set up some care in other times, as well, for other health concerns.

This, we experienced as adults, with all the internal resources and self-soothing mechanisms, and medical insurance or cash to pay a therapist! It was still hard for us – I can’t imagine what it would be like for someone (like a child) with fewer internal resources, logic and reasoning capacities, and a solid support system. And, as adults, we could understand that people and events are complex, and that mom and dad still love us (in their flawed way), even though they can’t be together…

I think I was in therapy for three years after the divorce. I didn’t get married for a year and a half after I gave birth to a child, because I wasn’t sure if I wanted to get married, or be married. I didn’t know what being married meant. If my parents’ marriage could fail, with all that they had weathered, what did that mean for me?

I agree that domestic violence is an excellent reason for divorce – domestic violence appears in my family history as well. No one deserves to be beaten.

The question remains, though: how do we equip people to have healthy, lasting relationships?

Eric Blauer

Such tender and thoughtful words Anna.


I don’t believe easy divorce trivializes marriage; I believe those who marry with trivial intentions trivialize it. Those who look no farther than the wedding, spending lavish sums of money to star in their own nuptial extravaganza, cheapen the heart of the marriage commitment.

First let’s separate civil marriage from Christian covenant marriage. Perhaps the church could exercise greater restraint and require premarital counseling and mentoring for all couples they marry. Impress upon the couple the responsibility and commitment expected.

Send those who want to stage a spectacle, wear a fancy dress, and have a big cake to the courthouse.

Don’t make civil divorce more difficult, make Christian marriage more deliberate and thoughtful.



Yes divorce is way to easy, my parents split when I was 10 and it has effected me ever since, not in a i can’t hold a relationship, but in a since of they always fight till this day.

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