By Leslie Diestelkamp
A broken circle is not a circle at all and a broken home is only a poor substitute for what it could have been, and is not at all what God intended it to be. Yet the divorce rate is climbing so rapidly that it is almost vain for me to give statistics for they will be obsolete before this material is published. I can remember when a divorced person was a disgraced person, but now divorce is often a joke, an advertisement of permissiveness, a very common experience for multitudes and an expected end of about half the marriages in our land.
For the first one hundred seventy-five years of our nation’s history, state laws made divorce difficult. Restrictions imposed by most states forbade “quickie divorces” and, consequently, prevented some. In the last two or three decades laws have been liberalized and restrictions have been removed until divorce is now very easy to secure. Almost any “cause” is sufficient now and “no fault” divorce is being advocated (that is, nothing more would be specified than that the parties each agree to the divorce).
Undoubtedly the prevailing divorce rate has contributed to at least the following evils in our society:
1. Promiscuousness is all too common among married people. Fidelity is considered old-fashioned. Husbands and wives hardly frown upon the immoral escapades of their companions.
2. Marriage itself seems to be about to become outdated. People live together without a wedding vow and satisfy their fleshly passions in a relationship that proposes little more permanency than that of the animals of the field and the forest.
3. Children are frequently treated like pawns on a chess board. They become the objects of barter and trade, their “parents” are determined by litigation and law-suit. The parental love that should have bound the real parents together has been pushed aside in favor of unbridled lust. The secure home life that should have brought the children to real emotional maturity has been replaced by fear and frustration. The treatment of children is often comparable to that of the fat cattle in the feed-lot-they are provided with food and shelter if they will help themselves to it, but there is no guiding hand to lead them, no motivation to direct them.
Historically, when divorce has prevailed, the home has become degraded and morality has been abandoned, the nation has crumbled. We can not expect God’s blessings upon us if we disregard His moral principles and if we allow the foundation of our society to crumble. But for the sake of a small remnant God may indeed bless the nation. It is the obligation of Christians to provide that remnant! Regardless of what the world may do, God’s people must maintain fidelity to the moral principles of the Word. Preachers must teach the truth on marriage and divorce, and that without compromise. Elders must feed the faltering flock of God the spiritual food that will sustain the homes and maintain the sanctity of marriage. Parents must teach the children, even from infancy, and persistently through adolescence and youth, the necessity of fidelity to the marriage bond until death brings a separation.
Cracks Inside The Circle
But, bad as it is, divorce is not the only thing that is wrong with the homes of America. Many, many family circles are broken circles even while husbands and wives live under the same roof. They may remain legally married for economic reasons or for the sake of the children, but they become almost totally estranged emotionally and the bond that made them partners is worn thread-bare, so much so that it barely keeps the marriage from falling apart.
Happy indeed is the couple whose responses to each other are automatic, natural, and involuntary. Sad is the circumstance when such responses must be made reluctantly, with reservation. The spontaneous partnership in marital associations-in every happiness and every heartache, in every success and every failure-strengthens the marriage bond and assures trust and tranquility. Conversely, the grudging, indifferent responses of many spouses produce anxiety and frustration.
It may be quite safe to say that the family that prays together, stays together, but we definitely cannot say that the family that stays together, prays together. In other words, people may live under the same roof but be miles apart as far as their hearts are concerned. This circumstance makes for instability and insecurity. on the part of all concerned ones. To use accommodative language, we may say that the outside of the family circle is sometimes unbroken, but the inside of that circle is splintered and torn. The purpose of this series of chapters is to try to mend some circles, prevent some from being torn and contribute in any way possible to greater total togetherness of husbands and wives, of parents and children. To that end let us press on to specific matters in other chapters. Next: “Together Forever.”
Truth Magazine XXII: 4, p. 66
January 26, 1978