Thursday, May 18, 2017

Redefining Marriage Leads to the Dissolution of Marriage

Today I had the unfortunate luck to come across a story where I found out a family had been torn apart because of one spouse's fear that she "might miss out on my chance at happiness". It's the story of a relatively famous, non-denominational Christian blogger, Glennon Doyle Melton, to leave her husband and pursue a relationship with U.S. women's' soccer star Abby Wambach. In a not so surprising twist, Wambach had just divorced what the state calls her wife not that long ago. But the whole same-sex marriage issue isn't the part that makes me so sad; it's the part about how a wife did not keep her marriage vows to her husband and has left her three children to pick up the tab. It's the culture of divorce in the Western world which should cause all Christians much sadness.
Jean Auguste Henri Leys- Wedding in Flanders in the Seventeenth Century
In reading around, including Melton's blog, I was able to learn that after a very rough patch in her marriage four years ago, Melton and her husband reconciled and were said to be stronger than ever. But then Melton felt she had to be "true" to herself, and she had to leave, who she called, the greatest man and father ever. She decided she had to break up her family because she learned that she is attracted to the same sex. Doyle writes, "I have lived a long while learning from pain, it's been a good teacher. I'm forty one, now. And I'm graduating to joy. I choose joy. You can, too. Your courage is bigger than your fear."

This is just yet another example of how selfish Americans have gotten, and how far away many of us, as self-proclaimed Christians, have moved away from Christ. Our Lord is so, so clear on how marriage is permanent. Yet many non-denominational Christians dismiss the clear commandment with a wave of the hand. Adultrey seems to be fashionable for whatever reason in our culture today.

The Christ Child sleeps as bridegroom in the believer's heart
Jesus is crystal clear on how husband and wife become "one flesh", and how "What therefore God has joined together, let not man put asunder.” Did Melton really gloss over this fact? How selfish is it to put one's own joy ahead of her husband and her children? Does anyone out there really think that these kids want anything less than their parents living in the same house? Melton talks about how she helped her husband move out in another blog post of hers. She talks as if it were a cathartic experience. But how sad an experience it was. It showed how she did not live up to that promise she made to her husband. To get through the good and bad times, even if those bad times include not being sexually attracted to her husband anymore. Do vows matter anymore in our culture? Are our words merely empty when we speak? I meant it when I made my vows to have and hold my wife until death. Even if she ever left me, I would not have any other woman, because I made a promise to her and a promise to God. What does Melton think about her promise made on her wedding day? That it was based on a lie? That the vows only counted until she came across someone else that she loved? It's not that love wins. Selfishness wins. Integrity loses. A child loses. It's all overwhelmingly sad that this is not even an isolated case. I would never subject my kids to a broken home, just to ensure I didn't miss my "chance at happiness". They are more important than me. They deserve to be raised by their mother and father... together.  And while I don't doubt that Melton loves her children very, very much, that doesn't take away from the fact that her choice to leave her husband and "marry" her girlfriend is unmistakably selfish.

I've been following the making of Catholic author Leila Miller's new book, Primal Loss: The Now-Adult Children of Divorce Speak. Seeing all the stories and testimonies of children from these broken families is absolutely heartbreaking. The book is now available for preorder, and a preview can be seen on Miller's website. Below are some excerpts from that new book, and please note how this connects to the story I just presented. What will these children from this failed marriage remember? How will they be affected by this divorce? Let us all pray for children of divorced couples, and for couples thinking about divorce, that they may remember the vows they made to each other, and if they are Christian, the vows they made to God:
There are 70 anonymous contributors to my book. As the project came to a close, I put the word out to them that I was seeking a quote that might encapsulate how they feel about the divorce of their parents, something I could use as a catch-all quote for the back of the book. I was stunned by how quickly I got back an avalanche of words. Here is some of what I got, and this will give you an idea of the kind of pain these people have been keeping inside for decades:
“My childhood was a lie.”
“I had to lie about what I thought and felt.”
“No one took our pain seriously.”
“I felt lost and alone.”
“I felt like a tree that had been pulled up and its roots exposed.”
“I hid my pain, emotions, and everything else until it came to a head in my teens and I had to cut myself for relief.”
“I knew something was terribly wrong with how my ‘family’ was structured, but I lacked any framework to understand it.”
“I never knew who to be, since wherever I was, half of who I was was found wanting.”
“They said we were family...”
“If I’m not the daughter of Mr. and Mrs.____, then who am I?"
“I still wear a mask to hide my true self.”
“The children did not get the attention that was so desperately needed.”
“The divorce was like a storm with unspeakable wreckage.”
“My heart is broken, and a hole as big as the universe is made in my soul.”
“I struggle to believe in unconditional love.”
“My parents moved on, but I’m still picking up the pieces.”
“Just how many ‘families’ have to be strung together before enough is enough?”
“Instability, abuse, and depression. Broken homes are terrible for children.”
“Divorce is a brokenness only God can heal; each story is different, but in each is an experience of great loss.”
“If my parents couldn’t figure out how to love, where does that leave me?”
“I feel displaced. Dejected. Despairing.”
“My family is gone. Forever.”
“If we can’t learn to fight for love and family from our parents, then from whom?”
“Children are NOT resilient.”
“Dear parents, you should have tried harder.”
“No, the kids are not okay; yes, we are hiding it, because you are not a safe place for us to bring our pain. You may not get it, but it is time we have a voice.”
“Divorce destroys, always.”
“Parents are supposed to speak up for their children, not crush their voice.”
“I’m 50. When do I get to stop protecting my parents and be me?”
“Every day, I weighed the feelings of my parents and acted accordingly. My entire life felt like a balancing act, beginning at 12 years old. It still does, even at 35.”
“Yep, kids are resilient. Or so you think they are... until....”
“Whether six months or 80 years old, the divorce left a lasting wound that we deal with every day, and only God consoles us.”
“They were unhappy and they separated. I pretended to be happy so they wouldn’t leave me, too.”
“Divorce is a loss. A loss of marriage. A loss of family. A loss of life once known. And with loss comes pain and grieving. Shouldn’t the child of divorce be allowed to express his pain and be given time to grieve?”
^^That was answered by another, who said: “To allow that would be to admit they did something damaging. Most people refuse to see it that way.”
“Watch the Hindenburg crash... that is what divorce is like.”
^^That was answered by another, who said: “In slower--more excruciating--motion.”
“Where is this resiliency that everyone is talking about?????!!!!! I mean that.”
“They said we would be resilient, but they were just pushing our pain under the rug.”
“The divorce forever changed who I was. I was a carefree, trusting, and joyful child. Divorce took my innocent childhood and replaced it with hurt and rejection, and I was lost. I do not get close to others. I just cannot handle rejection. It changed everything.”
"My sister and I weren’t given a chance to grieve the divorce because society sees it as 'normal' now--so we were supposed to be fine.”
“My family was an organic whole in its own right. Tearing that into two pieces tore ME into two pieces. That is not something I will ever recover from fully.”
“It’s like learning to live with a physical disability after being hit by a drunk driver. At least car crash victims are not lied to about their disability and are not told to be resilient so that the person who crashed into them feels better.”
“Tore me into a zillion pieces.”
“If you would’ve asked me how I was doing, I would’ve said ‘fine.’ That was a big fat lie.”
“Only the grace of God could restore what was broken!”
“The crosses of marriage were never meant to be transferred to the children.”
“I was expected to ‘just be happy’.”
“It wasn’t for the best, especially not for the children.”
“If they only knew how left behind I felt.”
“You said I’d be happy because you’d be happy. You were wrong.”
“I was given the message that if I was sad or hurt or struggling it was somehow my fault, because the divorce ‘fixed’ everything, and everyone else was great.”
“It was implied that any struggles or sadness I felt from the divorce was due to my weakness or selfishness.”
“The divorce culture is a culture of lies. Ours is a generation raised in the shadow of these lies.”
“Even though gaslighting is a very strong term, that's how I feel about so much of my childhood.”
And on and on....
For these adult children of divorce, the floodgates have been opened. How many others, millions, have never said a word?
Pray for all those who live with the pain and the scars of divorce every day.
"Primal Loss records for us the actual pain of those most wounded by divorce--children. This makes it countercultural in the best of ways. Some suffering today is not allowed to be called suffering. It is not politically correct to say that children suffer greatly from the divorce of their parents. This book needed to be written, and it needs to be read. It will help children of divorce know that they are not wrong in feeling this awful loss, which, once named and brought to Christ and His Cross, can find healing and even be redemptive. It will help all who bear wounds caused by broken marriages, including divorcées themselves, not only to see in truth what has happened, but also to seek the One whose mercy is greater than our sins and whose Cross is our only hope."
— Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted, Diocese of Phoenix

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