In My Bright Abyss: Meditation Of A Modern Believer, Christian Wiman writes about a brief time in Texas talking with 60-year old Adele whose faith has fallen away after a “depressingly undramatic divorce.” Adele wonders, “How can a love that seemed so fated fail so utterly?
A recent internet post received 625,185 “shares” on Facebook in three days: 5 Reasons We Can’t Handle Marriage Anymore. Author Anthony D'Ambrosio, 29, is recently divorced after getting married in 2012. You can read the entire post by clicking on this link. Here’s a summary:
1. Sex becomes almost non-existent. “Instead we have sex once every couple weeks, or when it’s time to get pregnant. It becomes this chore.”
2. Finances cripple us. “Part of life is being able to live. Not having the finances to do so takes away yet another important aspect of our relationships. It keeps us inside, forced to see the life everyone else is living.”
3. We’re more connected than ever before, but completely disconnected at the same time. “We’ve developed relationships with things, not each other…We’ve removed human emotion from our relationships, and we’ve replaced it with colorful bubbles.”
4. Our desire for attention outweighs our desire to be loved. “Social media has given everyone an opportunity to be famous…If you want to love someone, stop seeking attention from everyone else.”
5. Social media just invited a few thousand people into bed with you. “We’ve invited strangers into our homes and brought them on dates with us.”
In addition to 625,185 “shares”, the post has received 3263 comments. These five reasons are important for dating couples to discuss, but I’m wondering about the marriages that are failing between two professing Christians who felt called by God to marry. These secular answers don’t explain why Christians are divorcing at a similar rate to non-Christians (or do they?).
As Adele asked, “How can a love that prompted me toward God become the very thing that kills my faith?”
As married Christians, it is all too easy to get trapped in these secular excuses where sex becomes too important, our desire for “things” plunges us into anxiety-driven debt, and we crave attention from the masses, not just a spouse and family. I failed at two marriages, and I have friends whose spouses recently, “walked out” after 25+ years of marriage. These Christian divorces seem to fall into one of three categories:
1. One or both people lose their faith when rocked with difficulties such as health problems, job loss, or the death of a child. When we no longer believe in a loving God, it is impossible for us to love another person unconditionally, without demanding things in return.
2. One or both people have put on a “false self” of being a Christian. They may have been a church-goer since birth, but they never really understood how to love another person. Eventually the real person comes out and we realize that the person we married isn’t who we thought they were.
3. They are torn apart by Satan’s constant desire to separate two believers. Satan tempts us romantically with other people, and with idols such as money or alcohol. Satan is always working to place a wedge between us, particularly delighting when he can break a marriage bond.
We must guard against dating the wrong person whose faith is tenuous, or has presented a “false self.” After marriage we need to constantly be on the watch for signs that Satan wants our union to fail.
“Love” is not something we “fall into.” God’s love for us is freely given as a gift. Until we accept that love, we aren’t free to love another. True love doesn’t place demands on the other person, but instead is an intrinsic desire to follow God’s command to love and care for our fellow man, without asking for anything in return.