Destroying Marriage

People who wish to be taken seriously will often accuse gay-rights proponents of attempting to ‘redefine marriage’. Those who don’t seem to care about being taken seriously will occasionally go one step further by insisting that we’re trying to ‘destroy’ marriage, often with the implication that this will somehow cause American society to implode spectacularly. Why exactly this would happen is generally not made clear – I guess you need to have a particular mindset to make a connection between gay marriage and anarchy.

I don’ know about you, but I can think of more certain ways to ‘destroy marriage’ than extending its definition to include same-sex partners. For example, one could suggest that, once formed, a marriage should be strictly adhered to even if one of the people involved becomes abusive. One could imply that the mere label of ‘being married’ is more important than the people involved actually acting like a married couple, by stating outright that seperation is preferable to divorce even in cases of prolonged physical violence. But surely nobody would be that stupid, would they?

Audio clips on a “Bible Questions & Answers” section of Saddleback’s website feature a speaker who says the Bible condones divorce for only two reasons: adultery and abandonment.

The speaker is not identified on the page, but a spokesperson for Warren said it is Tom Holladay, teaching pastor at the church in Lake Forest, Calif.

“I wish there were a third [reason for divorce] in Scripture, having been involved as a pastor with situations of abuse,” Holladay said. “There is something in me that wishes there were a Bible verse that says, ‘If they abuse you in this-and-such kind of way, then you have a right to leave them.'”

Holladay said Saddleback’s counseling ministry advises separation and counseling instead of divorce in abusive marriages, because it’s the only path toward healing. “There’s an abusive cycle that’s been set up,” he said. “Separation combined with counseling has been proven to provide healing in people’s lives.”

Holladay said there’s nothing in the Bible that says a spouse must tolerate abuse. “There’s nowhere in the Bible that says it’s an attitude of submission to let somebody abuse you,” he said. “That is not submission. So we recommend very strongly separation.”

He defined what he meant by physical abuse.

“When I say physical abuse, I mean literally somebody is beating you regularly,” he said. “I don’t mean they grab you once. I mean they’ve made a habit of beating you regularly. You need to separate in that situation, because that’s the only thing that’s going to solve that.” (Source; you may need to register to see the story.)

Ah. Never mind.

While there is thankfully religious opposition to this kind of madness, it’s indicative of the ‘traditional’ mindset. Holladay (if he’s actually the one being quoted) seems to think that the content of a marriage is less important than the word ‘marriage’, or else he wouldn’t insist that divorve is impermissable even in cases of physical abuse. It’s difficult to imagine a better reason for divorce, but hey, I guess happiness has to be routinely sacrificed at the altar of Family Values.


4 Responses to “Destroying Marriage”

  1. 1 Archie January 11, 2009 at 4:05 pm

    Your thoughts are well written. It was an enjoyable read, but there is a problem in your logic. Now don’t get offended. Contrary thoughts are what public blogs are all about.

    When one tries to adhere to a particular collection of thoughts, such as the koran, book of mormon or the Bible, it is contradictory and counterproductive to attempt to change the thoughts that are origianlly communicated. One either believes and makes a commitment to follow the teaching or not.

    I guess the only way your logic will work is for you to write your own book and choose to follow it. America is founded on the principles of having the freedom to choose and not having your choices negatively impact the choices of others.


  2. 2 augustine January 11, 2009 at 5:26 pm

    Why would I need to write a book? And if America is founded on the principle of being able to choose so long as those choices don’t effect others, why does it adhere to a system of democratic voting? Every time someone votes, they’re making a choice that will inevitably affect many other people.

    And finally, I’m well aware of the mind-numbing effects of religious belief. That doesn’t mean I don’t hold out hope that people will eventually learn to think for themselves again.

  3. 3 Josh January 12, 2009 at 4:37 pm

    There are many religious people who view the Bible as a set of allegories and guidelines, not as carved-in-stone religious law. Then there are people like Holladay. They are all about adhering to the letter of the book, with no room for reason to interfere.

    Not to imply that he doesn’t care about abuse, but the victims in domestic abuse are disproportionately women. I wonder if he’d be singing the same tune if that statistic were reversed.

  4. 4 augustine January 12, 2009 at 9:00 pm

    I’m tempted to say that the people who aren’t as rigid as Holladay have the right idea, but then I have to question how they reconcile the tenets of their faith with treating the Bible as anything less than the inerrant word of God…

    Of course, it’s probably better for society if people aren’t generally fundamentalists, so I’m not complaining!

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