In Defense of the Family

Divorce is an unnatural occurrence.

At least, it should be.

Unfortunately, we don’t all view marriage through the lens of the Church. We don’t all see marriage as an unbreakable commitment, a Sacrament, or a holy union created by God.

Instead, in these modern times, many of us see it as a contract, an agreement, or a legal partnership — and divorce is viewed as a safety clause in case things just get too difficult.  Even Christians, when “defending” marriage, tend to push the issue aside and focus all their attention on same-sex marriage.

But it shouldn’t be like that. One of the things that drew me to the Roman Catholic Church was its focus on family as the centerpiece to society.  I love the importance, even the burden, the Church rests on the shoulders of a mother and father, and I especially love the theological defenses of the family.

So please, Catholics and Protestant Christians alike, and especially parents, understand this: divorce is THE greatest threat to the structure of the family in our society. It destroys a bond that God himself crafted, but worst of all is the emotional, spiritual, and mental affect it has on your children.

I know this, because four years ago I watched the family I’d known my entire life come crashing down around me.

Growing up, if anyone had asked me if I thought I’d ever find myself part of a broken family, I would have very confidently said “no,” and I would have believed it with every bit of my being.

Yet, at the age of 21, I sat on the couch with my sister, and heard words that should have never been spoken: “We’re getting a divorce.”

That broke something inside of me, something that can’t be repaired, something that keeps that moment fresh on my mind and makes me relive it every. single. day.

I was completely and utterly devastated.

The family that I knew was gone.

My family.

And it’s still gone.

People say time heals all wounds, but not this one. This one remains open and fresh and it can’t be healed because it’s an unnatural wound.

In the time that has passed, I, myself, got married, started my own family and came into the Catholic Church.  And while the pain remains, through God’s grace, I have learned how to deal with it.

I’ve also had plenty of time to pray and think carefully about what I want to say to other parents when it comes to divorce.

As Christians, the fact that God blatantly says, “Do not get a divorce” should be enough: Therefore, what God has joined together, no human being must separate.”

However, many will find a way to tiptoe around that command and justify a divorce on whatever grounds. So to all those married with children: if your life isn’t in immediate physical danger — stay together.

Stay together for the sake of the kids.

Those children give you a reason to stay together.  Those children give you a reason to work it out. Don’t force them to watch their family crumble.  That is a pain in which no descriptive words can do justice.

God didn’t create us with the ability to love and make life so that our children could split their time between two homes. That’s not natural. It’s not right.

Marriage isn’t easy, it isn’t supposed to be. But when you stood on that altar, you made a promise, not just to your spouse, but to God. You made a promise to protect the bond that He created. You acknowledged and accepted God’s place in your marriage.

So, if your marriage gets to the point to where a divorce seems like the only option, then perhaps it’s time to re-evaluate where God is in your relationship.

Pope John Paul II once said”  “Spouses are therefore the permanent reminder to the Church of what happened on the Cross; they are for one another and for the children witnesses to the salvation in which the sacrament makes them sharers.”

Your marriage is more than just an expression of love and commitment to your children. It is a witness to the saving grace of Christ. Together, you and your spouse bring the reality of God’s love and salvation into your family.

When my parents divorced, I immediately began to doubt everything I’d ever believed about love, the family, and even God.  A divorce doesn’t just affect your children emotionally; it can shake the very foundation of their spirituality. That thought should be devastating to any parent.

And when I say “stay together,” that doesn’t mean faking it, letting your marriage die, or allowing your house to become a war zone, because that can be just as damaging.

You and your spouse once loved each other.  Your children were created out of that love.

Let that be your motivation.

Let that be your determination.

And in the process, you will show your friends, your family, and especially your children, what it means to keep a promise.

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6 thoughts on “In Defense of the Family

  1. Thank you for sharing your story. The rise of divorce is indeed the cause of the breakdown of the family across society.

    Have you read Christopher West’s “Theology of the Body”? Definitely pick it up. It summarizes Pope JPII’s description of marriage as the basis of humanity.

    Another great post!

  2. Thanks for sharing! My best friend is going through a divorce right now. Her husband cheated on her. She was willing to work through it, but he wanted to quit and start something new with someone else. Makes me so sad for her as I see the damage to her family.

  3. My husband’s first wife abandoned him and their 2 year old daughter several years before I met him. The lasting damage it did to him and especially to her were devastating. I spent the first few years of marriage feeling like I was doing emotional triage with them, trying to heal the wounds left.
    I hate the attitude I saw as a teacher, when parents decided that their needs overshadowed their vows, their children’s well-being, everything. They would tear their family to pieces for an old flame or a new love interest, and then wonder why their child was suddenly failing, starting fights or skipping class.

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