Writers share why they refuse to push away love and marriage.
Falling in love is a little more complicated when your parents are divorced. Children of divorce may be extra cautious when it comes to commitment and a little slower to trust the people they fall in love with, no matter how great their partner is.
Still, when they do take the leap and commit, they tend to do so with their eyes wide open and with a greater understanding of what it takes to make a marriage last. Below, writers with divorced parents share the reasons they still believe in marriage.
1. I still believe because my parents divorced before their marriage turned toxic.
“It might sound strange, but I think I believe in marriage even more because my parents got divorced. Right now, I remember a decade of my parents living as loving partners. If they hadn’t ended it when they did, those good years would be overshadowed by several more decades of animosity and misery for everyone. I imagine the model of a bad marriage would have soured my ideas about the topic far more than the experience of my parents’ responsible separation. When bad marriages end and good marriages are left, the overall perception of the institution improves.” ― Tara Eisenhard, author of The D-Word, Divorce Through a Child’s Eyes
2. My parents’ divorce makes me want to work harder on my own marriage.
“My parents’ divorce makes me work harder to create the type of family I wish I had. As a stepmom to three and a mom to one, every day I strive to provide the kids with a stable, loving environment. I’m not going to lie, being a stepmom and a second wife in a blended family isn’t always easy but I think being a child of divorce has made me more dedicated to my marriage and to my family. I know firsthand how it feels to be a child of divorce, and I don’t want that for my daughter, and I certainly don’t want my stepchildren to have to go through that a second time.” ― Jamie Scrimgeour, blogger and creator of The Kick-Ass Stepmom Project
3. My mom showed me the value of being single and being in love.
“My parents divorced when I was 6 years old. By the time I was a teenager, I had experienced a decade of my mom modeling what it means to be a strong, independent, self-sufficient woman, and wondered if I would ever want to get married simply because marriage didn’t seem necessary. It was around that same time that she began dating the man that she would marry and spend the next 25 years with, until he passed away two years ago. Their marriage was full of love and laughter, and demonstrated that it is possible for two individuals to share a life together without having to sacrifice their own interests or independence. They also showed me that even though marriage isn’t necessary, with the right person, it sure can be a lot of fun ― and 15 years in, mine just keeps getting better.” ― Susanne Kerns, blogger and contributor to But Did You Die? Setting The Parenting Bar Low
4. I view all relationships as experiences you learn from, no matter how long they last.
“As a child of divorce, I’ve experienced the sting of loss and I’m fine-tuned to the signs of rejection and abandonment. However, I’ve always believed that whether they last three months or three decades, relationships can provide their participants with the love, understanding and intimacy they need at the time. Often, the courage to end a relationship that is no longer meeting both partners’ needs shows the greatest strength. Growing up in a divorced home taught me that marriage will never be my sole source of happiness so it’s important to pursue your dreams to the best of your ability.” ― Terry Gaspard, author of Daughters of Divorce: Overcome the Legacy of Your Parents’ Breakup and Enjoy a Happy, Long-Lasting Relationship
5. My parents divorced, but they both eventually found The One.
“My parents split up before I was 2 years old. My father went on to marry a total of seven times. My mother found true love with another woman. And me? I’ve been divorced twice. But I still believe in marriage, partially because although it took my parents several tries to find their soulmates, they both eventually did. Mom and Pat have been together over 40 years. Dad and Tricia have been together over 20. They have taught me to never to give up on finding true love.” ― Lara Lillibridge, author of the forthcoming Girlish: Growing Up in a Lesbian Home
6. I know that life is a little bit easier with a partner that’s your equal than on your own.
“I was too young when my parents divorced to get the concept of marriage before it was gone. My ideas about marriage, therefore, came from watching my grandparents. Their lives together seemed effortless and comfortable like a locomotive on a schedule that always made it on time. My parents’ lives seemed laborious in comparison with a never-ending track change.
“For my future, I wanted to have someone to make my life easier, someone to make my coffee without having to ask and squeeze my shoulders when they walk by. What I wanted was a marriage. What I hadn’t witnessed about successful marriages was that having an effortless and comfortable connection comes after a great deal of effort and discomfort. I imagine this is where many marriages fail. Children who come from divorced homes are often scared of the pattern repeating or accept that it will and don’t try. So, when conflict arises in our relationships, it pokes old scars of insecurity and abandonment. Many of us feel it is the beginning of the end. It takes a steady partner and a stronger faith in the institution of marriage to get through the tough moments. After 22 years with my husband, it is the effort that turns the regular stuff into amazing shared memories. We are stronger together than as individuals.” ― Kristine Laco, blogger at Mum Revised
Examples of couples engaging in extra-marital sex are all around us. There’s no way to avoid it—today’s culture fills our minds with hundreds of reasons to just go ahead and have sex outside of marriage.
But as Christians, we don’t want to follow everyone else. We want to follow Christ and know what the Bible says about sex before marriage.
10 GOOD REASONS NOT TO HAVE SEX OUTSIDE OF MARRIAGE
REASON #1 – GOD TELLS US NOT TO HAVE SEX OUTSIDE OF MARRIAGE
In the seventh of God’s Ten Commandments, he instructs us not to have sex with anyone other than our spouse.
If you fully obey the LORD your God … [he] will set you high above all the nations on earth. All these blessings will come upon you and accompany you if you obey the LORD your God … (NIV)
God has a good reason for giving us this command. First and foremost, he knows what’s best for us. When we obey him, we trust God to look out for our best interests.
REASON #2 – THE EXCLUSIVE BLESSING OF THE WEDDING NIGHT
There’s something special about a couple’s first time. In this physical act, the two become one flesh. Yet sex represents more than just physical oneness—a spiritual union takes place. God planned for this exclusive experience of discovery and pleasure to happen only within the intimacy of marriage. If we don’t wait, we miss out on a unique blessing from God.
1 Corinthians 6:16
Sex is as much spiritual mystery as physical fact. As written in Scripture, “The two become one.” Since we want to become spiritually one with the Master, we must not pursue the kind of sex that avoids commitment and intimacy, leaving us more lonely than ever—the kind of sex that can never “become one.” (The Message)
REASON #3 – BE SPIRITUALLY HEALTHIER
If we live as carnal Christians, we’ll seek to gratify the desires of the flesh and please ourselves. The Bible says we cannot please God if we live this way. We’ll be miserable under the weight of our sin. As we feed our fleshly desires, our spirit will grow weak and our relationship with God will be destroyed. Complacency over sin leads to worse sin, and eventually, spiritual death.
Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God. For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live … (NIV)
REASON #4 – BE PHYSICALLY HEALTHIER
This is a no-brainer. If we refrain from sex outside of marriage, we will be protected from the risk of sexually transmitted diseases.
1 Corinthians 6:18
Run from sexual sin! No other sin so clearly affects the body as this one does. For sexual immorality is a sin against your own body. (NLT)
REASON #5 – BE EMOTIONALLY HEALTHIER
One reason God tells us to keep the marriage bed pure relates to baggage. We carry baggage into our sexual relationships. Past memories, emotional scars, and unwanted mental images can defile our thoughts, making the marriage bed less than pure.
Certainly, God can forgive the past, but that doesn’t immediately free us from lingering mental and emotional baggage.
Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral. (NIV)
REASON #6 – CONSIDER YOUR PARTNER’S WELL-BEING
If we put concerns for our partner’s needs and spiritual well-being above our own, we’ll be compelled to wait for sex. We, like God, will want what’s best for them.
Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; (NASB)
REASON #7 – WAITING IS A TEST OF TRUE LOVE
Love is patient. That’s as simple as it gets. We can discern the sincerity of our partner’s love by his or her willingness to wait.
1 Corinthians 13:4-5
Love is patient, love is kind … It is not rude, it is not self-seeking … (NIV)
REASON #8 – AVOID NEGATIVE CONSEQUENCES
There are consequences to sin. Its effects can be devastating. An unwanted pregnancy, a decision to have an abortion or place a child for adoption, broken relationships with family—these are just a few of the possible outcomes we could face when we have sex outside of marriage.
Consider the snowball effect of sin. And what if the relationship does not last? Hebrews 12:1 says that sin hinders our lives and easily entangles us. We are better off to avoid sin’s negative consequences.
REASON #9 – KEEP YOUR TESTIMONY INTACT
We don’t set a very good example of godly living when we disobey God. The Bible says in 1 Timothy 4:12 to “be an example to all believers in what you say, in the way you live, in your love, your faith, and your purity.” (NIV)
In Matthew 5:13 Jesus compares his followers to “salt” and “light” in the world. When we lose our Christian testimony, we no longer shine the light of Christ. We lose our “saltiness,” becoming flavorless and bland. We can no longer attract the world to Christ. Luke 14:34-35 puts it strongly, saying that salt without saltiness is worthless, not even fit for the manure pile.
REASON #10 – DON’T SETTLE FOR LESS
When we choose to have sex outside of marriage, we settle for less than God’s perfect will—for ourselves and our partner. We may live to regret it.
Here’s food for thought: If your partner wants sex before marriage, consider this a warning sign of his or her spiritual condition. If you are the one who wants sex before marriage, consider this an indicator of your own spiritual condition.
Why Marriage Matters in the Christian Life
Marriage is an important issue in the Christian life. Vast numbers of books, magazines, and marriage counseling resources are dedicated to the subject of preparing for marriage and marriage improvement. A search of Amazon turned up more than 20,000 books on overcoming marital problems and improving communication in marriage.
But have you ever wondered what the Bible says about marriage? A quick Scripture search reveals more than 500 Old and New Testament references to the words “marriage,” “married,” “husband,” and “wife.”
CHRISTIAN MARRIAGE AND DIVORCE TODAY
According to statistical analysis done on various demographic groups, a marriage starting out today has about a 41 to 43 percent chance of ending in divorce. Research gathered by Glenn T. Stanton, Director of Global Insight for Cultural and Family Renewal and Senior Analyst for Marriage and Sexuality at Focus on the Family, reveals that evangelical Christians who regularly attend church divorce at a rate 35% lower than secular couples. Similar trends are seen with practicing Catholics and active mainline Protestants. In contrast, nominal Christians, who seldom or never attend church, have higher divorce rates than secular couples.
Stanton, who is also the author of Why Marriage Matters: Reasons to Believe in Marriage in Postmodern Society, reports, “Religious commitment, rather than mere religious affiliation, contributes to greater levels of marital success.”
If a genuine commitment to your Christian faith will result in a stronger marriage, then perhaps the Bible really does have something important to say on the subject.
WHAT DOES THE BIBLE SAY ABOUT MARRIAGE?
Obviously, we can’t cover all 500-plus verses, so we’ll look at a few key passages.
THE BIBLE SAYS MARRIAGE WAS DESIGNED FOR COMPANIONSHIP AND INTIMACY.
The Lord God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him’…and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs and closed up the place with flesh.
Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man. The man said, ‘This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called ‘woman,’ for she was taken out of man.’ For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh. Genesis 2:18, 21-24, NIV)
Here we see the first union between a man and a woman–the inaugural wedding. We can conclude from this account in Genesis that marriage is God’s idea, designed and instituted by the Creator. We also discover that at the heart of God’s design for marriage is companionship and intimacy.
THE BIBLE SAYS HUSBANDS ARE TO LOVE AND SACRIFICE, WIVES ARE TO SUBMIT.
For a husband is the head of his wife as Christ is the head of his body, the church; he gave his life to be her Savior. As the church submits to Christ, so you wives must submit to your husbands in everything.
And you husbands must love your wives with the same love Christ showed the church. He gave up his life for her to make her holy and clean, washed by baptism and God’s word. He did this to present her to himself as a glorious church without a spot or wrinkle or any other blemish. Instead, she will be holy and without fault. In the same way, husbands ought to love their wives as they love their own bodies. For a man is actually loving himself when he loves his wife. No one hates his own body but lovingly cares for it, just as Christ cares for his body, which is the church. And we are his body.
As the Scriptures say, “A man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.” This is a great mystery, but it is an illustration of the way Christ and the church are one. Ephesians 5:23-32, NLT)
This picture of marriage in Ephesians expands into something much broader than companionship and intimacy. The marriage relationship illustrates the relationship between Jesus Christ and the church. Husbands are urged to lay down their lives in sacrificial love and protection for their wives. In the safe and cherished embrace of a loving husband, what wife would not willingly submit to his leadership?
THE BIBLE SAYS HUSBANDS AND WIVES ARE DIFFERENT YET EQUAL.
In the same way, you wives must accept the authority of your husbands, even those who refuse to accept the Good News. Your godly lives will speak to them better than any words. They will be won over by watching your pure, godly behavior.
Don’t be concerned about the outward beauty … You should be known for the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God … In the same way, you husbands must give honor to your wives. Treat her with understanding as you live together. She may be weaker than you are, but she is your equal partner in God’s gift of new life. If you don’t treat her as you should, your prayers will not be heard. (1 Peter 3:1-5, 7, NLT)
Some readers will quit right here. Telling husbands to take the authoritative lead in marriage and wives to submit is not a popular directive today. Even so, this arrangement in marriage typifies the relationship between Jesus Christ and his Bride, the church.
This verse in 1 Peter adds further encouragement for wives to submit to their husbands, even ones who don’t know Christ. Although this is a difficult challenge, the verse promises that the wife’s godly character and inward beauty will win her husband over more effectively than her words. Husbands are to honor their wives, being kind, gentle, and understanding.
If we’re not careful, however, we’ll miss that the Bible says men and women are equal partners in God’s gift of new life. Although the husband exercises the role of authority and leadership, and the wife fulfills a role of submission, both are equal heirs in God’s kingdom. Their roles are different, but equally important.
THE BIBLE SAYS THE PURPOSE OF MARRIAGE IS TO GROW TOGETHER IN HOLINESS.
1 Corinthians 7:1-2
… It is good for a man not to marry. But since there is so much immorality, each man should have his own wife, and each woman her own husband. (NIV)
This verse suggests that it is better not to marry. Those in difficult marriages would quickly agree. Throughout history it’s been believed that a deeper commitment to spirituality can be achieved through a life devoted to celibacy.
This verse refers to sexual immorality. In other words, it is better to marry than to be sexually immoral. But if we elaborate the meaning to incorporate all forms of immorality, we could easily include self-centeredness, greed, wanting to control, hatred, and all of the issues that surface when we enter into an intimate relationship.
Is it possible that one of the deeper purposes of marriage (besides procreation, intimacy, and companionship) is to compel us to confront our own character flaws? Think of the behaviors and attitudes we would never see or face outside of an intimate relationship.
If we allow the challenges of marriage to force us into self-confrontation, we exercise a spiritual discipline of tremendous value.
In his book, Sacred Marriage, Gary Thomas asks this question: “What if God designed marriage to make us holy more than to make us happy?” Is it possible that there is something much more profound in the heart of God than simply to make us happy?
Without a doubt, a healthy marriage can be the source of great happiness and fulfillment, but Thomas suggests something even better, something eternal–that marriage is God’s instrument to make us more like Jesus Christ.
In God’s design we are called to lay down our own ambitions to love and serve our spouse. Through marriage we learn about unconditional love, respect, honor, and how to forgive and be forgiven. We recognize our shortcomings and grow from that insight. We develop a servant’s heart and draw closer to God. As a result, we discover true happiness of the soul.