Katie Holmes, Tom Cruise, and What They Tell Us About Marriage

'Katie Holmes' photo (c) 2010, Kathrin-Thuy OTTO - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/To no one’s surprise, Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes are apparently divorcing. Katie wants full custody of their 6-year-old daughter Suri. I don’t blame her.

It sounds like one of the sticky points in their marriage was Cruise’s weird obsession with Scientology, a cult that teaches that we all have untapped potentials, since we aren’t actually of this earth–we’re descended from a race of Thetans. And it gets weirder from there.

Scientologists don’t believe in original sin–or in sin at all. And so their approach to parenting is very strange. No discipline. No rules. The key is to let the child make all decisions for himself/herself. And it seems, from news reports, that this is how Suri was being raised. She has a $3.2 million wardrobe. She had high heeled shoes specially made for her since she was three. She frequently has meltdowns in public.

Katie Holmes was raised in a Catholic, regular home. I obviously don’t know her, but my gut would tell me that she just wants to raise her child normally. She doesn’t want to create a brat. And so she’s suing for custody.

Will she win? I don’t know. Tom Cruise will have all his own resources, and all of Scientology’s, on his side. But here’s where things get tricky.

I don’t actually know that legally she SHOULD win.
Do I think Scientology is weird, horrible, and dangerous? Yep. But consider this scenario. A woman is married and has several children. And one day, out of the blue, her husband announces that he’s gay and he doesn’t want to be married anymore. So they divorce. But he’s now suing for custody because his children will be raised as Christians if they stay with their mother, and Christianity believes that homosexuality is wrong. So his wife’s religion is damaging to his relationship with his child.

Do you see the slippery slope here? Courts aren’t allowed to distinguish between “weird” religions and “good” religions, so I don’t know what will happen. If courts start to recognize that parents have a right to demand that their child not be raised in a certain religion, what’s to stop that being used against Christians? Hopefully they’ll find for Katie Holmes based on child psychology–kids need to be treated as kids, not as adults–rather than religion, but even that is problematic because how is a court to determine the best parenting techniques?

'' photo (c) 2002, Cuito Cuanavale - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/The truth is there is no easy answer here. My heart goes out to her, and I sure hope she gets custody, but the whole thing is one big mess.

Which brings me to what I really want to talk about today.

I receive a lot of emails from readers in marital quandaries. Some are easier to deal with than others. But the ones that are especially hard are where she is a Christian and he is not. What do you do, for instance, if you’re a Christian, but your husband isn’t, and he’s using porn? Or he enjoys looking, but not touching, other women. Or he’s going to strip clubs. Or he’s pleasuring himself rather than pleasuring you? These are horrible things in a marriage, but the problem is that while it’s easy to explain to a Christian why they’re wrong, how do you find common ground if he’s not a Christian?

Ideally, in many of these cases, if a couple just can’t come to a resolution, you’d find a mentor couple from church to talk to who could help you talk or navigate through these issues. But if he’s not a Christian, you can’t. He doesn’t even believe the basic premises that porn is wrong, or that sex is made for intimacy and not only physical release.

By the way, I’m not suggesting that all non-Christians use porn or think porn is great; not at all. Many non-Christians actually behave better in marriage than Christians do! The only point I’m trying to make here is that when you’re married to a Christian and you’re having marriage difficulties, at least you have common ground and a common authority you can turn to. If you’re married to a non-Christian and you’re having marriage difficulties, often you don’t even agree on basic premises. And then what do you do?

Outside of prayer, working on your friendship and building goodwill, and then working on communication to establish that common ground, I don’t think there’s much you can do.

Which is why, ladies, if there’s one thing I’m absolutely adamant about, it’s this: Be very, very careful who you marry. I know for most of us reading this blog, we’ve already walked down that aisle. But many engaged people read this, too. And even if you are married, spread the word: WHO you marry is the most important decision, short of salvation, that you will make on this earth. And while you may feel giddily in love with this guy now, if you do not share a faith, chances are you are going to end up hurting in the end. That is not to say such a marriage can’t work; but given what I’ve read in emails, I would never, ever chance it. There’s a reason that the Bible says “don’t be unequally yoked“.

Of course, my mother married a Christian man who actually ran the Christian group on campus who later abandoned his faith. Other women have gotten married and only later converted to Christianity, while their husbands still haven’t. Things happen after we tie the knot, too. Nevertheless, for the best chance of success, marry someone you share a faith with. Please.

Reading all the emails that come my way is so sad. I spend time praying over each one, but it is draining. And over and over again, the thought that comes back to me is “this would have been avoidable if she had only married someone she could pray with”. If you can’t pray with him, don’t marry him. Really.

Perhaps that sounds harsh, but coming from one who reads of all the crises in marriage, I have to say that so often this is the cause. Two people are married but only one really believes in God’s plan for marriage. And it’s very, very difficult to make a marriage work in that situation. It’s not impossible, and it’s still incumbent upon us to try, but it’s hard. And heartache often follows.

So please be careful! And spread the word to those who aren’t married yet: Don’t end up like Katie Holmes, whose child’s future will soon be entirely in the hands of the courts.


  1. learning is fun! says:

    This is definitely a tough one. When my wife and I were dating, she wasn’t a Christian. I do remember having a very serious conversation with her about it, and telling her that for me, that was a necessary step if we were to be considering marriage. I was also very clear that salvation MUST be a decision that she came to on her own, and not something that she did ‘for me,’ or ‘in order to get married.’ On her own, she enrolled in the Alpha program at church (she’d been attending with me), and although the example, and ‘difference’ that she saw in my family played a part, it was what she learned about Christianity that brought her to her decision. Our engagement came a few months AFTER her salvation decision, and she was baptized during our first year of marriage.
    I also know of other couples who are ‘unequally yoked,’ and while they maintain an appearance that everything’s fine, you always know that there are underlying conflicts, whether it be with schooling, or discipline, or whatever. In many cases, it seems to be ‘in style’ to be with someone of a different faith; it’s seen as ‘diversity,’ or ‘displaying tolerance,’ but in the end, what’s required is compromise – and is your faith something that you want to compromise on?
    Regarding Tom Cruise and Katy Holmes, there are so many reports of what MAY have happened, that we may never really know the truth. From Tom Cruise having his own ultrasound system installed in the house, to the possibility that their marriage was the result of a 5-year contract (which, coincidentally, was the length of their marriage), to the wierdness of Scientology, which has only been made more public by the likes of Cruise and John Travolta. Whether or not you feel that the divorce is a good thing, the fact remains that for their daughter, the road ahead is going to be a tough one, and although Katie Holmes may be WISHING for a ‘normal’ life for Suri, the past decisions made by both Holmes and Cruise have made that virtually impossible.

  2. Sheila, you’re spot on when you tell people to be very careful about who you marry. Marriage doesn’t automatically change people for the better.

    My parents cautioned me to be very careful who I dated… a quote from my father is “Don’t date anybody you wouldn’t want to marry.” This is very wise advice- while you don’t always start a dating relationship expecting it to lead all the way to marriage, what is dating if not testing compatibility for exactly that? If you know someone has base incompatibilities with you before you start dating (religious differences, serious personality issues, etc.), why on earth would you waste that time and effort- both yours and that of the other person? Better to leave that unexplored and go find someone else with whom things will be more compatible initially. Sure, there’s that whole “follow your heart” stuff, but that’s overrated- our hearts should not be allowed to lead us into places our heads know will be trouble. That’s just undisciplined.

    I have seen great heartache caused by people who followed their hearts and not their heads, leaving them unequally yoked in ways that do cause problems later on. Sometimes it sets someone on a life trajectory that they never quite recover from. All because they chose to ignore Paul’s advice to only marry Christians. Dating leads to marriage (people in our Western culture don’t marry people they haven’t dated)- don’t even start down that path with someone if you know you don’t want to arrive at your destination with that person.

    • learning is fun! says:

      Phil, I’d take your father’s quote a few steps further – it’s not simply who you’d want to marry, but who you can see yourself married to for a long time, and who you can see yourself parenting children with. It can be pretty easy to imagine the wedding day, but we don’t always picture the ‘hard times’ that are as frequent as the good times that are part of a marriage.

      • It wasn’t so much as imagining seeing yourself beside person X on the wedding day… as you point out, that’s hardly the test of a relationship. Rather, it’s more of a “is this the kind of person you can see yourself with, weathering life’s ins and outs, or is this just a fun fling?” If it’s a fling, don’t waste your time.

        If someone isn’t anywhere close to being the kind of person you might wish to be linked to “until death do us part,” then don’t even bother with coffee, let alone a movie, let alone anything more.

  3. Excellent post! It is so important to make a wise decision about marriage, even when it is hard because the accompanying emotions are so strong. Thank you for your ministry, Sheila. It is good to have solid, pro-marriage resources in a culture that is increasingly anti-marriage.
    Amanda recently posted…Sample SaturdayMy Profile

  4. We tell our daughter “dating is not a mission field.”
    Any potential boyfriend must love the Lord and have the fruits and spiritual disciplines to prove it.

  5. “. If you can’t pray with him, don’t marry him. Really.”

    Wonderful advice :)
    Homeschool on the Croft recently posted…How Does your Garden Grow…?My Profile

  6. Well said :) Soooo important to be equally yoked. It is the foundation of your relationship and the chord of three. In our premarital counseling we were reminded it is a covenant made before God and you can’t go in with any thoughts of “if it doesn’t work out” because if you go in with an “if” it opens the door to use it. I always looked for a man with a teachable heart – for it your heart is teachable God can mold you, but you are hard hearted, there is trouble on the horizon.

  7. When I was dating a guy who wasn’t a Christian my mom, God bless her gutsy-ness, straight up said to me “He may or may not ever change – can you picture yourself loading the kids up in the car and going to church by yourself every Sunday for the rest of your life?” My answer? Nope.

    We live in a very “embrace the moment” society. But we gotta think long term if we want healthy relationships.
    Melissa recently posted…I Appreciate…My Profile

  8. My wife and I received Christ as our savior together at a marriage and family seminar. Later, I became involved with the local chapter of Full Gospel Businessmen. There was a weekly meeting where men gave their testimonies of salvation, healing, deliverance, etc. I heard so many testimonies by these men of women who just loved their husbands to the Lord. They prayed, often fasted, but mostly just loved on their husbands until they just loved them to the Lord. It wasn’t easy or quick! It took guts and unrelenting desire to see their husbands enter into the Kingdom of God.
    I’ve also heard testimonies from unsaved men who were preached right out of their homes and marriages. “If that’s Christianity, you can have it”, I’ve heard. The scriptures said we would be known by our love, not our preaching. You do the loving and the Spirit will do the convicting.
    I’m forever grateful that my wife and I dropped the hard yoke of sin and were equally yoked under the easy yoke of our Lord and Saviour.

  9. I so love this Sheila, powerful and real. And so many nuggets of truth from the comments as well (you have wonderful comenters!)

    I used to work with singles and dating couples. It’s not easy when on that side (single) to see the wisdom of going out/marrying “equally yoked”. Hormones and ‘faith’ are high. it takes loads of counsel and prayer to help others see what is really on this side of the altar. And even then, individual decisions have to be made.

    I so agree with you – ‘if you can’t pray together, don’t marry him. really.’
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  10. You’re right that if you are married to someone who does not share your religious faith, then it is very unlikely you will be able to turn to a religious mentor or authority for counseling. But this doesn’t mean you should give up hope. If there is any desire at all to solve the problems and save the marriage, there are marriage-friendly therapists who can work with you in a way that will respect your values while also approaching issues in a way that will be acceptable to your spouse. The National Registry of Marriage Friendly Therapists has a website where you can search for someone in your area. The International Centre for Excellence in Emotionally Focused Therapy also has a website where you can find pro-marriage therapists.
    Rosemary recently posted…Jill and Kevin’s Big DayMy Profile

  11. Stefanie says:

    I just a news line that Katie Holmes is being touted as a hero…a feminist hero, but still the use of the word hero truly bothers me. I mean really…..she renounced her religion and embraced his beliefs. What did she think would happen? I guess she didn’t realize the ramifications of her decision until it affected her child when the path that was being laid out for her was made more clear. God warned the Israelites what would happen if they married women from other cultures and beliefs. He clearly says not to be unequally yoked. God has a reason for this and this is a perfect example. And how she did it was so cowardly standing behind her father the attorney and “surprising” her husband. Then releasing details of how she hid a disposable cell phone so she could make calls and orchestrate in secret. How is any of that to be applauded? Some thing that should have been worked out as a family has become a public spectacle.

  12. “If you can’t pray with him, don’t marry him!” Excellent point! Something I love about my husband is that we started praying together before marriage when we were dating and we’ve continued ever since.

    I feel so sad for Katie and Tom. It is such a sticky situation to be in and their daughter is in the middle. Divorce is ugly no matter what, but to throw in a custody battle, it just gets messier. I pray that the courts will make the right decision and that God will work in the hearts of little Suri and her parents.
    Hannah Williams recently posted…10 Secrets from a Wife Who Waited…and Who Loves Married Sex, Part 2My Profile

  13. There are many factors that make a difference in the short and long term quality of a relationship – and shared values and faith can make major impact. Very insightful aticle – thanks for sharing/

  14. I’m really not sure is Kathy got married to Tom when he was Christian or not? Did he receive his new faith when he was married to Kathie or before that. If the second one is true, i’ll say poor Kathie, but if the first one is true – she should have known better before she said ” I do”. I mean marriage is not a game, there is no easy way out when things get thought, especially when kids are involved. She should have investigated a lot more about him and his believes and his way of life, before she married that guy and gave him a kid.

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  1. […] Katie Holmes, Tom Cruise And What They Tell Us About Marriage – If you are single or engaged this post is a MUST READ. There is wisdom here that may help you as you make the 2nd most important decision of your LIFE. […]

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