When it comes to marriage and the church, I believe the ground is shifting beneath our feet right now.
As I’v been sharing all week as we look back on 2021, things are changing quickly. God is shaking things, and people are starting to understand God’s heart for people–that it is about bringing the kingdom of God on earth, not about following legalism. And that means that God wants people whole, and healthy, and able to love, not trapped somewhere where they are hurt.
This month on the blog we’re going to be looking at how to put “Christ” back in Christian marriage. How do we settle on what Christian marriage is, and how can we make sure that we’re actually pursuing Him in it?
On Fridays I’ve begun to share what was big on my social media channels this week, and I thought I’d start with something I said on Instagram about divorce:
Could we see a surge in divorces in conservative evangelical spaces?
I think so, and I explain why in this Instagram reel:
Or, you can always check out the Twitter thread where I explain my reasoning!
Basically, if we look historically, between 1970 and 1980 the divorce rate surged, before starting to fall, and continuing to slowly fall even until today. We’re almost back at 1960s levels.
What happened? No fault divorce came in across the United States.
Before that, divorce was difficult and expensive to attain. You often had to “prove” that someone had broken vows or done something that in effect ended the marriage. So a lot of people were in miserable marriages but couldn’t get out. There was huge pent-up demand.
When no-fault divorce came in, suddenly people could leave much more easily–and they did in very large numbers.
Well, in evangelical churches today I believe we’re about to see a similar divorce trend.
The no-fault divorce never really affected our divorce rate that much because even though wider society permitted divorce, the church did not. Focus on the Family, to this day, does not even permit divorce for abuse. Many people, then, and especially women, have stayed in marriages that were toxic and abusive because they felt that was God’s will. If they divorced, they would lose their church family, and often members of their biological family would turn on them. And most importantly, God would be upset at them.
But increasingly voices have been rising saying, “this message isn’t of Jesus!” Voices like Leslie Vernick, Gretchen Baskerville, Sarah McDugal, Patrick Weaver, Natalie Hoffman, and so many more. And women are leaving and finding freedom.
It’s a change on the scale of no-fault divorce. And I think we’re going to see a huge surge in divorces over the next decade, especially in the most conservative spaces, because the abuse rates are so high and there’s been pent up demand. There are so many people whose souls are slowly being killed in their marriages, and when they feel they can finally get out–they will in huge numbers.
The question this is: what will the church do with this divorce crisis?
My hope is that they will realize the divorce crisis is really an abuse crisis and they will stop promoting theology that enables abuse (like giving men power over women; telling women that they cannot speak up and their selfish for wanting to be treated decently; telling couples divorce is never an option).
My suspicion is that churches will use this opportunity to double down, as proof that “the world” is “corrupting our women”, and blame women for it. I hope I’m proved wrong.
Can we please stop blaming women and girls for their own rapes?
Honestly, this shouldn’t be too much to ask.
Jack Hyles has passed away (though he was credibly accused of sexual misconduct while he was alive), and his son-in-law, Jack Schaap, also a pastor, is currently serving a 10-year term of rape of a 16-year-old. Hyles trained pastors throughout the IFB, and is still largely revered. Hyles-Anderson College is named after him and still active. A number of different people sent me this quote and asked me to fix it because they were concerned about his influence over their denomination.
This can’t stand anymore. And if your denomination or church was founded by someone who believed like this, AND THEY HAVE NOT SPECIFICALLY REPUDIATED HIM, then that place is not safe.
And now for something a little more lighthearted
This video really represents Rebecca and me behind the scenes!
Or check it out on Instagram!
Watch for it this weekend–HUGE sale on the ebook of The Great Sex Rescue!
This weekend the ebook will be only $2.99 on Amazon and Barnes and Noble! So if you still haven’t bought the book (seriously, why not?), then you have no excuse! 🙂
And if you HAVE bought the book, but you don’t have an ebook copy, now’s a great time to pick it up! I like having ebook copies of all my reference books because I can search so easily for things and I can highlight stuff and then find my notes easily. So there are benefits to both types of books, and this weekend’s a wonderful time to pick it up!
The Great Sex Rescue
Changing the conversation about sex & marriage in the evangelical church.
What if you're NOT the problem with your sex life?
What if the things that you've been taught have messed things up--and what if there's a way to escape these messages?
Welcome to the Great Sex Rescue.
That’s all for me this week! But I’d love to know what you think about divorce surges? Do you think it will happen? Or have you ever belonged to a denomination like Jack Hyles’? Let’s talk in the comments!
Sheila Wray Gregoire
Founder of To Love, Honor and Vacuum
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