A couple months ago, I was part of a discussion about the "attack on the family". The original post came from a judgment a friend of mine (let's call him "Kevin") had that many people in the church view the attack on the family to be the same as legalization of gay marriage. Now, I've expressed my stance on gay marriage (I stand with the church in not supporting it) but by no means would I go as far as to say that the "attack on the family" is the same as gay marriage.
I'm a family studies major and even though I'm very very early on in the program, I feel like I have learned enough to say this: The family is under attack, but gay marriage is probably the least of our worries on that front. If I was to pick anything and call it the Goliath of the battle we are fighting to save the family, I'd say it is no-fault divorces. Couples making a mockery of marriage by getting married and then a month, six months, a year, etc. down the road deciding that they "just aren't compatible". Or you’ve got the celebrity marriages that last less than a month.
I’m not saying there isn’t cause for divorce. Abuse and infidelity are valid causes for divorce. However, I’ve also known marriages where one spouse has been unfaithful and yet the marriage survived because both partners were committed to the marriage. I honestly don’t believe there is such a thing as no-fault divorce. Marriage is work and both partners need to work at the relationship. That’s why married couples have been counseled to continue to go on dates after they get married, even when children come into the mix. However, if one spouse gives up on the marriage… does it really matter how much effort one spouse puts in if the other spouse is apathetic? I mean, it’s admirable… but if the effort is not reciprocated, the marriage isn’t going to be as strong as it needs to be.
That being said, I’d like to back up to infidelity and abuse. If abuse exists in a home (a husband abusing his wife OR a wife abusing her husband, because both scenarios exist) the highest priority in my opinion is to get the abused spouse to safety. As important as the sanctity of marriage is, the safety of an individual is more important. Staying in an abusive relationship because a husband/wife loves his/her spouse and believes they can change sounds to me like codependency (if you don’t know what that means, here’s the Wikipedia page). The same thing would be true of infidelity, if a husband/wife stays with his/her spouse even when infidelity is known to be happening, because he/she thinks they can fix the situation… again, it sounds like codependency to me.
Another thing I want to bring up is the innocent victims of divorce, whether it be no-fault divorce or divorce at the hands of abuse and/or infidelity: children. Richard Cohen, the author of “Coming Out Straight”, said that children have a God-like view of their parents. Their parents are the example they look to in everything. Especially as little kids, they don’t see that their parents can do anything wrong. As a result, when divorce happens, there are children who believe (and are wounded by the belief) that their parents separating must be their fault.
Granted, all of this comes from a single, BYU family studies major, who is only starting his second semester in the program this fall, but I just wanted to put my thoughts out there and challenge the idea that I think exists in the church that gay marriage is the same as the attack on the family. What are your thoughts on the “attack on the family”? Let me know in the comments. Just remember to be respectful and nice.