Divorce is such a serious subject that I’ll usually try to find a light hearted way to address it. For example, I’ll often say, “Kathy and I decided in 1978 (after 10 years of marriage and a near divorce) that divorce would never again be an option: Murder? Maybe! It usually gets a laugh, but the point is that committing oneself to the permanence of your marriage doesn’t eliminate all the problems. But it does keep the problems solvable. Commitment is the key that keeps marriages alive and well for the long term. It’s not sex. It’s not children, and it’s not Hollywood’s definition of true love. It’s commitment! Adam said, “She is bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh” (Genesis 2:23). Jesus commented on this verse and said, “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together let not man separate” (Matthew 19:5-6).

I’ve been referring to “the day the music died” as being the era in which the family, as it is presented to us in the Bible, died. I’d argue that the health of the family has been declining since the 1960’s. Up to that time divorce was rare. According to the US Census bureau in 1940 about 1 in 7 marriages resulted in a divorce. Beginning in the 1960’s when the rate quadrupled, it reached its peak by 1980 with 50 percent of first marriages ending in divorce. In David Jeremiah’s study, he says, “Among those adults who divorce and remarry, the probability of going through another divorce is even higher; in excess of 60 percent of all divorced adults who remarry will divorce again.” The celebrity rate (Hollywood) is said to be 80%. It’s rare to find a celebrity that has remained married throughout his or her life to the same person. David Jeremiah makes another observation. He says, “While Hollywood and Madison Avenue didn’t invent divorce, they have certainly capitalized on it. What we see is the stars whose bank accounts allow them to dull the pain of divorce by financing a fantastic new beginning for themselves.” Being a pastor, like Jeremiah, I too “…see the heartache and tears which divorce brings. And the evidence of it in our society, not to mention our churches, is ever-increasing.”

According to the New York Times, Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes signed a five year marriage contract rather than promising “till death do us part.” Of course they did divorce! Jill Briscoe, author, speaker, and pastor’s wife, writes that one of the things her parents did right was to maintain their commitment to each other without ever considering divorce as an option. She writes, “My sister and I knew that Mom and Dad enjoyed being married, would stay married, and hoped we’d do the same. Differences they had were kept between them and worked out in the context of the promises they made to each other and to God on their wedding day. There was no option out! As someone has said, when the doors on a marriage are shut and bolted and a fire breaks out, all your time and energy goes to putting out the flames.”