The Devastating Effects of Divorce

By Wayne Jackson

Through the prophet Malachi, Jehovah God said to ancient Israel: “I hate divorce” (2:16, NASB). The Lord hates divorce because he loves people and divorce is devastating to humankind.

Man did not live one day upon this earth apart from the environment of a home. In fact, the very foundation of society is the home. Marriage is that divine union between a man and a woman who love one another, and who have welded their lives together “so long as they both shall live.” It is the cement that holds society together.

Moreover, it is this very societal cohesiveness that facilitates the spread of the redemptive gospel of Jesus Christ. When the family structure disintegrates, a significant factor in the growth of Christian faith is missing, and the gospel of God is hindered. Those who encourage capricious, unauthorized divorce undermine the cause for which the Savior died.

Divorce, generally speaking, is a tremendous evil. In fact, it is so bad that Jesus Christ allows it (together with a subsequent remarriage) on one basis only—that of fornication (Matthew 5:32; 19:9). Subsequent unions following divorce—for all parties other than the innocent victim of a marriage breached by fornication—constitute adulterous relationships.

The divorce problem has reached alarming proportions. In 1970 there were 4.3 million divorced people in America. By 1994 that number had more than quadrupled to a staggering 17.4 million. According to the Journal of Marriage and the Family, the fairly recent phenomenon of “no-fault” divorce has significantly accelerated the plague of American divorce. The United States now leads the world in marriage break-ups.

In a recently published book, Why Marriage Matters: Reasons to Believe in Marriage in Post-Modern Society, author Glenn T. Stanton has compiled a massive amount of evidence which reveals the shocking effect that divorce is having in this country.

This book is a survey of the most authoritative social science research published over the course of the last century. It demonstrates how first-time, life-long, monogamous marriage significantly improves the lives of adults, their children and the nation at large.

Consider some of the following factors:

  • Alcoholism is much more likely to be a problem among those who have been divorced than those who have not. Those divorced only once have almost twice the rate of alcoholism as those who have never been divorced. Folks divorced more than once are almost three times as likely to have drinking problems.
  • The suicide rate is almost three times higher among the divorced than among life-long spouses.
  • The National Institute of Mental Health advises that the divorced are about four times as likely to have problems with depression as are the never-divorced.
  • Studies have shown that the prevalence of suffering from any psychiatric disorder over a lifetime was significantly lower for those in stable marriages.
  • Statistical data have revealed that children of divorced parents are much more likely to drop out of school than children from one-time-married couples.
  • Children from broken homes are much more likely to have a difficult time obtaining and maintaining steady employment.
  • The children of divorced parents are more likely to become “teen parents,” producing out-of-wedlock babies, than the children of life-long married parents.
  • The offspring of divorced parents are twenty to thirty percent more likely to have health problems, or to be injury-prone than youngsters whose original parents are still together.
  • The children of divorced parents are three times more likely to have emotional or behavioral problems than they will have if their biological parents stay together.

The evidence is all too clear. The Creator knew what he was doing when he gave strict regulations for the preservation of the original family. In view of this, Christian parents will make every effort possible to keep their marriages intact. Moreover, they will instruct their children in the concept of the permanency of marriage as designed by God.

Sources/Footnotes
  • Stanton, Glenn T. 1997. Why Marriage Matters: Reasons to Believe in Marriage in Post-Modern Society. Colorado Springs, CO: Pinon Press.
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About the Author

Wayne Jackson has written for and edited the Christian Courier since its inception in 1965. He has also written several books on a variety of biblical topics including The Bible and Science, Creation, Evolution, and the Age of the Earth, The Bible on Trial, and a number of commentaries. He lives in Stockton, California with his dear wife, and life-long partner, Betty.