Recently the government have proposed no fault divorce. Some Christians are against this, though for reasons that I don’t quite understand. (Disclosure, I am divorced and remarried).
Their argument appears to be that doing this will make divorce easier, and therefore more people will get divorced, and this is a bad thing. There appears to be an assumption that making it difficult to get out of a marriage is a good thing as otherwise people would leave on a whim.
When I was at theological college our lecturer asked us when a couple were married: was it when:
- the marriage was consummated?
- the certificate was signed?
- the priest declared it?
- the couple agreed to live together for the rest of their lives?
The answer that he gave was 4 – in a marriage the couple are the ministers of the marriage – everyone else is a witness to it.
In the same vein, I would want to ask: when does a marriage end?
If both of the couple wish to separate then surely it is when they decide that – the rest is legal necessity, and the easier that is made surely the better?
The problem perhaps comes when one spouse wishes to end the marriage and the other doesn’t (eg Owens v Owens). Yet in this case the couple are divorced in all but name. What good is obtained by denying the legal separation in this case?
The other argument about couples staying together (or not) centres around children. There are numerous studies round this eg https://www.verywellfamily.com/should-you-stay-together-for-kids-1270800, https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/contemplating-divorce/200911/divorce-doesnt-harm-children-parents-fighting-harms-child (which partially argues against the previous article) and https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2015/nov/22/children-divorce-resolution-survey-rather-parents-separate. I think what I take from this is that the impact on the children depends more on the behaviour of the parents than on their legal status.
What do you think?