We Can’t Handle Marriage Anymore – A Rebuttal

Perhaps our generation just doesn’t understand what a covenant means, nor what the “biblical advice” for marriage leads to practically in the lives of a couple. On the first subject, a quote that stands out from Tom Brokaw’s The Greatest Generation, was from a woman who, upon being asked if she ever thought of divorcing her husband said, “We thought about killing each other many times, but never divorcing.” It just wasn’t an option unless one partner was unfaithful – and the divorce rate at that time was 6% compared to our current 50%.

Editor’s Note: This is a Rebuttal to Anthony D’Ambrosio’s article written for wcnc.com originally titled, “5 Reasons we Can’t Handle Marriage Anymore.”
Op-Ed Note: This Rebuttal is missing an Op-Ed. If you would like to write one to be published on worldslastnight.com, please let us know in the comments, or simply sign up and publish it.

A covenant, biblically, has always been enacted with blood. The first one saw the splitting of various animals in two to symbolize, “If I break my covenant, may this be done to me likewise.” The new covenant was enacted by the shedding of Jesus’ blood on the cross (which was a fulfillment of the old covenant, but that’s a different topic). Either way, they took it serious.

When two people stand at the alter and ‘vow’ to remain with one another until “death do [them] part” – they are saying they would rather die than leave one another.

This isn’t an easy subject because of all the shaming, and stigma, and ‘exceptions’ surrounding it in our current culture. There is a great reason for divorce – namely unfaithfulness (this can include spousal abuse and maybe even extreme cases of neglect). Yet the vast majority of people who divorce say it’s because of financial difficulties. A point of the marriage is to help control for financial struggles – for a team is much more capable of surviving than an individual.

The second issue lies with extended-adolescent men and hyper-femenist women, who fail to fulfill their marital obligations. Once again, this is extremely controversial, but it’s also very practical. It comes down to people failing to lay down their perceived rights – for another – in order to maintain a functioning marriage.

In the first camp you have selfish men who haven’t grown up. They won’t get a job, they won’t pursue a woman with the intent of marriage, and they believe a wife exists to serve them rather than the other way around. The biblical mandate for a husband to “love [his] wife as Christ loved the Church” comes with dying to yourself for the sake of your beloved (wife). That means she is a higher priority than yourself. It means you have to lay down your rights for her. It means you’re the one taking the bullet if a guy walks into your theater with a gun, but it also means she’s getting the last bite of dessert if she wants it. The second mandate is the husband is in charge of the spiritual welfare of his wife.

That means the husband needs to be discipled, study fervently, pray all the time, and genuinely seek the gifting of leadership – so if his wife comes with a question about God he can answer it – or knows someone who can. It means if she comes to him with problems, he knows how to get on his knees and pray through them with her. This mandate is probably harder than the first, but it’s also a necessary role of the husband for a functioning marriage. In other words: husbands must take responsibility for how the family is doing and running, and they must make adjustments as they become necessary. He must first be equipped for this, but the fact the typical male in our generation is still playing video games well into his 30s, isn’t even going to college in equal numbers as women, ends up in prison far more often, and generally can’t get his addictions/vices under control, means he won’t be ready to fulfill his job as a husband by the time he marries a girl – and that relationship will be doomed except by the grace of God.

On the flip side, hyper-feminism has destroyed the biblical role for women in a marriage, and it’s probably the cause of a great divide between the sexes that is carried over into marriage, viz. the issue of submission and the issue of respecting one’s husband.

The first will typically get you crucified, especially as a male, if you discuss it. Yet it’s probably the most practical aspect of a functioning marriage, and here is why. In a typical democracy an institution can vote on legislation, and it’s accepted that what the majority votes for is what will be enforced – barring special protection for the rights of the minority. Ok, excellent. Yet in a marriage there are only two people. There can never be a majority unless the two people agree. So what happens when one party disagrees, and both parties are convinced in their minds that they are correct. I’m not even talking about them being stubborn, I’m talking about their conscience and rights keeping them from agreeing even though they love one another dearly.

For example, pretend a couple is trying to decide on how to school their children (legislation in the home). The father has good reasons to send the kids to public school, and the mother has good reasons to home school them. They both have great reasons, and both won’t budge on the matter – even after lengthy discussion and fact finding. The next step the couple could take is talking to a third party – perhaps they have friends that have tried it both ways. After discussing it with a third party, they still can’t agree.

What is left to do? Either one member of the marriage must concede, or they must divorce. I’m not saying that a lot of divorces happen because of situations such as these, but I am saying resentment must build from married couples being unable to agree on subjects and neither conceding.

Well, the bible, in such a case, automatically says, “wives submit yourself to your husband.” Woah, sounds like slavery. Not really – it’s talking about instances such as this very one. See, God is more interested in the marriage staying together than how the children are schooled. In fact, God is more interested in the children having both parents than how the children are educated.

The judgment, then, rests on the husband. He has a choice to make – is this a time where he should die to himself for his wife? Or has he done the things he is supposed to be doing as the spiritual leader (praying, reading scripture, being discipled) and come to the conclusion that the wisest choice is to public school the children? If the latter, then the wife submits to the decision without resentment but trusts in the husband she chose to lead her family.

The second issue of respecting husbands is also controversial, but the fact is – men have egos, and emotional walls, and pride (both the good and bad kind), and they will clam up if they are humiliated in public by their spouse. All men really want in our society is to be respected. The bad thing is, not all men understand how to earn respect rather than demand it. Some think they can join a gang and do violent crime and earn a reputation that way, but they are forcing the issue. Respect is not easily earned, and is quite easily lost. I believe a wife, more than anyone else in the world, needs to be on the side of her husband – there to build up his confidence and ego. The entire rest of the world will try to tear him down.

Where is the largest issue in all of this? The relationship can be left open to abuse – which is why the church exists to speak into matters and hold the husband accountable for his actions and the welfare of his family. It is also why the government exists to intervene in cases of crime such as marital rape or spousal abuse.

So, yes, perhaps the fact we instagram our food means we can’t maintain good marriages. On the other hand, perhaps it’s because we haven’t really tried marriage as it’s laid out to be tried. I don’t know, but certain things seem more likely to be true than others when it comes to figuring out why we can’t keep it together.

Photo by Scott Webb on Unsplash

Written by James Thayer