Law and Society (XIV)

restoration of a culture will be marked by restoration of marriage as a source of joy and a cause for celebration…this renewal must be heralded as divine renewal has always been, by ‘the voice of bride and bridegroom.’ The church cannot experience a full or valid renewal unless it once again embraces the Biblical pattern of marriage.1

A church nearby puts on what they call “The King’s Table” every Thursday lunch time. People come for a free meal, where they will hear a brief presentation of the gospel, while they sit and mix with Christian people for an hour or so. I like to help them, and it seems to be an enjoyable opportunity for 20-30 people (few of whom belong to the church), each week.

Recently I sat down there with a couple in their late seventies who have one daughter, now in her early 40’s. They told me she met a man whilst in her early thirties, and though her parents didn’t like him and told her he was a liar, she ignored their advice and married him. The man had told her that he’d been married, but his wife had run off with another man.  She believed him. The new wife immediately fell pregnant, and her husband told her that it would be best if they bought a house in his name, as it would be easier to get a mortgage that way. She agreed.

Before they’d been married long, she came to the conclusion her parents had been right. Her husband soon threw her out of the house, and brought in his mistress. The aggrieved wife suffers from Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI) in her forearms, which means she cannot work, and survives (with her son) on a pension. She got a modest payout from their divorce, but it was all swallowed up in the resultant legal costs.

The aggrieved woman somehow met the first wife (whom she gets on well with), and now has a little more understanding of what had happened to her, what sort of man she was really married to, and why her parents’ advice was wise. The man now has three children to different women, and a fourth woman is pregnant to him.

According to this woman’s parents, he has made threatening remarks about coming to get anyone who bothers or upsets him, and this can mean only one thing to her: he is a licensed firearm owner with many weapons, and a crack shot. She fears for her life.

I got to thinking: how widespread is this sort of thing? Setting aside the extra issue of threats to life, how many cases of divorce like this (whether it be an aggrieved wife or husband) are occurring? I guess (bearing in mind Australia has a population of 23 million), it could be a couple of million. Maybe it’s much more.

Then I began to think: what is the cost of divorce to the nation, overall? Of course, there are direct financial costs (which would run now to billions annually), along with personal and emotional costs: the costs to the community in increased police and legal work, the domestic violence, the dreadful outcomes for children that result from a family breakup, the turmoil for grandparents, and the reduction in inheritances children receive as a result.

There are many more costs: children not doing as well in their studies and work because of grief that they are facing through family breakup, and not achieving as well later on. The need for increased security for women who are afraid of their former husbands. The loss of parental instruction, example and leadership because one parent is not present, and much, much more.

Research during the last decade continued to show that children with divorced parents, compared with children with continuously married parents, score lower on a variety of emotional, behavioural, social, health, and academic outcomes, on average.[1]

I pointed out to the couple that the Family Law Act was amended by socialists in 1975, so that “No-Fault Divorce” was legalised. (Previously, the innocent party in a divorce gained the bulk of the money. Now, regardless of “fault,” the money and property are split down the middle.) This has had a huge impact on the number of divorces (which has gone through the roof) and the consequences for innocent spouses have been devastating.

My wife and I know eight Christian men whose wife walked out on them, with it seems, little fault on the part of the man. Do we really know the full story? No. But what is painfully evident is that marital breakup causes tremendous heartache for numbers of people.

What a mess, what a disaster. It does not reflect well on the Church, because most of us took no notice when the law was passed, and in 1979-80, when the controversial law was reviewed in Parliament, most of the Church still had little to say.

This sort of outcome should show us how critical Christian responsibility really is in the community. If we had acted firmly in 1979-80, and put consistent pressure on those responsible for the Parliamentary review, the law could have been amended to reflect a more Christian view of marriage. The prevalence of divorce today in the community shows us that Burke was right: “evil triumphs when good men do nothing.”

What if 95% of divorces today were unnecessary? And what if the innocent spouse in the small percentage of cases where divorce became necessary, got the majority of the settlement? The shift to the Biblically oriented notion of victim’s rights would result in the dramatic improvement in the lives of thousands of children, and the subsequent transformation of society.

The Bible says that God hates divorce (Mal.2:16), and there is still hope for change. But we will have to talk about it in the Christian community and act in a unified way, otherwise our families and our society as a whole will continue to suffer needlessly.

The God hating, life hating (Prov.8:36), family hating socialists had their legislative way in 1975, and an earthly hell descended into millions of Australian households as a result. Let’s hope and pray this evil can soon be reversed, and marriage and family can be restored to a God honouring, Biblical position in the community.

It’s our job.



1 Derek Prince, quoted in “Charisma,” August 1986. (Quoted in Pride, M.,“All the Way Home,” 1989, p.3.)

[1] Quoted in Professor Patrick Parkinson, “Fragile Families and the Looming Financial Crisis for the Welfare State ,” in “Viewpoint: Perspectives on Public Policy,” issue 8, February 2012, p.43.

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