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Jul 11, 2019 in Review

Research Paper: Broken Marriages and Religion

The rate of marriage failure has increased considerably in the recent years. Couples around the world are finding it hard to stay with their spouses and many consider divorce as the easiest alternative (Nock 14). Some marriages even do not last through their first year. In fact, most critics and researchers assign marriages a life expectancy. When a couple takes their vows at the altar, their marriage can be allocated into various categories predicting the possible outcomes. For instance in, Britain, 34% of marriage do not reach their twentieth anniversary. Only 60% of the marriages last past the 20th anniversary. However, only 16% celebrate their 60th anniversary. The British Office of National Statistics estimates that the average life expectancy or British marriages is 32 years. In America and Canada, 40 to 50% of marriages end in divorce, while 10% of marriages lead to divorce before the 8th anniversary, Moreover, many married couples start experiencing problems after the 10th anniversary. Currently, some people have had over three marriages, thus they all have ended in divorce (Instone-Brewer 29). Although many reasons play a role in the collapse of marriages, the current paper will explore the issue based on the role of religion. Religion has enormous authority in the society. It is the epitome of morality in the community, which guides people on the way to have fulfilling lives. In fact, a large percentage of marriages are officiated by religious leaders. Before enjoining people in holy matrimony, church leaders are supposed to teach and inform them on what to expect in their marriages. In the journey of marriage, religious leaders ought to guide the lovers on how to lead their life in accordance to religious values. Therefore, the large scale divorce is an indication of the failure of religious institutions and leaders to perform their function in upholding the integrity of the marital institution. 

The position of religion in ensuring that marriages last for life cannot be overstated. In many religious denominations, marriage is not only considered a covenant between two people, but also a revered covenant binding the couple and God. The famous statement “what God has joined together, let no man put asunder,” clearly depicts the sacred nature of marriages (Instone-Brewer 34). Does the passage mean that couples that break up disrespect their covenant with God? Why would a couple, which went before God and asked for blessings and a successful marriage, fail to trust God to lead their marriage through a rocky path? If the family life becomes challenging and things seem not to work the way one would expect them to proceed, most people fall in despair. As a result, the faith they had in God is shaken. Religious leaders can play a fundamental role in ensuring that the couples do not lose hope in improving their marriages through seeking divine support (Nock et al. 77). Some people have faith to look for heavenly blessings for their marriage, but do not seek the divine help to work out through the rough patches in the couple communication. Thus, there is clearly a disconnection in their beliefs and faith. Such weakened faith indicates that the people involved have not cultivated their spiritual life. However, people cannot strive in their spirituality without the support of their religious leaders.

 
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It seems religious leaders do not take into account the commitment levels of their congregation. They lead the flock and should teach their followers the value of commitment to religious teachings (Nock et al. 78). They should make couples understand the meaning of “for better, for worse” before allowing them to take the vow (Nock et al. 78). The commitment people have to their religion has a strong influence on whether they divorce their spouses at the slightest sign of trouble or not. Committed partners support each other and try to find practical solutions to their marital problems instead of running away from the issues. Religious commitment implies consistent involvement in spiritual activities, which impacts on marital stability and divorce. Statistics confirm that there is a lower rate of divorce of couples that are spiritual and frequently attend religious services. A study in Oklahoma on divorce and marriage reported that the following: 

Whether young or old, male or female, low-income or not, those who said that they were more religious reported higher average levels of commitment to their partners, higher levels of marital satisfaction, less thinking and talking about divorce, and lower levels of negative interaction. These patterns held when controlling for such important variables as income, education, and age at first marriage. (Johnson 25)

The outcomes of the study confirm that people who are dedicated to religion have a higher level of commitment in their marriages. In fact, commitment does not occur on its own but has to be cultivated. Religious leader bear the responsibility of nurturing the devotion and sacrifice through providing appropriate teachings and guidance.

Without proper teaching and guidance, most couples do not know how to solve marital conflicts. Therefore, religious leaders can help them learn to handle their challenges. According to Butcher (n.p.), church heads can demonstrate good skills, knowledge, wisdom and personal commitment in addressing marital conflicts. Religious leaders can successfully bring peace and healing to marriages. However, it can only happen when enough efforts and passion are allocated to preventing the occurrence of divorce. All religious leaders should, therefore, carry the percentage of blame whenever a divorce happens. Butcher (n.p.) further explains that the same leaders experience similar marital problems. In addition, the biggest problem is that the church heads may not be willing to revive their marriages; but instead apply for a divorce. Being a religious leader demands a double commitment to one’s marriage in order to become the authoritative figure to help through marital problems of other people. Most religious leaders lack understanding and, therefore, keep on evading the reality that their marriages are in turmoil.

The position of a religious leader commands great honor and respect in the society. Therefore, when a person with spiritual leadership decides to divorce and marry another woman should understand that his actions are sending a negative message to the community. Butcher (n.p.) creates an impression that despite being a religious leader, one can also divorce and start a new chapter in life. Therefore, couples in marriages facing conflicts are most likely to emulate the same concept of looking for new partners, who can give them peace of mind and happiness. Most religious teachings have limitations to grounds for divorce and finding a new marriage partner (Instone-Brewer 133). However, the teachings lack explanation of the numerous factors that may result in the separation of couples. The aforementioned aspect means that religious leaders handle marriage problems from a narrow perspective. A great gap in marriage guidance indicates that the chances for a divorce to occur are high. Butcher (n.p.) claims that divorce is an ungodly act and, therefore, should be avoided by making family commitments and promoting fidelity in marriage.

Infidelity is a common ground for divorce, and whenever a married man/woman realizes that the other partner is unfaithful, he/she may decide to terminate the marriage (Instone-Brewer 143). Religious leaders find it hard to reunite two broken hearts whenever the grounds for divorce are beyond infidelity. A person who feels that the other partner is not committed to improving their relationship has the right to complain or even file for a divorce. However, the right for happiness should not be abused by any religious believers, since there is always a room for couples to discuss and seek solutions to their problems. Couples should, therefore, be willing to understand the weaknesses of their partners and learn to lead a happy life together. As the Oklahoma study on divorce and marriage pointed out, couples, who are committed to religion and frequently participate in religious activities, such as attending Sunday gathering, usually have a strong commitment to each other (Johnson 6). Importantly, they are not likely to engage in infidelity.

Instone-Brewer (133) further explains that religious leaders should not allow divorce to happen without following a specific procedure. Modern divorces may occur even without the knowledge of one partner, which is an act of disrespect to a husband or a wife and the institution of marriage. At the same time, Instone-Brewer (189) exhibits religious leaders as prisoners of biblical laws that prevent them from approaching divorce from a broader perspective. The latter interpret and apply religious teachings in a manner that brings more pain and suffering to families.

Jeynes and Robinson (25) explain that religious education has little or no space at all in the modern society. The scenario is a product of the negligence of religious leaders to enforce the necessary measures that will promote the religious inception in various spheres of life. Modern society lacks moral values and principles grounded in religion, which results to high incidences of divorce. Children grow up without the fear of God and, therefore, in the adult life they disrespect the institution of marriage. For instance, adultery is practiced without having a second thought on its outcome. In fact, the general behavior of human beings displays a high level of moral decay. Religious leaders ought to ensure that people understand the word of God from a tender age and grow into morally upright adults with inherent respect to the marriage institution.

High divorce rates are also a result of contradicting approaches on marital issues between religious leaders and the state. According to Bentele et al. (n.p), good relationship between the two bodies in the society will enable formulation of standard policies that enhance marital stability. A common approach towards marriage will help solve problems in advance and prevent the occurrence of divorce. Thus, laws governing marriage should be the same across all institutions in the country. They should have dimensions that do not contradict but rather support and explain each other. 

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A standard religious marriage is based on the practice of a wedding. In the ceremony, couples are united through making vows that will prevent separation. However, in the modern world, the traditional practice is becoming extinct, and the vows are forgotten soon after the weeding. Nock et al. (79) suggests that religious leaders and political institutions should make laws that govern the reasons for divorce more strictly. Thus, couples will have to invest more effort into their marriages instead of adanding the spouse. Moreover, children need to be protected from harmful effects of divorce. They often grow up considering marriage as something of low value. Their commitment to the institution is low when compared to that of other children raised by both parents.

At the moment, a larger part of the world population is secularized. Despite tying the knot in churches, most people lead a secular life and run their marriages under community values. They always perceive their problems from a material perspective. The secularization has made many people refute the role that religion plays in influencing marriage. Weakened influence of religion is one of the sources of divorce; and as a result, when seeking solutions to their problems, people rarely think of religion as a solution. Most studies have listed causes of divorce to include age difference, physical abuse, finances, partner mismatch, drugs and alcohol, infidelity, unresponsive spouses, family background, insecurity and lack of intimacy. The studies only mention religion when addressing interdenominational differences between spouses. Most marital counselors base on the defined issues to guide the couples through the problems. Ironically, some religious leaders also limit their therapy to the established causes when counseling couples prior to marriage without involving religious teaching.  

Religious texts have guidance on virtually everything that could go wrong in marital union. For instance, finances are often considered the greatest cause of divorce. At the same time, most people cannot find any link between finance and religion. However, most religions have teachings on wealth, property, spending and greed. If a couple follows the religious teachings about being modest, low income of financial problems cannot lead to the collapse of their marriage. The couple will be able to live within their means and will not succumb to economic pressure. 

Lastly, religion also has teachings on infidelity, which totally discourage extramarital affairs. People who are committed to religion and their marriage rarely involve in the relationship outside their marriages. Religion also disapproves alcohol and drugs abuse and violence. In regard to family background, religious texts have repeatedly proven the God is never concerned with the family background of an individual. When one embraces God’s teachings, He lifts a person beyond his/her background. In addition, He will be able to see other people beyond their social status, race and income. On the other hand, when young people adhere to religious teachings, they will be less inclined to marry in young age or without love. Issues such as cohabitation will also decline.

The life span of most marriages gets shorter every day due to the existing challenges. A person enters the institution of marriage with higher expectations, but forgets that it takes two people and hard work to build a family. Evidently, most religious leaders do not commit themselves to sessions of pre-marital teachings. They allow people to get married before explaining them the word of God in regards to marriage. Therefore, the lack of spiritual maturity is a key ingredient towards failure to have stable relationships. Many people are struggling in their marriage because of the lack of a proper Christian foundation. There is no aspect of personal commitment to God and the willpower to withstand tough moments. The religious leaders do not teach the life wisdom because they are not willing to divert their scope of thinking. Wisdom comes through sharing important information with various groups of people in the society.

Some religious laws do not define the best approach towards solving matters that are likely to cause divorce. The differences between political and religious leaders in regards to marriage laws also create a conflict in understanding and coping with marital challenges. Such laws require streamlining in a manner that they can approach divorce from a common point. As a result, tje efficiency in the work of religious leaders will be improved. They will be able to implement marriage policies without fear of intimidation or failure. The union between political and religious groups will also facilitate crippling of the common trend of divorce. Religious leaders’ failure to facilitate the spread of morality through education is also contributing to high divorce rates. The society becomes accustomed to the immoral activities like adultery, which weakens the marriage institution. Moral teachings have a direct impact on social behaviors. Therefore, it is necessary for religious leaders to instill good moral standards through various avenues. Institutions of learning should serve as the means for teaching all sorts of people irrespective of their marital status. The learning of spiritual principles facilitates the existence of a society where people understand how to live harmoniously in relation to the word of God. The community should invest in total respect towards marriage as an institution. A good learning curriculum with religious teachings is likely to enhance the existence of stable marriages.

Finally, it is important to understand that divorce has a long-term disruption in the entire society. Broken marriages result to psychological torture. The mental problem affects partners, their children and even the immediate community. People who are close to the families suffer to the extent that they remain wondering what has happened. The young adults either lack the interest to get married or enter marriage without any commitment. They doubt whether their marriages will last long and, therefore, do not avoid the assumption that divorce can occur. Religious leaders who do not want to embrace modern family planning methods create a risky marital environment. Couples are likely to have more children and lack the capacity to provide. One or both partners are likely to avoid the family pressure and run away from responsibilities. The act shall form a ground for divorce forgetting that the other partner will have a great burden.

 

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