Jesus Creed

Jesus Creed


Marriage as a Seamless Story

posted by xscot mcknight

We are all for churches and Christians extending mercy to the divorced, but we are also all for advocating the permanency and richness of marriage and I sometimes think an emphasis on this is too often assumed and not taught often enough. I offer today a personal argument against divorce.
What are the primary reasons given in your world for the permanency of marriage? Is it, as I have heard a few times myself, “because the Bible says so”? Does your community of faith get beyond that to the depth of Biblical teachings and the riches of the Christian tradition on the significance of marriage? What are you hearing?
Here’s my take on an old argument, a biblical one.
Kris and I grew up together. Her father, Ron Norman, and my father, Alex McKnight, were high school teachers. In fact, stereotypes: driver’s education teachers, coaches, with sons who played sports for the local high school — Freeport High School. Home of the Freeport Pretzels. Our mothers knew one another: Lois McKnight and Betty Norman. They are still friends. Kris’ father passed away but the three seniors are friends in the same town. They see one another in the winter at the local community college’s basketball games which revolve around Kris’ brother’s team, the Highland Cougars.
When Kris and I, probably entirely unknown to one another, were in 4th grade, Kris’ dad called my home (on Burchard Street) early one Sunday afternoon in the winter and asked if I might like to come to the high school to jump on the trampoline. (These were in the days when high school coaches had such perks and weren’t worried about litigation and when my parents were quite happy to see their hyperactive son out of the house.) My father, if my memory serves me right — and I have no reason to think it does — drove me to the school, dropped me off, and I went into the gym and for the first time jumped on a trampoline. Innocent, fun, leading to nothing. Or did it?
In 6th grade, for no reason other than the kind of spark that ignites in a 12 year old boy’s heart, soul and mind, I decided Kris could be my girlfriend, and for some reason — once again the little magic that prompts the heart of a 12 year old girl — she thought the same of me. We were, then and there, boyfriend and girlfriend. We swam together and played a little tennis together and once played a round of golf — she in the group behind my group. I don’t remember if we held hands; I’m certain we didn’t kiss one another. Something happened somewhere about July and we (I don’t remember which one of us, but that might be a blessing of erased memory) split up.
Kris went to Blackhawk grade school and I to Lincoln. In 7th grade, though, we grew up into Freeport Junior High and somewhere along the year we became boyfriend-girlfriend again. We talked to one another rather clumsily at lunch, talked to one another in groups after school, and exchanged adolescent-sounding notes; I remember Kris going to my basketball games, and I imagine we even held hands. I don’t remember. That, too, ended — and I don’t remember a blessed thing about it. That same thing happened in 9th grade, which wasn’t for us being “freshmen” because it was a Junior High. Again, I don’t remember anything about it.
As a sophomore, one day when we were on the football field practicing for our next game, Kris and her friend walked by. As we were stretching for practice I said to my best friend, Mark Holey, that I wanted to ask Kris to Homecoming, which I did. That was 1969, probably September. Kris and I have been together ever since.
Which now provides for me an argument against divorce and for the value of marriage being a seamless story: memory. We went to high school together, taking the same teacher for German (Herr Kurr), the same teachers for Driver’s Education (my dad and Mr. Luedeking and her dad), and the same teachers for a variety of subjects — English and Geometry and Advanced Algebra and Chemistry and I could go on. We ate in the same lunchroom with the same friends.
Kris went to my sophomore homecoming football game: I was the QB and and a defensive back, and we won on an extra point and I was lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time to make an interception on the 2 yard line. And she came to my basketball games and track meets, and I took her to her job at Kentucky Fried Chicken. One time going to pick her up in an ice storm, I slammed by monstrous beater into a brand, spankin’ new Olds 98. We went to one another’s Christmases — so I met her thoroughly wonderful grandparents — Gramma Willie and Grandpa as well as Grandma Mabel. I remember when her older brother, Ron, went into the military after a solid career in basketball at Iowa. And her older sister, Pat, went off to Iowa State and then Tom became a player at Iowa and Pete at Eastern Illinois. And my older sister, Alexa, went off to Southern Illinois, which wasn’t too her liking. And then my younger sister, Beth, went off to Lynchburg, and that wasn’t to her liking either. We sometimes mention these things in passing. They are stored in our memory-banks.
And Kris and I both went to Cornerstone University — and we shared everything together. Our classes and study time and friends; she went to my basketball games; most importantly, she enjoyed hanging out at Eerdmans and Baker Books and Kregel’s used bookstores as I sought out cheap steals.
We got married as sophomores at Christmas at the mature ages of 20 (Scot) and 19 (Kris), lived in a mobile home, and Kris worked for a lawyer and I did some very poor youth pastoring and we somehow made it all the way through. It was lots of fun — one summer our churches sent us to Austria for summer missionary experience.
Then we went to seminary at Trinity, and we had two children — Laura and Lukas. Kris then resumed finishing her college degree, interrupted when we spent two years in England (one in Nottingham, one in Cambridge), and then Trinity offered me an adjunct position to teach. Kris finished her degree, started another and then before too long both of us had doctoral degrees, two kids, a nice little home — and we are still here. Same home, same two kids, both now grown and flourishing, and we sit on our back porch and talk about them and our life together. Sometimes our neighbors hear us laugh, and it’s usually about something funny long ago. Sometimes when we are walking, which we do for 30 minutes or more every day, we recall some odd incident in our 33 years of marriage. Nothing to hide, no need to. It’s the only life we have and we think a good one. Good or not, it’s all we’ve got and we’ve got all of it.
Why stay married? Memory. The kind of memory that turns scattered events into a meaningful, seamless story. Our story.
Divorce makes you tear out pages of your life, sometimes chapters, long chapters, or many chapters. It messes up the story, the story that makes two people one. Kris and I have lived together, struggled together, and loved together for 33 years — plus the four or five of dating prior to our marriage — a memory in tact, with no chapters torn out, and with most chapters now written together … that’s a good argument for not divorcing.
Kris reminded me last night that when we were juniors, just when the bell rang to end the school-day, we sneaked into the gym and were jumping on the trampoline when Kris fell awkwardly and broke her ankle. The AD, her father, wasn’t too happy and wondered what in the world we doing in the gym without permission. I don’t recall that he thought an answer was needed.
I am now who I am because of Kris; she is now who she is because of me. Together.
Two lives interwoven into one life. Divorce rips apart what has been woven together.
Perhaps this is at the heart of the old argument: “and the two shall become one.” Is the “one” the story they have woven together? Is it the common story that declares the oneness? Is it more than that?



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Rob G

posted June 19, 2007 at 2:51 am


Hi Scott,
Nothing to add, except that this is a wonderful and inspiring post. Western society today doesn’t put much emphasis on memory, always favouring the next new experience. We’ve been married 15 years this year, and I sure hope in another 18 years our memories will be as rich as yours are.
Thanks for sharing this.
Rob



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Greg Laughery

posted June 19, 2007 at 3:30 am


Thanks Scot for this apologetic testimony and for exploring the riches of memory translated into reality with regard to staying married in a church/culture that seems to want to make it all up as it goes along. Thanks too to Kris for her significant part in the story you’re telling.
You write: “Perhaps this is at the heart of the old argument: “and the two shall become one.” Is the “one” the story they have woven together? Is it the common story that declares the oneness? Is it more than that?”
Yes, I think the “one” is the story and that the common story declares this, but I wonder if it is more. Hard to describe though. Maybe a one beingness – spiritedness – merging of hearts, minds, imaginations – a true and deep insideness with the other, as like with no other? But I’m well aware that something like this does not happen in all marriages and that sometimes brokeness overshadows and divides. Divorce is always wrong, but it may be necessary.



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Ted Gossard

posted June 19, 2007 at 4:13 am


I very much like your thoughts here, Scot. This is a good one to remember, and we really need to provide reasons like this, beyond “the Bible says so,” which is important, but even in its pages I think we can find some good reasons for this. Divorce certainly does break up story.



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Ted Gossard

posted June 19, 2007 at 4:23 am


To throw a little wrench in this, which in no way takes away from everything you say here: What about those who have experienced a difficult marriage for any number of reasons, usually a multiplicity with complexities factored in? What good does this memory and continuation of story do for them?
Just throwing that out because I think there are many marriages that struggle and people in them who think they see greener grass elsewhere. They think their story can’t go on as is.
This is not meant to take away the importance of what you say here, Scot. In fact I think recalling memories can end up bringing healing into troubled marriages. I’m just thinking from that perspective for the moment.



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Reinald

posted June 19, 2007 at 6:02 am


Hi Scott,
thank you for sharing. For me it is very interesting, that you have learned german and been in Austria!I am living in Austria near Linz! Which place have you been?



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BeckyR

posted June 19, 2007 at 6:07 am


30 yrs this month. Feels incredible to us. Reasons to stay married during the difficult times, those times when you don’t really want to see the other person, and in our small group it is agreed marriages go through these times. Why to stay married – because if we stick it through, we will learn big lessons we have to learn about ourselves, and there will be a wonderful new facet of sparkling love on the other side. A sparkling facet because we will have learned more of what the meat of love is, when it has lost the sparkly eyed stage. We learn what love can be without that sparkly eyed stage(and how we hate to lose that stage, and how beastly we can be in losing that stage) and find another wonderful sparkling facet to it. Speaking from experience and a big time learning experience taking far too many years, and such incredible joy of the love there now.
None of “because the Bible says.” If that is used, is it following the law, not the spirit behind the law, in the law?
The one reason to divorce – if there’s abuse, and get out of there as fast as possible. Opportunities and work to try to patch it back together, depending on the severity of abuse, but strict lines drawn for the abuser to abide by if healing the marriage is possible. Again, depending on the severity of the abuse. If he is punching her, throwing her against the wall, keeping her hostage, get the hell out and run, and people in our church have helped a several people do so.
Jesus didn’t say to divorce if there’s been adultery, he said we’re just given excuse if so.



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BeckyR

posted June 19, 2007 at 6:32 am


I meant to say : we have joy in the love we share today because it comes with the poignancy of when the sparkly eyed phase wasn’t there, when we wanted to ditch it. and now so glad we hung in there because what is there now is so beautiful.
But then, it has had 2 yrs of health crises I’ve had and have and that brings an intensity of how much we really want to have each other, that is, I don’t want to lose him and he doesn’t want to lose me. I don’t know if we’ll morph into something else when health crises stop. This really does bring an intensity to what we mean to each other because of what we’ve shared in all those 30 yrs and all that’s brought in the relationship. Well, 37 if dating counts.
Hubby says our marriage lasted by stubbornness and the grace of God.
And a marriage counselor that fits the couple needing the instruction, advice and kicks in the butt, helps a lot.
Dated him as a sophomore in high school, he wsa out of high school. Romance off and on and friendship and letters and phone calls when it was friendship, so to stay in touch. I always was in love with him and endured the friendship stage. In one of those friendship stages I woke up every day, literally, telling myself it was ok he was just a friend, then he proposed to me. I didn’t know if I was coming or going! Told him I didn’t know, I had just got him out of my system. Hadn’t physically seen him for 2 yrs, he was in the Navy, but we had stayed in touch with mostly letters. So I moved to where he was stationed to get to know him again and try to decide if I wanted to marry this guy. Almost said “no,” then the chaplain sat us down, said “she needs to hear this so give it to her,” and he needs this, so let him have it.” Ok, all solved. Didn’t hurt that he was stationed in Key West!
Ok, this is beyond the question but Scot ahared some of the story between he and Kris. Hope this hasn’t bored too many ppl.



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My 2 cents

posted June 19, 2007 at 6:46 am


Wow. And all that with no cell phones involved!



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jim

posted June 19, 2007 at 6:48 am


I enjoyed the story, Scott, but it remains “your” story. Everybody has their own. Beth and I have been married now for over 43 years and our version resembles yours in NO way. Rather than memories and relationship, we knew each other through letters and but two dates prior to our merger. We are as different as night and day; and the first seven years were filled with battles (and I mean battles). I gave up a ten-year Naval career to return home with her and try to save the marriage, but it would take Christ to even begin to solve our problems. I say “begin” because, even in Him, life is a process. We raised three girls who are all in church, all in Christ, and their marriages all appear, after some years, to be intact, giving us six grandchildren. Commitment and a sense of “wanting” to be married in spite of all else was part of it; and, while our “story” may not have the ring of yours, it remains “our” story. The plot was just developed as we went rather than pre-drafted. Christ and my wife: the two best things that ever happened to me…..



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Diane

posted June 19, 2007 at 7:05 am


Scot, You did a good job of describing marriage in a way that is not alienating or self congratulatory. However, I’m struck with the privilege and functionality you and Kris come out of. You could meet and have a seamless marriage, in part, apparently, because both of you were nurtured in intact, healthy families with strong involvement in the community. Again that grace of God aspect might be humbling because neither of you could control that accident/intent of birth. I longed for that, and although all worked out for the best in my life (no complaints!!!), I am acutely aware that what you had is probably the exception rather than the rule. And yet it shows what a great gift simply providing children with a stable home life can be.
I often want to tell people how wonderful and amazing my marriage is, but worry that there is so much angst in other marriages, in involuntary singleness, in divorce, that it will look like gloating. And I hope to concentrate on bringing the benefits of a good marriage back out to the wider world, which I think happens naturally when both partners are functional and secure and supporting each other. Mostly God has been in my marriage, which is humbling. I can’t take credit for it. What I want to tell people too is that a good marriage unfolds over time and if you don’t stay married, you can never experience that benefit. It might start good but it gets better and the only way, no question, to experience the benefit is to stick with it. No shortcuts.
Also, my husband and I both went through a lonely period before we found each other. I had given up on finding someone I could imagine being married to when I met him (we were in our mid-20s so that might seem melodramatic now but it was real at the time). So in some sort of beatitude way, the loneliness was a gift too, as I think we both appreciate each other more.



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Jacob Wiebe

posted June 19, 2007 at 7:08 am


As you learned German, you will understand that…
Danke, Scott, für diesen ehrlichen und wunderschönen Beitrag! Ich lese sehr gerne und regelmäßig Deinen Blog. Deine Beiträge wirken auf mich immer sehr frisch und erweitern meinen Horizont. Aber was ich an Dir wirklich schätze, ist Deine Bodenständigkeit und Deine Liebe zu einzelnen Menschen, die Du ansprichst, denen zu schreibst und auf die Du total eingehst. Gemeinsame Erinnerungen als Ermutigung für eine lebenslange Ehe ist wirklich wertvoll. Und ich denke sie wird um so wertvoller, je länger man verheiratet ist. Das ist wie mit einem Wein, der älter und köstlicher wird… Gott segne Dich & Deine Familie.
PS: I hohe your German is good enough to decipher this comment ;-)



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Mark Farmer

posted June 19, 2007 at 7:15 am


The 1999 film, The Story of Us, with Bruce Willis and Michelle Pheiffer, makes the same point effectively. Neither of the separated spouses has anyone else who knows and shares their story.



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Michelle Van Loon

posted June 19, 2007 at 7:20 am


Because my husband and I got married young (and have been married for nearly 28 years), in some essential ways, we grew up together. No, we weren’t junior high “steadies”, but in all the ways that really matter, we have spent our lives growing up together. Becoming one: those words used to signify physical union, or packing up and moving out of mom and dad’s house. But here at mid-life, I realize that the shared experiences, fights, delights, hurts, joys and dailiness of life are at the core of what it means to becoming one. Bill and I aren’t there yet – but we’re more “one” now than we were in 1979 on our wedding day.



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Pat

posted June 19, 2007 at 7:25 am


Enjoyed the post…family history brings back huge memories. Thanks for sharing



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John W Frye

posted June 19, 2007 at 7:34 am


Scot,
It sounds like your and Kris’ story was from the beginning being shaped by stories already unfolding–your parents’ stories, your church’s story, your community’s and school system’s [the Pretzels?] stories, and over all those–God’s grand Story. Realities preceding you both, surrounding and shaping are part of the tapestry of your marriage. Thanks for coming at marriage and divorce “slant” and giving us a view we often forget…if we ever knew it in the first place. God bless you! :)



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John W Frye

posted June 19, 2007 at 7:38 am


One more note: Julie and I will celebrate 38 years together on August 23. Our stories did not blend and become one until we met as students at Moody Bible Institute. With 4 grown (and beautiful) daughters, two of whom are married, and with 6 grandkids, we have stories cascading like a wilderness waterfall :)



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Roger Wisdom

posted June 19, 2007 at 8:09 am


Scot, thanks so much for sharing your story and wise counsel on marriage. Your story is espcially meaningful because my wife and I were born and raised in Freeport, and share many fond memories of friends and events early in our relationship. We began dating in high school [go Pretzels!] and were married in the First Baptist Church of Freeport. This year we celebrated 48 years of our seamless story. Blessings brother.



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cas

posted June 19, 2007 at 8:29 am


Beautiful story. Reminds me of my mother-in-law who spent years after her divorce from her childhood sweetheart pouring over old photo albums. I kept trying to get her to move on, which she eventually did to a degree. Such a foolish young thing I was.
This week we try to figure out how to pay for her to live in assisted living in FL while her ex and his second wife enjoy their corvette, jaguar, motor home, motorcycle, etc., etc. etc. on the other side of the state.
Another reason not to divorce—the suffering it often imposes on everyone else, often making their memories of every family event a chess game of ex/new partner’s feelings.



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Scot McKnight

posted June 19, 2007 at 8:33 am


Jacob,
Vielen Dank — und was ich bzw. am tiefsten danklich bin ist dies: “Gemeinsame Erinnerungen als Ermutigung für eine lebenslange Ehe ist wirklich wertvoll. Und ich denke sie wird um so wertvoller, je länger man verheiratet ist. Das ist wie mit einem Wein, der älter und köstlicher wird… Gott segne Dich & Deine Familie.”
Wieder, vielen Dank Bruder.



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Scot McKnight

posted June 19, 2007 at 8:33 am


Reinald,
We’ve not been to Linz that I remember; we were in Wiener Neustadt.



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Scot McKnight

posted June 19, 2007 at 8:37 am


Diane,
The whole thing of being sensitive to the marriage struggles of others, the difficult homes some of us come out of, etc., was of course on my mind in the opening sentence … but what I’m observing is that in our desire to protect the wounded we sometimes fail to speak about the glories of a good marriage. So I did.



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Matthew

posted June 19, 2007 at 9:37 am


My wife and I were just talking the other day about how it would have been so different had we lived together as girlfriend / boyfriend these past ten years instead of being married. We waited for each other. We married young (I was turning 24, she was 21) and are growing up together. Honeymoon was fall break (I went to college a little late). Our lives are so intertwined that you would not be able to cleanly separate one from the other. We both are who we are and where we are because of the other; we are both different people and in a different place than either would have been individually.
Our son combines the best and worst of both of us, creating the “He’s your son” game. The memories are more than moments that are gone. They have created a shared life that belongs to us and nobody else. And I wouldn’t trade the world for it.



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Randy

posted June 19, 2007 at 9:46 am


thanks, Scot, for simply sharing the value of lives brought together. I have experienced divorce and there is the constant feel, just as you described, of pages torn out of life. God has been gracious, forgiveness has been abundant, time through grace has healed, but there is always a sense of the disjointed when it comes to memory. Life is divided between then and now. Children have to divide their time between families and memories. I am fortunate. I love my stepchildren, but we cannot share full Memory of lives together either. There is a time frame of B.D and A.D., a broken history, a fragmented story. Yet God has, in his wisdom, worked in us despite our past, our losses and sorrow. New people were born amidst the strife and severance. My prayers are for those who have a broken relational past…God is good.



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Scot McKnight

posted June 19, 2007 at 9:50 am


Randy,
Thanks for this. As I mentioned above, I knew the post might run into the topic of divorce and healing from divorce as well. Your gritty honesty is much appreciated.



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Eric Hogue

posted June 19, 2007 at 11:19 am


Scot,
Tammy and I have been married for 19-years. I know, the number does not impress with this crowd. After living 10 miles from each other while growing up, attending similar schools, churches and coming from very similar families and living within the great Mid-Western culture, we feel in love and married.
To keep it short: Poverty, Education, Mid-Western values, too many mistakes to remember, the loss of two children, 11-years of full time pastoral ministry, (added to radio and television ‘tent making’), Tammy’s teaching positions, the birth of our two daughters (we are a family of six) and the eventual move from Ohio to California, we have ‘made it’ by the grace of God.
I’d like to see your “memories”, and raise it in consideration of “cultural similarities”…as in yoking.
Tammy and I come from a very similar place…physically, emotionally, culturally and spiritually.
If the memories make the glue, then the ingredients at the outset need to include ‘yoking’.
We constantly talk about ‘what we believe to be important’, versus what the California culture views as being important.
Just a thought, great post.



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CPM

posted June 19, 2007 at 11:21 am


One of my favorite movies highlighting this topic, and reiterating Scott’s post so well is, “The Story of Us”. Bruce Willis and Michelle Pfeiffer star in this, and the end makes me cry (happy crying) every time I watch it.
I agree with Ted’s point in comment #3. We can certainly find ways to exhibit the wisdom of a united life together, and the benefits that working it out brings. (This is not said to find fault in any way with those who were not able to work it out.)
CPM



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Diane

posted June 19, 2007 at 12:13 pm


Scot,
I do agree that it’s important to talk about good marriages to counteract a culture that often seems to say that love blooms anywhere but a marriage. I think what most comes out of this is that good communities help build good marriages and vice versa. But that God’s grace can transcend break into brokenness and create good marriages too.
Another thought is that marriage can be hard work even in the best situations. As my husband and I reached an impasse recently, we got through it by telling the story of our early days together, so that does work.



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Anonymous

posted June 19, 2007 at 12:42 pm


The Boar’s Head Tavern »

[...] Scot McKnight offers an excellent argument against divorce: Memory. “Divorce makes you tear out pages of your life, sometimes chapters, long chapters, or many chapters. It messes up the story, the story that makes two people one…” [...]



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Dana

posted June 19, 2007 at 1:08 pm


Hi Scot: Divorce is a huge part of our culture today – that seems so crazy, but it isn’t just a U.S. phenomenon it’s global- and across all sorts of lines. My suggestion is that this is a battleground where the enemy of God is waging total war and it’s a morale battleground. Perhaps my sense is erroneous in that and if it is and if my knowledge and experience aren’t adequate to the conversation, allow me that weakness with compassionate understanding please. Don’t want to be a bore but my sense is that many times people who aren’t believers in God, much less in a relationship with Christ and the Body of Christ, are pretty much fodder for that machine of evil. Bob Proctor talks about “keeping the main thing the main thing” and it seems to me that the evangelic is under the clarion call of the times to rise up and assist in this battle? The war is God’s and the win is done, but the fight, ah yes, the fight…we can and I believe we should, get into it. Scot my sense is that in some gatherings when a couple ends their marriage (notice the different way of expressing divorce) by choice, they face a form of being cut off from the warmth? What would happen if that weren’t the case? We’be been married for 29 blissful years…and, uh, it has taught me about what you mentioned, my love is the reason for my success. -Dana Success?



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Matt Wiebe

posted June 19, 2007 at 1:41 pm


Thanks for this post Scot. I’m 8 days away from my second anniversary with my beautiful wife, and I imagine many years of memory-building ahead.
We were in a pizza joint a couple of nights ago, where two couples and one man (who were obviously old friends) were dining together with their collected kids at another table. I imagined that the single guy was divorced, and imagined how marriage not only leaves you without a mate, it destroys your relationship to your friends as well. It sends the story of your life through the paper shredder, leaving you to try to weave something out of the tatters left.



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Jennifer

posted June 19, 2007 at 1:50 pm


Scot,
I loved hearing your story! That was beautiful.
Matthew #22 – My husband and I got married when I was 23 and he was 27. Our engagement came after 1 month of dating :-) We were both just so lost and lonely in the world. Even though we were established as adults when we married, I feel like we have grown up together these last 12 years.



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Scott E.

posted June 19, 2007 at 2:19 pm


Scot,
Thanks for your awesome story. It truly is beautiful.
However, I am not sure “memory” is a good apologetic against divorce. Many of the people I talk with who are contemplating divorce would be eager to rip out a few pages from their past. Sometimes more than a few, even to the point of wanting to burn the whole book (to stick with your analogy).
What would you say to these people?



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John Jurries

posted June 19, 2007 at 2:45 pm


Scot,
While I wasn’t even alive yet back when you where in College so I can’t say how it compares to back then, you’ll be happy to hear that Baker Book Houses’ used book room is still a great place for bargains. (I bought my very first book of yours there!) And my Mom used to work at Kregel’s back when, though they sadly discontinued their used books a couple of years ago.
Great story, BTW!



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jason

posted June 19, 2007 at 2:54 pm


Thanks for sharing your story. I am going through a divorce currently and the pain of having pages torn out of my life has been really difficult. I know that I have failed and sinned in relationship with my wife and bear largely the responsiblility for creating in the hurt that she is holding onto in pursuing divorce. Much of the failure is in the distant past but the hurt and resentment was never forgiven. For her the whole story is clouded with brokeness and she can’t begin to see the beautiful memories and now almost nine years later with storms blowing she can’t go on and has filed for divorce.



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Peggy

posted June 19, 2007 at 4:03 pm


Scot,
The “Erma Bombeck” in me always says: “It would be so much easier to be a widow than to be divorced–you get to keep all the good memories.” Of course, you have to lose the love of your life in the deal…never mind, eh?
Speaking of memory…it is often too short! It is an interesting thing to note the pendulum swing that precipitated this post: the church extending mercy to the divorced. It hasn’t been that long ago since divorce was the unpardonable sin and the disgrace and rejection was so overwhelming that there was no recovering….
And so I share that my husband and I recently celebrated 14 years together and have three outrageously precious sons…none of which would exist without my sad disaster. Tolkien calls this “eucatastrophy” (the sudden and unlooked for rescue from certain failure) and it is my favorite concept.
Reminds me of the parable of the prodigal…and that we have to work to stay in tune with the reconciliation-bend heart of the father rather than be seduced by the jealousy of the elder son over his screwed-up little brother’s good fortune (taking advantage of Dad?). So we remember to hate the sin…because is hurts everyone and tears up our hearts and our memories…but love the sinner so that there can be hope.
My parents recently celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary, so I am totally with you in remembering all the wonderful things about one marriage for life. But God’s grace and mercy is amazing enough that the “mulligan” he allowed me has fulfilled every dream this little romantic girl ever had.
Amazing grace, how sweet….



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Diane

posted June 19, 2007 at 4:27 pm


Dana,
I agree that divorce is part of the battle with powers of evil (and what makes it more complicated is that some people truly need to divorce, as in domestic violence, as noted above).
I have noticed that it is much more difficult for secular people I know to stay married in this culture. Where the battle gets won is when kids grow up never knowing what an intact family looks like and then assuming its not possible, just another Utopic myth …when in fact, the KOG is here, for the having … it’s frustrating. I really really honor the people I know staying in marriages for the children and because they believe in the institution. I know a few of these people and think they are doing the highest good … (no domestic abuse involved, of course).



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Mike

posted June 19, 2007 at 4:30 pm


Great. Simply great, and honors the biblical tradition in ways that exceed words. Thanks.



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Nicolette

posted June 19, 2007 at 5:22 pm


Thank you for your good observation. Christ really needs to intervene in this sick world. We as Christians are supposed to be in this world and not of this world/ So we should stop living compromising lives. And learn to do things Gods way. Through letting the holy spirit take control of our lives.
God should be once more at the center of marriage and not the way the world makes it with man at the center. Since anything with man at the center faulters. So should let the lord God almighty take his place once again . With that the divorce rate will reduce.



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Pastor Doug

posted June 19, 2007 at 6:03 pm


Thank you for the elegant testimony. It is our story as well (28 years).
-Doug and Dana Johnson



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BeckyR

posted June 19, 2007 at 6:44 pm


Wish I had the ability to say what I have to say succintly, like in #27, though I heard some good things in some of the longer posts.
I can not write short thoughts, just can’t.
I guess my fear is people will not hear the nuggets cuz they’re lost in the length, or won’t read the post because there are too many words. But, as my dad would say, there I go being transparent again.
Good to see, though, that I’m not the only one who writes with length.
My dad was born and raised in Alabama, the deep south part of Alabama, none of these metropolitan not as South towns. I grew up with him explaining the tradition of southerners to tell stories – you don’t just reply yes or no as we yankess might, or when asked how are you, they don’t give the short response “fine, thank you, and you?” And he told me his ideas of where that came from, plus the southern thing of being on the porch on hot southern nights where it is cooler, and the time taken up with the story telling of the day’s events or family history events.
So for my lengthy remarks f2f and in cyber world, perhaps I can blame my southern dad. Now that he is dead, I see the lengthy talk he would do and I would be so irritated by it, trying to find something wrong in him that he need do so. Now I know it was what was in him from his Alabama deep south growing up. So, I will blame him for my inability to be succinct. I am not that much of a damn yankee.
And see, there I have made a lengthy post over what was said in the first 3 paragrapshs. dangit!



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Ken Schenck

posted June 19, 2007 at 7:08 pm


This piece of the puzzle deeply resonates with me as with many here. Some photo albums are now missing many years of memories because a marriage is now expunged from the record. Not at all to disparage those who divorce for good reasons–it’s just part of the tragedy.
And then you think of when grandparents or parents have died during a marriage. A new spouse will not be able to share those parts of you easily, where a previous spouse may eternally have that bond of birthing and dying that can never really be duplicated again.
Again, not to deny the need for divorce in many situations. Some spouses don’t share those memories even when they’re married to you.



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cas

posted June 19, 2007 at 7:20 pm


I should have given the other side of my story. My widowed mother married a divorced man. There were/are horrors to deal with, but also great joy. God is the Redeemer.



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M.A.C. (aka) Bruce W. Moar

posted June 19, 2007 at 8:14 pm


Great story Scot although mine is nothing like it I still think mine is great. I believe that some folks need a crisis to bring them to Christ in fact I would say that it would be a majority. Although I am not a fond supporter of divorce the bible does allow it for sexual immorality and if a unbeliever leaves the believer.



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Kat

posted June 19, 2007 at 9:04 pm


Memory can be the glue that reinforces and strengthens the marriage relationship…or like a tree root it can be a destroyer that dislodges the bricks and crumbles the mortar. Bitterness and failure to forgive are malignant memories that can destroy what God has joined together.
My husband and I have been married 41 years (after dating for 4), and we are still learning to practice God’s grace and forgiveness. And we’ve found that a sense of humor doesn’t hurt, either!
Kat



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Kat

posted June 19, 2007 at 9:10 pm


Back again–Tomorrow will be my parent’s 65th anniversary. They faced some very hard years in their marriage as I was growing up, and are now struggling with Alzheimer’s (Mom) and crippling arthritis and cancer (Dad). In the past 15 years, I’ve seen my Dad come to trust Jesus and God has changed him from a critical, impatient, angry man to a committed, loving and caring husband who has become Mom’s caregiver. He cooks for her, helps her dress, changes bandages on her leg ulcers. Nothing is impossible with God!



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Kate Johnson

posted June 20, 2007 at 10:12 am


Having been away awhile and busy when returning, I haven;t cheked in for awhile. So today I read about a wonderful, beautiful reason tostay married.
Amd my thought is, if I stayed married the first time, I still wouldn’t have these wonderful memories to share with someone. I was 17 and he was 18 when we married. About the only wonderful memories from my first marriage were the births of my three beautiful boys, now grown. But I tried to stay, and did for almost 19 years. But the abuse never changed and the bad memories kept piling up…. like the ones that even though the birth of each of my children was wonderful, I spent the preceeding months and weeks praying to God that he would be in a good mood and not drinking when I went into labor.
God hates divorce, yes, because it is so painful for all involved, even if you are seeking it for good reason. But sometimes the marriage is just as painful and the divorce becomes the lesser evil. (and by the way, in this instance as with all abuse it is the violence that breaks the marriage covenant, not the divorce. Divorce is a legal paper that finalizes what was already put in place. So after many years, God gave me permission to leave. But, as was stated earlier, many changes take place….. like he got the church (I was kicked out)and the “Christian” friends (they took his side and said divorce was wrong), I got my life and the children. And God was with me… always.
Scot, your story is beautiful. It is still a blessing to hear that it can work for the long haul. And I think my current marriage has some of what you have now. I pray for marriages to prosper, with respect and honor for all.



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Anonymous

posted June 20, 2007 at 12:01 pm


Links of the Week | Eyes Wide Open

[...] Scot McKnight on Marriage and Divorce. Brilliant. [...]



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steph

posted June 21, 2007 at 8:48 pm


your stuff has made me think, made me yell at the computer, made me look stuff up, made me wonder about what i really believe.
tonight it made me cry.
thanks.
steph



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Linda Gilmore

posted June 22, 2007 at 1:11 pm


I like your description of marriage as a story. Mine is 29 years long and counting. :) If I have anything to add to this discussion it’s that we got married with a strong commitment in mind from the beginning. There have been rocky places along the way, but we didn’t give up. I think that intent to stay together from the beginning helped. That and a lot of grace (and a sense of humor).



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Anonymous

posted June 22, 2007 at 3:52 pm


4 Years and Counting « my four walls

[...] Scot Mcknight had an excellent post about the story of his marriage as a way of saying this: “Why stay married? Memory. The kind of memory that turns scattered events into a meaningful, seamless story. Our story. Divorce makes you tear out pages of your life, sometimes chapters, long chapters, or many chapters. It messes up the story, the story that makes two people one.” [...]



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