There is a well-known study by Barna Group regarding a higher divorce rate among Christians than among non-Christians. I’ve also mentioned my own initial study indicating that the divorce rate among those who meet at Christian colleges appears even higher than this.
The February 2010 issue of Christianity Today magazine includes an article entitled Why Gayle Haggard Stayed. The clear insinuation that it would be expected by Christianity Today’s readers that she would have left her husband Ted Haggard.
Throughout the Biblical period and likely up through the first 1800 or so years of Christianity no such headline would ever have appeared. Until just very recently, perhaps the past 80 or so years, a woman in Gayle’s position wouldn’t have even considered divorcing her husband. Why? First because doing so would go against God’s commands regarding marriage and divorce, second would be her love for her children and the knowledge of the impact of divorce on them, and perhaps a distant third would be her concern for how she would support herself and her children as a single-mother.
Some reading this will quickly disagree with my first point. Certainly it would be OK and maybe even preferable for Gayle to divorce Ted in this situation. Biblically though, that’s not so. The only reason given for divorce in the Bible is adultery, which throughout history and until just very recently involved a married woman having sex with someone other than her husband. Ted having sex with someone other than his wife was not adultery and from a Biblical standpoint was not grounds for divorce.
I’m not excusing Ted Haggard’s actions. From my reading of the Bible, he was clearly involved in sexual sin. But when we wonder why we get divorced so much more now than ever before and more often than non-Christians, well…