Thoroughly Modern Marriage

Conservative Evangelicals, myself included, were shocked and scandalized when so-called gay marriage was legitimized by the Supreme Court in the 2015 Obergefellv. Hodges case. We should not have been. The unstoppable process leading to that case was set in motion 45 years earlier when we in the church allowed no-fault divorce to redefine the nature and purpose of marriage.

Worse yet, that terrible, sacrament-shattering act was signed into law by the California governor who would, a decade later, be elected as our favorite conservative president: Ronald Reagan. Where was the outcry when the California Family Law Act of 1969 ruled that divorce could be granted on the grounds of “irreconcilable differences”?

While some Catholics, Orthodox, and high Episcopalians resisted no-fault divorce, most Evangelicals quickly acquiesced to the new normal. No longer did a husband or wife who was feeling “unfulfilled” in his or her marriage have to prove adultery or abuse to purchase a get-out-of-jail-free card. One needed only to claim an inability to live with his spouse any longer, and the court would let him go. The abandoned spouse could complain, but in the end, he or she could do nothing to prevent the divorce.

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Louis Markos , Professor in English and Scholar in Residence at Houston Baptist University, holds the Robert H. Ray Chair in Humanities. His 19 books include Lewis Agonistes; Restoring Beauty: The Good, the True, and the Beautiful in the Writings of C. S. Lewis; On the Shoulders of Hobbits: The Road to Virtue with Tolkien and Lewis; and From A to Z to Narnia with C. S. Lewis.

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