Tuesday, October 2, 2012
DaVinci, the Moon, and the Promises of God
Should Leonardo DaVinci have painted the Mona Lisa? Four years is a long time for any man to spend painting one portrait. Much labor was probably invested in the artistic endeavor. Perhaps DaVinci should have instead spent his time gallivanting about the French countryside picking flowers and dreaming of love everlasting. Of course DaVinci should have painted the Mona Lisa! Because of DaVinci’s vision and dedication to his work, millions of people around the world enjoy his mysterious masterpiece. Why question DaVinci’s choice to paint? His decision was obviously a wise one. As DaVinci labored to complete the Mona Lisa, so every man and woman must labor to create a beautiful, fulfilling relationship. According to Divorce Magazine, 49% of marriages in the United States end in divorce. Many members of today’s culture believe that love is a mere, transient feeling, and divorce their spouses promptly after “falling out of love.” Margaret Anderson once said, "In real love you want the other person's good. In romantic love, you want the other person." If this is true, why do people divorce, and what is the result of this severance of souls? Frequently, divorce causes tension between family members and friends, children who grow up to respect marriage less, and desensitized divorcees who are less likely to be faithful in future relationships.
There are more than two victims for every marriage annulled. Every November, my grandma goes into hyper mode trying to prepare a decent Thanksgiving Day get-together for the family. This is not a simple task; there are many people to consider. Because one of my uncles has divorced twice and is currently dating, my grandma has been forced to make awkward, difficult choices when choosing who to invite to our Thanksgiving feast. Ex wives, half cousins, and distant extended family must all be circumspectly considered. The point is this: when two people divorce, they are not just hurting themselves; they are hurting everyone around them. Divorce might legally divide a husband from a wife, but a mom from her son? A father from his daughter? What about the couple’s formerly united extended family and friends? All of these people are inevitably spiritually wounded in some way by the nuclear bomb otherwise known as divorce.
The most devastated casualties of any divorce are the children. Shockingly, according to the research of Daniel T. Lichter1, "Children who grow up in single-parent homes are less likely to marry, more likely to divorce, and more likely to have children outside of wedlock." This statement is painfully true. My eighteen-year-old cousin, whose parents divorced when she was young, is currently unmarried and raising a toddler. She hangs out with druggies, some of whom come from broken families as well. Having grown up without a father to tell her how beautiful and precious she is, this young girl looked for love in all the wrong places hoping to fill the emptiness in her life with something worthwhile. Her boyfriend grew up without a father present in his life who could teach him to be a man. Because my cousin’s boyfriend was the only one who “understood” her, she must now focus on raising a child instead of on planning her college education. How can anyone claim that divorce is a personal choice, one that harms only its chooser? The casualties are too real. Divorce is war.
Divorce serves as a great desensitizer of the human heart. According to an article on Divorce.com, 65% of all second marriages and 75% of all third marriages end in divorce. I once attended a conference for young people that addressed teen dating, in which teens were instructed to view dating as practicing divorce. The speaker at this conference called a boy with hairy legs to come to the front of the room where everyone could see him. This speaker then proceeded to press a piece of duct tape to one of the boy’s legs. Notably, the tape was said to represent a relationship with a girl. After the speaker had established the role that the tape played in his presentation, he suddenly ripped the tape from the volunteer’s leg, to the boy’s horror. To the surprise of all watching, the speaker pressed the tape onto the same spot of his leg again, and soon ripped it away. This strange, painful process was repeated a few times. By the last time, this boy did not wince at the pain any more. Like a bad break up, or divorce, the ripping away of the tape desensitized his leg until he could no longer feel the pain. How tragic it is for those who do not feel the pain. Every time a person chooses to “tear away” from the heart of another through divorce, they lose a little bit of their heart in the process.
Divorce is not a mere personal affair, nor is it neat and tidy. It cannot be wiped clean like a kitchen counter, nor can it be washed down the bathroom sink in a swirl of hand soap and black dirt. Maggie Gallagher, author of The Abolition of Marriage, wrote, “‘You can't force two people to stay married,' we tell ourselves and turn the page. Divorce, however, is not usually the act of a couple, but of an individual. Eighty percent of divorces in this country are unilateral, rather than truly mutual, decisions. In fact, the divorce revolution can be more accurately described as a shift of power, favoring the interests of one party over others: the interests of the spouse who wishes to leave over those of the spouse who is being abandoned and over those of the children whose consent is not sought.” Sometimes a husband or wife divorces his or her spouse for selfish reasons, while others divorce to flee abuse. Whatever the case, divorce always ends unhappily, inevitably hurting friends, family, children, and the divorcees. What is the solution? Hopeless misery? Suicide? No. What, then? Perhaps it would be wise for couples to consider separating for a time to gather their thoughts or sanity, or to seek marital counsel from someone who is wise and trustworthy. One might even consider going to God for help. In God’s Word, He promises all that come to Him a future full of hope, as well as His redemptive power and love. Jesus can redeem all brokenness. He does not promise His children that they will always be happy, but instead that He will give them His immutable joy. David proclaims in the psalms that the joy of the Lord is his strength. If one is bold enough to entrust their broken marriage, their children, and their life in God’s hands, they cannot fail. Do not give up on your marriage because it is imperfect. Instead, with God’s help, strive to paint Mona Lisa marriages, and do not fear failure. Les Brown collaborated on this assertion when he quoted, “Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you'll land among the stars.”
1Daniel T. Lichter et al., "Race and the Retreat from Marriage: A Shortage of Marriageable Men?" American Sociological Review 57