Divorce Saves Lives, But Focus on the Family Wants to Make it Harder for Abuse Victims to Divorce

When “no fault” divorce laws started passing one state at a time, starting with Governor Ronald Reagan in California in 1969, researchers wanted to see the effect. In states that passed unilateral no-fault divorce, they observed:

    • The suicide rate for wives dropped by 8-16%.
    • The domestic violence rate by and against both men and women dropped by 30%.
    • The homicide rate of women murdered by an intimate dropped by 10%.

(Source: Stevenson and Wolfers, “Bargaining in the Shadow of the Law: Divorce Laws and Family Distress,” Harvard Quarterly Journal of Economics (Feb. 2006): 267, 286.)

 

Focus on the Family Calls for Making Divorce Harder, Even for Abuse Victims

Some organizations wish to turn back the clock to 1969 and do away with no-fault divorce. Focus on the Family is one of them. This interview from November 11, 2021, calls for doing away with laws that allow abuse and betrayal victims to use current no-fault divorce provisions.

Note: in the interview, the president of Focus on the Family, Jim Daly, said he was in favor of making divorce legally more difficult to obtain, and he didn't offer any exception for abused wives, or wives of serial adulterers or pedophiles.

Focus on the Family has become an unsafe organization to send people to:

  • Theologically, they block domestic violence victims from divorcing. They tell devoutly religious victims that abuse is not one of their accepted biblical grounds for divorce. The president, Jim Daly, says publicly that God "hates divorce in every case," even where there is serial adultery or abandonment. Focus's article on child molesters says, "God hates divorce" and suggests ways the wife might work on the marriage. Their official organizational policy does not condone divorce for physical or emotional abuse, even though the Bible does. (Their staff will tell an abuse victim to "leave," "get to safety," "go," or "separate," but it is meant to be temporary and reconciliation is the stated goal.)

 

  • Legally, they want to pass laws to make it harder for abuse victims to leave their abusers, by rolling back the 50-year-old divorce laws (even though the divorce rate is nearly as low as it was 50 years ago. See details below.) They offer no exception for domestic violence or for wives of serial adulterers or pedophiles.

 


 

Divorce Rate is Nearly As Low As It Was 50 Years Ago

Although the divorce-per-married-woman rate lept up from 1970-1984, it slowly started a path of decline. Today, the divorce-per-married-woman rate is nearly as low as it was in 1970. (See how this is calculated, below.)

BGSU Divorce Rate 2019

How is it calculated? The divorce rate = [(number of women divorced in the past 12 months) / (number of women divorced in the past 12 months + number of currently married women)]*1000 s are represented as the number of women aged 15 or older who married in the past year per 1,000 unmarried women aged 15 or older.


 

The Horrible Reality of Divorce Before 1970

If you're under the age of 70, you probably don't remember what divorce was like prior to 1969.

If your spouse was malicious to you or cheating on you, you had to provide adequate evidence to the court. It was handled similarly to a criminal trial. In some states, there were juries that decided whether a battered wife or browbeaten husband could divorce or not.  And if the court didn't find the evidence convincing, it could refuse to allow the divorce and send a victim back home to a batterer or cheater or a child molester. Sometimes the only option for victims was to flee to save their life and sanity.

Each state had different rules (and they still do), but in states that allowed divorce only for adultery, an entire cottage industry cropped up to fabricate photographs purporting to show a man (or woman) disrobed in a compromising position with a partner.

Wealthy people could just move to a state with more lax laws just long enough to establish residency and divorce there. But the average person who was being abused could not.  Divorce was long, expensive, complex, and publicly humiliating because you had to air your allegations in public. No-fault divorce allows you to divorce without humiliating your spouse publicly.


As Christians, we are against frivolous divorce, but we know the Bible does allow for divorce (and even commands divorce 3 times) for serious reasons. About half of U.S. divorces are for serious reasons: a pattern of sexual immorality, physical abuse, chronic emotional abuse, domestic violence, felony behavior, life-destroying addictions, or abandonment/neglect. Here are the findings of four U.S. studies.

 

Focus on the Family is unsafe. When their theology traps people in bondage to an abuser, something is wrong with their theology.


Are you going through a life-saving divorce? I’d like to invite you to my private Facebook group, "Life-Saving Divorce for Separated or Divorced Christians." Just click the link and ANSWER the 3 QUESTIONS. This is a group for women and men of faith who have walked this path, or are considering it. Supporters and people helpers are also welcome.  I’ve written a book about spiritual abuse and divorce for Christians. Also, sign up for my email list below.

 

50 MOST POPULAR BLOG POSTS

Start Here

Physical and Emotional Abuse & Infidelity

God Allows Divorce to Protect Victims

 

Does God Hate Divorce? No, Most English Bible Translations Don’t Say That

 


How to Find a Good Supportive Church

 

What If My Pastor Says It Would Be Wrong to Get Divorced for Abuse?

 

Divorce Saves Lives: The Surprising (Wonderful!) Truth About Divorce Nobody Told You

Will I Ever Find Love Again? Dating After Divorce: Good News

Finding Happiness and Health After Divorce

 

Thriving After Divorce: These Christians Tell their Stories


Self-Doubt, Second-Guessing Ourselves, and Gaslighting

Children and Divorce: Researchers Give Hope

 

High Conflict Divorce and Parenting

Recommended Reading List and Free Resources for Christians and Other People of Faith

 

Common Myths

 

FREE

 

FOLLOW

 

GET THE BOOK! The Life-Saving Divorce is about divorces for very serious reasons: a pattern of sexual immorality, physical abuse, chronic emotional abuse, life-altering addictions, abandonment, or severe neglect. This book will give you hope for your future, and optimism about your children. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

 

PAPERBACK     KINDLE eBOOK

SIGN UP below for the email list for find out about helpful new blog posts, videos, and FREE Kindle book giveaways.