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

I know it's shocking. But Focus on the Family does not condone divorce for domestic violence EVER. And they want to make divorce harder to get with no exceptions for abuse or pedophilia.

 

So many of us have trusted Focus on the Family for decades. But we didn't know they do not condone divorce for domestic violence. We kept sending friends to their website, but perhaps we shouldn't. They don't condone divorce for physical OR emotional abuse, according to their own public policy.

 

They accept only three reasons for divorce, and domestic violence (DV) is not one of them. They will tell abuse victims to "leave", or "get to safety," or "get away." They may even say that "abuse is never God's intent," BUT they never say that divorce is "okay," or "acceptable" in cases of abuse. They state that any separation is to be temporary and reconciliation is the goal. Neither physical abuse nor mental abuse is on their approved list of reasons for divorce. I have a standing offer of $200 to the first person who can find a statement on the U.S. Focus on the Family website (focusonthefamily.com) that says divorce is acceptable in cases of abuse. (The Canadian and other overseas affiliates of Focus on the Family are slightly better.)

 

Refusing to condone divorce in cases of abuse makes Focus on the Family (U.S.) unsafe for victims. Their standpoint leaves abused spouses vulnerable to higher suicide risk, injury risk, child abuse risk, and homicide risk.

 

How can I say that Focus on the Family's advice is risking people's lives? Because that's what has been found scientifically: when you make divorce harder to get, it endangers people.

 

In the 1970s and early 1980s, when new laws made divorce easier for abuse victims to get, the suicide rate, violence rate, and murder rate dropped. These new laws started passing one state at a time, starting with Governor Ronald Reagan in California in 1969. University researchers lined up to see the effect. They initiated studies that would follow families for decades. 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

 

Yes, you read that right. Focus on the Family wants to make it harder for abuse victims to divorce.

 

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

 

Focus on the Family is an unsafe ministry for domestic violence victims for these reasons:

 

  • Theologically, they block abuse victims from divorcing. They discourage devoutly religious abuse victims from getting a divorce by telling them that abuse is not biblical grounds for divorce. They even add words to the Bible, saying God "hates divorce in every case." And they say "God hates divorce" in their article on child molestors and pedophilia. 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.) Their repetition of "God hates divorce" suggests that God will be disappointed or angry at you for leaving. It casts doubts on your commitment to the Lord.

 

  • 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.)

 

  • Financially, they use donors' money to promote their STOP DIVORCE stance, without any caveat for domestic violence. (See an example of one of their advertisements below.)

 

 

Would Focus on the Family have supported Louise Turpin, if she had tried to leave her husband? This is David and Louise #Turpin who mistreated, starved, and chained up their children. They went to prison. The children have said they got some support from their mother, but that their father was a monster. What would Focus on the Family have done? They don't condone divorce for abuse, according to their own public policy. We know they have encouraged other wives in similar felony child abuse circumstances to stay.  Perhaps Louise found one of their error-filled divorce-and-kids articles and that's why she didn't leave and rescue the children. Who knows?

Christian parents David and Louise Turpin who were convicted for abusing their 13 children.
Christian parents David and Louise Turpin who were convicted for abusing their 13 children.

Focus on the Family Wants to STOP DIVORCE

They don't even condone divorce for domestic violence...EVER.

Is that okay with you?

Focus on the Family uses their STOP DIVORCE message to bring in donations. This expensive advertisement appeared on the Merriam-Webster Dictionary website, not on their own site. Focus on the Family is spending people's donations to pay for these advertisements. Abuse victims are being sacrificed so that Focus on the Family can make money.

When safety isn't the issue... All Focus on the Family cares about is your marital status (4)

 

Divorce Rate is Lower Than It Was 50 Years Ago

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

10 Steps to Starting the Divorce Process, if You Need a Life-Saving Divorce (2)

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 and need support and clarity? 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 4 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 on divorce for Christians and other people of faith, The Life-Saving Divorce: Paperback: https://amzn.to/3cF1j25  Or eBook: https://amzn.to/3CCBsnr

Also, sign up for my email list below or HERE www.lifesavingdivorce.com/courage

 

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