The only natural death a marriage may suffer is the natural death of one of its partners.
Every other death of a marriage is unnatural.
Divorce announces that marriage’s unnatural death.
The divorced marriage was put to death.
And the divorce itself plays one of two roles in the killing: Either it is the weapon and kills, or else it is the funeral that follows sooner or later an earlier murder. Divorce in the first role is a sad act of sinning. Divorce in the second is a sad necessity. In the first it makes a corpse—O Cain! O Miss Lizzie! In the second it buries a corpse and must, ere it stinketh.
Sometimes divorce is heinous, then, and an outrage.
Sometimes it deserves our pity and our deep condolence.
Always it publishes a private murder.
What has died? The life of a marriage. But what is the life in a marriage? Listen: It is not the love there. Within a marriage, even within the healthiest marriage, love comes and goes; it is one day very good, another day gone altogether. The love between husband and wife is a blessing upon both; but even it dies for awhile, the life of the marriage continues, love may return again, there being a place for it.
So what is the life in a marriage? It is the active relationship between the partners. When a marriage begins, there are three beings in it: wife, husband, and this relationship between wife and husband. It is distinct from them both; it is nourished by them both and feeds both of them; its body, its being, its shape is the vow that the partners made to one another in the beginning and that they maintain throughout; that promise brings it to birth. God witnesses that promise and says, “Yes, it is good.” Then the partners keep that promise alive, precisely as they would keep alive ...1
Already a CT subscriber? Log in for full digital access.
Have something to add about this? See something we missed? Share your feedback here.
Subscribe to Christianity Today and get access to this article plus 63+ years of archives.
- Home delivery of CT magazine
- Complete access to articles on ChristianityToday.com
- Over 120 years of magazine archives plus full access to all of CT’s online archives
- Learn more