Former fitness guru Jane Fonda and media tycoon Ted Turner finally untied the knot May 22 when their long-anticipated divorce became final.
There are many reasons why two such highly independent people would find marriage difficult. One anecdote offers a hint of what it would be like to live with Turner, who once told Jesse Jackson that minorities might find work carrying missiles from silo to silo as slaves carried building blocks for the pyramids.
"Your husband is a racist brat," a fuming Jackson told Fonda.
"He treats everybody that way," she replied.
Unfortunately, headline writers treated the divorce as if it were the direct result of Fonda's conversion: "Fonda to divorce Turner after rift over religion" (The Telegraph); "Until God do us part" (Sunday Times); "When religion breaks up a relationship" (Chicago Tribune).
True, after her chauffeur connected her with the Reverend Gerald Durley of Atlanta's Providence Missionary Baptist Church, Fonda made a commitment to Christ—without discussing it with her husband. "I had absolutely no warning. She didn't tell me she was thinking about it," Turner told The New Yorker. "Normally that is the kind of thing your wife or husband would discuss with you before they did it."
But post hoc is not propter hoc. When the media blame religious conversion for a breakup, they are discouraging something that generally makes marriages better.
Dr. Gary Oliver told Christianity Today that in the vast majority of cases the long-term effect of one spouse's religious conversion is positive. Oliver, who directs the Center for Marriage and Family Studies at John Brown University, attributes the long-term positive effect to the fact that the new believer has "signed on to" a biblical perspective ...1
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