The It-Takes-Two Lie

yoke of oxenI heard it, again, just last week.

A commenter on another blog told how she stayed too many years in an abusive marriage.

Why?  Because, her pastor and elders admonished her, “It takes two.  Divorce is never the fault of just one party.”  They counseled her to find and correct whatever she was doing wrong to cause his violence.

The it-takes-two lie is a common misperception within our culture and our churches.  With no biblical basis whatsoever, well-meaning friends dole out this venomous cliché to those going through marital difficulties or divorce.

Abusive perpetrators hide behind it, responding “It takes two!” with a smile and a shrug when asked why they are divorcing.

Too often, this lie continues to hold believers in bondage to false guilt for many years after divorce from a marriage of abusive bondage.  Too often, it is used as an excuse for alienating those most in need of support and care from their church.

Yes, it is true that many marital difficulties are the result of miscommunication and selfish perceptions by both parties.  Even when both parties are completely committed to the marriage and to each other, we all struggle with the consequences of unintended offenses and miscommunication.  Overcoming these hurdles requires a strong commitment and perseverance by both parties.

Yes, it is true that it takes two committed people working hard to have a strong, enduring marriage.  Yes, it is true that many marriage relationships falter over an accumulation of minor unintentional offenses and miscommunications.

However, the assumption that all divorces are the result of unintended offenses and miscommunication is simply a false assumption.

It is all too common for one partner to simply decide to break their covenant vows; to “deal treacherously” with their spouse (Malachi 2:14-16) or to leave their spouse for the purpose of marrying another (Matthew 19:9).

Yes, we are all human and we all make mistakes, but there is a huge difference between minor, unintentional mistakes and willful violation of covenant vows.

From purely a logical position, it makes no sense to say that it takes two committed people working hard to have a strong enduring marriage, and then to also say that it takes two to divorce.  Both cannot be true.  To claim that they are both true is completely illogical.

It takes two oxen sharing the yoke and pulling together in unison to pull a heavy load.  However, it only takes one ox lying down or running the other direction to wreck the whole cart.

In The Great Exodus, Pharaoh broke his covenant vows to Israel, enslaving them and murdering their children. Israel had done nothing to cause this issue. God redeemed Israel, condemned Pharaoh, and never gave any indication that Israel had done anything wrong. God arranged for Israel to be divorced from Egypt, dissolving the covenant between them.

Fundamentally, propagation of the myth that “divorce is always the fault of both parties” minimalizes intentional unrepentant covenant-breaking sins against a marriage partner while elevating minor unintentional mistakes and well-intended miscommunications.

The actions of the partner who is guilty of “dealing treacherously” against their spouse are erroneously justified, while the actions of the partner who has honestly put forth their best effort in giving sacrificially of themself are erroneously condemned…all in a vain attempt to unjustly force both onto an equal level of shared responsibility.

What injustices have you witnessed under the it-takes-two lie?

[Linked to God Bumps , Scribing , WIP , Beholding Glory , Graceful , Seedlings , Wellspring ]