From a Bulletin of Vital Statistics issued quite a number of years ago by the Department of Commerce, Bureau of Census, Washington D.C. we are informed that in 1901 there were almost 61,000 divorces granted in America. In 1941 the number reached 264,000 — an increase from 1901 of about 450%. During the year 1901 there were 716,287 marriages, whereas in 1941 there were 1,679,000 — an increase of a little over 100% during the time in which there was over a 450% increase in divorces.
More recent information from the Statistical Abstract of the United States indicates that in 1960 there were 393,000 divorces and by 1969 there were 660,000. From other sources we learn that in 1970 there were about 700,000.
Allowing five days a week for the divorce courts to operate this would mean that an average of over 2500 divorces were granted each day in the United States, in 1970, 5000 marriage partners put asunder daily — a thing which God says no man shall do.
There are a number of contributing factors to this appalling and demoralizing situation, the least of which must be laid at the door of the professing Church. It seems clear in the Scriptures that the Church is to serve somewhat of a conscience to the public and a restraining influence against the evils of society. Our Lord charged his people to be a light to the world and a salt to the earth.
Many judges and social workers agree that the relinquishing of the Church's position on divorce that has complicated the problem and accelerated the number of divorces in America. J. Edgar Hoover once made the statement that “The Church as a symbol of morality is a fortress against depravity and crime.
By a careful, or even a casual, observation according to the predictions of Scripture this symbol of morality” and “fortress against depravity and crime” is weakening on principles of purity and marital fidelity, its light is going out, its salt is lessening and the conscience of society is growing weaker with stigma and shame on divorces fast becoming something that belongs mostly to the pages of history.
Most Protestant Churches at one time had a restraining position on divorce. Early in this century a man by the name of John Jacob Astor divorced his wife and desired remarriage. He finally found a minister who would perform for him for the sum of $25,000.00 but who immediately resigned his ministry because of the stigma tacked on a minister who would do such a thing. But as churches weakened, this stigma in the sight of men has been lifted so that ministers no longer must have $25,000.00 or resign for such a performance.
In the more recent past Mennonite Churches and Conferences have stood pretty much alone in quickening the conscience of society and restraining the divorce evil by refusing fellowship to persons involved, who remained in their state of involvement. But today practically all the larger Mennonite Conferences have also lifted this stigma and shame and placed a sanction on divorce by having within their Church fellowship those who are thus involved.
If the professing Church had been faithful in refusing those who are involved and remain in an adulterous marriage relationship, she would have been a true “fortress against the depravity and crime” involved in the divorce evil.
The measure in which we weaken and depart from our Biblical position against this type of licensed prostitution, legalized adultery, marital failure, family bankruptcy, etc. to that degree we nullify our testimony and contribute to the acceleration of the divorce evil.
– Aaron M. Shank