Time magazine recently published an article (“Divorce Insurance: Get Unhitched, Get a Payout,” published September 19 online, September 13 in print) about a new service selling divorce insurance. The company, WedLock Divorce Insurance, opened for business on August 5 out of the financial despair of its founder, John Logan, after he lost his money in a divorce. On one hand, this is the American entrepreneurial spirit at work—recognize a need or a market, develop a product, sell a product to meet the need. On the other hand, this is a sad cultural commentary of the state of marriage in our culture.
When you visit the website of the insurance company, www.wedlockdivorceinsurance.com, it looks like any other insurance website with statements such as, “There’s no time like the present to think about your future.” It even has a place to request an online quote, read FAQ’s, and check your risk factors. It has the feel of going online to buy term life insurance and checking your health risks to see how likely it is that you will die before age 55 and how much money your family will need to survive once you are gone.
The most telling statement on the website is “Insure your marriage against divorce,” which is placed right above the link to request an online quote (email address required, but don’t worry, it is secure and confidential). In fact, the website even suggests that parents could confidentially buy divorce insurance for their child if they do not approve of their future son/daughter-in-law. However, does a financial investment in an insurance policy that pays out in the event of divorce really insure your marriage against divorce? I think Logan has it wrong.
There is no doubt that divorce is plaguing American society, and the church is not immune. The commonly cited statistic that 50% of marriages end in divorce is true and not true. That figure comes from an annual snapshot of marriage and divorce for a given year. According to the National Center for Health Statistics, there were 6.8 marriages per 1,000 people in the United States in 2009 (for a total of approximately 2,077,000). There were also 3.4 divorces per 1,000 people for a divorce rate of 50% (up from 49.3% in 2008). However, many of those divorces that took place in 2009 were from marriages that began in the years and decades prior.
A better statistic may be the one W. Bradford Wilcox offers in his study where he states, “The divorce rate fell from a historic high of 22.6 divorces per 1,000 married women in 1980 to 17.5 in 2007. In real terms, this means that slightly more than 40% of contemporary first marriages are likely to end in divorce, down from approximately 50% in 1980.” The Barna Group’s research suggests that 33% of American adults who get married experience at least one divorce. Unfortunately, Barna sees no difference in the divorce rate among self-proclaimed born-again Christians. Whether the divorce rate is 33%, 40%, or 50%, the numbers are not good. And the numbers are not good in the church either.
That brings us back to the question of how to insure against divorce. Logan suggests that taking out an insurance policy to protect yourself financially against the effects of divorce is the best way to go. Yet, he still has no answer for the problem of protecting yourself against the actual divorce taking place. This is where a better understanding of the biblical foundations of marriage comes into play. It is an understanding that is largely missing in our churches but that can be recovered.
Divorce does not begin with a realization one morning that you no longer love your spouse. In fact, it does not begin with a growing discontentment over a number of years that culminates in a visit at the attorney’s office. Instead, it begins with a misunderstanding of marriage in the first place.
In our Western culture (and increasingly throughout the world), we have come to view marriage as a contract. In this respect, people see marriage as a bi-lateral agreement between two individuals with certain obligations or expectations that are to be upheld by each individual. When one person in that “contract” no longer fulfills his/her obligations, the other party deems it as his/her right to terminate the contract. Even in today’s culture of “no-fault” divorce, the parties mutually agree that there is no longer any benefit to remaining married, and the contract is terminated. Then, most parties move forward to protect their own rights and property against the claims of the former spouse. This is exactly where divorce insurance comes into play.
One of the main problems with this understanding of marriage is that its durability depends upon the ability of sinners not to sin. If we recognize that all people are sinners and that we do not possess the natural ability to keep ourselves from sinning, then we have a serious problem. How can a contractual view of marriage keep us from calling for a divorce when we are wronged? The answer is that it cannot.
What is the solution? It is certainly more complicated than I can address right here, but it begins with changing our understanding of marriage. Marriage is more than a contract—it is a covenant. God created the institution of marriage in Genesis 2 when he presented the woman to Adam to be his wife. Right there, Adam made his public oath before God declaring that the woman was “bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh” (Gen 2:23 NASB). Scripture then proclaims, “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh” (Gen 2:24).
Since marriage is a creation ordinance established by God, we must recognize that God has the right to set the parameters of marriage as well. Throughout Scripture, we see that God’s expectation for marriage is that it would be lifelong, and the only way we can live up to this expectation is if we make God an active part of our marriages.
Logan and others in the culture around us recognize the difficulty of maintaining a marriage over a lifetime. If the church is going to speak truth into our culture about the crisis in marriage, we must first look at what we say about marriage and how we live it out in our lives. If there is no difference in the divorce statistics among self-proclaimed Christians than the rest of the world, then we have not earned the right to speak to the culture.
We must first look inside and address the problems with our marriages amongst the members of the body of Christ, and then we can speak to the culture. And it begins with changing our perspective on what marriage is. It is not a contract that we can dissolve on a whim and protect with an insurance policy. Instead, it is a covenant established by God and intended to last a lifetime. Let’s take a closer look inside and then address the world around us.
 Luscombe, Belinda. “Divorce Insurance: Get Unhitched, Get a Payout.” Time (September 19, 2010). Online: http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,2015772,00.html.
 Tejada-Vera B, Sutton PD. “Births, marriages, divorces, and deaths: Provisional data for 2009.” National Vital Statistics Reports 58:25. Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics. 2010. Online: http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nvsr/nvsr58/nvsr58_25.pdf.
 Wilcox, W. Bradford. “The Evolution of Divorce.” National Affairs 1 (Fall 2009). Online: http://www.nationalaffairs.com/publications/detail/the-evolution-of-divorce.
 The Barna Group. “New Marriage and Divorce Statistics Released.” Online: http://www.barna.org/barna-update/article/15-familykids/42-new-marriage-and-divorce-statistics-released.