Today I attended the sentencing hearing of the sexual predator whom our staff discovered (I last made mention of this situation here). The hearing was relocated to Auxiliary Court 3 in the lavish new Collin County Courthouse.
But before they could get to our case, they spent an hour processing divorces and related matters. My associate pastor whipped out his iPhone, activated the stopwatch function, and after a while turned to me and said, "They're doing these at about four and a half minutes a pop." An hour of four-minute divorces. You do the math. It was really depressing.
Perfunctorily each case stood before the judge, most with attorneys but some without, and rehearsed a set of formulaic questions and answers as a part of the divorce ritual. As I listened, I couldn't help but think to myself that most of these people either weren't listening to what they were saying, hadn't thought much about what they were saying, or just didn't care that they were lying and committing perjury.
Each had to affirm that "the marriage has become insupportable because of discord or conflict of personalities that destroys the legitimate ends of the marital relationship." There's so much to parse there—where to start?! Had all of those marriages really become "insupportable"? The word means incapable of being supported. Is it really the truth that they could not support the marriage, or that they would not do so? And what are "the legitimate ends of the marital relationship"? For what legitimate reasons does marriage exist? Just to make me happy? Does it not exist for me to sacrifice for the good of my spouse and my children (if any)? Does it not exist as one of the basic building blocks of our society? If it requires a little bit of flexibility and grace and forgiveness on my part to keep the marriage going, are not the legitimate ends of the marital relationship met thereby? How can it be that, in case after case after case, these people have all carefully discovered (some after as little as two or three years in the marriage) that there is absolutely no way to meet the legitimate ends of the marriage?
Next came, as night follows day, the affirmation that "no reasonable expectation of reconciliation exists." In Texas, none of these people were required by law to go to any sort of marital counseling, and statistically we know that many of them had not. Yet how could anyone assert that "no reasonable expectation of reconciliation exists" without having lifted a finger or made any effort to get help in reconciling the marriage? Is picking up the phone and asking for help not reasonable?
I think it likely that these folks were just perfunctorily babbling off a script that they had before them—saying whatever it took to get their divorce and committing perjury (even if thoughtlessly so) in the process.
Shocking? It shouldn't be. These are, in many cases, the same people who mindlessly and meaninglessly muttered their vows at the beginning of the whole journey. Their shallow and empty affirmations at their divorce proceedings serve to complete the set of bookends to their whole marital experience.