Should Christians have prenuptial agreements?
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As a Christian would you sign a prenuptial agreement to safeguard your 'wealth' in the event of a divorce?
Please answer questions by stating if you are in favour or against prenuptial agreements and give reasons for your position.
A pre-nuptial agreement is a contract signed by both partners of the marriage before it happens, limiting the rights of one partner or both in the event of divorce.
> As a Christian would you sign a prenuptial agreement to safeguard your 'wealth' in the event of a divorce?
I think I would, yes. I can only speak for myself as a man and why I think this way. Some of my reasons, in no particular order, are below.
1. I cannot predict the future and (even trusted) people are unpredictable.
I'm sure everyone has either seen or heard of a married couple where someone turned out to be unfaithful. I don't know what a future/hypotethical wife will or won't do.
I don't know what the marriage/divorce statistics are for the Christian subset of the population, but for the population in general, in the US according to the CDC (I've posted the URL in other threads, so I won't go around looking for it now), about 48% of marriages end up in a divorce.
According to a pastor friend, he once mentioned that the figure drops down to 25% of marriages ending up in divorce for a Christian subset, i.e. 75% do not end up in divorce. (Note I'm not saying "success".)
While that number seems more encouraging, that's still 1 in 4. If you were planning to go skydiving, and you're told there's a 25% (1:4) chance that your parachute will not open, do you jump? At a minimum, those who do choose to jump are still jumping with a parachute and have some protection, even if it's not perfect.
Given that God described how the power dynamics in relationships between men and women in marriage will play out, it seems marriage itself is a big risk, where women usually have a lot more to gain than men (speaking from a purely "business transaction" perspective). Why take no precautions if you do choose to marry?
Jesus only carved divorce as an exception in the case of fornication; it appears that even in cases where someone marries someone else that is less-than-ideal (e.g. uneven yoke, etc.), God still intended that person fulfill their vows and live with their mistake/poor choice for the rest of their lives. Given this, even the disciples exclaimed that "it is better not to marry". So, good luck, everyone!
It's important to note that Jesus did not deny, correct, or even suggest that what they had said was wrong. Rather, Jesus agreed with them and noted that "Not everyone can receive this saying" and to "Let the one who is able to receive this receive it".
In any case, given the situation, and observations of how other marriages have turned out, it seems logical to look at a prenup. If some future/hypothetical wife is going to end up cheating on me, ending up in a situation where I can also lose my own house and stuff seems like adding insult to injury. (At least in the US, courts and the justice system in general tend to side with women in the majority of divorce-related issues, including housing and other things, especially if there're children involved; child custody and other things out of scope here.)
 "To the woman he said ... Your desire shall be contrary to your husband, but he shall rule over you." And to Adam he said, "Because you have listened to the voice of your wife and have eaten of the tree ... cursed is the ground because of you ..." Gen. 3:16-17
 "What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate ... And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery." Matt 19:9 ESV; "And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery." (KJV)
 "If such is the case of a man with his wife, it is better not to marry." Matt. 19:10
 "But he said to them, 'Not everyone can receive this saying, but only those to whom it is given ... Let the one who is able to receive this receive it.'" Matt. 19:11-12
2. Some people are like parasites looking for a host.
Women who are more interested in what a man has than the man himself exist, even within the Christian population. They shouldn't, but they do. It's an unfortunate fact of life.
According to an article I recently referenced in another thread, a study had found that women have a greater tendency to choose/reject a man according to his social status. Social status is ultimately related to his wealth, directly or indirectly.
That is no more "encouraging" to me as a man than the same study's findings of men having a greater tendency to choose/reject a woman based on her physical attractiveness is to women.
In other words, if we take those results at face value (for the sake of discussion), then in the same way that a woman may feel not-so-good about getting a physical attractiveness "ranking" from most (not all) men, I don't feel as good about getting a net-worth "ranking" from most (not all) women.
But hey, at a minimum, a woman can at least assume that if a man is showing interest in her, it's really because of her and not the contents of her purse, right? In addition, a woman's physical appearance is mostly under her personal control.
In a man's case, if a woman shows interest in him, it's still debatable whether the woman is interested in the him or his wealth. In addition, a man's wealth is often determined by factors outside his control (e.g. got the job or got laid off? the market didn't like your product and you went bankrupt?, etc)
Therefore, a prenup seems like a no-brainer; in this particular case, it's more like a filter to help keep specific kinds of women away, even if it shows up later than I'd like in a relationship (e.g. 2-3 yrs of relationship before seriously considering marriage is not trivial). And, though this is now the extreme case, this still doesn't resolve the situations where women actually murder their husbands in order to get life insurance money and other things. (There was a law enforcement program I used to watch many years ago about cases where women, referred to as "black widows", used this approach to get their husband's wealth.)
3. Being a Christian is not insurance against anything or anyone.
Anyone who has read Psalm 73 is familiar with the author's observations regarding how the wicked always seem to prosper and the righteous always seem to suffer, to the point where he said: "I was envious of the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked." (v3)
But why mention this? It's not like anyone is out to marry a "wicked" person, right? Well, anyone who has rejected God is classified as "wicked", which refers to non-Christians. If you've unevenly yoked yourself already, see the previous point. In addition, how can you predict that your spouse won't end up rejecting God months or years down the road? Charles Templeton did, and he was more popular than Billy Graham during his time.
4. Finding cases where a spouse turns out to be abusive is not uncommon.
I've read articles regarding stats, and they vary quite a bit. However, most of them seem to be underestimating the real values because they focus only on physical abuse, and neglect emotional/psychological abuse entirely.
Because of this, the stats are also fairly skewed in some cases, because men have a greater tendency to commit physical abuse, while women have a greater tendency to commit emotional abuse, which is not as visible as a black eye... (e.g. Job's wife and how she treats him during his tough situation is one example of emotional abuse; she even tells him he should curse God and kill himself... but it seems society barely cares about this type of abuse against men)
But what happens if you find yourself in such a situation? Based on my prev point, it seems God would expect us to live through it. But what if a person decides they can't take that anymore? Why should someone allow themselves to be abused even more by allowing an abusive spouse to abuse the process that comes next? It seems like a prenup would at least minimize and avoid further damage and adding insult to injury.
5. Finding cases where someone marries a spouse out of interest in their wealth and with the intent of divorcing in order to get as much out of the spouse as possible is not uncommon, either.
This is just a legal way to steal from someone else and take over their wealth. The term I'm familiar with for women like these is "gold diggers". This is a more specific case of #2, but the point is that I don't want anyone stealing from me and a prenup would seem to be a good defense against this possibility (i.e. you keep whatever was yours before marriage, etc).
If I've spent many years of my life working to build my own little "personal kingdom" in a corner, to pay off my house/mortgage, and so on, why should I just let someone else be in a position where the only thing allowing me to keep my own home is their arbitrary measure of "mercy"?
Not going to happen. If a woman wants to have something, she should work for it in a fair and moral way just like I did. Otherwise, she can take a hike, and the sooner the better, because that is the kind of woman I'd like to avoid.
Why let someone be in a position to abuse a system already skewed in their favor anyway? Situations like these have driven some men to desperate/bad things, including but not limited to suicide, and very few articles bother to look at the causes of a given crime; however, some have been traced to situations like these. I'm not saying I would do something like that or defending those who did; I'm just saying I can understand it, just like a firefighter's understanding of what caused a house fire does not mean they wanted the house to burn down.
Society constantly warns women about not becoming another abuse statistic and so on. There're educational campaings on national TV and what not. Men get nothing; heck, even the sexual harrassment "training" we recently got at work, given by women from HR, had men harassing women in all examples; there were zero examples where men were the victims. We have to come up with ideas on how to protect ourselves on our own (e.g. a prenup, is there even anything else, besides not marrying?), and even then, it seems we sometimes get criticized for taking a completely logical and rational step. (I'm not saying you're doing this, of course; you only posted a question.)
To me, women that do criticize men for this sound no different than Delilah with Samson: "You want a prenup because you don't really love me." is emotional manipulation, and I admit, I have little tolerance for this kind of behavior. Abuse between men and women isn't really that different; what differs are the "techniques" and "tactics" they use. While a man may be more aggressive and resort to a threat, a woman may attempt to achieve a similar goal by emotional manipulation instead of physical force. Ultimately, to me, both are almost equivalent, i.e. if men shouldn't go around hitting their wives, women shouldn't go around playing with and manupulating their husband's emotions. At a minimum, it's disrespectful.
 I think Corporate Liability Transfer Meeting would be a more accurate term.
6. It's no different than putting on your seatbelt when you're in a vehicle.
I see it as a logical precaution against people who may want to do me harm, now or later, not as a wish for things to go wrong.
Even Job would've been better off if his wife had been killed along with his children when everything was taken away from him, but Satan let her live. Satan is many things, but one he is not is stupid. In hindsight, it seems he knew Jobs wife would be an attack directly from within, so he let her live.
Even Solomon knew that "It is better to live in a corner of the housetop than in a house shared with a quarrelsome wife." (Prob. 25:24) In short, I think men have to be really careful about the women they choose. Most examples in the Bible show that when women destroy men, they do so from the inside out and/or through manipulation of some sort (e.g. Delilah manipulates Samson to reveal his weakness resulting in his death, Job's wife undermining Job's trust in God, Herodias and her daughter manipulating King Herod to murder John the Baptist, etc.) On the other hand, it also shows that good women build up their men from the inside out as well (e.g. Abigail using her wisdom to stop David from killing Nabal, her foolish husband, and saving David from doing wrong in God's sight, etc)
I've always liked the analogy of a nation and its people: a nation destroyed from the outside can and will rebuild itself, but a nation that destroys itself... now that cannot be salvaged. It seems to me that when the Bible refers to a married couple as "one flesh", it carries serious implications similar to the nation analogy.
While all of that may sound like doom and gloom, that's not really the way I see it. My general approach is to prepare for the worst and hope for the best.
That's probably all we can really do. It seems better to have something and not need it, than to need it and not have it.
Thanx XRAY for taking the time to answer this question. I also totally respect your opinion, though I mostly tend to see things differently.
Personally,I think I would be willing to sign a pre-nup in exceptional circumstances.In situations,where one is protecting the well-being of others like the inheritance of their children then I would sort of understand,their need to protect their children rather than themself.Maybe setting up a Trust would be better.
Pre-nup are somewhat contrary to what the Bible says about wealth,trusting in God and the very nature of marriage. Obviously marriage doesn't come with a manual book,but the Bible as a manual book provides a glimpse into what God thinks about money and wealth.So a pre-nup doesn't appear to be a good foundation for any marriage.
It is also important to note that what people considers as wisdom is often foolishness in God's sight...This is because God considers the wisdom of this world to be foolish. It is just as the Scriptures say, "God catches the wise when they try to outsmart him." (1 Cor 3:19).
The pre-nuptial agreement is a “just in case” policy, and such a marriage has a wrong foundation.
For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. – Matthew 6:21
Whoever loves money never has enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with their income. This is too meaningless. – Ecclesiastes 5:10
For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. – 1 Timothy 6:10
Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life. – 1 Timothy 6:17-19
Ultimately I think pre-nups make you,have faith in your ability and wealth. Though God,gives us wealth he doesn't want us to put our trust in that,but to rather trust in him
I've added some comments below a few you made that caught my attention.
> I think I would be willing to sign a pre-nup in exceptional circumstances.
It seems to me that marriage itself is an "exceptional" thing, i.e. it is the exception in life rather than the rule.
> In situations, where one is protecting the well-being of others like the inheritance of their children then I would sort of understand, their need to protect their children rather than themself.
I understand this, but I don't think children are the only ones who deserve protection. People making decisions, especially life-changing ones, such as marriage, also have a responsibility to themselves. There's a reason you look both ways before crossing the street or put on your seat belt when you get into a vehicle: you're protecting yourself. There's nothing wrong with that and it does not mean you're wishing for failure. Besides, whatever you have is what becomes someone else's inheritance, so protecting someone else's inheritance implies the need to protect your property.
> Maybe setting up a Trust would be better.
How is this different in principle/practice?
> Pre-nup are somewhat contrary to what the Bible says about wealth
A pre-nup is a means to an end and not the end in itself, which is why I said I'd be likely to consider it. There's nothing anti-Biblical about taking precautions against the possibility of someone else trying to take advantage of you. A pre-nup is simply one specific instance in which something like this could happen, but the same principle applies to other things (e.g. a business contract or agreement, etc).
> trusting in God and the very nature of marriage.
Trusting God is one thing. Trusting people is another thing entirely. In addition, Genesis 3:16 already states how the dynamics of marriage will play out in the fallen world in which we currently live: "To the woman he [God] said ... Your desire shall be contrary to your husband, but he shall rule over you." (my emphasis)
> the Bible as a manual book provides a glimpse into what God thinks about money and wealth.
It sure does. However, it seems you think that my view of a pre-nup is "about the money". Not exactly; it's about protecting myself. It's about my effort and time, neither of which can ever be recovered. It only takes a few instances where you get to see people getting screwed by lawyers and the legal system and how some men have ended up to wise-up and realize that the thought of taking precautions is a reasonable step.
Even Paul was warned to not return because he'd be arrested and mistreated, though he insisted.
> So a pre-nup doesn't appear to be a good foundation for any marriage.
I think I understand your point here, but you seem to be assuming that "prenup = wishing for marriage failure" and I don't think this is the case. By this reasoning, looking both ways before crossing the street must be equated with wishing to get run over by a car and not trusting God enough. I don't think it works that way.
> what people consider as wisdom is often foolishness in God's sight
Often does not equal always. In addition, it is also foolish to do foolish things. Not showing responsibility to yourself and to what has been entrusted to you (by God, no less) is reckless and foolish. Esau was foolish because he gave away his birthright and inheritance for a bowl of soup instead of protecting it (as he was supposed to). Jacob took advantage of him, and he was his brother. Rebecca took advantage of Isaac's blindness, and he was her husband.
> the Scriptures say, "God catches the wise when they try to outsmart him."
Sure, but how do you make the logical connection between "prenup = trying to outsmart God"? How is taking precautions against the possibility that some event X may happen = "trying to outsmart God"? Until that connection is properly established and justified, I don't think I can agree with the point you appear to be making. I also think there're issues with the premises/assumptions being made.
> The pre-nuptial agreement is a "just in case" policy, and such a marriage has a wrong foundation.
I think I see this point, but marriage itself is an agreement; it is a contract, no different than any other transaction. (I'm talking about the legal aspect; I'm not saying that this is all there is to it.) This is what marriage has been turned into in the non-ideal world we live in. The only alternative is to not play the game (i.e. don't get married).
I suppose another alternative is for people to get married, but not legally, and I admit I have no idea what sort of implications that may or may not carry. (I've heard about "covenant marriages", but I don't know what follows from it.) From other people's point of view, you'd simply be "cohabitating" and "not really married", which will be equated with "living in sin" regardless (by some other people at least). The fact that no one can get married without first going through lawyers and the court system should immetiately give that away...
This probably raises the question of why the legal aspect of marriage has been reduced to this. I don't think you can decouple one from the other.
> "For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."
You seem to be assuming that the only reason for a prenup is "love for money". I don't love money, but I have also spent a non-trivial and non-recoverable amount of time and effort to not be homeless, and I don't look forward to a significant other using the legal system to take advantage of me.
I'm sure everyone here not only has doors in their homes, but also lock them down to prevent other people from taking advantage of them (e.g. stealing). Are they being "foolish" for using "common sense"? Is locking your doors at night a reasonable step for proper precautions or does it mean you do "not trust God enough"? We can't have it both ways.
> "Whoever loves money never has enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with their income." ... "For the love of money ..."
Again, your response is assuming that "I love money", and that's not true. However, you don't need to hate it either. You need to understand its proper place, context, purpose, and use it appropriately. I also don't love the idea of someone else looking at me as her own personal "piggy bank".
Even Jesus had to work and earn an income to pay for things (e.g. food, taxes, etc.). He worked as a carpenter and, thus, had to be making some sort of income through his work in order to 1) be a responsible man, and 2) take care of his family. Jesus certainly did not command anyone to be irresponsible.
I have no plans to act in a way that is irresponsible and reckless toward myself or those around me. (If I screw up, it's likely others will need to "pick up the slack".) In addition, I also have a family to look after (i.e. mother and younger sister).
> Ultimately I think pre-nups make you have faith in your ability and wealth.
This is odd. Everyone has some degree of faith (i.e. confidence, trust) in their own God-given abilities and limitations (with good reason) as well as an understanding of what they can or cannot do according to the resources/wealth they have (e.g. I can buy this t-shirt, but not that expensive jacket.) That is not a substitute for faith in God. They're different things. Even when Israel had to go to war, they needed to have faith not only in God, but faith/confidence in the fact that their human-made weapons would work as intended rather than break down immediately. Even when the Egyptian army was pursuing Israel, "The Lord said to Moses, “Why do you cry to me? Tell the people of Israel to go forward." (Exodus 14:15)
It's pretty well established that there are things that are entirely your personal responsibility and God will not do them for you. For example, God split the Red Sea, but he still expected Israel to do the walking. The same thing is illustrated in the parable of the talents. God gave different quantities of gold to different men. They each chose to deal with it differently and God only rebuked the man that chose to do nothing (i.e. bury it in the ground). Those who made business dealings and earned more were commended and rewarded by God in the parable. The parable shows that no only were they given talents according to their individual capacities, but they were also expected to act on them, and held accountable for their decisions.
God has given different capacities and abilities to different people, and it is up to them to use them wisely. One example is the ability to evaluate a situation, assess risk, and take proper steps to mitigate/minimize them.
> Though God gives us wealth he doesn't want us to put our trust in that but to rather trust in him
Yes, but trusting God is one thing. Here, we're talking about trusting people. That's different.
I hope this clarifies.
Thanks again XRAY for taking the time to explain your position. Unfortunately I still see prenuptial agreements as contrary to God's idea of marriage.Your answer ignores the doctrinal aspects of God's word in favour of self preservation in the area of marriage.
Remember that this question is about christians. Christians are not only judged by human law ( state laws) but also by God's law (devine law) as found and stated in the Bible.Sermon on the mount illustrates the standard to which Christians are held to.
As Christians,we live our lives on the premise that we follow, believe and obey the teachings of the Bible. The Bible shows the heart of God,his intentions & desires for human kind.Even Jesus says those who love me follow my commands.In my mind this is what ultimately separates us Christians. Those who talk about God and those who know God. It's a simple test.
It is up to a person to choose what they believe or don't believe. Hence this issue of prenuptials falls in some 'grey-area' to some people and to some like me it is contrary to God's design.
When Gods takes about a marriage he states that both leave their families to start a new family " two become one". They become one in every way possible, "Genesis 2:24" is clear on this. There are no longer separate entities,they is no more my money or your money. To "hide" anything from the person you are marrying means you are technically not one.Therefore it is a pervasion of God's original intent on marriage. The moment you focus on you..you...you then it's not a marriage.
The bible warns so many times to the Israelites "...do not be like them...".In many instances God didn't want them to copy the surrounding tribes but rather look to him & his way of doing things.In
Romans 12:2 ESV " Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect".Just because the world does it doesn't make it right.
It is also difficult to separate issues and say prenuptials are not about the love of money but are about protecting yourself.Ultimately it is about your heart's relationship with money.Our attitude towards things reveals the truth about our hidden thoughts. Why would you think someone you married is piggy banking you? If you are divorcing on amicable terms then surely,you can share equally and part ways!
Jesus's attitude towards money is also interesting and the way he berated the rich young ruler.Jesus understood and understands the human heart.While Jesus paid taxes and had the potential to be rich,he was not consumed by the need to acquire wealth.If you are so consumed and driven by money then you love money. It means you consider money more important than other things in life including making a marriage work.
A mature christian has a healthy relationship with money,they understand where their treasure is. To the extent that even when they lose material wealth they can still be happy.
What is your opinion of prenuptial agreements?
What is your opinion of prenuptial agreements? I can guess that your initial reaction would be against it saying, “No, marriage is meant to be for a lifetime.” Which I definitely agree with, but I can’t help but be pragmatic about it as well, knowing that the divorce rate among regular church-goers is not significantly different from that of those who do not attend.
This may sound like a pessimistic view of holy matrimony, yet most Christians agree it’s wise to buy life or home owner’s insurance despite Jesus’ words that we should “not worry about your life.” What would make this type of insurance any different? I just would like to hear something more than a cliché answer. Thanks.
You’ve nailed the exact problem. Marriage has become for many people an institution of pragmatism. As such, it was only a matter of time that someone would come up with the idea to financially insure it. Pre-nups are, in my opinion, a tragic sign of the devaluing of the institution from covenant to contract.
Marriage in the sight of God is more than a legal contract. It’s not about money. It is a holy covenant. As such, it demands different treatment. That the divorce rate of churchgoers is the same as non-churchgoers is evidence of many things gone wrong with the institution, and one of them is the low view of marriage that has swept our culture. The very idea that one can financially insure marriage is part of the problem.
I think good arguments can be made that having insurance on homes and cars and even one’s life is not a sign of worry per se, but about being good stewards to protect investments (in the case of home or auto insurance) or helping to ease the burden of those you love at your death and fulfill to the best that you can long-term financial commitments you made in life (in the case of life insurance). Insurance on those items is our modern way of having people “pitch in” to help those in need. For some, those types of insurance policies might be some fruit of ungodly anxiety, but only God knows who that is, and it certainly isn’t everyone with an insurance policy.
But I don’t put a pre-nup at all in the same category as insurance on material investments. We purchase cars and homes; we don’t become one flesh with them. God doesn’t hate fender-benders or accidental house damage or even the death of His saints. He does, however, hate divorce. That’s the difference.
Marriage is in a completely different category of life experience and is rooted in creation itself. Marriage is God’s most intimate human-to-human institution, ordained by Him and designed to symbolize the relationship that exists between Christ and His church. God’s view of this institution is high and holy and sacred and for life.
From a practical standpoint, who do you think will take his tightrope walk more seriously and be more committed to its success — the walker with the net or without? Which will give his everything to make it work? It’s the one whose future depends upon his getting across the wire who will do everything within his power to make it happen.
There’s not a single marriage that makes it for the long haul that doesn’t have to fight to get there. Whether Christian marriage or non-Christian marriage, it takes much more effort than anyone imagines when he or she stands before the minister and vows before God and to one another to stay together until death does them part.
To fulfill these heroic vows we make to one another, we need everything within our control working for us, supporting this holy covenant we’ve made. We need to surround ourselves with people who believe in that sacred commitment. We need to build and live within a culture of lifelong marriage.
The more support a couple removes from that culture, the more difficult they make it for themselves. Pre-nups remove one more reason to fight to make it work. In the same way that loosening divorce restrictions in the ’70s and ’80s led to a huge surge in the divorce rates, pre-nups do the same.
A pre-nup says, “In marriage I’ve done nothing more than make a legal contract.” For Christ-followers, this is not an option. We must be much more concerned about what divorce does to our hearts and to the heart of God than to our pocketbooks.
Copyright 2008 John Thomas. All rights reserved.
A Biblical marriage is a covenant, not just between two people; it’s a covenant with God. That makes it even more serious than a legal agreement. We take a vow to be faithful until we die. That covenant is not to be broken, just as God’s promise to save us will not be broken.
That vow of permanency is sometimes the only thing that keeps couples together through the trying times that inevitably come. There is a big difference between couples who enter a marriage with the attitude, “If my partner doesn’t change, I’m getting out,” and ones that have the attitude, “I better do my part to work this out because I’m going to spend the rest of my life with this person.” When a couple stays through tough times, they can go on to reestablish a loving, romantic relationship.
In 1519 when Captain Hernán Cortés landed in Veracruz, Mexico, he gave the order to his men to burn their ships. He wanted them to know there was no exit strategy. He wanted his men to be totally committed to staying permanently in Veracruz and to fight for the Aztec treasure as if their lives depended on it. And they did.
The lesson for marriage is obvious. Retreat is much more likely when you have an easy option. It’s better to limit alternatives rather than keep easy, wrong choices on the table. That kind of decisive commitment forces us to make a greater effort to overcome obstacles and endure hardship.
For a Christian couple there should not be any back door exit plan. The believing husband who loves his wife should be willing to pledge to her everything he has because he knows he’s not divorcing. And he trusts that she has the same commitment. First Corinthians 13:4, 7 says, “Love…is not self-seeking…always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”
Some might say that’s not realistic. I disagree. While it’s becoming increasingly rare, there are still many examples of that kind of marriage commitment. And it’s that kind of allegiance that makes a marriage last.
I’ve been happily married for 51 years, but there were a few times that I needed (and my wife needed even more!) the pressure of negative consequences to endure. I think the possibility of losing a big chunk of money in a divorce could be a positive force to remain in the covenant —and a romantic demonstration of the husband’s love for his wife.
As a Christian lawyer, I believe pre-nuptial agreements tend to undermine the marriage relationship, putting the sacred covenant on shaky ground from the beginning. God calls husband and wife to be unified - to live as one, to share freely, to trust and honor and love each other in every way. But the very process of creating and executing a pre-nup glorifies a contrary perspective, one that is destructive and disruptive to the marriage. The whole psychology of pre-nuptial agreements encourages each spouse to think of herself or himself as separate from the other, to be suspicious of the other, and to hold on tightly to "what's yours" and keep it from the other! It's the opposite of unity!
I know my thoughts on pre-nups run contrary to what most lawyers would consider "correct" legal thinking. Certainly my perspective does not fit the conventional model of standard secular legal counsel for engaged couples. But as a Christian lawyer I have no choice but to look at the legal questions we face from a biblical Christian viewpoint. I answer to a higher authority, and that authority says, "Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and clings to his wife, and they become one flesh." (Genesis 2:24 NRSV)
How committed to each other should a Christian husband and wife be? Should they be 50% committed? 70% committed? Is a 90% commitment enough? Isn't the answer 100%? When God teaches us about marriage, when he uses those words "one flesh," it sounds to me like God intends for husbands and wives to be 100% committed to each other. But the existence of a pre-nup sets the husband and wife at odds with each other. It's like saying to your beloved future spouse, "Honey, let's agree up front that we aren't necessarily 100% committed to each other." And that's why I'm very reluctant to endorse the use of pre-nuptial agreements. To me, they just don't seem consistent with God's design for Christian marriage.
Lawyers could probably think up a thousand different situations where cold logic and a secular perspective might dictate that the spouses "need" a pre-nuptial agreement. But under God's plan, what either spouse has "going in" doesn't really matter because everything belongs fully to both spouses once they're married. If either spouse feels they can't freely give everything to the other, then, quite frankly, I would humbly suggest they need to seriously and prayerfully reconsider going through with the marriage vows.
One should also question probably question their understanding of God's word and Christian attitudes about marriage if they are considering a pre-nup.
A further look at the attitude the bible has towards money,wealth and possessions.
Here're some of my comments. Since there're things I've already clarified that you did not address, I'll avoid repeating myself when possible. Note that I'm only addressing Sunday's post, as I wasn't aware of additional posts prior to making mine and don't (yet?) have the time to address them.
> this issue of prenuptials falls in some 'grey-area' to some people and to some like me it is contrary to God's design.
It depends. Divorce is contrary to God's design, yet he still carved an exception due to adultery, because he understands its severity and people are far from perfect (Matt. 19:8). (Otherwise, there'd be no reason for exceptions.)
It seems to me that divorce is worse than a pre-nup, yet God still carved an exception for divorce. I'm not aware of any particular part in the Bible where protecting yourself is condemned or even viewed negatively.
So, I don't think I've given enough thought to it to claim it's a genuinely 'gray area' or genuinely 'anti-Biblical'. Presumably, if there were a more explicit Biblical reference to make a definitive case that it's 'anti-Biblical', you would've provided it by now.
In addition, I only said I'd think about it and offered some reasons as to why I'd consider it. I didn't say I'd never get married without a pre-nup, so I think you're reading more into what I wrote than what I actually did.
Your response is also side-stepping the concerns I raised. While I agree with your "It shouldn't be that way" view, there're a lot of things that shouldn't be that actually are, so brushing my concerns aside like that won't work.
For the record, I'm, in principle, more partial to your side than my own, but I won't ignore the fact that marriage is still more of a risk for the man than it is for the woman (at least here in the USA) and that pre-fall and post-fall contexts are drastically different.
> I still see prenuptial agreements as contrary to God's idea of marriage.
The thing is: I think you're right. But context is important: God's idea for marriage was shown to us before the fall. While this hasn't changed (see Jesus' reply when asked about divorce, including the exception because of adultery), God also added to that after the fall.
For example, after the fall in Gen 3:16 God said to the woman: "thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee" (KJV). I emphasize that, because I think a lot of people miss its significance. While it might seem trivial, God later says the same thing to Cain: "if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him" Gen 4:7
In short, God's own wording shows he equates sin's "desire" to rule over Cain and the woman's "desire" to rule over her husband, i.e. he showed both as the same kind of problem. (You can confirm with a Hebrew lexicon; they're the same word[1,2,3].) This implies they're both similar or equal in severity; people ignore this significance at their own risk.
My point is that, IMO, your perspective seems to be an idealized view of the pre-fall marriage that ignores what God later said in the context of a post-fall world. Things are no longer what they should've been.
> Your answer ignores the doctrinal aspects of God's word in favour of self preservation in the area of marriage.
You'll need to be specific in your claim, especially given what I've pointed out already.
> this question is about christians. Christians are not only judged by human law ... but also by God's law.
I'm aware of it. But that's like saying "Corrupt police officers shouldn't exist because they're supposed to follow the law", yet we all know that, sometimes, you still discover a bad apple after the fact.
Many years ago, the Christian mother of one of my best friends married a Christian man. He turned out to be abusive; he beat her and almost killed her at least once. Her choices were to leave to save her life or risk death and that of her children. By your reasoning, you must claim that her divorce to save her and her children's lives (i.e. 'self-preservation') also 'ignores the doctrinal aspects of God's word in favour of self preservation in the area of marriage'. And perhaps you would be right, but what else would you have had her do, given the reality of the situation? You can't have it both ways; it's special pleading.
Also, I know it'll be easy to say "Well, he wasn't a true Christian"; while you'd be right, this would miss the point; as I had said previously: being a Christian is not a guarantee of anything. Bad things still can and will happen to you if you act negligently, foolishly, and/or fail to apply common sense to minimize risks and/or avoid preventable problems, among other things.
Even the Israelites, who fought when God commanded, were smart enough to know that they still had to bring their swords to a fight...
> As Christians,we live our lives on the premise that we follow, believe and obey the teachings of the Bible ... Jesus says those who love me follow my commands.
If you want to be this definitive, you'll need an explicit reference condemning the equivalent of a pre-nup. Without that, I think you're trying to give more authority to your opinion than it can actually carry. What specific command would any couple signing a pre-nup be breaking, exactly?
> In my mind this is what ultimately separates us Christians. Those who talk about God and those who know God. It's a simple test.
Last time I checked, what separates Christians from non-Christians is that Christians have repented from their sins and accepted Jesus' sacrifice and resurrection on their behalf (Rom. 10:9), not whether they choose to sign a pre-nup or not.
With this, you also seem to imply that any couple who chooses to sign a pre-nup doesn't 'know God'.
> God ... states that both leave their families to start a new family "two become one". They become one in every way possible
Yes, but the "one" here is a "composite unity", not the "absolute unity" that we usually think about, so you still have two individual persons. They don't suddenly stop being themselves, and there's no expectation that this will or should happen.
In fact, even God's oneness, given that there're 3 different Persons in the Godhead, rests on this distinction. (Of course, our now-fallen unions are no match for God's perfect tri-unity, but that's another topic.)
> There are no longer separate entities, there is no more my money or your money.
Does that also mean there's no longer such a thing as 'his clothes' and 'her clothes'? What about 'his toothbrush' and 'her toothbrush' or 'his computer' and 'her computer'? Clearly there's a line somewhere. Just because people have chosen to unite and share some things doesn't mean that they become actual owners of the other's property (unless they've both acquired it together).
For the sake of an example, if a woman were to tell me that, as a pre-condition for marriage, I must put her name on the title of my house, that'd be a major red flag only a naïve person would ignore, to put it politely. (I don't actually anticipate something like this; it's a hypothetical.)
> To "hide" anything from the person you are marrying means you are technically not one.
Sure, but how is this relevant to the original point? No two persons can sign a pre-nup while simultaneously claiming that the other did so 'behind their backs' in 'hiding'.
> The moment you focus on you..you...you then it's not a marriage.
Agreed, but you're conflating two different things based on what I think is a flawed assumption. The fact a couple has explicitly 'drawn a line' on what they each had prior to getting married does not imply that they're only focusing on themselves. Usually and AFAIK, when people sign pre-nups, the things they accumulate after marriage is the stuff that belongs to both of them equally, but not before. It'd be an unfair and easily exploitable system otherwise, especially if one of the two contributed significantly more than the other into the initial equation.
> Just because the world does it doesn't make it right.
True, but the inverse is also true: just because the world does it doesn't make it wrong.
> It is also difficult to separate issues and say prenuptials are not about the love of money but are about protecting yourself.
Your "difficulty" here is subjective. I don't find it difficult; "loving money" is not the same as taking precautions against risk, but you're mixing both as if they're one and the same.
I think you've assumed that the only reason anyone could have for a pre-nup must be "love for money", but you haven't really made an argument to establish this; it's only an assumption, and one that I think is unjustified.
That said, I'm sure that this may be true for some people (I'm sure they exist), but your claim is that this is true of everyone b/c it's too broad.
> Ultimately it is about your heart's relationship with money. Our attitude towards things reveals the truth about our hidden thoughts.
I think you're building on top of unsubstantiated assumptions here. The subtle accusation that the only reason I, or anyone else for that matter, could possibly have to consider a pre-nup is a "love for money" comes across as presumptuous.
> Why would you think someone you married is piggy banking you?
Maybe because I have seen it happen to other people and I don't blindly assume that no one else would ever want to take advantage of me in some way, if given the opportunity to do so, just because I'm a Christian?
When I was a kid in school, there was a banner in the counselor's office. It read: "The man who learns from his mistakes is smart, but the man who learns from the mistakes of others is wise."
> If you are divorcing on amicable terms then surely,you can share equally and part ways!
Possible sarcasm aside, if it actually worked that way 100% of the time, then it'd be more fair, but not completely. (If you want to share equally, you must first contribute equally, but this is rarely happens and I'm not sure it even makes sense in the context of Christian marriage... but this is the world we're stuck in.)
I've seen a fair share of divorces in my life to know that it really doesn't turn out that way. I've also seen how crafty-enough lawyers can win a case on technicalities and screwing over the other person, without regard for what a truly fair and just outcome would've been. After all, the legal game is "my client vs your client", not "objectively fair outcomes".
We don't live in a fair and just world, and, like it or not, while we're morally accountable to God's standard, we're also accountable to a human-made system that will "throw the book" at you and destroy you unless you find a way to keep it in check and prevent it from doing so.
In addition, here in the US, the legal system is increasingly showing partiality towards women and against men, because women are (generally and) increasingly seen as 'victims' and men as 'oppressors' in the culture, for reasons that are beside the point.
In fact, now that I think about it, it seems like a pre-nup is probably more of a shield against a biased legal system, and how it might be misused against you, than anything else.
> Jesus's attitude towards money is also interesting and the way he berated the rich young ruler.
Yes, because the rich ruler thought he could buy his way to salvation, and Jesus' question pulled out the truth. But this is about salvation and following Jesus, not getting married.
> If you are so consumed and driven by money then you love money.
Despite your unsubstantiated insistence to the contrary, I don't love money. And I'm not driven by it either, so there's no point in repeating myself on the 2nd part of your claim.
> A mature christian has a healthy relationship with money,they understand where their treasure is.
You're implying that anyone who would consider a pre-nup is neither a "mature christian" nor "has a healthy relationship with money". I'm not sure exactly how far you think your argument will take you when it contains several cases of ad-hominem.
In closing, I'm not yet sure what I'd really consider or do if the possibility of marriage were to materialize.
You'd think that, if I didn't trust the other person enough to think that a pre-nup were needed on this basis, then I'd be better off not marrying this person in the first place and finding someone else that I'd trust enough to not even think of a pre-nup in the first place. And while that'd make complete sense, the problem with this is that, when strong emotions such as romance and love are involved, people lose whatever objectivity they thought they had and will let their hearts get them into bad situations that they later wish they hadn't.
Trusting their heart (i.e. emotions) is how people often miss or ignore red flags that later turn out to be significant things they should've paid attention to. (Remember my best friend's mother's case? That's only one among many.)
"The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?" -Jeremiah 17:9
Or, for those who may want a more humorous take: theawkwardyeti.com/comic/optimism/. It sums it up perfectly.
PS: I'll try to get to some of the other posts as time permits.
I'm just following up as I said I'd do, though I've been slow because I had a conference to attend and I'm also sick right now
I'll start with one of the authors you quoted and then move on.
> I’ve been happily married for 51 years, but there were a few times that I needed (and my wife needed even more!) the pressure of negative consequences to endure. I think the possibility of losing a big chunk of money in a divorce could be a positive force to remain in the covenant —and a romantic demonstration of the husband’s love for his wife.
I think there're several assumptions here that are not necessarily always true. For example, the author appears to exclude abusive and/or life-threatning scenarios out of his definition of 'hardship'.
It's also odd that this author on the one hand has an issue with prenups, but then turn around and says that 'losing a big chunk of money in a divorse could be a positive force' to stay married, i.e. the couple would stay married to avoid losing money.
His point here can be summarized as: "If you like your money, you should stay married".
While I see the point he's trying to get to, i.e. consequences for divorce being worse than staying together is an "incentive" to stay together, I think this is a very poor example for him to provide. I'm not sure those are the right reasons for anyone being together and seems rather ironic.
> I believe pre-nuptial agreements tend to undermine the marriage relationship, putting the sacred covenant on shaky ground from the beginning
I can understand the viewpoint and have also thought about it myself.
> God calls husband and wife to be unified - to live as one, to share freely, to trust and honor and love each other in every way.
God also calls on people to follow his commands, to not lie, or commit adultery, and so on - yet people still do. If Christians could always/reliably/consistently behave according to God's standards, there would be no need to assess risks because there would be no risks; the divorce rate for Christian couples would be zero.
This is clearly not the case. So, we're left to wonder what should be done in every possible scenario. Sure, there're lots of trivial situations that are and should be solvable, but there're also non-trivial situations that must be realistically addressed.
What would you tell to a man or woman that's being abused by their spouse (e.g. physically, emotionally, etc)? We need realistic answers for these cases. I think views and/or responses that fail to properly address these are fatally flawed because they cannot survive scrutiny (i.e. real-world situation).
> The whole psychology of pre-nuptial agreements encourages each spouse to think of herself or himself as separate from the other, to be suspicious of the other, and to hold on tightly to "what's yours" and keep it from the other! It's the opposite of unity! ... When God teaches us about marriage, when he uses those words "one flesh," it sounds to me like God intends for husbands and wives to be 100% committed to each other. But the existence of a pre-nup sets the husband and wife at odds with each other. It's like saying ... "Honey, let's agree up front that we aren't necessarily 100% committed to each other." And that's why I'm very reluctant to endorse the use of pre-nuptial agreements. To me, they just don't seem consistent with God's design for Christian marriage.
I think that's a valid point. I've also thought about it before.
> If either spouse feels they can't freely give everything to the other, then, quite frankly, I would humbly suggest they need to seriously and prayerfully reconsider going through with the marriage vows.
The thing is that, at the time they're getting married, everyone thinks they can give everything to each other. Everyone has expectations of what their marriage will look like or be like. Everyone thinks they can endure things they've never even seen before.
Then, reality says "Hi, there". For reasons unknown to me, some appear to adapt and overcome, while others sink under the pressure. Some seem to go in with more realistic expectations of what the life of a married couple is really like while others appear to be more oblivious to it and go in with a mindset full of wishful-thinking. Or maybe they're not as resilient as they thought they were, at least to specific kinds of problems.
For example, it seems like it's easier to overcome challenges when they come from outside the marriage, but when the issues originate from within, that seems like it can be more of a problem and more difficult to work with (c.f. Mark 3:25).
My thought is that, maybe, the people who are generally better "prepared" for what's really coming are those from households where their parents have remained together rather than getting divorced, while people from broken households are less likely to have a good understanding of what the reality of marriage will really look like, and/or how to resolve internal conflicts in a more productive way.
I'm only speculating, but it seems to make sense, since you've not really acquired that knowledge or gone through those situations as part of your "life experience".
What an interesting topic! I like the idea of preuptical. Anyone unwilling to do prenuptical according to my personal view, opinion, and experience, he or she is uncertain about his or her commitment. Preup, should not be only about money. It should include things about relationship, kids, roles, responsibilities, short and long-term goals.
Wow, this should be written into a book! Quite a lengthy one and I had to scan read after first post! I have written e-books on relationship. Four e-books in total and half of those numbers of e-books is on finding someone because I experienced this so long, longer than my marriage had. Then there are two other e-books relate to foundation of relationship and marriage. This part is after you find someone special and you need to built that foundation toward marriage. And still use that Foundation for marriage itself as well. Pre-nup is quite a touchy subject. I agree with all of you making some good points. And yes, pre-nup should also include more than finanical means.
For instance, I knew a couple from my high school. He had crush on her for final 6 years of school then dated six years from after high school then married then first year of marriage, they forgot how to have a relationship because of a title, "be married" He was out often and she wanted him home. So, they almost got divorced in first year according to my ex-classmates who told me. Then they had to sit down and make an agreement ON PAPER that he has a chance to go out with his buddies once a week and she can go out with her friends once a week. Taking turns. So that one can have time to being alone at home while other have fun. It is like recharging. This was in year 1990 when they had the agreement. They have 3 wonderful grown children now and still married.
So, this kind of pre-nup is not about money. Pre-nup should be about marriage itself, period. That is what I believe.
One thing, most of you have missed out. It is very important and it is in my e-books about this: You are not married two into one. You are marrying THREE in one. Like the Tribune God-the Trinity. God, man, and woman. Jesus said so (Matthew 18:20). When you both are together, Jesus is in as well. That is the real convent when three in one when having relationship, on wedding day, and for rest of your life.
Divorce is very touchy issue. Yes, if you make a mistake, you cannot divorce unless one is having adultery. But one thing missed out. If one is unbeliever, let him/her go. But you are still part of that marriage. Why? it did say if that spouse comes back. But you cannot marry another person or you are sinned with adultery! It is complicated as it says in the marriage chapter of 1 Corinthians 7. Read pretty much entire chapter to understand the fundamental of relationship.
If you are so worried about pre-nup, this shows that there is problem. More than likely not ready for marriage.
Pre-nup is not the same as divorce contract and agreement depends on laws internationally (Philippines do not have divorce laws. Only separation and annuallment). I think often when people divorce, they may throw out their pre-nups! Why? With anger, scare, whatever reason, they feel they need to change their agreement entirely. Not only that, the status of a spouse changed such as suddenly got rich or worked hard and got rich, or vise versa.. lost job, money, everything. That really effect and I know how that part went. So, a pre-nup may have to be updated frequently like a Last Will and Testament because in case a spouse divorce or death in family, your will have to be updated. There are three of us siblings and say, one of us pass away suddenly before my father's death, he would have to update. Same thing with pre-nup. Got to update. Make that annually like a business plan. All businesses have to have a plan annually for project of 3 to 5 years plan and always update. Same concept.