One message that is causing people to pause and think is a sentiment expressed by a handful of people, including journalist Ruth Graham, who often covers religious news. Graham wrote an article about the significance of the couple’s separation for Slate. She was also interviewed on NPR, where she said the announcement speaks to the fact that “There really is no magic formula for marriage.”
Skye Jethani, an evangelical thought leader, posted a similar sentiment on Twitter.
I feel bad for Josh & Shannon Harris. I wonder if this will help more Christians see the popular evangelical pursuit of magical formulas to produce a pain-free life is not only foolish it’s fundamentally unchristian. https://t.co/lIGL2TivJE
— SKYE (@SkyeJethani) July 22, 2019
In a way, the idea that if you check all the boxes when pursuing a spouse (let God lead you into a relationship, don’t have sex before marriage, date only Christians with similar values to your own, seek to honor God in your relationship, maintain physical, emotional, and spiritual boundaries at all times, etc.) feels very similar to some of the teachings of the prosperity gospel. The idea behind both—whether it’s marriage or money—is that if you do these specific things, God HAS to bless you. When in reality, nothing in life is that simple. If it were, Christians would be the safest, richest, healthiest, and happiest people on the planet. And “good” Christians wouldn’t be poor or get divorced.
Announcements such as these remind us all of that uncomfortable reality.