Today, divorced couples equal married couples in numbers. So imagine if divorce were a fireable offense.
It is, at Wheaton College, in Wheaton, Ill.
Popular English Professor Kent Gramm was fired recently, after 20 years at the school, because he and his wife divorced.
Students have circulated a petition in support of Gramm, and debate rages on the Internet. Student Body President Tim George told the Chicago Tribune that Gramm’s firing would be a huge loss to the college.
It turns out, Gramm’s firing for getting divorced isn’t the first at Wheaton College. The religious institution considers divorce a sin, and it retains divorced employees only if they prove that circumstances of the divorce didn’t violate biblical standards.
As for Gramm, he has been the perfect gentleman. He has been given every opportunity to defend his divorce and fight for his job. He has declined, however, saying he does not wish to explain his personal life to an employer and he has no interest in violating the privacy of his ex-wife.
Gramm said students at the college face the same dismal marital statistics as other Americans, and a great percentage of them will someday be divorced. He’s probably correct, of course, which bodes poorly for society.
Divorce hurts, particularly when children are involved. Friends are torn between divided couples. And there is additional collateral damage caused by divorce.
A study last year by renowned scientist Jianguo Liu of Michigan State University proved that divorce ravages the environment for obvious reasons. One household becomes two. Children are driven back and forth for shared custody and visitations.
The study found that in the United States alone, divorce caused the use of an additional 2,373.45 billion liters of water and an additional 734 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity. Divorced households spend 46 percent more on electricity and 56 percent more on water than intact families.
Clearly, divorce isn’t a benign and costless decision. It’s a problem that an environmentally conscious, socially conscious, kid-friendly society should desire to solve.
Aside from religious convictions, it’s clear to understand why an employer might consider divorce a menace to avoid.
Does this mean more employers should fire employees for getting divorced? No. But it does mean one can easily defend the lack of tolerance Wheaton College has for divorce.
Does Wheaton have a right to do this? Absolutely. Even Gramm supports his former employer’s right to fire him. The “no divorce” rule was understood when he took the job. His work with Wheaton represented nothing other than a voluntary relationship between two private parties.
Though society can ill afford for most employers to fire employees who get divorced, the plight of Gramm should promote discussion about the need for society to reduce the epidemic-like trend of divorce. It would be best for children, society and Mother Earth to reverse the tide.