I picked up one of my favorite publications done by a great ministry and started reading a story about churches responding to suffering people. It was a nicely crafted piece about a church caring for a woman with a disabled child by herself – and I braced myself for what I knew was coming. And there it was: “The divorce rate for special-needs families is over eighty percent.”
It isn’t true. We have to stop repeating that horrible statistic!
Daniel Vance has done a great deal more research on this than I have, and he found studies that show divorce is slightly higher for certain disabilities: from 3.6% to 5.97% higher. For families experiencing Down syndrome the overall divorce rate is actually lower than average. As he points out, divorce rates appear to be higher, but that’s a long way from 75% to 85%.
Disability is hard on marriages; we already know that. At least as great a problem as divorce are fathers who stay in marriages but check out from the daily care and leadership of children and wives. Let’s not add to the burden by saying marriages will almost certainly fail when a child with a disability is born into it. Abortionists use statistics like that to encourage the killing of unborn babies.
And even if it were a true statistic in general, it does not have to be true for any specific family that leans into the promises of God for provision and help and peace. God himself has spoken about what he can do:
“Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh. Is anything too hard for me?“ (Jeremiah 32:27 ESV)