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During a sermon on Sunday, Pastor Stewart-Allen Clark of First General Baptist Church in Malden, Missouri told the congregation that divorce should be avoided at all costs — including if you’re unhappy in your marriage. He described divorce as part of a “Babylonian scheme to break down the family.” (Clark said there were exceptions to the rule — including adultery and physical abuse — but outside of those extreme situations, ending a marriage should be off the table.)

… [Divorce is] part of the Babylonian scheme to break down the family. Because that’s what they were doing. Now I know what the Bible says, but I hear people saying, “Well, he, she, don’t make me happy, and I — I deserve to be happy!”

I tell you what. You know what I did before I got married? I read my vows, because I wanted to know what I was getting into, and here’s what they said: “I, Stuart-Allen, take you, Melinda, to be my wife. To have and hold from this day forward, for better or for worse, for rich or for poor, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, from this day forward until death us do part.”

I don’t see anything there about me being happy!

[Applause]

Give me an amen! Can I get one?!

[Applause]

See… this idea that I deserve to be happy — that’s a Babylonian idea. That’s a Babylonian strategy! Bust this couple up so it only be one person in the home to raise a kid, make them more vulnerable…

What a romantic, saying that his marriage wasn’t built on being happy. (Happy early Valentine’s Day, Melinda.)

To be clear, there’s no reward for staying in an unhappy marriage. As many children who grew up with unhappy, bitter parents could tell you, life would have been better for everyone if those parents had separated. Divorce due to unhappiness is not a moral failing. It happens. No one benefits from keeping a broken relationship going on for longer than it has to — and it’s almost certainly not better for the kids.

It’s just horrible advice — all the more so because it’s being delivered from a pastor holding a Bible on stage, meaning people in the congregation may take it seriously. Based on their reactions, they seem to find it all charming.

If the name Stewart-Allen Clark rings a bell, it’s because this isn’t the first time he’s offered horrible advice.

Nearly a year ago, Clark delivered a sermon in which he said keeping a marriage strong required the wife to look hot — like Melania Trump, preferably. She needed to lose weight and submit to her husband’s sexual desires at all times, or it would be her fault when he strayed.

And ladies, here’s the thing you need to know about men: Don’t give him a reason to be like this distracted boyfriend. You hear me? Don’t give him a reason to be looking around. Hello?!

So, okay, why is it so many times that women, after they get married, let themselves go? Why is that? Why do they do that?…

Now look, I’m not saying every woman can be the epic, the epic trophy wife of all time, like Melania Trump — I’m not saying that at all. Most women can’t be trophy wives, but, you know, like her — maybe you’re a participation trophy. I don’t know. But all I can say is not everybody looks like that! Amen?! But you don’t need to look like a butch either!

But you say, “How can I do that?” Oh, I’m so glad you asked that question! I’m so glad you asked that question! Because you’re in my office, you and your husband, and we’re talking about your marriage, and you’ve asked me this question about “What can I do about that?” All right, if you were sitting in my office, here’s the first thing I’d say to you — and boy, I hate to say this, this is why I don’t do marital counseling anymore — and that is… weight control.

So how important is this? Let me tell you something: I have a friend. He has put a “divorce weight” on his wife! That’s how important this is!

You know, makeup! Makeup is a good thing. You know, my little boy said, “Why do girls wear makeup and perfume?” You say “Because they’re ugly and they stink.” You don’t want to be ugly and stink!

Scientists have discovered, by the way, a food that diminishes the woman’s sex drive. It’s called the wedding cake. Hahahahahahahaha, yeah.

(Another sermon excerpt was discovered shortly after that — from 2019 — in which Clark said a lot of the same misogynistic things, including the notion that “physical beauty is within the reach of every woman” — by which he meant skinny and nothing else — and more criticism of women who “look like butch.”)

After that first video went viral, though, Clark took a leave of absence. His church, fully in crisis mode, said he was “seeking professional counseling.” In April, he returned to the pulpit with no explanation of what his rehab had looked like or what he had learned. The church’s playbook seemed to rely on the idea that all the bad press would just go away eventually. To make sure there was no residual backlash, however, the church didn’t start uploading new sermons online until mid-October. Their Facebook page remains unpublished, their Vimeo channel remains down, and their Twitter account is still private.

So to summarize: Marriage is the union of one man and one woman and no other option ever. The woman must have a perfect traditionally feminine body and submit to her husband at all times. And if either one of them is ever unhappy to the point that they see no way to rekindle any possible romance that once existed, they should still stay married because the alternative is how The Enemy will destroy society.

I guess Clark learned nothing at all from rehab.

Hemant Mehta is the founder of FriendlyAtheist.com, a YouTube creator, podcast co-host, and author of multiple books about atheism. He can be reached at @HemantMehta.