Tag Archives: Unilateral Divorce

Is there any evidence to support the Bible’s teaching about divorce?

Does government provide incentives for people to get married?
Is there any evidence that supports the Bible’s teaching about divorce?

So, the topic for this post is whether it’s OK to get divorced.

What does the Bible say?

I noticed a lot of people getting divorced these days in the church, and trying to justify why they are allowed to divorce and why they should be allowed to pursue remarriage. So I’m first going to quote from an article from Focus on the Family by Amy Tracy.

She writes:

God is very clear, however, that He hates divorce (Malachi 2:16). He also says, “So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate” (Matthew 19:6). According to the New Testament, there are two justifications for divorce: infidelity (Matthew 5:32) and desertion (1 Corinthians 7:15).

Now, I had always taken the rule of Dr. Laura for this. She says that you can get divorced for adultery and abandonment (as above), but she allows allows for physical abuse and drug addiction. But it looks like the Bible is more strict than Dr. Laura, even.

What does the evidence say?

So let’s see if there is any reason outside the Bible that explains why the Bible tells people not to get divorced. The UK Daily Mail reports on a study on the effects of divorce.

Excerpt:

Divorcing parents who try to maintain an amicable relationship for the sake of their children are doing nothing to help them, a major study suggests.

The impact of the split on youngsters is the same whether or not the mother and father keep cordial links, it found.

[…]The new study, the first in 20 years to examine how the behaviour of separated parents affects their children, was carried out by US academics.

It covered 270 parents who were divorced or separated between 1998 and 2004 in an unnamed US state that compels divorcees to take part in an education programme on ‘co-operative co-parenting’.

Of these, 31 per cent considered their relationship with their ex-spouse as ‘co-operative and involved’; 45 per cent were ‘moderately engaged’ with their divorced partner, with some conflict between them; and 24 per cent said their co-operation was ‘infrequent but conflictual’.

They were asked to say how their break-up had affected the youngest child in their family. The average age of children involved was eight years.

The study, published in the academic journal Family Relations, said that children of divorced parents are more likely than others to suffer ‘external’ symptoms such as behaviour problems or drug abuse, more likely to have ‘internal’ difficulties like anxiety or depression, and more likely to do badly at school.

But the researchers, headed by Dr Jonathon Beckmeyer of Indiana University, found that these children’s problems were no worse if their parents continued to row and bicker with each other after the divorce.

The study said ‘despite the expectation that children fare better’ if their divorced parents develop a co-operative relationship, the behaviour of children as assessed by their parents ‘did not significantly differ’ between the friendly and the fighting groups of divorcees.

So the take-home lesson is this: there is no such thing as a divorce that doesn’t hurt the children. If you’re thinking of divorce and you have children, just don’t do it. And the Bible sides with the children against the selfish desires of their parents – telling the parents to be careful who they marry, and to give up their happiness in order to provide stability for the children.

One more thing. I run into a lot of people who think that life is unpredictable, and that you just have to pursue happiness, fun and adventures and how that somehow the universe or God or whatever will make all the selfish hedonism “work out”. That’s false. Marriage is not like a slot machine. There are things you can do now to prepare your character for marriage. There are things that your marriage candidate should be able to do to be prepared for marriage as well. If both people practice self-control, self-denial and self-sacrifice before marriage, that’s a good sign that they will be able to make a commitment that lasts. Indulging your desire to sky-dive, surf, zip-line and travel for adventure does nothing to prepare your character for what marriage will require of you.

Marriage is not an engine for personal fulfillment and happiness. You don’t get out of it when you don’t feel happy. Marriage is about changing your character to make you more mature, and providing a safe, stable environment for children to grow up in. The reason so many people are divorcing today is because they think that marriage is a consumer good – that it should be fun. But it’s not designed to be fun, it’s designed to be a challenge. If you stay committed to it, it does produce a return in the long run.

Jennifer Roback Morse debates on marriage at Columbia University

Cloning her would solve the marriage problem
Dr. J makes marriage interesting and fun

Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse defends marriage at Columbia University in this short hour-long exchange. This is your chance to hear how anti-child advocates of same-sex marriage really are. And Dr. J links SSM to unilateral divorce at the end of the Q&A, too. Awesome! This debate really needed to go for twice the time, and I look forward to hearing MORE debates from Dr. J.

Details:

Columbia University’s Federalist Society hosts a debate between Dr J and Professor Katherine Franke based on the question “Is Marriage Equality Possible?”  About an hour of audio includes opening position (Dr J), arguments (Prof. Franke), and rebuttal (Dr J), as well as a brief question-and-answer period.

The MP3 file is here.

Dr. J’s opening speech (15 min.)

Two basic contentions:

  • 1) same-sex marriage is not the equivalent of traditional marriage
  • 2) if we legislate that they are equal, then we are really redefining marriage by changing the essential purpose of marriage

A case study from Ireland:

  • a known sperm donor for a lesbian couple was excluded from having a relationship with the child he conceived
  • after the child was born, the sperm donor wanted regular contact with the child, but the women opposed giving him access
  • same-sex marriage requires that courts are able to assign parental rights instead of having rights assigned biologically, as with traditional marriage
  • That is why SSM is different from TM

What is the purpose of marriage?

  • Marriage is about attaching mothers and fathers to children, and mothers and fathers to one another
  • Children are born helpless from two opposite-sex parents and they need parental guidance and care during development
  • In TM, there is no third party needed in order to have a child
  • In TM, the biological parents have rights and responsibilities for the child
  • TM is about providing the child with justice
  • Every child is entitled a relationship to both biological parents, and is entitled to care, protection and nourishment from both parents, and every child is entitled to a stable family environment
  • the problem is that children don’t have standing to sue for these rights in court
  • so the purpose of marriage is that we have a social construct to provide these rights to children naturally, without the state having to intervene

The purpose of marriage according to SSM?

  • In SSM, the essential child-centered  purpose marriage is replaced with new purposes like pooling resources and having same-sex couples recognized by society

SSM redefines marriage in four ways:

  • it diminishes the entitlement of children to a relationship with both biological parents
  • it diminishes the identification of parental roles with biology
  • it requires the state to determine parental relationships, instead of recognizing biological parents
  • it enshrines the idea that mothers and fathers are interchangeable, that children don’t really need mothers AND fathers

Dr. Franke’s opening speech (20 min.)

Hard cases make bad law 1: the presumption of paternity

  • consider the case where a mother is married and has an affair resulting in a child
  • the Supreme Court has ruled that the father of the child has no right of contact
  • this is a case where marriage gets in the way of biological parents having a relationship with the child
  • so it can be the case where marriage is in conflict with the relationships to biological parents

Hard cases make bad law 2: the purpose of marriage can be changed

  • marriages was used to keep peace between families and communities
  • marriage used to be about trading and trafficking of women
  • so the concern for offspring was not always the greatest concern

TM and SSM are both equally able to create stability for children:

  • same-sex unions are just as stable for children as TM marriages

Same-sex unions do provide justice for the child:

  • giving the adults in same-sex couples the social recognition that opposite sex married couples have is good for children

Children can sue in court

  • children can use guardians to sue their parents in court to get their rights

Opposing SSM is racism

  • opposing same-sex marriage is equivalent to racism
  • we could abolish marriage completely and let individuals form private contracts, then the state would really be neutral on marriage

Dr. J’s rebuttal speech (5 min.)

The state cannot be neutral on marriage

  • what the deinstutionalization of marriage means is that the private contracts are made by adults and children will have no consideration in those contracts

Regarding the adultery case

  • the presumption of paternity is there to protect the marriage
  • such borderline cases almost never happen with TM, whereas in SSM these third party problems occur in 100% of the cases

Children are not happy being separated from their biological parents

  • adults do not have a right to exclude a child’s biological parents from having a relationship with them, and children are often not happy being excluded from their biological parents

Which types of relationships have the highest rates of divorce?

A quiz for you, from Ruth Blog.

Question:

Same sex couples have had the legal right to form domestic partnerships in several European countries.  Denmark was the first to introduce registered partnerships, in 1989. Norway was second, in 1993, then Sweden in 1995. Data from 2 of these landmark countries, Norway and Sweden, as well as California,  have been studied enough to answer this question:

What types of unions have the highest rates of divorce?

  • Opposite sex married couples: men and women are so different, it is a wonder they ever stay married.
  • Male unions: men are naturally less committed, and less monogamous, so their partnerships don’t endure.
  • Female unions: women get so emotionally distraught over things. A union of two women, without any male counter-balancing their roller-coaster, is very unstable.

Hint: the answer is the same in all three countries!

And here’s the answer:

Female unions seem to have the highest divorce rates, followed by male unions, followed by opposite sex unions.

“For Sweden, the divorce risk for partnerships of men is 50% higher than the risk for heterosexual marriages, and that the divorce risk for female partnerships is nearly double that for men.”

“For Norway, divorce risks are 77% higher in lesbian partnerships than in those of gay men.”  (The Norwegian data did not include a comparison with opposite sex couples.)

In California, the data is collected a little differently. The study looks at couples who describe themselves as partners, whether same sex or opposite sex. The study asks the question, how likely is it that these couples live in the same household five years later. Male couples were only 30% as likely, while female couples were less that 25% as likely, as heterosexual married couples, to be residing in the same household for five years.

The only contradictory data I have found to this pattern is from the Netherlands. In the Dutch data, same sex couples have a 3.15 times greater dissolution rate than opposite sex cohabiting couples, and a 3.15 x 3.66 or 11.5 times greater dissolution rate than opposite married couples. But, female couples seem to be more stable than male couples.

And not all married heterosexual couples are equally stable.

Consider this USA Today article from 2011 about that.

Excerpt:

It’s been proclaimed from pulpits and blogs for years — Christians divorce as much as everyone else in America.

But some scholars and family activists are questioning the oft-cited statistics, saying Christians who attend church regularly are more likely to remain wed.

“It’s a useful myth,” said Bradley Wright, a University of Connecticut sociologist who recently wrote “Christians Are Hate-Filled Hypocrites … and Other Lies You’ve Been Told.”

“Because if a pastor wants to preach about how Christians should take their marriages more seriously, he or she can trot out this statistic to get them to listen to him or her.”

The various findings on religion and divorce hinge on what kind of Christians are being discussed.

Wright combed through the General Social Survey, a vast demographic study conducted by the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago, and found that Christians, like adherents of other religions, have a divorce rate of about 42%. The rate among religiously unaffiliated Americans is 50%.

When Wright examined the statistics on evangelicals, he found worship attendance has a big influence on the numbers. Six in 10 evangelicals who never attend had been divorced or separated, compared to just 38% of weekly attendees.

[…]Brad Wilcox, director of the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia, agrees there’s been some confusion.

“You do hear, both in Christian and non-Christian circles, that Christians are no different from anyone else when it comes to divorce and that is not true if you are focusing on Christians who are regular church attendees,” he said.

Wilcox’s analysis of the National Survey of Families and Households has found that Americans who attend religious services several times a month were about 35% less likely to divorce than those with no religious affiliation.

Nominal conservative Protestants, on the other hand, were 20% more likely to divorce than the religiously unaffiliated.

“There’s something about being a nominal ‘Christian’ that is linked to a lot of negative outcomes when it comes to family life,” Wilcox said.

Here’s a quote from an Oklahoma State University study that confirms the Wright and Wilcox conclusions:

History of Divorce and Religious Involvement

Those who say they are more religious are less likely, not more, to have already experienced divorce. Likewise, those who report more frequent attendance at religious services were significantly less likely to have been divorced. This pattern of findings held using various analytic techniques that test which variables differentiate persons who have been divorced from persons who have not been divorced, while controlling for other variables that might affect the interpretation of the data, such as age, age of first marriage, income, and gender. When both the global rating of religiousness and the item assessing fiequency of attendance at religious services are entered into the same analysis, the attendance item remains significantly associated with divorce history but the global religiousness item does not. This suggests that a key aspect of how religious faith affects marital relationships may be through involvement with a community of faith.

Basically, the more your worldview grounds self-sacrifice over self-centeredness, the more stable it’s going to be.

Related posts

What’s stopping young adults from getting married?

Before we get to the study, I wanted to share something that a Christian male friend shared with me about yesterday’s post on the crazy feminist mommy porn author.

He writes:

I saw your post about the woman who “fell in love” with her fantasy character she created. I’m a victim of this.

My ex-wife is a succeeding indie author. She jets off and hangs with NYT best-selling authors, rubs elbows with a lot of fantasy romance and erotica authors. She reads, oh, roughly 200 +/- smut books per year.

This area is the flip side of the porn coin, and it’s not getting the attention it should. If I told my story and part of the reason for the marriage destruction, it would be an “easy sell” to those who understand that women who fantasize about these fictional characters (even the images on the covers) are doing the exact thing men are doing when they fantasize over airbrushed skin images and other skin porn.

Many will argue it’s not the same thing, but that is preposterous. Husbands are competing with fantasy novel cover art and fantasy characters. It’s every bit the same as wives competing with unreal images or even real ones where they compete with younger, more fit, kinkier, etc., etc.

Men get cheated on all the time. Through this stuff. My ex developed an online romance through it all. Exchanged erotic pictures, emails, texts, Skype, on and on and on.

I discovered travel plans, fake email accounts, it was awful.

This is the third time that I have been sent divorce stories like this by conservative, Christian male apologists on Facebook.

The first time, the wife hit a certain age then just went nuts and started working out a ton and trying to look younger and younger. Then as she got success as a personal trainer and attention for all the photos she posted, she just divorced her husband outright to focus on her business and more glamorous photos. And they had children. The second time, the wife just went nuts into new age beliefs and yoga and divorced her husband, and they had children too. So we are talking real destructive craziness here.

This is why I put so much emphasis on building up a woman first by leading her to learn apologetics, conservative politics and economics, and so on. If she is not willing to learn and grow in things that are good for her and that help her to be a better wife and mother, then you know that her heart is not in the difficult realities of married life and the roles of wife and mother. She will be one of these women who wants to be happy and thinks that happiness means getting rid of family obligations and responsibilities to her man and her kids. Men should ensure that their prospective mates reject the Disney princess perception that relationships should be all about them and their needs – living happily ever after with no hard work or effort. Helping a woman to think logically and argue using evidence is one way to insulate her from the foolish, emotion-driven culture that threatens marriage.

Anyway, with that said, here is the new article from Family Studies.

Here’s the introduction:

In interviews we conducted with working-class young adults, my wife and I were surprised by the strength of their desires to have a long-lasting marriage and stable family life. But many of them were far from realizing those aspirations. Why?  The wide-ranging challenges that frustrate their aspirations, which we must understand in order to find effective solutions, fall into four rough categories: family-of-origin, philosophical, psychological, and financial.

[…]Conflicted about marriage. This crisis of trust, in turn, informs young adults’ conflicted thinking about marriage. As Amber and I described in a previous post, their experiences of family fragmentation sharpen their desire to get and stay married, on the one hand, but on the other hand it also shakes their confidence in the durability of marriage. As a result, many young adults find themselves in tenuous cohabiting relationships, wanting to say “I do” eventually but too uncertain to do so now.

[…]The fixed love mindset. As Amber discussed here, the philosophy of love that young adults inherit from cultural scripts, like Hollywood chick flicks, works against their own aspirations for committed, permanent love. Instead of a “growth mindset” about love that focuses on working through possible differences, these stories about love transmit a “fixed mindset” that focuses on immediate and perpetual compatibility—the absence of which probably indicates that a couple is no longer meant for each other. Young adults with a fixed mindset about love tend to say things like “love is effortless,” or, as one separated spouse put it, “I love him, but I’m not in love with him. I love him as a friend, as the father, but I don’t feel that connection as I used to.”

[…]Extreme individualism. Despite the common challenges that confront working-class young adults, the idea that “my relationship is no one else’s business” prevents them from thinking about marriage and family life as a public issue that demands our common efforts.

For instance, Anthony knows first-hand the painful effects of divorce—his parents divorced when he was ten—and he speaks eloquently about how divorce imposed burdens on him and his other friends from divorced families. So what does he believe we can do about the rising number of children raised in fragmented families?

“I don’t think there’s a thing we can do about it,” Anthony told us. “And that’s kind of the American way—this is a free country, and free this and free that. But it’s your life, and not too many people care about other people’s lives. As long as it’s not theirs, they don’t care.” The result of that attitude, however, is loneliness and helplessness in the face of an urgent social problem.

One of the questions I sometimes discuss with my male friends is “what is the female equivalent of pornography”? It has to be something that teaches women to have unrealistic expectations of men. My answer is that it is this culture that praises irrationality, thrill-seeking, travel and emotionalism over planning, morality and hard work.  Many women today seem to really believe that men are there to provide them with fun, thrills and dreams, instead of with long-term achievements that take planning, sacrifice, problem-solving and hard work. The mommy-porn novels that so many women find attractive just feeds these marriage-destroying delusions. There is even a Christian version of the emotional craziness where women are urged to follow their hearts, and somehow, God will make their bad choices and risky plans work out.

As the story above from my friend shows, mommy porn is also an affair-creator and a marriage-killer. About 70% of divorces are initiated by women, and lesbian couples have the highest rates of relationship breakdown. Feministy women need to be taught (hopefully by their fathers) that entering into a relationship means an opportunity to commit to serve the other person self-sacrificially in order to build something that lasts – it’s not about getting your own way and feeling good. Many women today seem to enjoy choosing the wrong men in their teens and 20s, and then when the right man comes along later, they want to back away from the demands of a serious relationship with him and go on their merry way.

This is why I tell everyone to stay away from premarital sex and cohabitation – it has a huge impact on a person’s willingness to commit. Many women today seem to think that they can choose any man based on superficial criteria (he is fun and handsome and funny) and then make him commit by giving him sex. WRONG. You have to choose the right man by carefully evaluating him for marriage-related responsibilities. A man who can do husband tasks, (e.g. – providing, loving over the long-term, teaching others to defend their faith), is a man who is capable of marriage commitment. The experience of investing in the wrong men and then failing ruins a woman’s ability to trust and commit. They mentally and emotionally check out of subsequent relationships and start looking for excuses to get away from commitment. It creates an attitude of wanting to sabotage the relationship. They focus on scanning for the exits instead of on investing, communicating and problem solving.

UPDATE: The friend who wrote me had this in response to the post:

I carried her physically after her surgery, disciplined her children effectively, managed academics (got one through high school who wouldn’t have made it without me), was at her side for weeks praying for her son who nearly died in an accident, supported her in her accounting career and her writing, served all of her physical needs (yeah, THAT way!), sacrificed rural life and property for the castle she wanted . . .

You get the idea. None of it mattered. What mattered in the end was her chasing a dream.

I’m left with the castle I don’t want or need, and kids I love have been spirited off to a new life.

Sad.

New study: amicable divorce just as damaging for children as hostile divorce

The UK Daily Mail reports on a new study on the effects of divorce.

Excerpt:

Divorcing parents who try to maintain an amicable relationship for the sake of their children are doing nothing to help them, a major study suggests.

The impact of the split on youngsters is the same whether or not the mother and father keep cordial links, it found.

[…]The new study, the first in 20 years to examine how the behaviour of separated parents affects their children, was carried out by US academics.

It covered 270 parents who were divorced or separated between 1998 and 2004 in an unnamed US state that compels divorcees to take part in an education programme on ‘co-operative co-parenting’.

Of these, 31 per cent considered their relationship with their ex-spouse as ‘co-operative and involved’; 45 per cent were ‘moderately engaged’ with their divorced partner, with some conflict between them; and 24 per cent said their co-operation was ‘infrequent but conflictual’.

They were asked to say how their break-up had affected the youngest child in their family. The average age of children involved was eight years.

The study, published in the academic journal Family Relations, said that children of divorced parents are more likely than others to suffer ‘external’ symptoms such as behaviour problems or drug abuse, more likely to have ‘internal’ difficulties like anxiety or depression, and more likely to do badly at school.

But the researchers, headed by Dr Jonathon Beckmeyer of Indiana University, found that these children’s problems were no worse if their parents continued to row and bicker with each other after the divorce.

The study said ‘despite the expectation that children fare better’ if their divorced parents develop a co-operative relationship, the behaviour of children as assessed by their parents ‘did not significantly differ’ between the friendly and the fighting groups of divorcees.

So the take-home lesson is this: there is no such thing as a divorce that doesn’t hurt the children. If you’re thinking of divorce and you have children, just don’t do it. And if you are thinking of marriage, then be careful who you marry. Don’t cloud the judgment with premarital sex before you get to know the person and get the commitment.