Tuesday, July 7, 2015

The only true threat to the "Institution" of Marriage.....Divorce

From Ronald Balmer, writing an OpEd in the L.A. Times:
Evangelicals like to present their position as biblical and therefore immutable. They want us to believe that they have never before adjusted to shifting public sentiments on sexuality and marriage. That is not so. 
Divorce — and especially divorce and remarriage — was once such an issue, an issue about which evangelicals would brook no compromise. But evangelicals eventually reconfigured their preaching and adapted just fine to changing historical circumstances.
When I was growing up within the evangelical subculture in the 1960s, divorce was roundly condemned by evangelicals. Jesus, after all, was pretty clear on the issue. "And I say to you," he told the Pharisees, "whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced commits adultery." 
Anyone who was divorced was ostracized in evangelical circles. In some congregations, membership was rescinded, and at the very least the divorcee felt marginalized. Any evangelical leader who divorced his spouse could expect to look for a different job.
Although evangelical attitudes changed incrementally over many years, it's possible to identify the real turning point with a fair amount of accuracy: 1980. 
Not long ago I surveyed the pages of Christianity Today, the flagship magazine of evangelicalism and a bellwether of evangelical sentiments. Condemnations of divorce, which had been a regular feature in the 1970s, ceased almost entirely after 1980. 
More telling, the "family values" movement, which took off in 1980, largely ignored this once crucial subject. Jerry Falwell and other conservative preachers attacked abortion, feminism and homosexuality, but they rarely mentioned divorce. 
What happened? In a word (or two words): Ronald Reagan. When leaders of the religious right decided to embrace Reagan as their political messiah, they had to swallow hard.
More here

He makes a good point, not only does same-sex marriage NOT harm marriage [or procreation] writ large, but the actual threat to the union of two committed and consenting citizens....has become commonplace, whereas once.....it was as reviled as is the current drama.


  1. The Catholic Church (and Eastern Orthodox, I think) stands alone on the original view of divorce.

  2. Their American practitioners aren't much better about it, Silver.

    Divorce rates shot up in the 70's, hit a plateau and have been there since the 80's. There are a variety of reasons for this, cultural, economic, political. You should read this: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/08/fashion/weddings/falling-marriage-rates-reveal-economic-fault-lines.html?_r=0


  3. Jersey,

    The cause-effect debate (does poverty cause less marriage, or does less marriage cause more poverty) is an interesting one.

    I've already stated my thesis:

    Modernity and Religion: An Inverse Correlation?

    No doubt, society is abandoning Biblical principles and eschewing religions teachings at an alarming rate. I lament this, while acknowledging that Ethics and Morals can stem from other founts besides religious ones.

    But I'm way off-track. I agree with CI that heteros have done way more damage to the institution of marriage than gays have.

  4. I think modernity does play into it, but class and economics certainly play a part as well. If anything, there is marriage and more stable marriage among the more educated, better income, more "modern" folks, while the very folks who claim to be the most religious (in the Red South), have higher divorce rates and other social ills. I think the effects of modernity are on balance benign (women aren't as dependent on men and the society is less uptight and misogynistic), so all modernity did was make women freer, and that's a good thing. But when education, income, an police state are the causes, it doesn't seem very benign.



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