Ethics News

News: Divorce & Remarriage


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Vatican: Sex after divorce a sin (CNN, 970225)

Ireland permits divorce for first time since 1921 (970227)

U.S. Catholics differ over flood of annulments (970707)

Study finds college texts give marriage a bad rap (Washington Times, 970923)

This is from Americans for Divorce Reform: (970701)

Create a Community Marriage Policy (970701)

Welsh church looks at marrying divorcees (London Times, 980223)

Decline of traditional American family slows in 90’s (CNN, 980528)

No-divorce legislation: Easy to like, hard to sell (Washington Times, 010320)

How Is Marriage Doing? (FN, 040517)

Divorce Data in Canada, 2002 (Department of Justice, 040500)

Evangelicals say Charles and Camilla should have opportunity to repent (ekklesia, 050210)

Repeat Divorces (Toronto Globe & Mail, 050310)

DIVORCE WARS: What’s really behind America’s epidemic of family breakdown? (WorldNetDaily, 050316)

The divorce-threatens-marriage lie (, 050412)

All you need is love (and a prenup) (, 050630)

Pentecostal Denomination No Longer Deems Remarriage as Adultery (Christian Post, 060901)

Christian Divorce Trends Fuel Debates (Christian Post, 071128)

Child Abuse Worsens as Families Change (, 071128)

Survey: 70% of Americans Find Divorce ‘Morally Acceptable’ (Christian Post, 080519)

The Divorce Generation (BreakPoint, 080512)





Vatican: Sex after divorce a sin (CNN, 970225)


VATICAN CITY (AP) — Divorced Catholics who remarry should be urged to stop living in a “state of sin” — meaning no sex in the new relationship, the Vatican said Tuesday in issuing guidelines on the subject for priests.


Priests also should counsel those who have not remarried to remain faithful to their original vows and not enter into other unions, according to the guidelines, issued by the Pontifical Council on the Family.


The council released its recommendations after a meeting last month devoted to divorced but remarried Catholics.


It told priests to show compassion for Catholics whose marriages have failed, and noted that Pope John Paul II has said the divorced who remarry still belong to the church.


But the church “must not express any sign, public or private, that could appear to be a legitimization of the new union,” the document said.


Priests should invite such couples “to recognize their irregular situation, which involves a state of sin, and ask God for the grace of a true conversion.” Vatican officials said that means couples should abstain from sex.




Ireland permits divorce for first time since 1921 (970227)


DUBLIN, Ireland (AP) — Divorce became officially permissible in the predominantly Roman Catholic Irish Republic on Thursday for the first time since the state gained independence from Britain in 1921.


But lawyers predicted no immediate rush by couples to end marriages as provisions of the constitutional amendment permitting divorce and remarriage after four years separation came into force.


“Many have decided not to bother for the time being,” family lawyer Ni Chuluchain was quoted as saying by The Guardian newspaper, which is published in London but is also sold in Ireland.


She predicted the estimated 90,000 separated couples in this nation of 3.5 million people might all file for divorce within the next 12 months but was surprised how few had come forward so far.


She said one reason could be the complicated procedure. It involves assembling a mass of information about finances, pension rights and other details and the completion of 10 separate legal certificates before even the date for a court hearing can be set.


“In England you can almost do it (get divorced) by post but here,” the paper quoted her as saying, “there was a strong feeling that it shouldn’t be made quick or easy.”


“I certainly don’t expect to see thousands of people queuing up to fill in the forms today,” she added.


No fault, just separation


The constitutional amendment allows divorce if the couple have been separated for four of the previous five years, and if there is “no reasonable prospect of a reconciliation.” It is not necessary to find either party at fault.


Divorce had been difficult but possible during the period of British rule — but not since independence in 1921, owing to the opposition of the Roman Catholic church, the faith in which 92% of the country’s people were baptized.


Pledging a Catholic state for a Catholic people, Irish leaders enshrined the ban on divorce in Article 41 of the 1937 constitution. Some Irish citizens obtained divorces in other countries, such as Britain and the United States, but in general they were not recognized at home.


The 1995 referendum to amend this provision of the constitution was narrowly approved by 50.23% of the voters — a 9,118-ballot margin out of more than 1.6 million cast.


The divorce issue was finally settled last summer when the Supreme Court unanimously ruled against a lawsuit filed by anti-divorce activists.




U.S. Catholics differ over flood of annulments (970707)


NEW YORK (CNN) —After receiving a civil divorce, Anne Barbasso was granted a Catholic annulment of her 11-year marriage.


By reexamining her marriage, she discovered things about herself. “It was a catharsis,” she says. “I do have strength. I am empowered, and I didn’t learn that from divorce. I learned that from my annulment.”


With an annulment, a divorced Catholic is allowed to remarry in the church and participate in the Sacraments, such as Communion and Confession.


In 1968 only 338 annulments were granted in the United States. Today, the U.S. church approves more than 50,000 every year.


“An annulment is, essentially, a conclusion based upon evidence that (what) would appear to have been a solid and binding marriage was, in fact, not,” said Monsignor Edward Scharfenberger, judicial vicar of the Dioceses of New York.


But while it’s a process that allows thousands of divorced Catholics to participate, it is pushing away many others who believe it is hypocritical.


“I was married for 17 years, I had four children. I was in no way going to deny the first marriage was not valid,” said Charles Davis of “Catholics Speak Out.”


The church says the children who remain in an annulled marriage are legitimate. Indeed, parents who have an annulment instead of a divorce “will be doing their children a potential service by helping them to see what in fact does constitute a true marriage and what does not,” Scharfenberger said.


The controversy was brought to the attention of the nation recently by Sheila Rauch Kennedy, who is appealing the annulment of her 12-year marriage to Democrat U.S. Rep. Joe Kennedy of Massachusetts.


“I find solace at these times that the Vatican has referred to annulment as a scandal and a gross violation of human rights,” she said.


U.S. churches grant 75% of all Catholic annulments around the world, a process that Pope John Paul II has characterized as “easy and hurried.”


“The problem is that unquestionably in Western society many marriages are not properly founded,” Scharfenberger said.


Some Church officials see the debate as an opportunity for Catholics to investigate not only what annulment means, but why so many marriages end in divorce.




Study finds college texts give marriage a bad rap (Washington Times, 970923)


Marriage is a relic with no place in a street-smart society, according to social science textbooks studied by today’s college students.


So says “Closed Hearts, Closed Minds,” a report released last week by the New York-based Institute for American Values. This nonpartisan group studied 20 college textbooks written in the last four years and offered some dire conclusions.


“These books repeatedly suggest that marriage is more a problem than a solution,” the report stated. “The potential costs of marriage to adults, particularly women, often receive exaggerated treatment, while the benefits of marriage, both to individuals and society, are frequently downplayed or ignored.”


The textbooks take a pessimistic view of marriage, emphasizing marital failures rather than the joys and benefits of traditional commitment and monogamy.


The books also offer an edited view for students, “both by what they say and sometimes even more importantly, by the information they omit.”


What they concentrate on, according to David Blakenthorn, president of the institute, is a 20-year-old value system.


“The textbooks,” he said, “seem to be stuck in the ‘70s’ world view that celebrates family diversity and sees the traditional family structure as suspicious.”


Of the 20 books studied, only one —”Public and Private Families” by Johns Hopkins professor Andrew Cherlin —got an A for its balanced views and scholarship The rest got lukewarm C’s, or worse.


One book graded C in the report, “Changing Families,” by Judy Root Aulette, is rife with anti-marriage rhetoric.


The author “devotes three of 14 chapters largely to marriage: ‘Battering and Marital Rape,’ ‘Divorce and Remarriage,’ and simply ‘Marriage,’ none of which contains a single mention of any beneficial consequences of marriage to individuals or society,” the report said.


Norval Glenn, a sociology professor at the University of Texas who wrote the report, also found that the many of the books overlooked the role of children in the family, hammering away instead at troubled relationships of the adult world.


But in the big picture, how much impact is a college textbook likely to have on its readers? Family experts differ.


Our society can “regain the culture of marriage” wrote Glenn Stanton in his new book “Why Marriage Matters,” by ensuring that “as many people as possible hear the message and understand how completely marriage matters.” Educational materials, Mr. Stanton wrote, definitely come into play here.


Margorie Engel, a Boston-based researcher who has written three books on families complicated by divorce and remarriage, believes a reality check is in order.


“My own research shows that current college students already have clear ideas about marriage,” she said. “They are looking for companionship, honesty, tolerance —much more of a partnership than previous generations had.


“But this is a generation which also questions what they see and read. They are not likely to take their college textbooks as the final reality in their lives.”




This is from Americans for Divorce Reform: (970701)


In the States there’s a growing movement for mandatory pre-marital counseling to be imposed not by the government, but by churches and synagogues (and one Mosque so far.) Clergy in 66 cities have formed cartels known as “Community Marriage Policies” so that couples who want a church wedding in their community can’t avoid it.


There are also state legislators and individual judges who want to impose mandatory counseling, but the people who actually provide such counseling have recently become cool to the idea because their own ideas of proper counseling are so different, when it comes to issues such as gender roles and homosexuality, that none of them would want the others’ product to be mandatory.




Create a Community Marriage Policy (970701)


Many Catholic churches have long required months of marriage preparation classes, but when a Catholic and Protestant couple plan a wedding, they sometimes marry in a Protestant church, where the pastor requires only one or two meetings with him. This is not in the best interests of the couple or the Catholic and Protestant congregations.


Therefore, when Harriet and I are asked to speak to local clergy groups, we urge that the clergy of all denominations agree on minimum standards if a couple wants to be married in a church or synagogue in that city. The first city to take this step was Modesto, Calif., where 95 pastors signed a covenant in 1986 “to radically reduce the divorce rate among those married in area churches.”


They required four months of marriage prep classes, the taking of a premarital inventory, meeting with a mentor couple, studying relevant Scripture, and attending an engagement seminar.


Churches in Peoria, Ill., adopted a similar policy in 1991 for young couples, but also agreed to call for strengthening existing marriages by encouraging couples to attend a Marriage Encounter or similar weekend retreat.


The result? Peoria’s divorces dropped from 1,210 in 1991 to 947 in 1992, and have remained one-fifth below the former rate. In Modesto, the population has grown 39% over the past decade, yet the number of divorces fell 16%. Modesto is now saving more than 1,000 marriages a year!


That’s why Harriet and I travel all over the country encouraging church pastors to adopt what some are calling Community Marriage Covenants. When I was in Colorado Springs earlier this year, I noted that the city was home to Focus on the Family, 70 different Christian ministries and more than 400 churches. Yet El Paso County (in which Colorado Springs is located) has the highest divorce rate along the Colorado Front Range.


There’s no excuse for this! That’s why we’re urging pastors and ministers to transform our divorce culture into a marriage culture. To date, 43 cities have adopted a Community Marriage Policy, but we need 443 to make a big dent in the divorce rate.




Welsh church looks at marrying divorcees (London Times, 980223)


THE Anglican Church in Wales is to change its law to allow divorcees to remarry in church. The change could pave the way for the Church of England to follow suit.


The Church in Wales will set a lead when bishops propose the change at the meeting of its ruling body in Dyfed in April. The Church in Wales is expected to approve the change when its governing body meets at the University of Wales in Lampeter.


This will give clergy the freedom to marry divorced couples in church. Although the change will take longer to process in the Church of England, it is being considered by a working party set up by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr George Carey. The working group, which will agree recommendations to take to the bishops and from there to the General Synod, is watching “with great interest” the deliberations in Wales.


The status of the Prince of Wales is not a factor in the considerations. The bishops and theologians in Wales and England are more concerned about the thousands of church members whose marriages collapse for reasons beyond their control but who are subsequently denied a fresh start with a Christian remarriage.


At present the position of both Anglican churches is that marriage is for life, although only in the Church of England is it laid down in canon law that second marriages for divorcees should not take place in church.


A 1957 Act of Convocation states that the Church should not allow the use of the marriage service “in the case of anyone who has a former partner still living”.


Many clergy get around that by offering a service of blessing after a civic ceremony. And although clergy under secular law are entitled to marry divorcees in church, they will usually seek the guidance of their bishop.


Most bishops feel obliged publicly to follow the official line when advising clergy, although privately many disagree. The fate of many couples regarding whether they can marry in church often can depend solely on where they happen to live and the views of their priest or bishop. The Church of England allows clergy to remarry and permits the ordination of divorcees in some circumstances.


A senior source in the Church in Wales indicated that the Welsh bishops were ready to press ahead with change. The last time the issue came up before the Welsh governing body, it suffered a surprise defeat by two votes.


This will not force clergy to remarry divorcees against their wishes or their conscience, but will for the first time give them the freedom to use their own discretion.




Decline of traditional American family slows in 90’s (CNN, 980528)


WASHINGTON (CNN) —The traditional American family —father, mother and children —has slowly come to represent a minority of families.


But figures released Thursday by the Census Bureau seem to indicate that the trend of the shrinking, fragmented American family that began in the 1950’s has slowed in the 1990’s.


“The perceived decline in the American family is vanishing and the ‘90s represents a stabilization period,” Census Bureau population analyst Ken Bryson said Wednesday, commenting on the new figures.


Married couples with children under 18 fell from about 50% to 37% of all families between 1970 and 1990. It dropped only 1%age point more from 1990 to 1997, he said.


Overall, 35.7% of all families in 1997 consisted of married couples with children under age 18. The last time they constituted a real majority of families was 1967, with 50.1%. The 1970 figure was 49.5%.


“There are still little changes, but the big story is that the amazing rates of change that we have seen in the past have started to slow down,” added the Census Bureau’s Lynne Casper.


“I think it’s a very good thing that we’re seeing a stabilization of families,” she said. “When you look at TV and see all the special interest groups interested in family values, that points to the fact that people are concerned.”


“The percentage of single-parent families doubled between 1970 and 1990, from 6% to 12% of all families,” she said. Since 1990 it has increased less than two percentage points.


“You can point to a stabilization of divorce rates since the late 1980s or so,” Casper said. Divorce was fueling part of the increase in single-parent families, she said, noting that the divorce rate per 1,000 people was 4.1 in 1995, down from 4.7 in 1990 and 5.0 in 1985.


Births to single women continue to increase


On the other hand, she noted that births to single women have continued to increase. Some 32.6% of births in 1994 were to single mothers, up from 26.6% in 1990.


Other trends suggested that social change is still a force to be reckoned with. In mother-child family groups in 1997, for example, 41% of the mothers had never married, compared with 33% in 1990.


The proportion of single fathers also increased, to 17% of single parents from 14% in 1990, it said.


As in past years, single-parent family groups were much more common among blacks and people of Hispanic origin.


One-parent families accounted for 64.4% of black families with young children, compared with 26.3% among whites and 36.1% among Hispanics.


But one surprising result was an increase in the number of adult sons and daughters living with their parents. In 1997, nearly 22 million did this, against 15 million in 1970. “The increasing age at first marriage means that fewer young adults in the 1990s are setting up their own households,” the commentary said.




No-divorce legislation: Easy to like, hard to sell (Washington Times, 010320)


NEW YORK — Across America, it is easy to find politicians and civic leaders decrying the prevalence and social cost of divorce. It is far harder to find consensus about what, if anything, policy-makers should do in response.


An array of proposals has reached legislative hearing rooms; few of substance have been enacted.


No state has followed Florida’s example in requiring a marriage-education curriculum for public high school students. Only one state, Arizona, has joined pioneering Louisiana in approving covenant marriages, in which couples voluntarily impose limits on their ability to divorce.


Despite the setbacks, including rebuffs of covenant-marriage bills in more than 20 legislatures, supporters of the so-called “Marriage Movement” are encouraged.


“At least marriage is back on the agenda,” said Alan Hawkins, a professor of family sciences at Brigham Young University. “I find that amazing.”


Mr. Hawkins supports covenant marriage and several other proposals created to discourage divorce, but he is not surprised at the wary reaction of many legislators.


“We’re treading on very sensitive ground,” he said. “We’re just surfacing from a generation of living in a culture of divorce, and questioning whether it was everything we hoped it would be. It’s a bigger step from questioning, and realizing there are real problems, to saying we ought to do something about the problems.”


Different tactics to curb divorce have been tried in other states, often unsuccessfully. In Minnesota, Gov. Jesse Ventura vetoed a bill last year that would have lowered marriage-license fees for couples who seek counseling before tying the knot.


“I do not believe that government has a role in marriage counseling,” Mr. Ventura said.


Last year in Wisconsin, a federal judge struck down a new state law that earmarked $210,000 in welfare money to help members of the clergy encourage mentoring of younger couples by long-married couples. The judge said the law unconstitutionally favored ministers over lay people such as judges or justices of the peace.


In Florida, lawmakers did reach consensus in 1998 on a first-of-its-kind bill that promotes premarital counseling and requires relationship skills to be taught in high school.


Former state Rep. Elaine Bloom of Miami, who sponsored the bill, believes other states will take similar steps. However, she said any curriculum on the topic is likely to be attacked from both the left and right as a government intrusion into family matters.


She said she persevered because of the heartbreak that can accompany family breakups.


“The most poignant statements I heard were from fathers who said, ‘If I had known before I started the divorce process how difficult it would be to see my kids, I would have made a better attempt to be a good husband and father.’ “


Oklahoma has been the most aggressive state in combating divorce, pursuing a multipronged $10 million initiative under the leadership of Gov. Frank Keating. He wants to cut the state’s divorce rate — one of the nation’s highest —by a third within a decade.


Last month, more than 200 Oklahoma religious leaders agreed that they would request engaged couples in their institutions to go through a four- to six-month marital-preparation period.




How Is Marriage Doing? (FN, 040517)


Barring a last-minute court order, Massachusetts on Monday will become the nation’s first state where same-sex marriage is legal. It’s the latest twist in the evolution of an institution that has seen many changes in the last 30 years.


More people are getting divorced, more kids are living with single parents and more grandparents are playing a mother or father role for their grandkids. Following are statistics and facts about marriage that use the most recent available data.




— Fifty percent of first marriages will end in divorce, according to the latest U.S. Census Bureau projections, taken in 2002.


— Men and women have slightly different track records with divorce. As of 1995, about 50% of first marriages for men under age 45 may end in divorce; between 44 and 52% of women’s first marriages may end in divorce for that age group.


— The likelihood of a divorce is lowest for men and women over age 60. Thirty-six percent of men and 32% of women in that age group may get divorced from their first spouse by the end of their lives.


— As many as 50% of people in their early forties may be divorced from their first spouse.


— Within five years of marriage, about 10% of first-time married couples will likely divorce.


— In 1970, the median age for a first marriage was 21 for women and 23 for men. By 2000, that number had risen to 25 for women and 27 for men.


— The proportion of never-married women ages 20 to 24 doubled between 1970 and 2000, increasing from 36% to 73%. Among men this age, the share rose from 55% to 84%. Women ages 30-34 who were never married tripled during that time, from 6% to 22%. Men this age who never married grew from 9% to 30%.


— By the age 35, about 74% of men and women have been married; by age 65, 95% have been.


— Marriage is the model type of living arrangement for people aged 25-34. In 2000, 50% of men and 57% of women this age were married and living with their spouse




— Seven in 10 of the nation’s 72.3 million children under 18 lived with two parents in 2002.


— Children under 15 represented 84% of the 49.7 million kids under 18 living with two parents in 2002. Of these, about 11 million lived with stay-at-home moms and 189,999 with stay-at-home dads.


— Three in 10 children under 18 were living with their single father and their dad’s unmarried partner in 2002; only 1 in 10 kids who lived with their single mother shared the home with the mom’s unmarried partner. In 1996, about 5% of all children lived with unmarried parents and their parent’s partner.


— Two-fifths of unmarried couple households included children under 18 years old in 2000.


— In 1980, 77% of all children under 18 lived with two parents; 73% did in 1990 and 69% did by 2000.


— By 2000, about 5% of the nation’s children — 4 million — were living in a grandparent’s home; only 14% of that number had both a mother and father living with them.




Divorce Data in Canada, 2002 (Department of Justice, 040500)


Divorce Statistics


Fewer Canadians are divorcing, and they are doing so at later ages, similar to findings in the marriage data. The age at which people divorce has steadily been increasing over the past 17 years, to an average of 43.1 years for men, and 40.5 years for women.


Despite a slight decline in the number of divorces (1.4%) in 2002, and a sharper decline in the number of marriages as of 2001 (6.8%), the divorce rate (the proportion of marriages likely to end by the 30th anniversary) itself has remained fairly constant at 38%.


The decreases in the number of divorces occurred despite increases in population. This means that the crude divorce rate fell 3.2% between 2000 and 2002. For every 100,000 people, there were 223.7 divorces in 2002, compared to 231.2 just two years earlier.


Custody of Children


Custody of children was granted through court proceedings in 28% of the 2002 divorces. In the remaining divorces, couples either did not have children or they arrived at custody arrangements outside the divorce proceeding. Of the 35,000 children for whom custody was determined through a divorce


proceeding, 49.5% was awarded to the wife (contrasted with the high of 75.8% in 1988). Custody was awarded to the husband for 8.5% of children, (also contrasted with 15% high in 1986).   Custody of 41.8% of children was awarded to the husband and the wife jointly, continuing a 16-year trend in increases.


In total, there were 43,107 children included as part of the their parents’ divorce in 2002, whether part of a custody order or not. Determination of custody in the divorce proceeding does not describe the residential situation of the dependents involved.




Evangelicals say Charles and Camilla should have opportunity to repent (ekklesia, 050210)


As Church denominations and groups issued statements of congratulations today on the news of the Prince of Wales’s engagement to Mrs Camilla Parker-Bowles, the body representing one million Evangelicals in the UK suggested that the royal couple should have the opportunity in their implending service of blessing to express repentance and remorse.


Pointing to “their documented adultery” the Evangelical Alliance welcomed the ‘formalising’ of Prince Charles’ and Mrs Parker Bowles’ relationship and suggested that the impending marriage represented “a serious move to put their relationship on a more moral footing.”


Joel Edwards, General Director of the Evangelical Alliance also suggested that the blessing service should “offer clear opportunities for expressing remorse for past wrongs and repentance for hurts caused in both their previous marriages.”


The Alliance said that the couple’s previous divorces and adultery as well as “the nature of their extra-marital relationship up to this point” presented difficulties for many Christians, with respect to Charles’ suitability to govern the Church of England should he become king.


The organisation said it hoped Charles and Camilla would “take their church commitments and responsibilities seriously” in their married life.


The Evangelical statement was a marked contrast to those put out by other church bodies.


In a statement from Lambeth Palace, The Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams said; “I am pleased that Prince Charles and Mrs Camilla Parker-Bowles have decided to take this important step. I hope and pray that it will prove a source of comfort and strength to them and to those who are closest to them.”


In a similar two line comment, the Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor said; “The Royal Family, with their unique role in our national life, are always assured of the goodwill and prayers of the Catholic community. I know that Catholics will join with me at this time in praying for the Prince of Wales and Mrs Parker-Bowles and in wishing them every happiness.”


The Revd Sheila Maxey, Moderator of the General Assembly of the United Reformed Church was similarly brief, and focused on forgiveness, love and hope.


“In the midst of lives which often have more than their share of tragedy and failure, God continues to offer us the possibility of forgiveness, love and renewed hope” she said.


“That applies as much to princes as to the many thousands of divorced people who remarry in our churches every year. We pray God’s blessing on the Prince and Mrs Parker Bowles as they enter upon this new chapter in their lives.”


The Free Churches Group also welcomed the announcement offering its “good wishes” to the couple.


The Revd David Coffey, Moderator of the Free Churches Group and General Secretary of the Baptist Union of Great Britain said; “Our prayer is that in this step of making marriage promises Prince Charles and Mrs Parker-Bowles will be able to deepen their love and commitment to one another and find the opportunity for a new beginning. We have valued the charitable work that the Prince has undertaken in the past, particularly through the Princes’ Trust, and we hope that the Prince of Wales and Mrs Parker-Bowles will continue to find such opportunities to serve the public together.”




Repeat Divorces (Toronto Globe & Mail, 050310)


Sue Burtt thought her second marriage was for life. But in September, her husband of 23 years “left with no warning.” Now 57, she is alone again.


The breakup has been devastating. She is financially strapped, her health has suffered and she faces slim pickings among single men her age.


Ms. Burtt’s experience is similar to that of an increasing number of Canadians who are loving and losing. Statistics Canada data released yesterday found that repeat divorces are on the rise, and have tripled during the past three decades.


“People don’t want to work at anything; they’re so dissatisfied with everything,” said Ms. Burtt, a Toronto administrator who is legally separated and facing the possibility of another divorce.


“I think they just keep moving on, and it’s just like they’re discarding people like Kleenexes.”


In 2003, 16.2 per cent of divorces involved men who had previously been divorced. That’s up from 5.4 per cent in 1973. In the same year, 15.7 per cent of marital breakdowns involved women who had divorced before, up from 5.4 per cent in 1973.


A total of 11,467 men and 11,098 women who had previously been divorced got divorced again in 2003; the numbers three decades earlier were 1,973 men and 1,997 women.


“We are . . . a very individualistic society, and we value choice, we value romance, and we’ve become much less tolerant of anything that goes wrong,” said Anne-Marie Ambert, a York University professor and one of Canada’s foremost specialists on marriage and divorce.


“We are less willing to work at relationships. It’s much easier to break up a marriage than it used to be in the past.”


Indeed, experts say factors contributing to the trend include the higher number of Canadian adults who were children of divorce, the increased acceptability of matrimonial failure, relaxed divorce laws in the 1980s and a general disinclination to work through problems.


As well, contrary to popular opinion, people who cohabit and then marry are more likely to divorce.


Robert Glossop, executive director of programs for the Vanier Institute of the Family, noted that many Canadians have adjusted “to what people would call the culture of divorce, having lived through the experience once.”


Mr. Glossop said those who marry after a divorce are at higher risk for further marriage breakdown than people who say “I do” just once.


And he noted that the figures on multiple divorces — splits by those who have been divorced at least once before — do not capture the entire picture of conjugal breakup, given that more people cohabit outside marriage.


Meanwhile, Statscan said 70,828 couples got divorced in 2003, up almost 1 per cent from the 2002 figure of 70,155. (The number of marriages also increased in 2003, although it remains significantly less than in previous years.)


Prince Edward Island had the largest increase, at 8.9 per cent, followed by Ontario, Saskatchewan and Quebec.


The number of divorces in Nunavut and Newfoundland plummeted, by 33.3 per cent and 21.4 per cent, respectively.


The remaining jurisdictions also experienced decreases.


Despite the small national increase in divorces, the number of Canadians whose marriages fail has been relatively stable in recent years.


Year-to-year change in the divorce rate has been at less than 2 per cent since 1999.


The divorce rate was 38.3 per cent in 2003, the last year for which statistics are available. (The term refers to the proportion of couples who are expected to break up by their 30th wedding anniversary.)


The figure reached a high of 50.6 per cent in 1987, after reforms to divorce laws were enacted.


The initial few years of marriage are clearly the most difficult, with divorce rates rising briskly.


The 2003 peak divorce rate occurred after three years of marriage, and the risk of breakup slowly slipped for each additional year of matrimony.


Repeat divorces


StatsCan reports that although the general number of divorces remains stable, a 30-year look at divorce rates among previous divorcees shows an increase.


Males and females who have been divorced more than once:




1973: 5.4%


2003: 16.2%




1973: 5.4%


2003: 15.7%




DIVORCE WARS: What’s really behind America’s epidemic of family breakdown? (WorldNetDaily, 050316)


Of all the problems America faces today – terrorism, crime, illegal immigration, out-of-control government and more – no problem is as serious, or as misunderstood, as the nation’s disastrously high rate of divorce and family breakdown.


The March edition of WND’s acclaimed monthly Whistleblower magazine – titled “DIVORCE WARS: What’s really behind America’s epidemic of family breakdown?” – is devoted, cover-to-cover, to a stunning journalistic exploration of marriage and divorce.


Whereas 40 years ago divorce was rare and families essentially remained intact, today divorce is almost expected, with one out of every two marriages disintegrating before our eyes. For Christians, the numbers are no better.


In this issue, Whistleblower delves into the world of divorce and shows with clarity and compassion exactly how and why America has become a land of broken families and hurt children.


From radical feminism to no-fault divorce laws, from the “sexual revolution” of the ‘60s to today’s drive for same-sex marriage, this issue of Whistleblower ties together all of the factors that have caused the disintegration of the American family, and most importantly, points to real solutions – both practical and inspiring.


“As tough a subject as divorce is, this issue of Whistleblower also offers great hope,” said WND Managing Editor David Kupelian, “because when you really understand the problem clearly, answers become clear too.”


Highlights of “DIVORCE WARS” include:


* “Divorce, American-style,” a spine-straightening introduction to divorce by Joseph Farah.


* “Whatever happened to marriage?” in which Farah explores how divorce promises freedom and a new start, but delivers unhappiness.


* “Ending the divorce epidemic” by David Kupelian, a sweeping and insightful overview of marriage, chronicling how America unwittingly destroyed the institution of marriage – and is now struggling desperately to reclaim it.


* “10-minute divorce: No-fault hits China,” documenting how the world’s most populous nation has made divorce so easy couples can get married in the morning and get divorced the same afternoon.


* “Reformers work to transform divorce laws” by Art Moore, documenting how “Covenant-marriage” and other approaches to preserving, rather than destroying, marriage are already working in several states.


* “Son of divorce” by Bob Just, a gripping and personal journey of discovery and healing for children of divorced parents.


* “Divorce as revolution” by Stephen Baskerville, Ph.D., a jaw-dropping look at how the explosion of broken homes is actually promoted by power-hungry government.


* “Looking for love” by Dr. Laura Schlessinger, in which the radio counselor and clinical psychologist gives an earful of advice to women on how to treat their husbands.


* “When women marry, Democrats lose” by Dennis Prager, who reveals the amazing fact that “the more people marry, and especially the more they have children after they marry, the more likely they are to hold conservative values and vote Republican.”


* “America in 2054” by Eagle Scout and columnist Hans Zeiger. This college student ends our issue on a hopeful note, explaining that his “optimism is staked on the hope that young people are seeing the dangers we face and will spend our lives putting America back on the right track.”


“‘DIVORCE WARS’ is powerful,” said Farah. “It may very well help people save their marriages. It will help those who have divorced understand what went wrong and why. And for children of divorce, it will provide insight, comfort and inspiration.”




The divorce-threatens-marriage lie (, 050412)


Dennis Prager


One of the most frequently offered arguments by proponents of same-sex marriage is that it is not gays wanting to marry a member of the same sex that threatens the institution of marriage, it is the high divorce rate among heterosexuals.


One reason this argument is so often made is that it appeals to the religious as well as the secular, to conservatives as well as liberals.


This is too bad, because the argument is a meaningless non sequitur.


First, while divorce ends a given marriage, it does not threaten marriage as an institution. Of course, many marriages fail and end in divorce — while some other marriages fail and do not end in divorce — but why does this threaten marriage as an institution?


To understand the foolishness of the argument “divorce threatens marriage,” let’s apply this principle to other areas of life. Let’s begin with parenthood. It is undeniable that vast numbers of people fail — and have always failed — as parents.


Yet, no one argues that the many parents who fail to raise good children threaten the institution of parenthood. Why, then, do marriages that fail threaten the institution of marriage?


Likewise, few people are calling for the redefinition of parenthood because parents so often fail to raise good children. Why, then, redefine marriage because many marriages fail?


When we think of parents failing, we think of ways to improve parenting, and we discourage people from becoming parents before they are ready. Why, then, don’t we do the same regarding divorce — think of ways to improve marriages and discourage people from marrying before they are ready? Why must we radically redefine it? That redefinition is what threatens marriage.


There is a second reason the divorce-rate-threatens-marriage argument is disingenuous: If gays marry, they will divorce at least as often as heterosexuals do. That is why the divorce issue is entirely unrelated to the question of whether we should redefine marriage. The only reason the argument is even offered is because gullible people will buy it. The gullible include well-intentioned centrist Americans who think, “Hey, that’s a good point. Straights sure haven’t done such a great job with marriage; why not let gays have a crack at it?” And the gullible include well-intentioned religious Americans whose loathing of divorce overwhelms their critical thinking.


A third flaw in the argument is that it presupposes that every divorce constitutes a failure of a couple’s marriage. Sometimes this is true; sometimes it is not. I know a couple married for 30 years who made a beautiful home for their three now-married children. The couple divorced last year because they had both concluded that they had drifted too far apart to continue living together in any meaningful way (one aspect of the drift was one partner’s increasing devotion to religion and the other’s decreasing interest in it).


Who has the hubris to call their marriage a failure? Their children surely don’t think their parents’ marriage was a failure. It produced three wonderful married adults, and it provided them a beautiful and loving home in which to grow up. One can only wish all marriages so “failed.”


It is simplistic to maintain that the one criterion of success or failure in marriage is permanence. There are marriages that provided years of comfort to a couple and a fine home to their children that eventually end; and there are permanent marriages that have provided neither comfort to the couple nor a loving environment for their children. If the end of something renders it a failure, every one of our lives is a failure, since they all come to an end.


Finally, marriage is threatened not by divorce, but by people not marrying in the first place — as is increasingly the case in the two European societies that have redefined marriage to include couples of the same sex. Our present high divorce rate is not stopping the vast majority of Americans from wanting to marry. Nor should it. Nothing provides the antidote to narcissism, or the environment for the healthy raising of children, or the way for people to take care of one another, as does the marriage of a man and a woman. And while most divorces are terribly sad, divorce itself no more undermines the institution of marriage than car crashes undermine the institution of driving. In fact, the vast majority of people who do divorce deeply wish to marry again; painful divorce has not undermined marriage even among those who have divorced.


There may be honest reasons to support the redefinition of marriage to include same-sex couples. The argument that heterosexuals divorce a lot is not one of them. It is, in fact, demagoguery.




All you need is love (and a prenup) (, 050630)


Chuck Colson


The picture in the Washingtonian magazine perfectly symbolized a nation with the highest divorce rate in the world. It featured a wedding cake with a bride and groom on top. Lurking behind them were two gloomy, dark-suited figures: two little lawyers, each one holding a copy of the prenuptial agreement.


“Love is all you need—unless the marriage ends in divorce,” wrote Washingtonian editor Kim Eisler. “Then a prenuptial agreement is the best defense.” He called the prenup “a divorce insurance policy.” Well, that’s probably true—but wouldn’t it be better for couples to have a marriage insurance policy?


This is the goal of my friend Mike McManus, founder of Marriage Savers. McManus points out that most marriages take place in churches. This means Christians can become a force for building stronger marriages, and thus help cut the divorce rate. Many churches try to meet the challenge by requiring long and demanding periods of prenuptial counseling. The problem is that many couples will say, “No, thanks,” and hold their wedding at the church down the street where there are no requirements.


To solve this problem, McManus has instituted Community Marriage Policies—uniform policies and rules that all the local churches adopt together. Catholic and Protestant, liberal and conservative, black and white clergy all band together to radically reduce the community’s divorce rate.


Typically, clergy agree to require engaged couples to undergo four months of marriage preparation including a premarital inventory to evaluate the maturity of the relationship. Community Marriage Policies are now in place in more than 186 cities, and the results have been phenomenal.


Last year the Institute for Research and Evaluation examined the impact of 114 Community Marriage Policies all of which were signed by the year 2000. The Institute compared counties that had these policies with similar counties in the same state that did not have them, taking into account the fact that divorce rates were generally declining. They found that divorce rates in cities or counties without a marriage policy fell by 9.4% over seven years. But divorce rates in cities or counties that did have a Community Marriage Policy fell by 17.5%—nearly twice the rate of communities without them. Dr. Stan Weed, president of the Institute, estimates that between 31,000 and 50,000 divorces were averted.


“Clearly,” says McManus, “we hold in our hands the answer to America’s divorce rate.” And he’s right.


The troubling question, however, is will the Church accept the challenge? Brad Wilcox, a sociology professor at the University of Virginia, writes that America’s houses of worship are “traditionally the most important custodians of marriage in the nation.” And yet, he concludes, they “have been unable and unwilling to foster the beliefs and virtues that make for a strong marriage culture.”


What an indictment of the Church—one that we must answer. A pastor who marries any couple that comes knocking needs to recognize his complicity in America’s divorce epidemic and the perceived need for all those lawyers waving prenups at the bride and groom.


I hope you’ll read Mike McManus’s book, Marriage Savers, and learn more about how your church can help couples build lasting marriages—and help heal America’s divorce epidemic.




Pentecostal Denomination No Longer Deems Remarriage as Adultery (Christian Post, 060901)


NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) – The Church of God of Prophecy has voted to reverse its position that people who remarry after a divorce are committing adultery.


The majority of the 8,000 gathered at the denomination’s general assembly in Nashville voted Sunday in favor of the new policy.


The denomination has long held that remarriage after divorce is a violation of biblical teachings, though that doctrine has made it difficult in recent years to attract new followers amid high divorce rates, according to church leaders.


Church pastors can now determine on a case-by-case basis the reasons for a divorce and whether a divorced person who remarries is in an adulterous relationship, said Shaun McKinley, spokesman for the Cleveland, Tenn.-based denomination, which has nearly 1 million members.


The new policy also affirms that marriage is sacred, encourages spouses in troubled marriages to reconcile and says the church does not recognize same-sex or polygamous marriages.


It also said that the church must recognize “some things are beyond human ability to repair and reconcile” and redefined the church’s definition of “fornication,” as mentioned in the Bible.


The definition previously included divorced people in subsequent marriages, but now the definition includes sex outside marriage, “sexual immorality,” homosexuality or bestiality.


The church, which already has female clergy, also voted to allow women to become church deacons.


The Church of God of Prophecy, a holiness Pentecostal Christian denomination, says it has a membership of 1 million.




Christian Divorce Trends Fuel Debates (Christian Post, 071128)


When life coach and televangelist Paula White went into her marriage 18 years ago, she thought she’d end her life with her husband, Randy. Divorce was not anything she ever wanted to happen, she recently said.


Now separated from Randy and continuing her own ministry, White has found herself in the midst of a wide debate as more evangelicals show acceptance of divorce.


“The fact is as many have been critical or judgmental [about the divorce] ... I’ve also found thousands that have reached out to me in a way that maybe they never did,” said White in a live interview Monday with CNN’s Larry King.


The famed pentecostal preacher’s divorce announcement in August compounded with the divorce case of another power couple – televangelist Juanita Bynum and Bishop Thomas Weeks III – that same week fueled discussions on whether Scripture allows the separation of marriage partners as both couples received support.


“I think conservative Christians are becoming more liberalized in the sense of, I guess, making more room for the acceptance of divorce and remarriage,” said Mark Galli, Christianity Today magazine’s managing editor, according to Religion News Service. “You’ll see a lot of churches that plunge right in and have divorce ministries. ... Marriage is a really difficult thing in our culture right now.”


The monthly magazine published last month a cover story titled “When to Separate What God has Joined: A Closer Reading on the Bible on Divorce” that stirred controversy particularly with conservative evangelicals.


In the article, British Evangelical scholar David Instone-Brewer wrote that God allows divorce and subsequent remarriage in cases of adultery, physical and emotional neglect, abuse and abandonment – a shift from the commonly held view that only adultery is a biblically justified reason for divorce. He later clarified that divorce is not allowed for just any emotional or physical neglect or other minor infractions but only on “serious and specific grounds.” In effect, divorce is allowed for adultery, abandonment or abuse, he stated.


Televangelist Bynum separated from her husband after alleging he assaulted her at an Atlanta hotel parking lot in August. The Whites did not give a clear reason for their divorce but insisted the separation was amicable.


Meanwhile, theological conservative John Piper called the widening grounds of legitimate divorce “tragic.”


Piper pointed out that Jesus’ standards for marriage were high and that he is “radical, not accommodating.” Alluding to the biblical meaning, Piper further explained that marriage displays the covenant-keeping faithfulness of Christ and his church and that Christ will never divorce his wife and take another.


“The world we live in needs to see a church that is so satisfied in Christ that its marriages are not abandoned for something as amorphous as ‘emotional neglect,’” he stated in his website


The world, however, is seeing a less faithful image.


Studies in recent years have shown that born-again Christians are just as likely to get divorced as non-Christians. According to The Barna Group’s 2004 survey, 35% of born again Christians have experienced divorce – a figure identical to that of married adults who are not born again.


The research group also reported that “relatively few divorced Christians experienced their divorce before accepting Christ as their savior.”


Both Paula White and Bynum continue to have a strong following even after their highly public divorces. White has out a new book, You’re All That!, and Bynum said she believes her experience may broaden her ability to reach people.


One pastor, however, isn’t convinced.


“[M]arriage is to be a picture of God’s relationship with His covenant people,” wrote Christopher Tillman in response to Instone-Brewer’s debate with Piper. “To allow for divorce in the life of a believer is to do serious damage to Gospel witness in one’s life.”


But in a culture where the divorce rate is increasing and Christians are struggling in their marriages, Tillman adds, “What needs to be communicated is not that rethinking marriage yields more ‘biblically’ lenient standards for divorce than have been traditionally held, but rather, that marriage is an institution to be treasured by us as Christians.”




Child Abuse Worsens as Families Change (, 071128)


By Michael Reagan


Child abuse is growing out of control here in America, and there’s a good reason why: the traditional family is coming apart at the seams.


According to reports made to state agencies, there were 900,000 incidents of child abuse in 2005 alone. These raw numbers give no clue just how much child abuse correlates with parents’ marital status or the make-up of the victim’s household, although these are vitally important factors in child abuse cases. The proof is in the news far too often.


Nothing is more important to child welfare than living within the bosom of a stable family, and nothing is more destructive to their well-being than being forced to live in a fatherless household where dad is replaced by the live-in boyfriend, or as is often the case, by a series of live-in boyfriends.


In almost all cases of horrific child abuse that is exactly the situation of the victim. Nobody is more at risk today than children living in fatherless homes where the mother’s boyfriend is sharing her bed while avoiding the commitment of marriage, or a new husband views her children as unwanted consequences of the new marriage.


You have young women who for one reason or another have not gotten the love of their child’s father, their former husband, who confuse sex with love, and give no thought to the consequences of bringing a man who has no emotional ties with their children into their homes and expect them to act as substitute dads.


In pursuit of maintaining their so-called relationship, many allow these men to beat their children, often as punishment for having disturbed the boyfriend in some way, such as crying or soiling their diapers.


It never occurs to them that in most cases the boyfriend views their child as an inconvenience to be put up with as a price for getting sex without commitment. Yet they do not hesitate to put their child in his care, especially if she is the breadwinner in the household while the often-jobless boyfriend stays home with their son or daughter and lives on her income.


We read about the deadly consequences children pay for being forced to live in these circumstances where they find themselves in a home where their real father is no longer present and a stranger is taking his place.


A tragic case in point involved two-year-old Riley Ann Sawyers whose body was found in Galveston Bay, in a plastic box, on Oct. 29. Riley’s mom and real dad were not married and had split up and gone their separate ways.


Her mother, 19-year-old Kimberly Dawn Trenor met Royce Clyde Zeigler II a couple of years ago while playing an online game, World of Warcraft, according to the Associated Press, which reports that she moved with her daughter from Ohio to Spring Texas and married Zeigler.


In a statement to police, first reported by Houston television station KTRK, Trenor said that she and Zeigler, 24, killed her daughter last July 24.


She said that the little girl was beaten with leather belts, had her head held underwater in a bathtub and then was thrown across a room, her head slamming into a tile floor, and added that they kept the body in a storage shed for one to two months before they put it in a plastic bin and dumped it into Galveston Bay.


Sadly, we read about this kind of outrage all the time. We are appalled that it happens but we are unwilling to look at the causes. Americans have said that they are willing to accept all these distortions of family life and they do not dare to define marriage as a lasting arrangement between a man and a woman. Nowadays, marriage is whatever aberration we say it is.


We don’t want to offend anybody, and while we are avoiding offending single mothers living with their current boyfriends, or men and women who treat their marriage vows as temporary arrangements without regard to the damaging effect divorce has on the kids, children are being beaten and children are dying.


And in the face of all of this, Massachusetts is worried about spanking.




Survey: 70% of Americans Find Divorce ‘Morally Acceptable’ (Christian Post, 080519)


An alarming 70% of Americans now believe that divorce is “morally acceptable,” according to a recent poll by Gallup’s 2008 Values and Beliefs survey.


The new figure – the highest on record – represents an 11% increase from just 7 years ago and a 3% increase from 2 years ago. Only 22% of Americans said they believed divorce was “morally wrong,” according to the results.


The acceptability of divorce among Americans was ranked higher than all of the other 16 ethical issues surveyed – including the death penalty, gambling, pre-marital sex, homosexuality, abortion and medical research on animals. Additionally, divorce has risen faster in moral acceptability among Americans than any of the other ethical issues.


Although the recent results revealed that the acceptability of divorce has risen steadily to the point where it is now “morally acceptable by a majority of nearly every major demographic category of Americans,” respondents who identified themselves as “conservative,” “religious,” or over 65 years in age were more likely to say that divorce was “morally wrong.”


Respondents who identified themselves as “liberals,” “independents,” and “non-religious,” on the other hand, registered the highest number of responses that said divorce was “morally acceptable.” Nearly 91% of those who said religion was “not very important” in their lives said divorce was “morally acceptable,” according to the results.


While the recent poll reveals a steady and alarming rise in the acceptability of divorce, more than 70% of Americans continued to rate suicide, cloning humans, polygamy, and “married men and women having an affair” as “morally unacceptable.”


The Gallup poll results were based on telephone surveys of over 1,000 adults.




The Divorce Generation (BreakPoint, 080512)


By Mark Earley


It is a common, oft-repeated statistic: One in two American marriages will end in divorce—even within the Church. It hangs over our nation like a dark cloud. But what is truly sobering is that an entire generation of Americans has grown up in a culture where statistically, divorce is every bit as normal as marriage itself.


Writing in a recent Newsweek article titled, “The Divorce Generation Grows Up,” David Jefferson tells the stories of the Grant High School class of 1982. “In our parents’ generation, marriage was still the most powerful social force,” he writes. “In ours, it was divorce. My 44-year-old classmates and I have watched divorce morph from something shocking, even shameful, into a routine fact of American life.”


Indeed, no-fault divorce laws have been in place for nearly 40 years—leaving broken lives scattered in its wake.


The statistics are depressing: Every year “1 million children watch their parents split apart, triple the number in the ‘50s.” They are twice as likely as their peers to divorce and more likely to experience mental-health problems. And children in single-parent homes, as we have seen at Prison Fellowship, are more likely to commit crimes.


Kids also take on emotional burdens they are not ready to carry. “I was a 15-year-old high-school freshman who was forced to become a crisis counselor,” says Jefferson’s friend Chris, “trying to keep [my dad] from completely breaking down.” Chris ended up “doing damage to himself, encasing his own emotions in a dispassionate shell,” writes Jefferson, affecting both his professional and personal life.


Many of Jefferson’s classmates later also got divorces; some avoided marriage altogether.


But others had a different reaction. “In many ways,” Jefferson writes, “the urge to stay married is stronger in my classmates’ generation than the urge to get divorced was in my parents’.” Understanding the pain of divorce may be driving younger people to keep their marriages whole.


Unfortunately, the only solace Jefferson could offer Newsweek readers was that their parents’ and their own divorces “were probably for the best,” and that maybe they could find “acceptance of our parents and their life choices.”


But as Kristine Steakley, author of the forthcoming book Child of Divorce, Child of God and a blogger at The Point, wrote recently, “God offers us a better comfort. He doesn’t give us acceptance; He gives us redemption. . . . His comfort does not say, ‘Well, that’s just the way things are; better get used to it.’ Rather, His comfort says that our world is essentially broken and that our only hope is the redemption that He himself offers.”


And that is the message the Church must send to the Divorce Generation. The brokenness caused by divorce is palpable. The pain is real. There is a reason God says, “I hate divorce.” But He is also the God who makes all things new, Who binds up the broken-hearted.


If we want future generations to see marriage not as a hit-or-miss relationship, but as an enduring sign of God’s grace and love, then the Church has some work to do. We must promote the sanctity of marriage in our congregations and in our culture. We must reach out to husbands and wives who are struggling. And we need to show a hurting world the true joy and blessing of strong, holy marriages.




Why Christians Divorce (Christian Post, 110625)

By Chuck Colson


I still remember my sadness on hearing that an old friend, someone I believed was a sincere Christian, was leaving his wife. I was shocked and disappointed. How could this man, committed to both his spouse and his Lord, fall in love with another woman?


An essay by the late Sheldon Vanauken helps answer the question and reminds us that such temptations are all too common.


Vanauken, best known as the author of the powerful love story entitled A Severe Mercy, also published a collection of essays called Under the Mercy, which explores these feelings.


In one essay called “The Loves,” Vanauken describes how a Christian friend named John shocked him by announcing that he was leaving his wife to marry another woman. John explained his sudden change of heart by saying, “It seemed so good, so right. That’s when we knew we had to get the divorces. We belonged together.”


As Vanauken explains, John was “invoking a higher law: the feeling of goodness and rightness. A feeling so powerful that it swept away . . . whatever guilt [he] would otherwise have felt” for what he was doing to his family.


Sadly, many people love their spouse not as a person, but as someone who evokes certain feelings. Their wedding vow was not so much to the person as to that feeling. So when such people fall in love with someone else, they just transfer that vow to the other person. And why not? says Vanauken, “If vows are nothing but feelings?”


Vanauken dubs these thrilling emotions “The Sanction of Eros.” When John spoke of the goodness of his new love, “the sacred approval [he said he] felt could not possibly have come from [God,] whose disapproval of divorce is explicit in Scripture. It is Eros, the pagan god of lovers, who confers this sanction upon the worshippers at his altar.”


Vanauken continues, “The pronouncement of Eros that this love is so good and so right that all betrayals are justified is simply a lie.” But worst of all, those caught in its thrall of Eros are convinced their love is different, even sacred. They do not dream, Vanauken says, “that every other lover has the same assurance.”


Now, can the Eros type of love — this emotional and physical attachment — be a healthy part of a marriage? Of course! But Eros is not the type of love that glues husbands and wives together “‘til death do us part.” That love would be Agape love — the love modeled by Christ’s self-sacrifice on the cross for His Bride, the Church. Agape is the love Paul talks about in Ephesians 5:25, when he commands husbands to love their wives as Christ loved the Church.


Agape seeks to bless the other person; it is totally self-giving. Eros, especially outside of marriage, seeks only to use the other. Its goal is self-gratification. And that’s why pastors have to work hard to teach engaged couples about the necessity of understanding Agape lvoe. At some point, Eros will almost certainly beckon with an exciting new love — and the feelings of rightness, and even sacredness, may be overwhelming.


Couples need to know that only when Christ and Agape love are at the heart of their marriage can they withstand these temptations.




Divorce Rates High in Southern, Bible Belt States (Christian Post, 110825)

Experts Say Strong Faith Key to Stable Marriages


New data shows that U.S. divorce rates are higher in Southern states such as Alabama, Kentucky, and Texas. This information is important to church leaders since these states are located in what is traditionally known as the “Bible Belt.” However, these same leaders squabble over whether or not Christians are truly part of America’s growing divorce problem.


Data from the U.S. Census shows the divorce rate among both men and women in the South hovers over the national average. In the South, the divorce rate is 10.2 divorces per 1,000 men aged 15 or older and 11.1 divorces per 1,000 women.


The national divorce rate rests at 9.2 divorces per 1,000 men and 9.7 divorces per 1,000 women. The Northeast region boasts the lowest divorce rate at 7.2 divorces per 1,000 men and 7.5 per women. But the region also has the lowest number of marriage as well.


Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas, Georgia, Tennessee, and Oklahoma - states traditionally known for their conservatism - are experiencing divorce rates between 11 and 13.5 divorces per 1,000 for both men and women.


Arizona has the highest rate of divorce in the nation among women, 16.2 divorces per 1,000 women. Arkansas holds the highest divorce rate in the nation among men, 13.5 per 1,000.


Dwayne Hastings, vice president of communications for the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethic and Religious Liberty Commission, said of the data, “Couples are entering into the marriage relationship without an idea, a real solid idea of what they are getting into,” he described.


He continued, “They’re not entering into [marriage] with Christ as the center.”


The church is not immune to the divorce rate, Hastings emphasized.


“Unfortunately, it’s like a lot of issues across the board that ... immoral behavior is practiced by, sometimes at equal numbers...those inside the church [compared to] those outside the church.”


Numbers released by Barna Group in 2001 seems to support Hastings’ notion.


The group reports that 33% of all born-again Christians who have been married have gone through divorce compared to 34% of non-born-again adults.


However, Focus on the Family’s Family Formation Studies Director, Glenn Stanton, believes a differentiation must be made between those who are truly practicing their faith and those that are simply affiliated with a church.


“Church affiliation means nothing,” said Stanton. Rather he says actively praying together and reading the Bible together makes all the difference in the world.


As for the notion that the Bible Belt is contributing to the high divorce rate, he says statistics point more toward the failed marriages of what he calls “the mobile home belt.”


He uses that term loosely to refer to Southern marriages where the spouses were married despite being in their teens, irregularly employed and having co-habitated prior to being wed. Stanton warns of the dire effects co-habitation can have on marriage in his upcoming book, The Ring Makes all the Difference.


“The research shows that the ideal marriage age is about from 22 years old to about 25 years old,” he explained. Marriage after 25, he says, is not harmful, but waiting does not necessarily equal a stronger marriage. However marriage before age 20, he warns, does not allow spouses to mature.


Hastings argues that age is irrelevant.


“I don’t think physiological age has much to do with long viability of a marriage,” he stated. “Our culture would think the more older [sic] person is the more mature person, but that may or may not be true.”


Hastings, who says he is “middle-aged,” also noted, “[In] my grandparent’s generation, people were forced to be more mature earlier because [that was] just society at that time.”


Stanton, now 49, married his wife, then 18, at age 20. He acknowledges, “Those marrying at 20 or before are not destined to divorce, but they are [now] significantly more likely to divorce.”


Those who marry in their teens likely have not attended college or even finished high school, he notes. Therefore in young marriages, youth and poverty are tied together.


Stanton says of marriage after college, “Nobody is absolutely mature when they marry but you’re just in a better place.”


While the South has as a high divorce rate, its marriage rate is also higher than the national average.


In the South there are 20.3 married men per 1,000 men and 18.6 married women per 1,000 women. The national average is 19.1 marriages per 1,000 men and 17.6 per 1,000 women.


Stanton says there is a “silver lining” in the data.


For Christians, Stanton and Hastings both agree the key to a divorce-proof marriage is strong faith.


“[If you are] going into marriage with expectations that are faulty, then the marriage is going to fail, no matter the age,” said Hastings. “If they go into a marriage without the appreciation and the understanding that Christ must be the center of the marriage – they’re not coming together for their own sake, but for the furthering of his kingdom, for Christ’s sake – then their marriage, it seems to be more likely to be weak and to fail.”


The similar Barna poll confirms that while 33% of born-again Christians who were married have also been divorced, evangelicals are among the groups least likely to divorce, 26%, next to upscale adults (22%) and Asians (20%).




Joni Eareckson Tada Dismayed by Robertson’s Alzheimer’s Remarks (Christian Post, 110916)


If Pat Robertson wasn’t chairman of the Christian Broadcasting Network, it’s doubtful he would survive the firestorm he unwittingly created when he advised viewers of “The 700 Club” that they would be justified in divorcing a spouse afflicted with Alzheimer’s disease.


On Thursday, Joni Eareckson Tada, founder and Chief Executive Officer of Joni and Friends International Disability Center, a Christian-based organization based in Agoura Hills, Calif., issued a statement condemning Robertson’s remarks.


Tada was “dismayed,” she said, that the host of CBN’s most popular program suggested “Alzheimer’s disease is a kind of death” that makes it morally acceptable to dispose of an affected huband or wife. “When a Christian leader views marriage on a sliding scale,” said Tada, “what does this say to the millions of couples who must deal daily with catastrophic injuries and illnesses?”


Robertson’s latest controversial remark came in response to a viewer who related that a friend whose wife has Alzheimer’s was “bitter at God” and seeing another woman. “The 700 Club” host told the viewer that his friend “should divorce and start over,” while arranging adequate for his deposed wife.


“I certainly wouldn’t put a guilt trip on you if you decided that you had to have companionship,” Robertson said. “You’re lonely.”


Tada, a beloved disability advocate and quadriplegic, strongly disagreed. “Alzheimer’s disease is never an ‘accident’ in a marriage,” she said. “It falls under the purview of God’s sovereignty. In the case of someone with Alzheimer’s, this means God’s unconditional and sacrificial love has an opportunity to be even more gloriously displayed in a life together!”


Joni and Friends, which Tada started up in 1979, offers Christ-centered programs and services to help meet both the spiritual and practical needs of disable people and their families. “We encounter thousands of couples,” Tada attested, “who, despite living with serious disabling conditions, showcase the grace of God in their weakness every day.”


One prominent brain expert wonders if Robertson, himself, has mental health issues. “The hallmark of a good brain,” Dr. Daniel Amen told The Christian Post, “is to have forethought, judgment and empathy.”


Robertson’s on air comments showed “such bad judgment,” said Amen, a bestselling author, who is currently helping Saddleback Church in Orange County, Calif. with a year-long health campaign, “I would wonder about his brain.”


Alzheimer’s disease is an irreversible, progressive brain disease that slowly destroys memory and thinking skills, and, eventually, even the ability to carry out the simplest tasks, according to the National Institute of Aging.




Pat Robertson Quotes on Alzheimer’s Rebuked by Christian Leaders (Christian Post, 110915)


Evangelical Christian leaders are condemning the recent quotes by Christian Broadcasting Network chairman Pat Robertson who told viewers Tuesday that divorcing a spouse with Alzheimer’s disease is justifiable.


“I’m just flabbergasted,” Joel Hunter, pastor of the 15,000-member Northland Church in Orlando, Fla., told ABC News. “I just don’t know how anyone who is reading Scripture or is even familiar with the traditional wedding vows can come out with a statement like that.”


Hunter continued, “Obviously, we can all rationalize the legitimacy for our own comfort that would somehow make it OK to divorce our spouse if circumstances become very different or inconvenient. ... That’s almost universal, but there’s just no way you can get out of what Jesus says about marriage.”


Robertson said on Tuesday’s “700 Club” program, “I hate Alzheimer’s. It is one of the most awful things because, here is a loved one, this is the woman or man that you have loved for 20, 30, 40 years, and suddenly, that person is gone. They’re gone. They are gone.”


The former televangelist added that Alzheimer’s “is a kind of death.”


“It’s not death, and so we can’t start describing things as death that are really not death, and we have to stop trying to mischaracterize what Scripture says for our own convenience,” Hunter countered.


ABC News also spoke with Leith Anderson, president of the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE).


According to Anderson, marriage is a lifelong and faithful commitment between a man and a woman that calls for the couple to endure good times and bad.


Anderson referred to the book of Corinthians when he spoke with ABC News, saying, “The wife’s body does not belong to her alone but also to her husband. In the same way, the husband’s body does not belong to him alone but also to his wife. You can’t quit your own body with Alzheimer’s, so you shouldn’t quit your husband’s or wife’s body either.”


Albert Mohler, president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, reacted to Robertson’s comments on Twitter, writing, “This is what happens when you abandon Scripture and do theology and morality by your gizzard. Let’s call it what it is.”


John Piper, of Desiring God Ministries, also commented on Twitter, writing, “Pat Robertson’s view of how Christ loves the church and gives himself for her. Leave her for another.”


Robertson, without citing any Scriptural support, said that a man with a wife suffering from Alzheimer’s “should divorce and start all over.”


Co-host Terry Meeuwsen appeared alarmed by Robertson’s comments. She interjected, noting that couples vow to remain together “for better or for worse, for richer, for poorer.”


Robertson responded that if people respect those vows they will also keep in mind the part that says “until death do us part,” which is when he added that Alzheimer’s “is a kind of death.”


The controversial “700 Club” host also said he would not put a “guilt trip” on someone who divorced for such a reason.


However, before deserting your spouse with a debilitating disease, make sure they have “custodial care” and someone to look after them, Robertson said.


Robertson’s comments were in response to the following question submitted by a “700 Club” viewer:


I have a friend whose wife suffers from Alzheimer’s. She doesn’t even recognize him anymore, and, as you can imagine, the marriage has been rough. My friend has gotten bitter at God for allowing his wife to be in that condition, and now he’s started seeing another woman. He says that he should be allowed to see other people, because his wife as he knows her is gone… I’m not quite sure what to tell him. Please help.


After expressing his viewpoint, the former televangelist offered this disclaimer to the viewer who submitted the question, “Get some ethicist besides me to give you the answer.”


Alzheimer’s disease is an irreversible, progressive brain disease that slowly destroys memory and thinking skills, and eventually even the ability to carry out the simplest tasks, according to the National Institute on Aging.




Pat Robertson Alzheimer’s Comments ‘Carnal and Selfish,’ Say Christian Leaders (Christian Post, 110915)


“Carnal” and “Selfish” are just two of the words Christian leaders have used to describe Pat Robertson’s assertion that having a spouse with Alzheimer’s is a good ground for divorce.


“Mr. Robertson has said Alzheimer’s is paramount to death,” said Dr. Wiley Drake, president of the Congressional Prayer Conference of Washington D.C. “I certainly disagree, there is no biblical approval of divorce.”


Drake, also a pastor, told The Christian Post (CP) that quite a few of his parishioners had varying stages of the disease and they were “very much alive.”


Despite Robertson acknowledging the issue was beyond his ken, “The 700 Club” host stated:


“I hate Alzheimer’s. It is one of the most awful things because here’s the loved one, this is the woman or man that you have loved for 20, 30, 40 years and suddenly that person is gone. They’re gone.”


Robertson’s comments were in response to a viewer who shared with “The 700 Club” that a friend whose wife has Alzheimer’s was “bitter at God for allowing his wife to be in that condition” and was seeing another woman.


Robertson, without citing any Scriptural support, said that the man “should divorce and start all over,” adding that adequate care should also be arranged for the soon-to-be ex-spouse.


Pastor David Wright, CEO of DOersTV, a free online Christian TV network, called Robertson’s reaction a “perfect example of a Christian leader speaking from his flesh and not from the Spirit.”


“Pat spoke from a ‘world’ perspective’ and not a ‘Word’ perspective,” Wright told CP, adding that such comments made sense “from a carnal, selfish point of view.”


“The 700 Club” co-host Terry Meeuwsen challenged Robertson’s response, noting that couples vow “for better, for worse” when marrying.


Robertson, however, pointed out, “You said ‘till death do us part.’ This (suffering from Alzheimer’s) is a kind of death.”


“I certainly wouldn’t put a guilt trip on you if you decided that you had to have companionship…you’re lonely,” he added.


Drake stated that there was “certainly” a need for companionship but argued “that should be met by family members. Not another woman or another activity with a girlfriend.”


“It is adultery,” he told CP. “For a man to seek personal companionship with another woman is a violation of scripture…a violation of the Holy Word of God.”


Wright said of Christians, “Our standards are much higher, because they are standards set by God and not by society, especially when it comes to marriage.”




Christ, the Church, and Pat Robertson  (Christian Post, 110916)

By Russell D. Moore


This week on his television show Christian broadcaster Pat Robertson said a man would be morally justified to divorce his wife with Alzheimer’s disease in order to marry another woman. The dementia-riddled wife is, Robertson said, “not there” anymore. This is more than an embarrassment. This is more than cruelty. This is a repudiation of the gospel of Jesus Christ.


Few Christians take Robertson all that seriously anymore. Most roll their eyes, and shake their heads when he makes another outlandish comment (for instance, defending China’s brutal one-child abortion policy to identifying God’s judgment on specific actions in the September 11 attacks, Hurricane Katrina, or the Haiti earthquake). This is serious, though, because it points to an issue that is much bigger than Robertson.


Marriage, the Scripture tells us, is an icon of something deeper, more ancient, more mysterious. The marriage union is a sign, the Apostle Paul announces, of the mystery of Christ and his church (Eph. 5). The husband, then, is to love his wife “as Christ loved the church” (Eph. 5:25). This love is defined not as the hormonal surge of romance but as a self-sacrificial crucifixion of self. The husband pictures Christ when he loves his wife by giving himself up for her.


At the arrest of Christ, his Bride, the church, forgot who she was, and denied who he was. He didn’t divorce her. He didn’t leave.


The Bride of Christ fled his side, and went back to their old ways of life. When Jesus came to them after the resurrection, the church was about the very thing they were doing when Jesus found them in the first place: out on the boats with their nets. Jesus didn’t leave. He stood by his words, stood by his Bride, even to the Place of the Skull, and beyond.


A woman or a man with Alzheimer’s can’t do anything for you. There’s no romance, no sex, no partnership, not even companionship. That’s just the point. Because marriage is a Christ/church icon, a man loves his wife as his own flesh. He cannot sever her off from him simply because she isn’t “useful” anymore.


Pat Robertson’s cruel marriage statement is no anomaly. He and his cohorts have given us for years a prosperity gospel with more in common with an Asherah pole than a cross. They have given us a politicized Christianity that uses churches to “mobilize” voters rather than to stand prophetically outside the power structures as a witness for the gospel.


But Jesus didn’t die for a Christian Coalition; he died for a church. And the church, across the ages, isn’t significant because of her size or influence. She is weak, helpless, and spattered in blood. He is faithful to us anyway.


If our churches are to survive, we must repudiate this Canaanite mammonocracy that so often speaks for us. But, beyond that, we must train up a new generation to see the gospel embedded in fidelity, a fidelity that is cruciform.


It’s easy to teach couples to put the “spark” back in their marriages, to put the “sizzle” back in their sex lives. You can still worship the self and want all that. But that’s not what love is. Love is fidelity with a cross on your back. Love is drowning in your own blood. Love is screaming, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me.”


Sadly, many of our neighbors assume that when they hear the parade of cartoon characters we allow to speak for us, that they are hearing the gospel. They assume that when they see the giggling evangelist on the television screen, that they see Jesus. They assume that when they see the stadium political rallies to “take back America for Christ,” that they see Jesus. But Jesus isn’t there.


Jesus tells us he is present in the weak, the vulnerable, the useless. He is there in the least of these (Matt. 25:31-46). Somewhere out there right now, a man is wiping the drool from an 85 year-old woman who flinches because she think he’s a stranger. No television cameras are around. No politicians are seeking a meeting with them.


But the gospel is there. Jesus is there.