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Catalyst: Have you ever lamented the fact that the divorce rate was the same in the church? Or that most marriages are just hanging in there, not vibrant and happy? Without realizing it, those of us who have shared that information have been, as Andy Stanley put it in the Foreword to my new book The Good News About Marriage, “A small part of a very large problem.” We have been both accepting and adding to a deep sense of cultural discouragement about marriage. A discouragement that instead of motivating people, leeches hope from marriages. A discouragement that, it turns out, is based more on myth than reality.
Remarriage in the United States: If at first they don’t succeed, do most Americans “try, try again”?
Contemporary Families: Wedding season is here again, and for many couples that is literally true. In 2013, 40 percent of all marriages — four out of every ten — were remarriages for either the bride or groom.
Family Studies: My dad was just 61 when he died. I never had the deep and meaningful relationship with him that I craved. From the day he divorced my mother when I was aged three, I probably saw him a couple of times a year. On those occasions, we got along extremely well and I enjoyed his company very much. But there was so much missing from what could and should have been a powerful bonding relationship between father and son. It’s an absence that has affected me profoundly and still does.
NBC News: Divorce can be a one-way ticket down the road to financial instability for many women, especially for those who are middle class or low-income.
Family Studies: The prevalence of divorce in contemporary American society means that divorce and its effects on adults and children are among the most frequently studied topics in the family sciences—and a growing segment of literature in this area suggests that the popular image of a failing marriage is wrong.
Aleteia: In culturally conservative circles, for example, we find it easy to speak firmly against homosexuality and to condemn homosexual people who act on their desires. We have no problem advising those who want to live by the Church’s teaching on the high standards they must maintain. These people can become subjects for culture-warring. They are Them, and they live a good ways away.
Family Studies: If we want to empower young people like Toby, we have to start by honoring their suffering. By that I mean that someone has to know Toby’s name, create a safe space for him to tell his story, and connect him to other communities with webs of belonging, as well as to professionals (for instance, therapists, clergy, and substance abuse counselors) that can help. This process gives a person the experience of “feeling felt,” in psychiatrist Daniel Siegel’s phrase.
Family Studies: What can couples do to avoid divorce? Hundreds of books, articles, workshops, and lectures have tackled that question. If there were a surefire way to “divorce-proof” a marriage, we would have found it by now. It doesn’t exist.
Military: The military’s divorce rate dropped again last year reaching its lowest point since 2005, according to statistics released today by the Defense Department.
The Washington Post: These days, 20something marriage has gotten a reputation for being a bad idea. That’s partly because parents, peers, and the popular culture encourage young adults to treat their twenties as a decade for exploration and getting one’s ducks in a row, not for settling down. In the immortal words of Jay-Z, “Thirty’s the new twenty.”
Family Studies: More than 40 years ago, no-fault divorce laws opened the door for people to leave problematic marriages without needing to “show cause.” This has been heralded as a great victory for those imprisoned in abusive marriages, and it has provided a much-needed mechanism to escape such relationships.
Family Studies: I discussed in my last blog post, couples marrying today still face a substantial lifetime risk of divorce. Even if the risk drops to around 40 percent, that’s a lot of divorce. However, you are not a statistic, and you can do things that impact your likelihood of lasting love in marriage. In this piece, I focus on those who are not yet married but who want to be in the future. In a future piece, I’ll focus on those already married who are concerned about their risk for divorce.
The New York Post: In a survey of couples married less than 10 years, he found that men who lived with their wives before marriage “rated themselves considerably lower in dedication” — what Stanley refers to as their “intrinsic motivation to be with this person.”
Family Studies: “Fifty percent of marriages end in divorce.” You’ve probably heard that claim several times—just as you may also have heard from other sources that it’s inaccurate. As I’ll explain below, the real number is likely lower, but perhaps not by a lot. One thing is for sure. Arguments over what the divorce rate is and whether it’s dropping are ongoing and unlikely to end anytime soon.
The Washington Times (AP): Two Kansas lawmakers are pushing similar measures to make it illegal for someone to post nude photographs or videos of a former spouse or significant other on the Internet without permission.
The Courier-Journal: In the first ruling of its kind in Kentucky, Judge Joseph O’Reilly permitted the divorce of two Louisville women who were legally married in Massachusetts.
The New York Times: The theory that the falling divorce rate (among other indicators) among college-educated Americans is evidence that marriage has been successfully reinvented in the wake of the sexual revolution; that progressive ideas — the acceptance of premarital sex and cohabitation, an egalitarian vision of gender roles in parenting and breadwinning, a stronger emphasis on romantic compatibility and personal fulfillment — have basically been responsible for that reinvention; and that the main cultural force (setting aside economics) preventing working class Americans from embracing this successful reinvention is the unfortunate persistence of traditionalist norms and attitudes about sex and gender roles.
Family Studies: Leah fought with her new husband, Gary, on their wedding night. Within a month, their marriage “crashed and burned.” Leah, then 23, had been in a relationship with Gary since she was sixteen. When they argued before they were married, Leah said they would always fix the problem. “But once we were married,” she said, “we didn’t want to.”
WND: “The preeminent social purpose of marriage – and the overriding reason why government recognizes marriage – is to connect children to both of their biological parents,” argued a brief submitted by the Alliance Defending Freedom to the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on behalf of supporters of a Florida law defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman.
The Daily Signal: “Divorce is on the rise.” At least, that’s the story Americans often hear, as New York Times reporter Claire Cain Miller explained earlier this month. But what does the data say?
First Things: Like the increase in abortions after Roe v. Wade, divorce rates increased significantly with the onset of the policy. As with Roe, there were other contributing factors, especially the sexual revolution, which multiplied the “liberating” effects of the new legal regime. The clear losers in both were children—aborted in ever increasing numbers after Roe, and wounded socially, economically, andspiritually in the wake of no-fault divorce.
The New York Times: Despite hand-wringing about the institution of marriage, marriages in this country are stronger today than they have been in a long time. The divorce rate peaked in the 1970s and early 1980s and has been declining for the three decades since.
The Washington Times (AP): A man who married another man in Iowa is asking Missouri to grant the couple a divorce, even though the state does not recognize same-sex marriages.
Family Studies: Discussions about divorce, family stability, and the like typically focus on individuals and families in their normal childbearing and child-rearing years, and for good reason. Unstable or single-parent families have it tougher in all sorts of ways, and to the degree that their struggles affect future generations, solving their associated problems is all the more important. Indeed, it certainly is not uncommon to hear in conversation, even among those who think poorly of divorce in general, an almost audible relief when divorce occurs without children being involved, either because the couple has not had children or the children are grown and gone.
The Christian Institute: Some of the devastating effects of divorce on children have been revealed in a survey commissioned by family lawyers.
Mirror of Justice: According to this report, “the German Federal Constitutional Court (Bundesverfassungsgericht) has upheld the right of churches and other religious institutions to request their employees to abide by their religious and moral ethos. The case concerned a doctor working at a church-owned hospital who was fired after he got divorced.”
First Things: Too often, we Evangelical Protestants have harmed our public witness and failed in fidelity by proclaiming the sanctity and permanence of marriage in one sentence before highlighting the “biblical” justifications for divorce in the next.
The Christian Institute: Two young girls have seen their childhoods “irredeemably marred” after a 6-year-long legal fight between their gay and lesbian parents, a judge has said.
Public Discourse: Some theologians claim that the Council of Trent lends support to the idea that the Catholic Church could accept divorce and remarriage. Careful scholarship reveals that this is not true.
The Christian Post: Measure 6 would establish approximately 50/50 shared parenting as the default when parents with children split up, unless a court finds that one parent is unfit. Although 110 world experts have endorsed shared parenting, the deceptively named “Keeping Kids First” – which should be more accurately named “Keeping Kids With One Parent” – appears to be the only group opposing Measure 6.
Christian News Network: A mother and writer has generated much discussion following the publication of an article in which she shares her personal story of how homosexuality and same-sex “marriage” shattered her own marriage and family.
First Things: What do donor conception, surrogacy, divorce, and adoption have in common? According to the newly-founded International Children’s Rights Institute (ICRI), they are all practices which violate the rights of children to be born free, to be raised by his or her biological parents wherever possible, and to have a knowledge of the heritage of his or her biological parents.
Aleteia: A recent New York Times editorial declares that the tide has turned against cultural conservatives. As public opinion trends leftward on social issues, they claim, voters are rejecting “radical” positions against abortion and same-sex “marriage.”
Family Studies: Why should we be so concerned about the state of the American family today? Of all of the family issues on the nation’s agenda—marriage, divorce, cohabitation, single parenthood, the fatherhood crisis, or something else—which one has you most concerned?
The New York Times: Since my comments on the issue of the moment in Roman Catholicism, communion for the divorce and remarried, have been overwhelmingly critical of the main proposals for a change in the church’s discipline, I think it’s only fair to write a post that addresses itself to what I think the church can do, without lurching into self-contradiction or betraying the New Testament, that might lift unnecessary burdens off some couples’ backs.
Religion News Service: Pope Francis and his bishops got a wake-up call Tuesday (Oct. 7) from a Wisconsin couple who said the Catholic Church was failing to deal with the collapse of the traditional family.
The Gospel Coalition: How to review a book like this? Do I come at it from the artistic elements of the writing? Or do I assess its theology? How does a reviewer critique someone else’s story? Is it best to cite Scriptures that contradict some of her conclusions? Or should we set Jennifer’s memoir within the larger context of evangelicalism in order to see this movement’s beauty and flaws?
The Gospel Coalition: When marriage gets difficult, or our kids are ungrateful, it’s easy to look at the past and think, I made the wrong decision. I married the wrong person. Let me assure you: you didn’t.
Family Studies: Our narrative about how and why divorce occurs seems incomplete to many who have experienced its effects. The desire to probe its deeper, underlying causes seems weak in a culture that generally views divorce as a doorway to new beginnings.
Breakpoint: To make the case for same-sex marriage, advocates tell a lot of stories. But some stories are not being told, and they’re important too. I’ll explain.
First Things: It follows from these twin principles of nature and grace that a number of traditional principles in Catholic theology are not up for renegotiation: the nature of heterosexual marriage, the permanency and indissolubility of the marriage bond, the definition of adultery.
AP: Divorce procedure is generally inconsistent from state to state, but the process has become more streamlined for same-sex couples who travel to a marriage recognition state to tie the knot.
Russell Moore: This week my denomination, through its executive committee, voted to “disfellowship” a congregation in California that has acted to affirm same-sex sexual relationships. This sad but necessary move is hardly surprising, since this network of churches shares a Christian sexual ethic with all orthodox Christians of every denomination for 2,000 years. One of the arguments made by some, though, is that this is hypocritical since so many ministers in our tradition marry people who have been previously divorced.
Sun Herald (AP): “Mississippi is free to define and recognize marriage only as the union of a man and a woman,” wrote Kellie Fiedorek of the Alliance Defending Freedom. “To declare otherwise would turn state sovereignty on its head.”
Public Discourse: The commitment to be faithful to one’s spouse—for better, for worse, in sickness and in health—is not a pledge to keep the same feelings. It is a pledge to do certain things, to voluntary conduct.
Public Discourse: The push to present a positive image of same-sex families has hidden the devastation on which many are built. We must stand for marriage—and for the precious lives that marriage creates.
Science World Report: A happy marriage is often dependent on equality and understanding from both partners. However, recent findings reveal that the contentment of female partners may essentially be more important than male ones in heterosexual unions.
Fatherhood: The longer I’m at National Fatherhood Initiative (NFI), the more evidence piles up that shows how devastating having an incarcerated parent is for children.
Gulf Live (AP): “Mississippi is free to define and recognize marriage only as the union of a man and a woman,” wrote Kellie Fiedorek of the Alliance Defending Freedom. “To declare otherwise would turn state sovereignty on its head.”
Family Studies: A new study came out earlier this month concluding that whether parents cooperate or not makes little difference to how children cope with divorce. So “Does divorce always damage children?” became the rather loaded topic of discussion for the lunchtime show at a local BBC radio station recently, to which I was asked to contribute.
Coalition for Divorce Reform: I’m intrigued by the recent article in Time Magazine suggesting that millennials try out a “beta marriage” model instead of marriage as we have understood it through the ages. Like many of us, millennials too see life as a series of multiple choice options, all within their control. Frankly, they also view their right to choose as their privilege, as some sort of right or entitlement.
Christianity Today: As the age of first marriages climbs, it seems many people are delaying or dismissing marriage because of their own family’s experience with divorce. In some respects, their fears are justified. Divorce has visited the doorstep of too many marriages that we thought would never open the door. Since the ‘70s, about a million kids each year watch their parents divorce.
National Review: Choices have consequences. It’s obvious. And yet, how do we live? In a new study from the National Marriage Project, “Before ‘I Do’: What Do Premarital Experiences Have to Do with Marital Quality Among Today’s Young Adults?,” researchers Galena K. Rhoades and Scott M. Stanley look at how choices made before marriage affect life after vows.
Yahoo News: Middle-age women who cheat on their husbands are looking for passion and sex, but don’t want to divorce their husbands over it, new research suggests.
Christianity Today: For decades, Americans have been hearing that the divorce rate in the U.S. is around 50 percent. And everywhere I travel as a speaker and researcher, I see a deep cultural discouragement about marriage today.
The Christian Post: This is a game-changer. Talk about “an old wives’ tale.” You’ve heard it said that 50 percent of all marriages end in divorce, most marriages that do happen to make it are nonetheless unhappy and Christians are just as likely to divorce as non-believers. Turns out this is not the case.
Family Studies: For decades, people have believed that living together will increase their odds of doing well in marriage. The core of this idea is that cohabiting would provide a test of a relationship. This seems logical but, mysteriously, decades of research do not show this benefit.
National Review: An April 2014 Urban Institute study predicts that if current marriage rates do not rebound, just 69 percent of Millennial women (and 65 percent of men) will marry by the age of 40. By contrast, in 1990, 91 percent of U.S.-born women had married by the age of 40.
The Christian Post: After controlling for age, region, country of birth, education, and duration of the partnership, male couples in Sweden were 35 percent more likely to divorce than heterosexual couples, and lesbian partners were over 200 percent more likely to divorce. Whether the couples had children made little difference in the relative rates.
The Washington Times: Same-sex couples in Kansas who have gotten married in Iowa or elsewhere have limited options to end their marriages in Kansas, according to experts.
RNS: Three issues — sex between an unmarried man and woman, medical research on embryonic stem cells and doctor-assisted suicide — showed a slight increase in acceptability from 2013. Most of the other issues were mostly unchanged.
RNS: Italy’s Catholic bishops have condemned a proposed law that is set to speed up divorce and do away with a three-year separation waiting period.
The Washington Times: Granting the divorce “would in effect disenfranchise 70 percent of Nebraska’s voters (who voted for the amendment), and recognize something that hasn’t been recognized by the U.S. Supreme Court itself,” said Assistant Attorney General James Smith.
National Review: Research shows that divorce is far less common than many people think. Rather than 50% of marriages, closer to 28 percent of marriages end in divorce, and the numbers decrease significantly among practicing Christians.
While promoting pro-growth economic policy (as the authors propose) is important, retreating from marriage is not the answer. Restoring a marriage culture is essential for the welfare of men, women, and children.
Catholic school principal apologizes for comments about divorce, homosexuality made by guest speaker
Providence Journal: “The principal of the Prout School has publicly apologized for bringing in an inflammatory speaker whose opinions about divorce and homosexuality offended students, parents and faculty.”
The Express-Times: “That’s why state Rep. Mike Schlossberg, D-Lehigh, plans to introduce legislation granting those same-sex couples who married in other states the ability to get a divorce in Pennsylvania, he said today.”
The Journal Gazette: “Michael Alan Wetli wants a divorce. But under Indiana law, it will be very difficult for him to get one. While his same-sex marriage to his estranged spouse, Matthew Eugene Shaffer, is legal in Iowa, the Hoosier State does not recognize such unions.”