How ‘No-Fault’ Divorce Blazed The Trail For Destroying Marriage

no_fault_divorce

Back in the 1920’s, women began fighting against a clear double standard when it came to sexuality. Promiscuous men were given a wink and a “boys will be boys” excuse, while promiscuous women were frowned upon. Women were right to fight against this double standard, but they chose the wrong solution.

Instead of working to ensure that sexual purity was expected from BOTH sexes, they fought for the “right” to violate God’s design with equal impunity, believe that would be “freedom.” It wasn’t freedom – it was slavery. It led to rampant STD’s, broken families, and illegitimate and aborted children. It paved the way for the sexual revolution of the ’60’s and the total breakdown of the family.

40 years ago, with “no fault” divorce, we redefined marriage as a relationship based solely on the romantic feelings of the participants. We allow the contract to be dissolved for no other reason than diminished feelings, completely ignoring the fact that children’s rights are thrown aside and their lives destroyed at the mere whim of their parents.

Ronald Reagan is one of my heroes.  But I’ll be the first to say that on this one, he blew it BIG TIME.  I can understand his reasoning.  A victim of divorce himself, he wanted to prevent abandoned spouses from being trashed with false accusations by the spouse who was looking for any excuse to leave.

Instead of protecting abandoned spouses, “no-fault” divorce actually made them powerless to protect their family.  Reagan later regretted signing the law and called it one of his biggest mistakes.  That mistake is what laid the foundation for the battle we are now facing over marriage, 40 years later.

Whenever you are tempted to think that compromising “just this little bit” won’t hurt or change anything, think again.  The Left are experts at using incrementalism to push their agenda, one inch at a time.

Damon Linker argues that the foundation was first laid with the introduction of birth control, which removed procreation as the primary purpose for getting (and staying) married:

Permitting gay marriage will not lead Americans to stop thinking of marriage as a conjugal union. Quite the reverse: Gay marriage has come to be widely accepted because our society stopped thinking of marriage as a conjugal union decades ago.

Between five and six decades ago, to be precise. That’s when the birth control pill — first made available to consumers for the treatment of menstrual disorders in 1957 and approved by the FDA for contraceptive use three years later — began to transform sexual relationships, and hence marriage, in the United States. Once pregnancy was decoupled from intercourse, pre-marital sex became far more common, which removed one powerful incentive to marry young (or marry at all). It likewise became far more common for newlyweds to give themselves an extended childless honeymoon (with some couples choosing never to have kids).

In all of these ways, and many more, the widespread availability of contraception transformed marriage from a conjugal union into a relationship based to a considerable degree on the emotional and sexual fulfillment of its members — with childrearing often, though not always, a part of the equation. And it is because same-sex couples are obviously just as capable as heterosexual couples of forming relationships based on emotional and sexual fulfillment that gay marriage has come to be accepted so widely and so quickly in our culture. (If marriage were still considered a conjugal union, the idea of gay marriage could never have gained the support it currently enjoys. On the contrary, it would be considered ridiculous — as it remains today among members of religious groups that continue to affirm more traditional, conjugal views of marriage.)

Read more at Yahoo!

Once marriage was reduced to a mere partnership of convenience, destroying what was supposed to be a life-long commitment became much easier, and the results were devastating:

In the inaugural edition of National Affairs, W. Bradford Wilcox, director of the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia, pointed out: “In [September] 1969, Governor Ronald Reagan of California made what he later admitted was one of the biggest mistakes of his political life. Seeking to eliminate the strife and deception often associated with the legal regime of fault-based divorce, Reagan signed the nation’s first no-fault divorce bill.”

After California, every state followed suit.

No-fault divorce answers the Pharisee’s question to Jesus, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any and every reason?” with a resounding, “Yes!” Then it adds that it is also lawful for a woman to divorce her husband for any and every reason. In the U.S., wives initiate approximately two thirds of divorces.

It permits unilateral divorce, that is, one spouse can decide “for any and every reason” that the marriage is over giving the other spouse no recourse.

Children of divorce are “two to three times more likely to suffer from serious social or psychological pathologies.”

The result, says Wilcox, was that, when added to the sexual and psychological revolutions of the ‘60s and ‘70s, the number of divorces doubled between 1960 and 1980.

Divorce became acceptable even among Christians, easier to rationalize, and far easier to obtain. People who were unhappy and found their marriages unfulfilling, says Wilcox, “felt obligated to divorce in order to honor the newly widespread ethic of expressive individualism.” Children, everyone felt certain, were resilient and would do just fine.

But children of divorce, says Wilcox, are “two to three times more likely than their peers in intact marriages to suffer from serious social or psychological pathologies.”

Beyond children, divorce often has devastating social, psychological, spiritual, and financial consequences for at least one spouse. And others’ divorces effect all of us by calling every marriage into question. “[W]idespread divorce,” writes Wilcox, “undermined ordinary couples’ faith in marital permanency and their ability to invest financially and emotionally in their marriages—ultimately casting clouds of doubt over their relationship.”

Children of divorce lose their faith in marriage and are less likely to marry themselves. As a result, cohabitation rates have skyrocketed, which is bad news for adults, children, and marriage since, as Michael and Harriett McManus report in Living Together, cohabitation carries a whopping 80 percent failure rate.

Read more at The Institute on Religion & Democracy

In the beginning, the argument was made that divorce wasn’t really harmful to children, and that it would be more harmful if their unhappy parents stayed together.    That has since been entirely debunked.  The damage to multiple generations of divorce-scarred children is incalculable.

Sadly, proponents of gay marriage assure us that there is no harm in denying children either a mother or a father, but that social experiment, like so many others that try to substitute the nuclear family, will fail.   And innocent children will be hurt in the process.

Maggie Gallagher writes at First Things:

“What good excuse would keep a person in an unhappy, unrewarding relationship?” asked one respondent, a woman who left a twenty-five-year marriage because she was “tired of trying to please, gain love, do the ‘right thing.’“ “Would it be denial of a problem?” she asked. “Would it be financial gain, would it be ‘for the children,’ would it be for all the wrong reasons? My question—why would an unwanted spouse wish to stay in a marriage? What is, therefore, wrong with no-fault divorce?”

This is a common sentiment among Americans, one strategy we employ to resolve the moral conflict between two spouses, one of whom wants a divorce and the other does not: You want to hold onto someone who doesn’t want you any more? What kind of loser are you?

On the other side, another woman wrote to tell me of her husband’s decision to divorce her: “At age fifty-seven, he announced he would seek a divorce. All my dreams, hopes, and looking forward to some well-earned ‘golden time’ were dashed and smashed to smithereens. Our thirty-seven-year marriage was to be erased. My former standard of living was obliterated and can never be reached again.” “Our laws,” she complained, “do not differentiate between four months or forty years.”

Nor do they differentiate between a woman who wants to leave an abusive husband and a man who wants to trade in an aging wife. Our laws make no distinctions at all, because no-fault’s primary purpose is to empower whichever party wants out, with the least possible fuss and the greatest possible speed, no questions asked.

The right to leave ASAP is judged so compelling that it overwhelms the right to make (and be held responsible for) our commitments. For twenty-five years we have talked and written and legislated about no-fault divorce as if it represented an increase in personal choice. As the letters I received from divorcees suggest, this is a simplification and a falsification of our experience with no-fault divorce. For in most cases, divorce is not a mutual act, but the choice of one partner alone. “We might expect that both partners would be ready to end the relationship by the time one leaves,” note family scholars Frank F. Furstenberg, Jr. and Andrew J. Cherlin in their book Divided Family. “But the data suggest otherwise. Four out of five marriages ended unilaterally.”

No-fault divorce does not expand everyone’s personal choice. It empowers the spouse who wishes to leave, and leaves the spouse who is being left helpless, overwhelmed, and weak. The spouse who chooses divorce has a liberating sense of mastery, which psychologists have identified as one of the key components of personal happiness. He or she is breaking free, embracing change, which, with its psychic echoes of the exhilarating original adolescent break from the family, can dramatically boost self-esteem.

Being divorced, however (as the popularity of the movie The First Wives’ Clubattests) reinforces exactly the opposite sense of life. Being divorced does not feel like an act of personal courage, or transform you into the hero of your own life story, because being divorced is not an act. It is something that happens to you, over which, thanks to no-fault divorce legislation, you have no say at all.

The spouse who leaves learns that love dies. The spouse who is left learns that love betrays and that the courts and society side with the betrayers. In court, your marriage commitment means nothing. The only rule is: Whoever wants out, wins. By gutting the marital contract, no-fault divorce has transformed what it means to get married. The state will no longer enforce permanent legal commitments to a spouse. Formally, at least, no-fault divorce thus demotes marriage from a binding relation into something best described as cohabitation with insurance benefits.

Read more at First Things

Is it any wonder, with the decades of damage that has been done to the definition and purpose of marriage in our society, that people begin to assume that redefining it further is no big deal?

Stephen Baskerville observes:

[H]omosexuals did not destroy marriage, heterosexuals did. The demand for same-sex marriage is a symptom, not a cause, of the deterioration of marriage. By far the most direct threat to the family is heterosexual divorce. “Commentators miss the point when they oppose homosexual marriage on the grounds that it would undermine traditional understandings of marriage,” writes family scholar Bryce Christensen. “It is only because traditional understandings of marriage have already been severely undermined that homosexuals are now laying claim to it.”

Though gay activists cite their desire to marry as evidence that their lifestyle is not inherently promiscuous, they readily admit that marriage is no longer the barrier against promiscuity that it once was. If the standards of marriage have already been lowered, they ask, why shouldn’t homosexuals be admitted to the institution?

“The world of no-strings heterosexual hookups and 50% divorce rates preceded gay marriage,” Andrew Sullivan points out. “All homosexuals are saying C9 is that, under the current definition, there’s no reason to exclude us. If you want to return straight marriage to the 1950s, go ahead. But until you do, the exclusion of gays is simply an anomaly—and a denial of basic civil equality.”

[…]  Conservatives have completely misunderstood the significance of the divorce revolution. While they lament mass divorce, they refuse to confront its politics. Maggie Gallagher attributes this silence to “political cowardice”: “Opposing gay marriage or gays in the military is for Republicans an easy, juicy, risk-free issue,” she wrote in 1996. “The message [is] that at all costs we should keep divorce off the political agenda.”

No American politician of national stature has seriously challenged unilateral divorce. “Democrats did not want to anger their large constituency among women who saw easy divorce as a hard-won freedom and prerogative,” writes Barbara Dafoe Whitehead. “Republicans did not want to alienate their upscale constituents or their libertarian wing, both of whom tended to favor easy divorce, nor did they want to call attention to the divorces among their own leadership.”

In his famous denunciation of single parenthood, Vice President Dan Quayle was careful to make clear, “I am not talking about a situation where there is a divorce.” A lengthy article in the current Political Science Quarterly is devoted to the fact—at which the author expresses astonishment—that self-described “pro-family” Christian groups devote almost no effort to reforming divorce laws.

This failure has seriously undermined the moral credibility of the campaign against same-sex marriage. “People who won’t censure divorce carry no special weight as defenders of marriage,” writes columnist Froma Harrop. “Moral authority doesn’t come cheap.”

Read more at The American Conservative

A blogger named Cindy made these interesting observations about the hypocrisy of Christians who supported “Amendment 1″ in North Carolina:

As long as we’ve still got easy, no-fault divorce, and a culture that excuses and applauds all sorts of “straight” perversion, I’m afraid I just can’t get myself all worked up about a mere one or two percent of the population wishing to do what the rest of us have been doing for a couple of generations now—have a temporarily monogamous life with the person of their choosing, along with all the privileges that the State has chosen to attach to that temporarily monogamous lifestyle.

Let’s face it, Christians, we’re not having this conversation because homosexuals pose some kind of threat to our way of life. (They don’t.) We’re having this conversation because we’re finally at the bottom of a slippery slope that we polished to a glossy finish for ourselves when we separated marriage, sex, and procreation from each other, making the union of matrimony about our own happiness rather than about familial and social stability. Now we’re just trying to stop the slide before we fall off the cliff entirely. But we’re not much interested in doing the hard work of climbing back up to marital sanctity ourselves!

[…]   This amendment seems to me to be nothing more than a far-too-late moral panic, with very little thinking behind it at all. Our culture is in a state of sexual anarchy, and most of us—I’ll wager even most of those who voted yes on Amendment One—kinda like it that way! But gay marriage is where we draw our arbitrary line, because the majority of people don’t like that sin the way we like our own.

We seem to hold the superstitious belief that stopping gay marriage at the ballot box will appease the wrath of the God whose opinion we stopped consulting on these matters generations ago.

Wake me up when we’re interested in using marriage for its intended purpose. Until then, I don’t think this amendment is going to amount to a hill of beans, and I’m not going to waste a lot of breath trying to defend it.

Read more at Get Along Home

I disagree with her belief that gay marriage poses no threat to religious liberty (the multiple incidents of discrimination lawsuits against Christians who decline to provide services for same-sex weddings is just one example).   But her assessment of the hypocritical double standard is spot-on.

The solution is not to degenerate marriage even further, but to admit our own culpability in the destruction of marriage, and to fight for its total restoration as it was 50 years ago – not the “status quo.”

I don’t blame gays for hating the current double standard in the churches, where homosexuality is condemned and those who struggle with it are often ostracized, while straight sexual sin is often  justified, and straight sinners are treated with grace and understanding.  In God’s eyes, gay sexual sin is no different than straight sexual sin – both need God’s grace and forgiveness, and neither can be overcome in our own strength, without the power of the Holy Spirit.

In all honesty, I believe the church is going to lose the gay marriage battle, because we deserve to (just as God allowed Israel to be carried off into Babylon, because they had become no different than their pagan conquerors). We have failed to keep our own house in order.  The church has not been salt and light with our righteous behavior – we have become hypocritical finger-pointers.

Of course, going back to seeking sexual purity as a nation can’t be achieved by laws – it has to happen through revival and repentance, beginning with the church.

Marriage and the Conscience of a Nation

No-Fault Divorce a Greater threat to Marriage than Gay ‘Marriage’

Is It Time to Repeal ‘No Fault’ Marriage Laws?

Fewer Than Half of American Children Growing Up In Intact Families, Survey Finds

Married vs. Single Parents: The Divide That Affects Children, Financial Health and Votes

 

Why We’re Losing the Gay-Marriage Debate

 

The Perils of Following Public Opinion Instead of Principles

 

When Did Idolatry Become Compatible with Christianity?

 

Rush Limbaugh Says Gay Marriage Fight ‘Is Lost’ for Social Conservatives: ‘It Is Now Inevitable’

 

On Gay Marriage, Politicians Sell Their Souls for Political Gain

 

Pimped: Republicans going gay for cash

 

Are Republicans Caving On Same-Sex Marriage?

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One Response to “How ‘No-Fault’ Divorce Blazed The Trail For Destroying Marriage”

  • Cindy says:

    I must have mis-stepped somehow in that post you quoted to give the impression that I don’t think the gay marriage agenda is a threat to *religious* liberty. I definitely don’t think that, so much as I think that gay marriage is in fact an extension of the way of life that “Christian” society has set up for itself. I just meant that it’s not a threat to our (sadly diminished) concept of marriage.

    Thanks for the very thoughtful article. Well done.

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