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prolificus's avatar

If conservative Christians are among those who have the highest divorce rate, and protection of the sanctity of marriage has been the primary argument against gay-marriage, shouldn't divorce be outlawed, too?

Asked by prolificus (6583points) April 15th, 2010

According to the Barna Research Group study conducted in 1999, 27% “Born-again” Christians and 24% “other” Christians have been divorced, compared to 21% of Atheists and Agnostics.


Ron Barrier, Spokesperson for American Atheists remarked on these findings with some rather caustic comments against organized religion. He said:

“These findings confirm what I have been saying these last five years. Since Atheist ethics are of a higher caliber than religious morals, it stands to reason that our families would be dedicated more to each other than to some invisible monitor in the sky. With Atheism, women and men are equally responsible for a healthy marriage. There is no room in Atheist ethics for the type of ‘submissive’ nonsense preached by Baptists and other Christian and/or Jewish groups. Atheists reject, and rightly so, the primitive patriarchal attitudes so prevalent in many religions with respect to marriage.”

(End Quote)

By pointing out these statistics or by asking this question, I’m not suggesting that same-sex marriage and Atheism/Agnosticism are connected.

If conservative Christians are so obsessed with protecting the sanctity of marriage, shouldn’t it be logical to outlaw the act of legally dismantling the marriage contract as opposed to making same-sex marriage the scapegoat?

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31 Answers

syz's avatar

I’ve often said that if “they” (whoever) want to protect the sanctity of marriage, then divorce should be illegal and adultery should be punishable by death. Hypocrites.

JeffVader's avatar

I think it’d make more sense to outlaw conservative christians.

OpryLeigh's avatar

I agree with @syz apart from the part about adultery being punishable by death. That seems a bit harsh for me. Funny, but harsh!

kenmc's avatar

Divorce is an actual threat to marriage, so it makes more sense than illegalizing marriage that you don’t like.

But the whole gay marriage debate isn’t about the “sanctity of marriage”, it’s about xenophobia/homophobia and oppressing others unlike yourself.

bobloblaw's avatar

No, because that would just make too much sense. On the other hand, is this sort of hypocrisy so surprising? At this point, it’s practically the norm for a lot of fundamentalist Christians.

sleepdoc's avatar

I am not going to comment too much here, but just to say be careful about drawing on statistics to draw one a quote to draw on something to make a point. People seem to want to really attack others for this.

Seek's avatar

The greatest contributor to divorce is marriage. Perhaps we should outlaw marriage in general?

prolificus's avatar

@sleepdoc – thanks for the warning. If I was writing a thesis, I’d have a whole section dedicated to data collection, analysis, and citation. Regardless of how significant the stats are in this particular resource, the issue remains: divorce dismantles the marriage contract and does not protect the sanctity of marriage. Therefore, as protection of the sanctity of marriage is one of the main reasons to prohibit gay-marriage, using the argument of protection should apply to all actions that would dismantle the marriage contract.

wilma's avatar

I wonder what the statistics are on couples who marry and those who do not marry?
Could it be that “fundamentalist Christians” are more apt to marry as opposed to living together without being married? So then their divorce rate would be higher? Those who don’t ever get married and then break up, are they counted?

stump's avatar

It is futile to try to assign logic to the anti-gay agenda. It is fear driven.

aprilsimnel's avatar

Let adult human beings manage their own partnerships and relationships, for crying out loud. Why are people so eager to be all up in other adults’ business?

bobloblaw's avatar

@wilma If they don’t get married, then they can’t get a divorce. Why should they be counted? The argument is that they want to protect the sanctity of marriage. Not the sanctity of living together. Divorce is relevant to the former and not the latter. If it were true that Christians were more likely to simply get married instead of living together (thus fueling their higher divorce statistic), it would seem that Christians don’t treat marriage as seriously as they say they do. That, they are a little over eager in jumping into marriage instead of figuring out if it’s a good relationship, etc. Of course, that’s a value judgment on my part and I most definitely can be wrong.

wundayatta's avatar

I wouldn’t be at all surprised if conservative Christians would like to make divorce illegal.

All I can say is it’s a good thing conservative Christians don’t hold a majority in Congress.

wilma's avatar

Yes, @bobloblaw I understand that the question was about divorce, but the statistic was cited and I wondered what the control factors might be. Of course any statistic will be influenced by other factors, and can therefore vary in accuracy.
But as to the “should divorce be outlawed”, that is a good question.
I’m afraid I don’t know the answer.

Dr_Dredd's avatar

Actually, there is someone in (where else?) California who tried to get a proposition on the ballot making divorce illegal. His name is John Marcotte. It sounds like he’s being tongue-in-cheek, but he does seem to be trying to highlight the hypocrisy of the Prop 8 supporters.

earthduzt's avatar

I say let us plant some sort of cybernetic microchip in our brains that have wireless joysticks attached to us and let the govts play us like video games.

JLeslie's avatar

That link says Jews have the highest divorce rate and atheists have the lowest. I wonder where they are classifying atheist Jews? I always question studies like this and the conclusions they make.

@bobloblaw I do think @wilma has a point that people who are in what they think will be a long term committed relationship, but never get married are not being counted. It is significant because there is a percentage of people who say they “don’t need the piece of paper” but portray their relationship to be just as committed as marriage. The Christians are kind of “forced” to save face with the community, family, and to feel good about themselves to get married if they want to live together and have sex. I’m sure they are basically doing all of that anyway, but to be able to tell the world you are a committed couple, Christians would feel pressure to have an actual cermony to be taken as legit.

wilma's avatar

Yes @JLeslie thanks, that is what I was getting at.

JLeslie's avatar

@wilma But, I do think it is a problem that Christians feel pressured to marry, especially at young ages. I really think the stat of what age someone gets married might be more significant than the religion, but it is the religion that many times helps young marriages to happen.

Factotum's avatar

I am in favor of legalizing gay marriage (through legislation) but am unmoved by the citing of high divorce statistics as a ‘gotcha’ against those who oppose it. I am similarly unmoved by arguments that one has no business supporting abortion while opposing the death penalty or vice versa.

prolificus's avatar

@Factotum – Setting stats aside, the point of my question remains: If the intention of outlawing gay marriage is to protect the sanctity of marriage, then anything opposing the sanctity, including divorce, should be outlawed. My argument is not about a “gotcha,” but about logic. The same rule or standard should apply to all laws pertaining to marriage IF the intent is to protect the sanctity. IF the intent or rationale behind prohibiting same-sex marriage has nothing to do with protecting sanctity, then those who use such arguments should either apply it to everything (including divorce), OR stop using the argument.

wilma's avatar

If divorce was an impossibility, under any circumstances, I think that leaves a lot of room for abuse in a marriage.

I think a better solution would be civil unions available for all and if a particular religion wanted to also have marriage rites then that would be handled according to their own religion’s rules.

HungryGuy's avatar

Nah… They just ought to legalize gay marriage, and ban Christian marriage :-p

filmfann's avatar

I am so with you on this!
Most right wing religious conservatives are hypocrites. I believe the gay community will have a lower divorce rate than the south.

Factotum's avatar

@prolificus Sanctity of marriage is an argument, not the argument. Moreover, the notion that a marriage should be sacred certainly does not preclude divorce, indeed the need to go through legal channels, pay out money and face some social and religious opprobrium are all things designed to prevent people from taking it as lightly as all too many do.

Whether gay marriage is or isn’t ‘sanctified’ is a matter of opinion and, should you happen to believe the Bible is the literal Word of God, a matter of faith and belief (though as I have said, there are plenty of Christians that favor gay marriage).

The argument: ‘I maintain that as far as the sanctity of marriage, gay marriage is less bad or equally bad in relation to divorce and therefore anyone who doesn’t agree is a hypocrite’ is, while probably vaguely satisfying, is an assertion that can neither be proven or dis-proven.

@filmfann Please do not conflate ‘the South’ with religious conservatives. Many kinds of people live in the South and there are religious conservatives all over the country. It seems likely that there is a larger population in the South than elsewhere but you can’t use geographic areas to produce legitimate religious/gay statistics.

filmfann's avatar

@Factotum I have family in the South, and I have visited them there. I am aware of the varieties of lifestyles there. I’m just saying it is more religious, and more conservative than the rest of America, and I bet their divorce rate would be higher than that in the gay community.

Factotum's avatar

@filmfann I believe you are right that the South is more conservative. The gay divorce rate…we shall see. Eventually.

JLeslie's avatar

@Factotum The bible belt is mainly, not completely, within the boundaries of the south. That is where most of the evangelical christians are. I am a Jewish Atheist living in the south, and I would generalize the south as being full of religious conservatives. I don’t take offense or assume the speaker is talking about everyone down here.

Nullo's avatar

Frivolous divorce, yes. There are Biblical grounds for divorce, but they only engage in cases of extreme marital misconduct.

Strauss's avatar

Gay marriage is not the biggest threat to the “institution” of marriage, divorce is.

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