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Pope Leo the thirteenth said, "Divorce is born of perverted morals and leads to vicious habits." One doesn't need to fully agree with his statement however, to see where he's coming from. Marriage is supposed to be a sacred institution. Marriage is founded on a promise to love each other for as long as both spouses are alive. Increasingly however divorce has become an acceptable life choice for people here in America. America is the land of the free, and we by and large have the right to do whatever we want with our lives. This freedom has led us as a nation to take very little seriously. American's blaspheme and worship idols and live in excess without real concern for how this effects their spiritual lives. The sacred institutions of our ancestors are belittled and defiled by we as a nation. Among the victims of the moral degradation in this country lies marriage. Divorce should never have become an acceptable life choice, this has happened largely because, as I mentioned before, the majority of people don't take anything really seriously anymore. Despite the damage scientifically proven to be inflicted upon a child when their parents divorce, people who have children still seem often to consider divorce an option. It seems then that these people don't mind the damage to be inflicted upon their children, or at least feel that the damage to their children is an acceptable cost for being able to slip out of their marriage. "Changing cultural values," including a decline in real religious and moral conviction as well as a decline in the value of commitment and honor, contribute to a "more ready acceptance and utilization of divorce as a solution to interpersonal discord." (Rice and Rice 9) The vows taken at marriage involve the bride and groom promising to stay together for better of for worse. These vows are often entered into happily and lightly, and as a result many people seem to mistakenly believe the "worse" they vowed to endure was their partner being occasionally grumpy, and that when and if things really got worse they can simply file for divorce rather than continuing to make good on their vows, since the vows didn't mean anything to them anyway. One would assume that Christians would be less likely to divorce, since their vows are made to men of the cloth in the name of god, and Christianity doesn't recognize divorce. Religious commitments however would seem to be just another thing not taken seriously, as people who claim to believe in god are in fact six percent more likely to divorce, and those who claim to stick closer to the bible, the "conservatives," are experience a divorce rate higher than "other faith groups, and much higher than Atheists and Agnostics." (Robinson) The sanctity of marriage is slipping alright, but the courts are evidently to busy protecting it to stop it from being destroyed. Divorce can be extremely traumatic for children. "It is rare finding that girls are having more difficulty (after divorce) than boys," but both sexes are disastrously effected nevertheless. (Hodges 33) Between the ages of infancy and three years old, there's little damage emotionally by the absence of, or separation from, the father. By the age of three years old however, up to the age of six, the loss of either parent is a devastating occurrence, resulting in damage in areas ranging from health to emotional development, in both the long and short term spectrum's. Between the
ages of six and twelve divorce is still extremely traumatic, but it can be more readily weathered by the child than at the previous stage, as long as the parent of the same sex gains custody of the child. Removing the parent of the same sex during this period can cause serious developmental disturbances. Even if this is done however, the child probably will not fare as well as one from an intact household. (Grollman 78) People wonder why divorce is so high, but continue to get them, ignorant to the fact that divorce begets divorce. Does one not teach their children by example? A child will bear his entire life "what he saw in his father and mother," and if these people were "inconsistent, untrustworthy, unreliable, and deceitful," the child will assume that of everyone, easing the decision to divorce as a result. (Grollman 83) This is exacerbated by the negative effects of divorce on the parent. "Divorce hurts you," "It leaves emotional scars from which you can never be free." (Medved 767) Children are often harmed not only psychologically but also morally by the divorce of their parents, as they take away from it the idea that divorce is acceptable. Persons who's parents had divorced by the time they were age sixteen have been found to be "almost two-thirds," or sixty six percent more likely to get a divorce themselves. (Hodges 46) When one marries, one takes vows. A vow is an oath; a legally binding promise the breaking of which besmirches one's honor and can cause one to be arrested and charged with perjury. Yet when one breaks the marriage oath stating "for better or worse" by giving up and breaking it off when it gets worse, one is encouraged, supported, and even given a legal validation. A little document informing you that the court has validated your decision. One might ask, can it be thought that a divorce recognized by the government will undue this religious ceremony? Once when the Pharisees visited Jesus, they asked him, "Is it legal to divorce one's wife for any reason?" Jesus replied that god makes the male and female "of one flesh" and that what "God has joined together," no man is to "put asunder" They then questioned Jesus on why Moses allowed divorce, and Jesus told them that Moses allowed divorce for mens "hardness of heart" but Jesus went on to say it hadn't always been so, and in fact was currently not so. Jesus then explained, "[w]hosoever shall put away his wife, except for (because of her) unchastity, and marries another, commits adultery." (Matthew 19:1-9) I think the answer to the original question then is a resounding no. Jesus stated his requirements for divorce clearly, and they don't seem to include "unless the governments of man approve" anywhere in them. That's not to say that getting legal documents filled out isn't an important step. The documents alone though are meaningless in the face of your spiritual commitment. The puritans, who would be considered a morally upright people by most, including myself, also begrudged divorce in all but the most severe of circumstances. The puritans of New England would allow divorce in light of adultery, desertion, repeated nonsupport, or repeated physical abuse. Puritans from many of the southern colonies however had no provision whatever for divorce. (Quale 286-287) One can agree with the puritans of the north that severe circumstances merit divorce. If severe abuse is taking place, or if ones partner is unfaithful or gone, it can be understood that one might want to obtain a divorce so that a worthy mate may be found, or perhaps simply to escape the offending mate. One might even go so far as to say that a divorce should be granted under these circumstances. Those who divorce for this reason are really not to blame, they didn't choose to have their mate act as they did. However, if this is not the case, divorce is not only morally negative, but probably should be illegal for the good of society. If one might wind up stuck with an unwanted mate for life, perhaps people would think more carefully before being married. The no-fault marriage laws in place in much of the United States augment this problem by making it easy and cheap to attain a divorce, with no need for such things as a trial or proof of wrong
doing. Not only do they make it legal and furthermore easy to divorce, but they make it cheap and easy to marry. Marriages licenses can legally be entered acquired by people as young as eighteen, who have met each other as recently as five minutes ago, and can be bought on a low income. By allowing such ill fated and poorly thought out marriage's to occur, and then making divorces cheap and easy to attain, the courts are decidedly taking a stand against the sanctity of marriage. If the law won't even stand up for marriage, how can the populous be expected to take marriage seriously? The courts of the American justice system are loath to allow gay marriage because they suffer from the delusion that it might weaken the institution of marriage. That in mind, they also keep it legal to attain a no-fault divorce, which absolutely does diminish the sanctity of marriage. Several things have become clear at this point. The first is that on a personal level, unless the problem is your mate sleeping with someone else or punching you in the face, divorce needs to be eliminated from the list of acceptable solutions to the problems one might experience with their partner in marriage. The second is that as a society we need to put down divorce and back away slowly. If one was going to choose between gays getting married, and straights getting divorced based on damage to society, it's understood at this point that straights pose the larger threat to the society and sanctity of it's marriages. When getting married, American's promise to love each other as long as they both shall live. It can be understood then why the life expectancy in American is decreasing. If divorce becomes any more heavily acceptable than it is, American's will be brief beings indeed. Works Cited Grollman, Earl. Explaining Divorce to Children. 1st ed. United States: Triangle Publications, Inc, 1968. Hodges, William. Interventions for Children of Divorce: Custody, Access, and Psychotherapy. 2nd ed. United States and Canada: John Wiley & Sons, 1991. Medved, Diane. "The Case Against Divorce."Current Issues and Enduring Questions. 8th ed. 2008. Quale, Robina. A History of Marriage Systems. 1st ed. Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press, Inc, 1988. Rice, Joy, and David Rice. Living Through Divorce. 1st ed. New York: The Guilford Press, 1986. Robinson, B. A. . "U.S. divorce rates for various faith groups, age groups, & geographic areas." Religious Tolerance .Org. 2008. Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance. 17 Nov 2008 . The Oxford Annotated Bible with the Apocrypha. rev. ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press, Inc., 1973.
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