"When the Christian right was organized in the 1970s and galvanized in the 1980s, the issues of abortion and homosexuality were front and center. Where was divorce?"

8 posts / 0 new
Last post
Jim's picture
Online
Since
Wed, 5/6/09
Posts: 6708

Tags: 

Mike Durning's picture
Offline
Since
Tue, 6/2/09
Posts: 618
Glad it wasn't.

I am glad that Divorce was not one of their hot-button issues, for several reasons.
1). What have we gained by their attentions on these issues? Not much. No abortion ban. Certainly no forwarder on the Gay issue. The Politicization of their issues as a set of Moralisms, apart from the gospel, only helped polarize America more.
2). Divorce is an issue of obedience in many cases (though I do believe in Biblical exceptions). It always results from a departure from God's Will for one or the other in the couple, or both. But I'm not certain that a divorce ban, or raising the legal threshhold at which it is allowed, would have been helpful. For Christians, the underlying issue is first more Pastoral ("Why is this marriage defective?") rather than legislative ("Would a divorce be legitimate?"). For unbelievers, I'm not sure we have much to say on the issue. What advice is there in Scripture that has any meaning whatsoever for a marriage of unbelievers?

Jim's picture
Online
Since
Wed, 5/6/09
Posts: 6708
This is the quote that hit me

Quote:
Tragically, the church largely followed the lead of its members and accepted what might be called the “privatization” of divorce. Churches simply allowed a secular culture to determine that divorce is no big deal, and that it is a purely private matter.

I think this is a valid indictment. A couple can in the church can divorce - nothing is done about it!

Aaron Blumer's picture
Offline
Since
Mon, 6/1/09
Posts: 7302
Agenda

Nobody was pushing for legislation to promote divorce. There was no overtly pro-divorce political agenda as there was and is with homosexuality and abortion.

Offline
Since
Wed, 6/3/09
Posts: 128
Divorce is more complex.

At least one major difference in these issues is that same-sex marriage and abortion are one-time events. While many would say that homosexuality is the sin they are lobbying against, it isn't in reality if all that is being done is attempting to block same-sex marriage. I don't see divorce as a one-time event, it is generally a culmination of many, many, many events.

I think the "privatization of divorce" that is mentioned in the article takes into account that simply blocking divorce does nothing to address the sin of divorce. Filing paperwork with a governmental agency is not sin. God doesn't hate the filing of paperwork, he hates the sins that lead to the filing of paperwork: selfishness and abuse to name two major ones.

Most of the people I know in the church who aren't lobbying against divorce aren't doing so because they recognize that the problem isn't "easy access" to divorce, the problem is that humans are sinners and "allowing" divorce is often merciful.

Aaron Blumer's picture
Offline
Since
Mon, 6/1/09
Posts: 7302
Paperwork

I would agree that there are sins that lead to the filing of a divorce. But I wouldn't go so far as to say the divorce itself is not a sin. Depending on what you do with Matt.19, it might be or it might not, depending on some conditions.

But there is much to be said for sticking with it even when much is not as it should be--rather than adding disobedience to disobedience.

JobK's picture
Offline
Since
Thu, 10/29/09
Posts: 335
Hmmm ...

Aaron Blumer wrote:
Nobody was pushing for legislation to promote divorce. There was no overtly pro-divorce political agenda as there was and is with homosexuality and abortion.

Well, there was no-fault divorce legislation. Also, the early homosexual agenda did not involve laws, and certainly did not involve gay marriage, hate crimes laws, or the idea to include homosexuals under the rubric of "civil and human rights." Instead, for decades the homosexual agenda was simply gaining public acceptance for homosexuality first, and then making it unacceptable to publicly criticize homosexuals or homosexual behavior. It was only after the PR battle was won that the legal and political agenda for homosexuality was possible.

As for divorce, there was no need to fight a legal or political battle, because divorce has always been legal. But there was a huge PR battle to make divorce acceptable, even desirable, that went on for decades that was the equivalent of the PR battle for abortion and homosexuality. So, I guess you can say that the divorce issue was the inverse of abortion and homosexuality. Where the latter two needed to be made acceptable in order to be made legal, the former was legal but needed to be accepted.

The difference is that where social conservatives pushed back on the PR war for latter two big time (please recall, for instance, Jerry Falwell and James Dobson going after Ellen DeGeneres, Teletubbies and Spongebob Squarepants because of their attempts to mainstream and indoctrinate homosexuality, and the pro-homosexual sex education public schools curricula for the same reason), they didn't make divorce that big of a priority. It was an issue ... I remember the social conservatives decrying divorce and attempting to stop no fault divorce, and criticizing feminists and Hollywood for making divorce seem liberating and glamorous ... it had its place in the culture wars. But it was more of a side issue, like opposition to heavy metal music.

Also, I will say that if the religious right did base their activism and choice of issues on the legal and political agenda of the other side, then that is just still more evidence that the religious right was a theologically suspect movement. If the religious right had theological motivations as opposed to political ones, their priorities would have been determined by the Bible, not the political climate. For instance, among fundamentalists and conservative evangelicals, how big a problem is there with homosexuality and abortion among church members who regularly attend and tithe? (If it is a problem with church members whose levels of fellowship and support are spotty and inconsistent ... well that is another issue.) I would say not a big one. But for this group, divorce is a real problem, a real, pressing issue. And that is a major drawback of allowing the needs and issues of the larger culture drive the actions of the church.

Solo Christo, Soli Deo Gloria, Sola Fide, Sola Gratia, Sola Scriptura
http://healtheland.wordpress.com

Aaron Blumer's picture
Offline
Since
Mon, 6/1/09
Posts: 7302
Quote: I guess you can say

Quote:
I guess you can say that the divorce issue was the inverse of abortion and homosexuality. Where the latter two needed to be made acceptable in order to be made legal, the former was legal but needed to be accepted.

Good point.

I also remember much fuss about no fault divorce, though in my experience it predated the Moral Majority movement.

Yes, the old religious right was a "theologically suspect movement." It was not really a theological movement at all and the interface between political philosophy and theology was poorly thought through... if at all.

Unfortunately, the current scene doesn't seem to be much improved. Seems like we have theologically confused zealots for social conservatism on one hand and theologically confused social conservatism haters on the other hand. Way too little in between.