my Trade Tripper column in the 15-16 May 2015 weekend issue of BusinessWorld:
The thing is: many (but definitely not all) of those advocating for divorce want the traditional family structure of biologically related father, mother, and child be rid of. And I’ve received comments related to my previous article “Divorce is just a bad idea” (08 May issue) where people implicitly declared they are not against the idea of traditional marriage being done away with.
Which isn’t surprising when one remembers that “no-fault” divorce actually originated from that long-held communist objective to destroy the traditional family. As related by Donald M. Bolas (“No Fault Divorce: Born in the Soviet Union?”, 1975), the Bolsheviks regarded the traditional family as a “bourgeois” institution. When they came into power in 1917, they systematically set out to destroy it.
Interestingly, one of their first moves was to remove the classification “illegitimate children.” Ostensibly to equalize the legal status of all children, the real aim was to diminish the value of being born in wedlock.
After that came the measures to coercively redefine marriage. For communist Russia, marriage became simply a “State action,” with divorce an administrative process. Note that the no-fault divorce created by the communist State was actually unique in that it is arguably the first kind of lawsuit where the complainant (the person petitioning for divorce) does not even have to provide reasons or prove his claim. There is just no defense available for the respondent in this type of case.
And since this kind of divorce is very easy to come by, it is no surprise then to hear accounts of people being married twenty times. This was actually encouraged by the communist government, even setting up a “free love” bureau where people could hook up with like-minded partners.
The practice, according to Mr. Bolas, reached the United States and infiltrated its legal system. The US today has no-fault divorce as a norm, where every first marriage practically has a 50-50 chance of being ended by it (subsequent marriages have even higher percentages of heading to divorce).
But the question is: why would communists and their presumptive heir, today’s Progressives, be so against the idea of traditional marriages?
The key lies with our social system called “subsidiarity”: the principle that essentially says individuals should have the freedom to choose and act responsibly for themselves in achieving the common good. If individual action is too difficult, then the family steps in, then the neighborhood, then the town. Only when really necessary does the national government come in the picture. In subsidiarity’s framework, religious and non-governmental institutions play a crucial role in the formation of peoples’ character.
Progressives would have none of that. Ideologically believing they know better than you in how to run your life but history having proved them unelectable, they instead patiently engaged in the indoctrination of the bureaucracy (as well as the academe and media). And having achieved control (at least intellectually) of a substantial part of those sectors of society, they now hungrily attempt what they’ve long sought against their rivals in influence: the removal of religion and the traditional family.
Measures supportive of contraceptives, divorce, and same-sex marriage, as well as labeling religious belief as bigoted or medieval, are all designed to eradicate religion and the family’s influence on people and instead have the people dependent exclusively on government; all for the purpose of achieving the Progressive ambition of dictating the peoples’ thought and beliefs.
Relatedly, it also becomes understandable why the mere suggestion that better marriage preparation and counseling are more effective remedies than divorce would be met with violent derision by divorce advocates. Because, the fact is: it’s true.
Because funnily enough, the best marriage preparers and counselors happen to be not secular facilities (all usually under government regulation) but rather religious institutions.
Because contrary to the Progressive lie that no difference exists between religious and non-religious couples (at least as divorce rates are concerned), Georgetown University’s Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate found in 2013 that, even in “divorce-is-completely-acceptable-US,” Catholics have way lower divorce rates: “Catholics stand out with only 28% of the ever-married having divorced at some point.”
Compare this with a divorce rate of 40% for those with no religious affiliation. As one commentator puts it: “The factor making the most difference is religious commitment and practice. Couples who... take their faith seriously enjoy significantly lower divorce rates than mere church members, the general public and unbelievers.”
What’s more, University of Denver sociologists found that: “Whether young or old, male or female, low-income or not, those who said that they were more religious reported higher average levels of commitment to their partners, higher levels of marital satisfaction, less thinking and talking about divorce and lower levels of negative interaction.”
So while this column took pains to defend traditional marriage without resorting to religious arguments, it would appear that religious beliefs should indeed have a say in the public square after all.