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Why aren't bible-beating Texans voting to ban divorce or re-marriage?

House Blender Curtis pointed me to a great essay by Glenn Greenwald of Unclaimed Territory on a logical argument regarding the pious folks in Texas that plan to vote to protect marriage from gays and lesbians next week, but haven’t taken up any measures to ban (or make difficult) divorce or re-marriage.

These Good ChristiansTM are trying to save the family and promote values, right? The marriage preservationists are a bunch of hypocrites. Who knew?

This Tuesday, Texas will be the latest state to hold (and almost certainly approve) a referendum to incorporate into its State Constitution a ban on same-sex marriages. When Texas Governor Rick Perry signed the bill to create the referendum, he did so at a Christian evangelical school alongside what he called his pro-family “Christian friends.” When asked last week why he supports the ban, he replied, simply enough: “I am a Christian and this is about values.”

But if Christian values, along with a desire to promote a pro-family agenda, are the motivations behind the gay marriage ban, one would expect that these same advocates would be advocating a ban on divorce and re-marriage as well, institutions at least as un-Christian as same-sex marriages. And yet, while 15 states have now approved referendums enacting gay marriage bans into their state constitutions, none of them has voted to ban divorce and re-marriages, or even to make them more restrictive.

Texas has one of the most permissive divorce laws in the nation. “Second and third marriages” — concepts as foreign to Christianity as are same-sex marriages — are not just common, but also accepted, both socially and under the law.

How can Christians possibly allow – and, worse, enthusiastically participate in – the continuation of permissive divorce laws which plainly violate Christian beliefs?

Greenwald notes that you can throw this back in the faces of the bible-beaters of the Red States, many of which have no-fault divorce on the books.

Texas law allows “No Fault Divorces” — about the most un-Christian law possible. Under that law, to obtain a divorce, one need merely be able to demonstrate one of two very permissive grounds:

No-Fault Divorce Grounds: (1) the marriage has become insupportable because of discord or conflict of personalities that has destroyed the legitimate ends of the marriage relationship and prevents any reasonable expectation of reconciliation; or this no-fault ground (2) living separate and apart without cohabitation for 3 years.

That’s all there is to it. If you are a Texas citizen who wants to violate the marital vows you made before God by tearing apart your marital union — a union which, according to Christian doctrine, God has mandated be permanent and indissoluble — all you have to do is claim that you have irreconcilable differences with your spouse, or live apart for three years, and the divorce is yours.

Well, it looks like the folks in the pews are having a hard time keeping that sacred bond intact. With about 100,000 divorces in the Lone Star State every year, (71 percent higher than Massachusetts), there’s not a lot of ChristianTM marital commitment there. And how does the divorce rate compare with the rest of the country? (Boston Globe):

George Barna, a born-again Christian whose company is in Ventura, Calif., found that Massachusetts does indeed have the lowest divorce rate among all 50 states. More disturbing was the finding that born-again Christians have among the highest divorce rates.

The Associated Press, using data supplied by the US Census Bureau, found that the highest divorce rates are to be found in the Bible Belt. The AP report stated that “the divorce rates in these conservative states are roughly 50 percent above the national average of 4.2 per thousand people.”

The 10 Southern states with some of the highest divorce rates were Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, and Texas. By comparison nine states in the Northeast were among those with the lowest divorce rates: Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Vermont.

Nuff said.

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding