Commenter Drew was kind enough to propose that his church measure divorce, and reported back when he found himself at an impasse (emphasis mine):
I suggested tracking the divorce rate for our church to one of the elders. He encouraged me to gather the data and share it…
The problem I am running into is that each local church is autonomous. The result is that finances and attendance rates are all local, with no central database. Marriages are not recorded at all, because the church doesn’t technically marry anyone (not considered the job or authority of the church). For my current local church, I am not aware of any divorce (maybe the sample size is too small?).
Any suggestions on how to deal with this roadblock?
I’m afraid the response he received is what I expected, and fits closely with what I predicted in my original post on the topic. The nature of corruption is that those who are corrupt are extremely unlikely to tell you they are corrupt. In fact, they typically say all of the right things. Find a third world police force rampant with corruption, and with almost no effort you will find all sorts of public and internal statements regarding their adherence to the “highest ethical standards”. It is very likely they also require all officers to attend annual training on the importance of not tolerating corruption. The police chief most likely can give lengthy, passionate, and eloquent speeches on the importance of police integrity and his department’s strict ethical standards.
Yet they are still corrupt.
The churches Drew was working with no doubt have compelling statements both in the form of periodic sermons and perhaps even a plaque or statement on the church website regarding their unwavering support for Christian (lifelong) marriage, perhaps even using the word “covenant”. However, their actions show that marriage is something they see as defined by the state, not the bible. They still pretend that the church is involved in marriage, and even pretend to perform marriage ceremonies. These ceremonies quite literally aren’t worth noting however, because the important part of the arrangement occurs at the local courthouse. Edit: Drew has clarified that the churches in question do not perform marriage ceremonies.
Yet sometimes the corrupt become so casual about it that they forget to hide their corruption altogether. Many Christians no longer even pretend to believe that marriage is the core of Christian sexual morality, and not a legally sanctioned version of boyfriend and girlfriend, a more formal stepping stone on the path of serial monogamy. I thought of this when I noticed the definition of marriage used by Christianforums.com in their married couples section (emphasis mine):
Married Couples Married Area – Available for those who are married, which is defined as a legal union between one man and one woman.
There it is. Marriage is simply a legally sanctioned form of boyfriend and girlfriend. It is serial monogamy plus cash and prizes.
Some members evidently didn’t get the hint, prompting the latest sticky in the married couples section titled Additional change to the SoP by moderator redheadedstepchild, a self described Child of God (final emphasis mine):
We have added the following to the SoP:Divorce is not to be promoted in this forum except in cases where individuals are in physical danger. Those who are contemplating divorce due to extenuating circumstances may be able to find support in the recovery forums.
This forum needs to be supportive of maintaining marriage. That said we recognize that there are circumstances which may lead one to consider divorce. The recovery forums are better suited for dealing with these issues.
Please remember that when someone shares a personal experience it is not up for judgement. Divorce is always a last resort, but we will not allow judgement of those who do make that choice.
- The women at Christianforums are outraged!
- From cornerstone to stepping stone; the mainstream Christian view of marriage.
- Why so many wives wish their husbands would cheat.
- Pathological Denial
- Shattering the forcefield of denial
- Marriage lite: mistaking “No sex before monogamy” for a moral statement