Christian Right Getting Tough on Divorce

Evangelical leaders turn attention to rising divorce rates

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With California's Proposition 8 overturned and public support for same-sex marriage on the rise, social conservatives appear to be shifting their focus from preventing gay marriage to combating straight divorce. What's the impetus for this change? And is the right really ready to punt on the issue of same-sex couplings?

  • House Not In Order In a guest editorial for the Christian Post, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary president Albert Mohler contends rising divorce rates hinder the ability of evangelicals to claim moral high ground in the culture wars. The tendency to see divorce as somehow less problematic than gay marriage or abortion represents "an indictment of evangelical failure and a monumental scandal of the evangelical conscience." The fact that evangelical Protestants divorce at rates proportional to society as a whole "creates a significant credibility crisis when evangelicals then rise to speak in defense of marriage." If anything, Mohler argues, "divorce harms many more lives than will be touched by homosexual marriage. Children are left without fathers, wives without husbands, and homes are forever broken. Fathers are separated from their children, and marriage is irreparably undermined as divorce becomes routine and accepted."

  • Changing Times Rather than marking a retreat, Politics Daily's David Gibson argues an increased focus on combating divorce represents an important step in the evolution of the religious right. "The new focus on getting Christians to practice what they preach marks an important shift in the culture war front," writes Gibson, "and, if successful, could prove to be the most potent cultural argument evangelicals have ever deployed."
  • Fiscally Prudent, Too  Syndicated conservative columnist Mona Charen writes that the institution of marriage is capable of padding a couple's bank account in these uncertain economic times. "Marriage," she notes, "knits the couple into a kinship network in which interest-free loans, baby-sitting, elder care, and other forms of assistance in hard times are more readily available."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.