Robert Green Ingersoll on Morally Justifiable Divorces

Adam Lee points us to a passage written by Robert Green Ingersoll in which he advocates for divorce when it really is justifiable, even by many conservative standards — when there’s abuse, neglect, or just no love in the relationship anymore.

What’s striking is that the piece was written in 1889:

… In this contract of marriage, the man agrees to protect and cherish his wife. Suppose that he refuses to protect; that he abuses, assaults, and tramples upon the woman he wed. What is her redress? Is she under any obligation to him? He has violated the contract. He has failed to protect, and, in addition, he has assaulted her like a wild beast. Is she under any obligation to him? Is she bound by the contract he has broken? If so, what is the consideration for this obligation? Must she live with him for his sake? or, if she leaves him to preserve her life, must she remain his wife for his sake? No intelligent man will answer these questions in the affirmative.

Meanwhile, this is the response from a Catholic Cardinal who also wrote about the topic at the same time as Ingersoll:

To the question then, “Can divorce from the bond of marriage ever be allowed?” the Catholic can only answer NO. And for this No, his first and last and best reason can be but this: “Thus saith the Lord.”

Ingersoll, yet again, shows how he was a man before his time and someone well ahead of the moral curve.

(Image via Shutterstock)

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.


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