D-I-V-O-R-C-E

Did you realize that one state in the union still requires an actual reason to get a divorce, as opposed to the no-fault divorces practiced everywhere else?  That state is liberal, progressive, sophisticated New York.  But now that is about to change.  Notice how New Yorkers have been getting around the current law so far:

There are certain to be consequences if New York State introduces no-fault divorce, as now seems likely. The divorce rate might climb. Matrimonial battles will focus on bitter issues like support and child custody. The poor will be able to get divorced as easily as the rich. But there is something else. Those who are splitting up can just tell the truth.

Justice Jeffrey S. Sunshine of State Supreme Court in Brooklyn said some of the old law seemed like a throwback to the 19th century and invaded divorce-seeker’s privacy.

For decades, New York State’s divorce system has been built on a foundation of winks and falsehoods. If you wanted to split quickly, you and your spouse had to give one of the limited number of allowable reasons — including adultery, cruelty, imprisonment or abandonment — so there was a tendency to pick one out of a hat.

Pregnant women have insisted they have not had sex in a year, one of the existing grounds; spouses claimed psychological cruelty for getting called fat; and people whose affairs have made Page Six have denied adultery. One legendary ploy involved listing the filing lawyer’s secretary as the partner in adultery (which may even have been true in a few cases).

“What the fault divorce system has done is that it has institutionalized perjury,” said Malcolm S. Taub, a veteran Manhattan matrimonial lawyer. “This play-acting goes on and everybody looks the other way and follows the script.”

On Tuesday, the State Senate approved a bill that would permit divorce without a claim that either side is at fault, and on Wednesday the State Assembly Speaker, Sheldon Silver, said his members were discussing the details of similar legislation. “I support the concept,” Mr. Silver said.

via New Divorce Law Would Allow Couples to Tell the Truth – NYTimes.com.

HT to tODD for alerting me to this development.   I’ll share our conversation:

tODD:
As with many Christians, I have frequently lamented the state of marriage in the US, with its high divorce rate. Many Christians typically decry the role of "no-fault" divorce in bringing this on. And I typically assumed that was true. But if this article is right,
I'm not so sure about that anymore. If the divorce rate isn't actually hindered by current NY law, and all it adds is a requirement that people lie (and perjure themselves!) in order to get a divorce, is that actually better than just implementing no-fault divorce? Or is this just an argument made by those who don't see divorce as bad in the first place?

ME:  I didn’t realize there was a state that didn’t have no-fault divorce! As Irecall, though, New York has had a lower divorce rate than less “liberal” states. Maybe that’s a reason.

tODD:  Apparently New York is the only state left (according to Wikipedia).
Fascinating. South Dakota went no-fault in 1985. New York! Who'd'a thunk?
I tried to look up divorce rates per state (which data is easily
available), but as many people will inevitably point out, those data
are misleading, as they count divorces per capita (or, typically, per
1000 people), which tends to miss the point that marriage rates are
not consistent across states.

I found this document from the CDC: http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nvsr/nvsr57/nvsr57_19.pdf
Which would be useful, except (a) you have to calculate the
divorce-per-marriage rate yourself by hand, and (b) it's missing the
divorce numbers from several states, notably California.

Based on that, I whipped up the attached Excel spreadsheet, in which I
chose about half the states. Now, I happen to think the Nevada number
is bunk, and it likely points out a problem with the methodology --
people who get married in one state don't necessarily live there,
especially when it comes to Nevada (while people who get divorced in a
state presumably DO live there).

Regardless, it is fascinating to note that New York has a respectably
low (well, as such) rate with 42% of marriages ending in divorce
(though not as low as gay-marriage Massachusetts, which has 39%,
almost the same as Utah!). On the other hand, Mississippi's 83%
divorce rate is jaw-dropping. I can't find any commonality between the
states at either end, though, which is interesting in itself.

tODD (later): 
Sorry, Dr. Veith, but your beloved Oklahoma clocks in
at #3 when it comes to divorces per marriage (just under 72%). Oof.

Here are the top 10 worst states (that I could calculate):
Mississippi, New Mexico, Oklahoma, West Virginia, Delaware,
Washington, Arizona, Colorado, Michigan, and Kentucky

And here are the top 10 best states (that I could calculate, not
including Nevada for the aforementioned reasons):
South Carolina, Utah, Iowa, Massachusetts, South Dakota, DC, New York,
Vermont, Tennessee, and Illinois.

Honestly, can you see any pattern there? Urban/rural?
Conservative/liberal? North/south? I can't make any sort of
generalizations from this data.

I would add that divorce rates are usually related to income and social class, with poorer people (like those in Mississippi) getting divorced more often than affluent people (like those in Massachusetts).  Still, there is much to puzzle about here. But why should Mississippi have such a high rate while culturally and economically similar Tennessee has such a low rate?  Can anyone make sense of this?

Some are calling for doing away with no-fault divorce laws as a way to discourage divorce.  Yes, if people will lie, that’s one thing, but I don’t believe the state of New York was actually enforcing its no-fault–or its perjury– laws.  Can laws help cut down the number of divorces?  What will?

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    Given that some studies indicate that about 30% of spouses cheat, I’m not sure that a high listing of adultery as a cause for divorce in New York necessarily indicates wholesale perjury, unfortunately. Those making the claim may or may not know it’s true, but if the surveys tell the truth, it is a lot of the time.

    Moreover, I would have to suggest that, to use one of the examples, something is going on to make a woman separate from the father of her preborn child. Maybe it’s not in one of the easy categories provided by New York, but I think we can suggest that there is some cruelty or alienation involved.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    Given that some studies indicate that about 30% of spouses cheat, I’m not sure that a high listing of adultery as a cause for divorce in New York necessarily indicates wholesale perjury, unfortunately. Those making the claim may or may not know it’s true, but if the surveys tell the truth, it is a lot of the time.

    Moreover, I would have to suggest that, to use one of the examples, something is going on to make a woman separate from the father of her preborn child. Maybe it’s not in one of the easy categories provided by New York, but I think we can suggest that there is some cruelty or alienation involved.

  • Dan Kempin

    The debate about divorce law is one thing. Perhaps no fault should be conceded (not advocated) due to “the hardness of their hearts.”

    What I find flabbergasting is the open admission that judges and the whole legal system have simply decided to not enforce the law. What’s more, that very scorning of the law has become the argument for changing it!

    I would propose that this growing trend is a telling indicator regarding the rule of law. What difference does it make to change the law if we can simply decide not to follow it? Myriad examples of this can be found, from immigration law to old blue laws. Shouldn’t the options be to either enforce or repeal? What has changed in our manner of thinking this through?

  • Dan Kempin

    The debate about divorce law is one thing. Perhaps no fault should be conceded (not advocated) due to “the hardness of their hearts.”

    What I find flabbergasting is the open admission that judges and the whole legal system have simply decided to not enforce the law. What’s more, that very scorning of the law has become the argument for changing it!

    I would propose that this growing trend is a telling indicator regarding the rule of law. What difference does it make to change the law if we can simply decide not to follow it? Myriad examples of this can be found, from immigration law to old blue laws. Shouldn’t the options be to either enforce or repeal? What has changed in our manner of thinking this through?

  • kerner

    Dan @2:

    What you have discovered is the limits of the law and its ability to “rule”. Perhaps the limits of any human entity or institution to “rule”. The fact is, people will do what they want when they can. A law that is not supported, or considered important, by a sufficiaent number of people will not be enforced. This explains what happened to prohibition, the blue laws, why immigration laws were ignored all those years. And, oh, how many of us strictly comply with speed limits or count to 3 at stop signs. How many of us drank some alcohol before we were legally of age?

    You also have to remember that enforcement of any law costs money. It’s one thing to declare something necessary or illegal. It’s another to raise and spend the tax money to make people do, or stop doing, it.

    My conclusion, for whatever that’s worth, is that laws that do not reflect the will of most people (at least in the USA) are pretty useless. I believe that this is why the anti-tobacco (mostly the left) forces are spending so much time and effort making smoking socially unacceptable. It is also why the pro-life movement (mostly the right) are doing the same thing about abortion. Both groups know that public support in the abstract is a prerequisite for effective laws as concrete regulations.

    Apparently, most people in this country want to be able to get divorced without having to prove in court that their spouse has done something bad (and the event and being able to prove the event are 2 very different things sometimes). Exposing your spouse’s wrong doing often means harming him/her as well as divorcing him/her. Think of St. Joseph, who was going to divorce Mary “quietly” rather than with a public exposure of her pregnancy. Not wanting to publicly declare your “grounds” for divorce can be an act of mercy as well as an easy way out.

  • kerner

    Dan @2:

    What you have discovered is the limits of the law and its ability to “rule”. Perhaps the limits of any human entity or institution to “rule”. The fact is, people will do what they want when they can. A law that is not supported, or considered important, by a sufficiaent number of people will not be enforced. This explains what happened to prohibition, the blue laws, why immigration laws were ignored all those years. And, oh, how many of us strictly comply with speed limits or count to 3 at stop signs. How many of us drank some alcohol before we were legally of age?

    You also have to remember that enforcement of any law costs money. It’s one thing to declare something necessary or illegal. It’s another to raise and spend the tax money to make people do, or stop doing, it.

    My conclusion, for whatever that’s worth, is that laws that do not reflect the will of most people (at least in the USA) are pretty useless. I believe that this is why the anti-tobacco (mostly the left) forces are spending so much time and effort making smoking socially unacceptable. It is also why the pro-life movement (mostly the right) are doing the same thing about abortion. Both groups know that public support in the abstract is a prerequisite for effective laws as concrete regulations.

    Apparently, most people in this country want to be able to get divorced without having to prove in court that their spouse has done something bad (and the event and being able to prove the event are 2 very different things sometimes). Exposing your spouse’s wrong doing often means harming him/her as well as divorcing him/her. Think of St. Joseph, who was going to divorce Mary “quietly” rather than with a public exposure of her pregnancy. Not wanting to publicly declare your “grounds” for divorce can be an act of mercy as well as an easy way out.

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  • Matthew Surburg

    This is not my area of expertise, but I had been under the impression that one of the arguments for no-fault divorce was that the alternative was a bonanza for lawyers. Supposedly, proving fault could be a convoluted, time-consuming process. Then again, watching a good friend go through the hideous, cruel, bitter process that “no-fault” divorce is now makes me think that lawyer’s aren’t exactly sitting on the sidewalk with a hat and a sign.

  • Matthew Surburg

    This is not my area of expertise, but I had been under the impression that one of the arguments for no-fault divorce was that the alternative was a bonanza for lawyers. Supposedly, proving fault could be a convoluted, time-consuming process. Then again, watching a good friend go through the hideous, cruel, bitter process that “no-fault” divorce is now makes me think that lawyer’s aren’t exactly sitting on the sidewalk with a hat and a sign.

  • kerner

    MS @4:

    Just because we don’t have to prove fault doesn’t mean there isn’t any.

  • kerner

    MS @4:

    Just because we don’t have to prove fault doesn’t mean there isn’t any.

  • Dan Kempin

    kerner, #3,

    Your reply goes far to illustrate my point, which is not about the law itself but about the attitude of people toward it. I think it has become a part of our culture to approach the law in a magisterial and pragmatic way–judging, if you will, whether a law is worthwhile or, as you say, “useless.” Judging a law to be useless certainly affects my attitude with regard to compliance.

    I do understand that civil laws in the US are at the “consent of the governed,” but the recourse for that is supposed to be the legislative process, as was seen in both the passage and the repeal of prohibition. Prohibition was rather vigorously enforced, and even those who opposed and violated the law did not flout it or shrug it off the way people commonly do today. I think there is a difference in the way people–myself included–think of the law today.

    That change in attitude toward civil law quite naturally bleeds over to the law of God, which does not rule with the “consent of the governed.”

  • Dan Kempin

    kerner, #3,

    Your reply goes far to illustrate my point, which is not about the law itself but about the attitude of people toward it. I think it has become a part of our culture to approach the law in a magisterial and pragmatic way–judging, if you will, whether a law is worthwhile or, as you say, “useless.” Judging a law to be useless certainly affects my attitude with regard to compliance.

    I do understand that civil laws in the US are at the “consent of the governed,” but the recourse for that is supposed to be the legislative process, as was seen in both the passage and the repeal of prohibition. Prohibition was rather vigorously enforced, and even those who opposed and violated the law did not flout it or shrug it off the way people commonly do today. I think there is a difference in the way people–myself included–think of the law today.

    That change in attitude toward civil law quite naturally bleeds over to the law of God, which does not rule with the “consent of the governed.”

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Wish I could participate more in this conversation. Limited to my phone today.
    No–fault is one thing. It isn’t right, but if it is truely no fault then the cards should not be so stacked against the men. In my experience no fault assumes man’s fault.
    Now off to my father’s day weekend.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Wish I could participate more in this conversation. Limited to my phone today.
    No–fault is one thing. It isn’t right, but if it is truely no fault then the cards should not be so stacked against the men. In my experience no fault assumes man’s fault.
    Now off to my father’s day weekend.

  • helen

    He’s off, with most of the useful assets, to the pre-selected next wife.
    And can claim “no fault” besides! The perfect solution for the “perfect” man.

  • helen

    He’s off, with most of the useful assets, to the pre-selected next wife.
    And can claim “no fault” besides! The perfect solution for the “perfect” man.

  • Cincinnatus

    “Prohibition was rather vigorously enforced, and even those who opposed and violated the law did not flout it or shrug it off the way people commonly do today.”

    Really? Are you sure about that, Dan@6? So Al Capone and the modern mafia (and, really, organized crime in general) weren’t “flouting” the law? “Speakeasies” were a minor phenomenon? Moonshine wasn’t the beverage of choice throughout Appalachia? There was a reason the United States made the collective and unprecedented decision to overturn a constitutional amendment with yet another constitutional amendment barely a decade later.

    It’s one thing to long for the good ole’ days. Another thing entirely to long for them if they never existed. Laws in the United States absolutely must be condoned by public opinion or they will not stand. I do not necessarily believe that this is an ideal situation, but that is how it is. In Madison, Wisconsin, where I live, marijuana is tacitly legal because both citizens and police find prohibition onerous. Virtually no one, in practice, believes speed limits to be reasonable. Sodomy laws still on the books are universally ridiculed and referenced as if they weren’t actually legitimate entries in the book of statutes. In a democracy, laws that do not “please” the people might as well not exist.

    The moral of the story for this particular case is that, while I subscribe to the notion that “no-fault” divorce has dealt a crushing blow to the sanctity and viability of marriage in the modern West, there isn’t much we can do about it legally. It’s the same reason that morality can’t be “legislated.”

  • Cincinnatus

    “Prohibition was rather vigorously enforced, and even those who opposed and violated the law did not flout it or shrug it off the way people commonly do today.”

    Really? Are you sure about that, Dan@6? So Al Capone and the modern mafia (and, really, organized crime in general) weren’t “flouting” the law? “Speakeasies” were a minor phenomenon? Moonshine wasn’t the beverage of choice throughout Appalachia? There was a reason the United States made the collective and unprecedented decision to overturn a constitutional amendment with yet another constitutional amendment barely a decade later.

    It’s one thing to long for the good ole’ days. Another thing entirely to long for them if they never existed. Laws in the United States absolutely must be condoned by public opinion or they will not stand. I do not necessarily believe that this is an ideal situation, but that is how it is. In Madison, Wisconsin, where I live, marijuana is tacitly legal because both citizens and police find prohibition onerous. Virtually no one, in practice, believes speed limits to be reasonable. Sodomy laws still on the books are universally ridiculed and referenced as if they weren’t actually legitimate entries in the book of statutes. In a democracy, laws that do not “please” the people might as well not exist.

    The moral of the story for this particular case is that, while I subscribe to the notion that “no-fault” divorce has dealt a crushing blow to the sanctity and viability of marriage in the modern West, there isn’t much we can do about it legally. It’s the same reason that morality can’t be “legislated.”

  • Cincinnatus

    And, to return to a topic from yesterday, it is why civic republicans insisted upon the prerequisite of a virtuous citizenry. A nation of laws is impossible without a virtuous people.

  • Cincinnatus

    And, to return to a topic from yesterday, it is why civic republicans insisted upon the prerequisite of a virtuous citizenry. A nation of laws is impossible without a virtuous people.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Myself, I’m still fascinated with the divorce-per-marriage data, and how it truly is difficult to draw any conclusions from them as to the demographics of divorce.

    This is in contrast to a claim that Bike Bubba once made about those very statistics:

    Actually, when you measure divorce rates in terms of the number of people actually getting married, the “blue” states have a higher divorce rate than the “red.” … When you measure divorce in terms of divorces per number of people actually getting married, New England’s effective divorce rate of 55% dwarfs Arkansas’ of 35% or so. Not that 35% divorce rate is anything to brag about, but those who lament how badly Christians are doing regarding marriage have regrettably chosen the wrong units. (numbers were provided by Mike Huckabee’s initiative to prevent divorce back when he was governor)

    Now, maybe it’s all the fault of poor data from Huckabee’s initiative, but none of the claims made back then by Bike Bubba are true. For one thing, New England’s divorce-to-marriage ratio is actually 47.0%, whereas Arkansas’ is 49.2% (as of 2007, from the data in the link I gave in Veith’s write-up).

    What’s more, if you take the 45 states that have divorce data and rank them by the divorce-to-marriage ratio, there’s no obvious pattern of blue and red states. There are 11 Obama states in the lower half (fewer divorces) and 14 in the upper half. But some of those aren’t true-blue states, you may argue. Fine. There are 8 Kerry states in the lower half and 9 in the upper half. The overall national divorce-to-marriage ratio is 48.3%, and it’s 49.4% for Kerry states and 51.6% for Obama states (note the bad influence of those light-blue states!).

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Myself, I’m still fascinated with the divorce-per-marriage data, and how it truly is difficult to draw any conclusions from them as to the demographics of divorce.

    This is in contrast to a claim that Bike Bubba once made about those very statistics:

    Actually, when you measure divorce rates in terms of the number of people actually getting married, the “blue” states have a higher divorce rate than the “red.” … When you measure divorce in terms of divorces per number of people actually getting married, New England’s effective divorce rate of 55% dwarfs Arkansas’ of 35% or so. Not that 35% divorce rate is anything to brag about, but those who lament how badly Christians are doing regarding marriage have regrettably chosen the wrong units. (numbers were provided by Mike Huckabee’s initiative to prevent divorce back when he was governor)

    Now, maybe it’s all the fault of poor data from Huckabee’s initiative, but none of the claims made back then by Bike Bubba are true. For one thing, New England’s divorce-to-marriage ratio is actually 47.0%, whereas Arkansas’ is 49.2% (as of 2007, from the data in the link I gave in Veith’s write-up).

    What’s more, if you take the 45 states that have divorce data and rank them by the divorce-to-marriage ratio, there’s no obvious pattern of blue and red states. There are 11 Obama states in the lower half (fewer divorces) and 14 in the upper half. But some of those aren’t true-blue states, you may argue. Fine. There are 8 Kerry states in the lower half and 9 in the upper half. The overall national divorce-to-marriage ratio is 48.3%, and it’s 49.4% for Kerry states and 51.6% for Obama states (note the bad influence of those light-blue states!).

  • J. Baker

    As a resident of Tennessee I think I may be able to make a quick point concerning the difference between states like Tennessee and Mississippi. When comparing similar States like these one also needs to look at ethic/cultural concerns. I hope this doesn’t sound overly critical or racist, but Mississippi has a much higher African-American population than Tennessee and unfortunately, in recent years, African-American culture has become extremely anti-marriage (possibly due to the hedonistic lifestyle promoted by rap stars). In contrast, Tennessee’s population is mostly rural white or immigrant hispanic both of which culturally tend towards less divorce. Of course these are not hard and fast rules, but I think that might be at least part of the difference.

    Just a thought. . .

    ~Jordan

  • J. Baker

    As a resident of Tennessee I think I may be able to make a quick point concerning the difference between states like Tennessee and Mississippi. When comparing similar States like these one also needs to look at ethic/cultural concerns. I hope this doesn’t sound overly critical or racist, but Mississippi has a much higher African-American population than Tennessee and unfortunately, in recent years, African-American culture has become extremely anti-marriage (possibly due to the hedonistic lifestyle promoted by rap stars). In contrast, Tennessee’s population is mostly rural white or immigrant hispanic both of which culturally tend towards less divorce. Of course these are not hard and fast rules, but I think that might be at least part of the difference.

    Just a thought. . .

    ~Jordan

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    In addition to my observation above that gay-marriage Massachusetts has one of the lowest divorce-to-marriage ratios (at 38.3%, between Iowa and South Dakota), I’d like to point out that, states with gay marriage have a cumulative divorce-to-marriage ratio of 44.2%, four points below the national average. Four of those (Iowa, Massachusetts, DC, and Vermont) are in the 10 states with the lowest ratios. Which does seem to say something about gay marriage destroying the sanctity of marriage overall, though not what I remember hearing from some here.

    And Connecticut, the gay-marriage state with the highest divorce-to-marriage ratio (at 57.4%) is still 25 percentage points behind Mississippi’s abysmal 82.8% ratio (and at least 10 points behind West Virginia, Oklahoma, and New Mexico — at 69.9%, 71.5%, and 75.1%, respectively).

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    In addition to my observation above that gay-marriage Massachusetts has one of the lowest divorce-to-marriage ratios (at 38.3%, between Iowa and South Dakota), I’d like to point out that, states with gay marriage have a cumulative divorce-to-marriage ratio of 44.2%, four points below the national average. Four of those (Iowa, Massachusetts, DC, and Vermont) are in the 10 states with the lowest ratios. Which does seem to say something about gay marriage destroying the sanctity of marriage overall, though not what I remember hearing from some here.

    And Connecticut, the gay-marriage state with the highest divorce-to-marriage ratio (at 57.4%) is still 25 percentage points behind Mississippi’s abysmal 82.8% ratio (and at least 10 points behind West Virginia, Oklahoma, and New Mexico — at 69.9%, 71.5%, and 75.1%, respectively).

  • Joe P.

    Jason,
    Crime stats collected by CQ Press show that Tennessee was the 6th most dangerous state in the nation last year, while Mississippi didn’t crack the top 20. Here’s how TN’s described:

    http://www.walletpop.com/insurance/most-dangerous-states

    No. 6: Tennessee
    Tennessee residents might sing about love for country and neighbor, but lag behind in showing it. The state earns the No. 3 slot for most assaults.

    Rankings in Crime (out of 50 states)
    (1 = Worst, 50 = Best)
    Assault: 3
    Burglary: 5
    Murder: 15
    Motor Vehicle Theft: 18
    Rape: 17
    Robbery: 8

    TN has a much lower African-American population than Mississppi and, unfortunately, in recent years white culture has become extremely pro-crime (possibly due to the hedonistic lifestyle promoted by country music and rock stars).

  • Joe P.

    Jason,
    Crime stats collected by CQ Press show that Tennessee was the 6th most dangerous state in the nation last year, while Mississippi didn’t crack the top 20. Here’s how TN’s described:

    http://www.walletpop.com/insurance/most-dangerous-states

    No. 6: Tennessee
    Tennessee residents might sing about love for country and neighbor, but lag behind in showing it. The state earns the No. 3 slot for most assaults.

    Rankings in Crime (out of 50 states)
    (1 = Worst, 50 = Best)
    Assault: 3
    Burglary: 5
    Murder: 15
    Motor Vehicle Theft: 18
    Rape: 17
    Robbery: 8

    TN has a much lower African-American population than Mississppi and, unfortunately, in recent years white culture has become extremely pro-crime (possibly due to the hedonistic lifestyle promoted by country music and rock stars).

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Wow Jordan (@12), I don’t think I’d try making an assertion like that without knowing what the actual data looked like. (Never mind your conflation of “African-American culture” and “rap” which, in case you weren’t aware, is actually surprisingly popular with white people.)

    Anyhow, I did a scatter plot comparing the divorce-to-marriage ratio and the percentage of the population that’s black, and no, I can’t see any correlation. Sure, Mississippi has a ridiculously high divorce rate (82.8%) and has the highest percentage of black people (35.6%) of the states[1], but non-state DC actually has a much higher percentage of black people (57.2%) and, as I mentioned, one of the lowest divorce ratios (41.4%). What’s more, the state with the most black people after Mississippi is South Carolina, with 28.3% black people, and a surprisingly low 37.8% divorce-to-marriage ratio.

    In short, your comment ends up coming across as ill-informed and, well, racist.

    [1] Statistics on black percentages from statemaster.com/graph/peo_tot_bla_pop_percap-total-black-population-per-capita

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Wow Jordan (@12), I don’t think I’d try making an assertion like that without knowing what the actual data looked like. (Never mind your conflation of “African-American culture” and “rap” which, in case you weren’t aware, is actually surprisingly popular with white people.)

    Anyhow, I did a scatter plot comparing the divorce-to-marriage ratio and the percentage of the population that’s black, and no, I can’t see any correlation. Sure, Mississippi has a ridiculously high divorce rate (82.8%) and has the highest percentage of black people (35.6%) of the states[1], but non-state DC actually has a much higher percentage of black people (57.2%) and, as I mentioned, one of the lowest divorce ratios (41.4%). What’s more, the state with the most black people after Mississippi is South Carolina, with 28.3% black people, and a surprisingly low 37.8% divorce-to-marriage ratio.

    In short, your comment ends up coming across as ill-informed and, well, racist.

    [1] Statistics on black percentages from statemaster.com/graph/peo_tot_bla_pop_percap-total-black-population-per-capita

  • Peter Leavitt

    Most analysts attribute Massachusetts having the lowest divorce rate in the nation [2.4 per 1000] to two major factors, religion and educational level. This state at 42% has the largest per-centage of Catholics. On education it ranks first with 85 % of its residents with a high-school diploma and one-third with college degrees. Interesting that among religions Catholics and Lutherans both at 21% have the lowest

    Anecdotally, I would add another factor, namely that not a few Massachusetts folk are well aware of the disastrous financial consequences of divorce.

    Interesting data from a Barna Group statistical sample study of 3792 adults on divorce rate by political persuasion:
    Conservative 28%
    Moderate 33%
    Liberal 37%

  • Peter Leavitt

    Most analysts attribute Massachusetts having the lowest divorce rate in the nation [2.4 per 1000] to two major factors, religion and educational level. This state at 42% has the largest per-centage of Catholics. On education it ranks first with 85 % of its residents with a high-school diploma and one-third with college degrees. Interesting that among religions Catholics and Lutherans both at 21% have the lowest

    Anecdotally, I would add another factor, namely that not a few Massachusetts folk are well aware of the disastrous financial consequences of divorce.

    Interesting data from a Barna Group statistical sample study of 3792 adults on divorce rate by political persuasion:
    Conservative 28%
    Moderate 33%
    Liberal 37%

  • Peter Leavitt

    Pardon, the last sentence of para 1 should have ended with “…divorce rate among religious denominations.”

  • Peter Leavitt

    Pardon, the last sentence of para 1 should have ended with “…divorce rate among religious denominations.”

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Peter (@16), first, divorce rate per 1000 people is a bad metric to use, since not every group of 1000 people gets married at the same rate, and divorces are necessarily contingent on there being a marriage to begin with. That’s why you should use the divorce-to-marriage ratio.

    Second, Massachusetts has neither the lowest divorce-to-marriage ratio (though it is low — 38.6% — it is beaten by Iowa, Utah, South Carolina, and Nevada, though the last one is pretty clearly an anomaly) nor the largest percentage of Catholics (at 47%, it is rather outpaced by Rhode Island’s 63%)[1]. It should be noted that Rhode Island’s extra 16 percentage points of Catholics actually nets it a worse divorce-to-marriage ratio of 44.3%. Moreover, New Mexico, with the third-highest percentage of Catholics (41%), has the second-highest divorce ratio (75.1%). I did a scatter plot comparing Catholic and divorce percentages, and there was no correlation.

    In short, all the suggestions so far seem to be telling me more about the people making them than what the actual data show.

    [1]statemaster.com/graph/peo_rom_cat_per_of_cat-people-roman-catholicism-percentage-catholics

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Peter (@16), first, divorce rate per 1000 people is a bad metric to use, since not every group of 1000 people gets married at the same rate, and divorces are necessarily contingent on there being a marriage to begin with. That’s why you should use the divorce-to-marriage ratio.

    Second, Massachusetts has neither the lowest divorce-to-marriage ratio (though it is low — 38.6% — it is beaten by Iowa, Utah, South Carolina, and Nevada, though the last one is pretty clearly an anomaly) nor the largest percentage of Catholics (at 47%, it is rather outpaced by Rhode Island’s 63%)[1]. It should be noted that Rhode Island’s extra 16 percentage points of Catholics actually nets it a worse divorce-to-marriage ratio of 44.3%. Moreover, New Mexico, with the third-highest percentage of Catholics (41%), has the second-highest divorce ratio (75.1%). I did a scatter plot comparing Catholic and divorce percentages, and there was no correlation.

    In short, all the suggestions so far seem to be telling me more about the people making them than what the actual data show.

    [1]statemaster.com/graph/peo_rom_cat_per_of_cat-people-roman-catholicism-percentage-catholics

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    tODD, the claims I made were true regarding the data that I had, which were from a different source than you’re using. The CDC, missing data from many states, is not the end all in data.

    Ahem.

    Moreover, there is a gorilla in the corner here, which is “what % of adults marry in each state?”. You could find some very interesting correlations there if you like–ones that would lead to the question “are all those Bay Staters not getting married at all, or is their ‘divorce statistic’ hidden in the dissolution of living in sin arrangements?”

    I’m guessing that the latter is the case. Or, put differently, at least people in the South are trying to make it right.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    tODD, the claims I made were true regarding the data that I had, which were from a different source than you’re using. The CDC, missing data from many states, is not the end all in data.

    Ahem.

    Moreover, there is a gorilla in the corner here, which is “what % of adults marry in each state?”. You could find some very interesting correlations there if you like–ones that would lead to the question “are all those Bay Staters not getting married at all, or is their ‘divorce statistic’ hidden in the dissolution of living in sin arrangements?”

    I’m guessing that the latter is the case. Or, put differently, at least people in the South are trying to make it right.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Bubba (@19), I’m fine with an actual comparison of data, but saying that “the CDC, missing data from many states, is not the end all in data” isn’t going to sway anyone. The CDC data almost certainly beats an un-linked-to (and thus unexamined) set of data “provided by Mike Huckabee’s initiative to prevent divorce”. Where can we view Huckabee’s data. What years was it pulled from? Was it any more complete than the CDC’s? And why did it rate Arkansas’ divorce-to-marriage ratio so much lower than did the CDC?

    And please, don’t move the goalposts. You made a series of claims about the “divorces per number of people actually getting married”. That was what I was refuting. Now you want to talk about something different: “what % of adults marry in each state”. We’re talking about divorce here, not living together.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Bubba (@19), I’m fine with an actual comparison of data, but saying that “the CDC, missing data from many states, is not the end all in data” isn’t going to sway anyone. The CDC data almost certainly beats an un-linked-to (and thus unexamined) set of data “provided by Mike Huckabee’s initiative to prevent divorce”. Where can we view Huckabee’s data. What years was it pulled from? Was it any more complete than the CDC’s? And why did it rate Arkansas’ divorce-to-marriage ratio so much lower than did the CDC?

    And please, don’t move the goalposts. You made a series of claims about the “divorces per number of people actually getting married”. That was what I was refuting. Now you want to talk about something different: “what % of adults marry in each state”. We’re talking about divorce here, not living together.

  • Dan Kempin

    Cincinnatus, #9,

    Yes, really. Prohibition is an excellent example of legislating against the majority. There was strong opposition to the law, which let to its eventual repeal and the opportunity for organized crime to make good money in the meantime. But yes, I would say that the attempts of law enforcement to oppose Capone and the bootleggers was “vigorous.” Speakeasies flourished, but were often raided by the authorities. The law was broken willingly and wholesale–that I concede, but it was not merely shrugged off by the agencies responsible for enforcement.

    I think the attitude has changed. I may be wrong and you may disagree, but that’s my two cents.

  • Dan Kempin

    Cincinnatus, #9,

    Yes, really. Prohibition is an excellent example of legislating against the majority. There was strong opposition to the law, which let to its eventual repeal and the opportunity for organized crime to make good money in the meantime. But yes, I would say that the attempts of law enforcement to oppose Capone and the bootleggers was “vigorous.” Speakeasies flourished, but were often raided by the authorities. The law was broken willingly and wholesale–that I concede, but it was not merely shrugged off by the agencies responsible for enforcement.

    I think the attitude has changed. I may be wrong and you may disagree, but that’s my two cents.

  • J. Baker

    First, to all involved I apologize profusely if I sounded racist. I truly did not intend to come of that way. Furthermore, it was an off the top of my head remark, thus I didn’t and don’t have hard statistics to back this up. I try to make a sharp distinction between race and culture, but that being said I don’t think it is too much of a stretch to say that particular ethnic/or regional/or economic groups can have a particular culture that is predominately associated with them. The primary point I was trying to make was that it is not a simple calculation of economics or any one factor, but rather that one needs to take multiple influences, and unfortunately when one combines lower income (as in Miss.) with a culture whose primary musical role models hedonistic. I believe it isn’t too far to say that this could lead to higher divorce rates. Oh, and please know that this would be true of ANY ethnic group that is put in a similar situation, it just happens that in the part of the South that I live (Memphis to be specific) the African-American population is primarily in this situation. Anyway, I hope this makes more sense, and again I apologize if I offended anyone, I didn’t intend to do so.

  • J. Baker

    First, to all involved I apologize profusely if I sounded racist. I truly did not intend to come of that way. Furthermore, it was an off the top of my head remark, thus I didn’t and don’t have hard statistics to back this up. I try to make a sharp distinction between race and culture, but that being said I don’t think it is too much of a stretch to say that particular ethnic/or regional/or economic groups can have a particular culture that is predominately associated with them. The primary point I was trying to make was that it is not a simple calculation of economics or any one factor, but rather that one needs to take multiple influences, and unfortunately when one combines lower income (as in Miss.) with a culture whose primary musical role models hedonistic. I believe it isn’t too far to say that this could lead to higher divorce rates. Oh, and please know that this would be true of ANY ethnic group that is put in a similar situation, it just happens that in the part of the South that I live (Memphis to be specific) the African-American population is primarily in this situation. Anyway, I hope this makes more sense, and again I apologize if I offended anyone, I didn’t intend to do so.

  • Cincinnatus

    I emphatically disagree. All sorts of drugs (most notable, probably, is marijuana) are currently prohibited against the wishes of a substantial portion of America’s population, if not the majority–at least enough that the law itself proves meaningless, as “everyone” smokes pot (i.e., compliance with laws against marijuana is analogous to compliance with speed limits). In other words, “the law [is] broken willingly and wholesale,” and it is certainly not “shrugged off” by the agencies responsible for enforcement. Both marijuana laws and speed limits are “vigorously enforced.”

    Hypothesis: both crimes are tremendous moneymakers for the state, just as drugs in particular are for organized crime. And both laws are ultimately fruitless, because public opinion is arrayed against them. The only distinction between marijuana and no-fault divorce in New York is that divorce laws in New York finally reached a level of disharmony with public opinion that even the government was unwilling to maintain the law; it’s only a matter of time before the same is true of marijuana regulations, for example. As I mentioned, my own town refuses to enforce that particular prohibition (except when a user is driving), and a growing number of states are asserting the legality of marijuana.

    The point is that we’re at a disheartening juncture here–one from which conservatives in particular have much to learn. Unless we construct a police state or a benevolent dictatorship, laws will avail little to “improve” the morals of the public. The realm of politics should no longer be our chief battlefield.

  • Cincinnatus

    I emphatically disagree. All sorts of drugs (most notable, probably, is marijuana) are currently prohibited against the wishes of a substantial portion of America’s population, if not the majority–at least enough that the law itself proves meaningless, as “everyone” smokes pot (i.e., compliance with laws against marijuana is analogous to compliance with speed limits). In other words, “the law [is] broken willingly and wholesale,” and it is certainly not “shrugged off” by the agencies responsible for enforcement. Both marijuana laws and speed limits are “vigorously enforced.”

    Hypothesis: both crimes are tremendous moneymakers for the state, just as drugs in particular are for organized crime. And both laws are ultimately fruitless, because public opinion is arrayed against them. The only distinction between marijuana and no-fault divorce in New York is that divorce laws in New York finally reached a level of disharmony with public opinion that even the government was unwilling to maintain the law; it’s only a matter of time before the same is true of marijuana regulations, for example. As I mentioned, my own town refuses to enforce that particular prohibition (except when a user is driving), and a growing number of states are asserting the legality of marijuana.

    The point is that we’re at a disheartening juncture here–one from which conservatives in particular have much to learn. Unless we construct a police state or a benevolent dictatorship, laws will avail little to “improve” the morals of the public. The realm of politics should no longer be our chief battlefield.

  • Booklover

    Interestingly, the first “no-fault” divorce law in the U.S. was signed in 1969 by California Governor Ronald Reagan.

    He was also the only U.S. President to have been divorced.

    Whether you are red, blue, or purple; sin happens.

    By the way, law curtails our actions. It may not curtail our heart condition, but it does curtail our actions.

  • Booklover

    Interestingly, the first “no-fault” divorce law in the U.S. was signed in 1969 by California Governor Ronald Reagan.

    He was also the only U.S. President to have been divorced.

    Whether you are red, blue, or purple; sin happens.

    By the way, law curtails our actions. It may not curtail our heart condition, but it does curtail our actions.

  • Joe P.

    Baker, I say this as a man whose biracial family once lived in western TN, stop it. tODD thoroughly refuted your speculations with facts. Your repeated insistence that the vast majority of Mississippi’s (or the South’s?) African Americans take their moral cues from hedonists is highly degrading and ignorant.
    Here’s a link to perhaps the best 11 minutes you’ll spend today.

  • Joe P.

    Baker, I say this as a man whose biracial family once lived in western TN, stop it. tODD thoroughly refuted your speculations with facts. Your repeated insistence that the vast majority of Mississippi’s (or the South’s?) African Americans take their moral cues from hedonists is highly degrading and ignorant.
    Here’s a link to perhaps the best 11 minutes you’ll spend today.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    J. Baker (@22), you said, “I didn’t and don’t have hard statistics to back this up.” But you do! I’ve linked to all the data I’m using to draw my conclusions. You do have access to it, even if you didn’t apparently look for it before you made your “off the top of [the] head remark”.

    “I don’t think it is too much of a stretch to say that particular ethnic/or regional/or economic groups can have a particular culture that is predominately associated with them.” Ah, but “associated with them” by whom? Why do you (a non-black guy) get to pick “rap” as the predominant cultural marker for black people?

    But even if you’re right about that, you’re apparently remarkably ignorant about the hedonism in “white culture”. Lady Gaga? Hello? I don’t even listen to the radio or watch TV and I know about her. And there are many, many more like her. How can you possibly conclude that “hedonistic” “musical role models” are the specialty of any singular racial or ethnic group? It still comes off as racist. Why don’t you blame white people’s divorce problems on white culture?

    But then you seem to have changed your claim now. You’ve made it about “lower income” states having more divorces. Guess what? We can assess that as well. But you don’t seem to have done that, either. Fine, I’ll do it. Give me a second.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    J. Baker (@22), you said, “I didn’t and don’t have hard statistics to back this up.” But you do! I’ve linked to all the data I’m using to draw my conclusions. You do have access to it, even if you didn’t apparently look for it before you made your “off the top of [the] head remark”.

    “I don’t think it is too much of a stretch to say that particular ethnic/or regional/or economic groups can have a particular culture that is predominately associated with them.” Ah, but “associated with them” by whom? Why do you (a non-black guy) get to pick “rap” as the predominant cultural marker for black people?

    But even if you’re right about that, you’re apparently remarkably ignorant about the hedonism in “white culture”. Lady Gaga? Hello? I don’t even listen to the radio or watch TV and I know about her. And there are many, many more like her. How can you possibly conclude that “hedonistic” “musical role models” are the specialty of any singular racial or ethnic group? It still comes off as racist. Why don’t you blame white people’s divorce problems on white culture?

    But then you seem to have changed your claim now. You’ve made it about “lower income” states having more divorces. Guess what? We can assess that as well. But you don’t seem to have done that, either. Fine, I’ll do it. Give me a second.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Okay, I did a scatter plot of per-capita income levels vs. divorce ratios. Good news, J. Baker (@22)! The trendline that Excel drew for me does show that as income increases, the number of divorces decreases!

    The bad news? The r-squared value, again according to Excel (statistics is not my strength, just my interest), is 0.0682 (on a scale of 0 to 1). In other words, the trendline is an exceedingly poor fit for the data. In other other words, no, income is not a good explanation for differing divorce numbers between states.

    A look at some of the states makes this clear. Yes, Mississippi, with its 83% divorce ratio, has a low per-capita income of $30399. But, um, South Carolina? Remember them? The state that also pretty solidly disproved your whole “African-American culture” theory? Guess what? They also have a low per-capita income ($32666). And they still have the lowest divorce-to-marriage ratio of any state besides Nevada. Oh, and Connecticut, with the highest per-capita income of any state (besides DC) with $56,272 has the 11th worst divorce ratio.

    Want to try again?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Okay, I did a scatter plot of per-capita income levels vs. divorce ratios. Good news, J. Baker (@22)! The trendline that Excel drew for me does show that as income increases, the number of divorces decreases!

    The bad news? The r-squared value, again according to Excel (statistics is not my strength, just my interest), is 0.0682 (on a scale of 0 to 1). In other words, the trendline is an exceedingly poor fit for the data. In other other words, no, income is not a good explanation for differing divorce numbers between states.

    A look at some of the states makes this clear. Yes, Mississippi, with its 83% divorce ratio, has a low per-capita income of $30399. But, um, South Carolina? Remember them? The state that also pretty solidly disproved your whole “African-American culture” theory? Guess what? They also have a low per-capita income ($32666). And they still have the lowest divorce-to-marriage ratio of any state besides Nevada. Oh, and Connecticut, with the highest per-capita income of any state (besides DC) with $56,272 has the 11th worst divorce ratio.

    Want to try again?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Oh, and I got my per capita income statistics from theCensus Web site.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Oh, and I got my per capita income statistics from theCensus Web site.

  • Dan Kempin

    Cincinnatus, #23,

    “I emphatically disagree.”

    Fair enough, but I’m still not sure I’m getting your point. Are you saying that things are as they always were and nothing has changed culturally in how people view the law? I would concede that to a point in that there is nothing new under the sun and a sinful heart is a sinful heart. I am of the personal opinion that the cultural view of the law has lowered in recent decades.

    Are you saying that because popular opposition makes laws impractical to enforce, then they are de facto “meaningless?” If so, you are sort of making my point.

    Are you saying that civil legislation is not the place to deal with the morality of the heart? If so I agree, but that was not what I was arguing.

    You say that pot and speeding are losing battles, since like prohibition they persist despite vigorous enforcement. True enough, but a losing battle is still a battle. The story above about divorce and the New York legal system depicted a situation where those responsible for enforcement–enforcement, mind you–had “institutionalized perjury” and where “This play-acting goes on and everybody looks the other way and follows the script.” This is not at all the same thing as the struggle of citizens against enforcement.

    It is much in the same line as the sanctuary cities, who simply declared that they would not enforce established law.

    The remedy for prohibition was repeal, but there is no rememdy in a case like this since the law is de facto abolished by those who do not have the legal right to do so, whether or not it is with the support of the people.

    Anyway, I’ve rambled enough. Thanks for your thoughtful replies.

  • Dan Kempin

    Cincinnatus, #23,

    “I emphatically disagree.”

    Fair enough, but I’m still not sure I’m getting your point. Are you saying that things are as they always were and nothing has changed culturally in how people view the law? I would concede that to a point in that there is nothing new under the sun and a sinful heart is a sinful heart. I am of the personal opinion that the cultural view of the law has lowered in recent decades.

    Are you saying that because popular opposition makes laws impractical to enforce, then they are de facto “meaningless?” If so, you are sort of making my point.

    Are you saying that civil legislation is not the place to deal with the morality of the heart? If so I agree, but that was not what I was arguing.

    You say that pot and speeding are losing battles, since like prohibition they persist despite vigorous enforcement. True enough, but a losing battle is still a battle. The story above about divorce and the New York legal system depicted a situation where those responsible for enforcement–enforcement, mind you–had “institutionalized perjury” and where “This play-acting goes on and everybody looks the other way and follows the script.” This is not at all the same thing as the struggle of citizens against enforcement.

    It is much in the same line as the sanctuary cities, who simply declared that they would not enforce established law.

    The remedy for prohibition was repeal, but there is no rememdy in a case like this since the law is de facto abolished by those who do not have the legal right to do so, whether or not it is with the support of the people.

    Anyway, I’ve rambled enough. Thanks for your thoughtful replies.

  • Dan Kempin

    And to Dr. Veith and tODD: Sorry to spend so much text on an aside. I never got past the invitation to, “Notice how New Yorkers have been getting around the current law so far.”

  • Dan Kempin

    And to Dr. Veith and tODD: Sorry to spend so much text on an aside. I never got past the invitation to, “Notice how New Yorkers have been getting around the current law so far.”

  • Cincinnatus

    Dan@29: My primary point is that democratic citizenries are inherently inclined to be law-abiding so long as the law is in accordance with their own preferences and law-flouting if not. If the government is an instrument of and by the “people,” then we aren’t inclined to respect it much if it is not doing something “of and by the [contemporary instantiation of the] people.” That would be one of the primary reasons I am not a particular fan of democracy as a form of governance.

    tODD and Baker: Interesting statistical spat here. Statistics don’t prove much of anything (there are lies, d@mned lies, and statistics), but I’m inclined to agree with tODD. Moreover, not all decisions are economic decisions, even in the supremely self-interested culture that is America. Marriage isn’t a purely economic decision (i.e., people don’t choose marriage based purely on a metric of benefits and costs), so I highly doubt the potential of economic indicators to correlate with divorce rates. I think we should be looking at less tangible (and thus less susceptible to statistics) factors: religion, moral codes, etc. Rhode Island, as we’ve already discussed, has a very low divorce rate. It’s probably not coincidental that Rhode Island also has a very high “Catholicism rate.” The Catholic Church, after all, is one of the few voices left in the entire world preaching the inadmissibility of divorce.

    On the other hand, I wouldn’t dismiss Bike Bubba’s claim that we should in fact mention marriages per capita even though this contradicted an earlier claim of his. After all, while those who actually remain married after getting married in Rhode Island is quite high, it may be that only a small fraction of Rhode Islanders are actually getting married in the first place. I think this is a valuable line of inquiry because it is quite true in Europe: divorce is and almost always has been less common in Europe than in America, but marriage itself has never been more unpopular on the Continent. I don’t have time to look up the stats at the moment, but it seems like it could be worth the time.

    After all, we’re interested primarily in the overall health of marriage in the West and not just the narrow question of divorce, correct? Divorce is only one barometer of such health.

  • Cincinnatus

    Dan@29: My primary point is that democratic citizenries are inherently inclined to be law-abiding so long as the law is in accordance with their own preferences and law-flouting if not. If the government is an instrument of and by the “people,” then we aren’t inclined to respect it much if it is not doing something “of and by the [contemporary instantiation of the] people.” That would be one of the primary reasons I am not a particular fan of democracy as a form of governance.

    tODD and Baker: Interesting statistical spat here. Statistics don’t prove much of anything (there are lies, d@mned lies, and statistics), but I’m inclined to agree with tODD. Moreover, not all decisions are economic decisions, even in the supremely self-interested culture that is America. Marriage isn’t a purely economic decision (i.e., people don’t choose marriage based purely on a metric of benefits and costs), so I highly doubt the potential of economic indicators to correlate with divorce rates. I think we should be looking at less tangible (and thus less susceptible to statistics) factors: religion, moral codes, etc. Rhode Island, as we’ve already discussed, has a very low divorce rate. It’s probably not coincidental that Rhode Island also has a very high “Catholicism rate.” The Catholic Church, after all, is one of the few voices left in the entire world preaching the inadmissibility of divorce.

    On the other hand, I wouldn’t dismiss Bike Bubba’s claim that we should in fact mention marriages per capita even though this contradicted an earlier claim of his. After all, while those who actually remain married after getting married in Rhode Island is quite high, it may be that only a small fraction of Rhode Islanders are actually getting married in the first place. I think this is a valuable line of inquiry because it is quite true in Europe: divorce is and almost always has been less common in Europe than in America, but marriage itself has never been more unpopular on the Continent. I don’t have time to look up the stats at the moment, but it seems like it could be worth the time.

    After all, we’re interested primarily in the overall health of marriage in the West and not just the narrow question of divorce, correct? Divorce is only one barometer of such health.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Dan (@30), don’t apologize to me. I think it’s clear, though, that I’m more fascinated by the statistics of it all. Excel as an investigative tool!

    Speaking of which, I went back and calculated r-squared values for all the suggested mechanisms behind the divorce numbers. Here they are:

    Black people divorce more: R^2=”1E-05″ (which is Excel’s way of saying it has absolutely nothing to do with that) Also, the trendline was flat to begin with. In short, it really has nothing to do with race.

    Catholic people divorce less: R^2=0.0125 (which is still exceedingly low; in other words, Catholics aren’t doing any statistical good)

    People with lower incomes divorce more: R^2=0.0682. Our best fit yet! And yet still very, very small. And very, very unconvincing.

    But Peter (@16) didn’t just mention Catholics! He also mentioned “religion”. What of religious people? And not just those who claim they are — what of people who said, oh, “that they attended church or synagogue once a week or almost every week” (numbers for which can be found at Wikipedia)? Well, that one’s surprisingly depressing. The r-squared value is 0.0294, which, like the rest, means it’s highly uncorrelated. That’s the good news. The bad news? There’s a (very slight) positive correlation between increased church (or synagogue) attendance and increased divorces. Oof.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Dan (@30), don’t apologize to me. I think it’s clear, though, that I’m more fascinated by the statistics of it all. Excel as an investigative tool!

    Speaking of which, I went back and calculated r-squared values for all the suggested mechanisms behind the divorce numbers. Here they are:

    Black people divorce more: R^2=”1E-05″ (which is Excel’s way of saying it has absolutely nothing to do with that) Also, the trendline was flat to begin with. In short, it really has nothing to do with race.

    Catholic people divorce less: R^2=0.0125 (which is still exceedingly low; in other words, Catholics aren’t doing any statistical good)

    People with lower incomes divorce more: R^2=0.0682. Our best fit yet! And yet still very, very small. And very, very unconvincing.

    But Peter (@16) didn’t just mention Catholics! He also mentioned “religion”. What of religious people? And not just those who claim they are — what of people who said, oh, “that they attended church or synagogue once a week or almost every week” (numbers for which can be found at Wikipedia)? Well, that one’s surprisingly depressing. The r-squared value is 0.0294, which, like the rest, means it’s highly uncorrelated. That’s the good news. The bad news? There’s a (very slight) positive correlation between increased church (or synagogue) attendance and increased divorces. Oof.

  • Peter Leavitt

    Todd, the per thousand population measure is rough but still valid. You haven’t really refuted the qualitative points that I made at #16 having to do with religion, education, and economic status being the most important causal factors of divorce.

  • Peter Leavitt

    Todd, the per thousand population measure is rough but still valid. You haven’t really refuted the qualitative points that I made at #16 having to do with religion, education, and economic status being the most important causal factors of divorce.

  • SAL

    Divorce is particularly damaging to children but so is being an out-of-wedlock child.

    If we make divorce more difficult, presumably it would discourage marriage. It certainly would among some subset of Americans.

    If we make divorce easy we eliminate much of the incentives for men (most divorce is initiated by women) to invest in their families. Their family can become someone else’s family suddenly and without cause. Men have only provisional status as father or husband.

    Any conceivable family legal system will harm some and be convenient/beneficial for others.

    It’s perhaps wise to base our legal situation on moral grounds and not utilitarian or practical ones.

    Divorce should be heavily regulated if it exists because it is a compromise with our sinful nature.

  • SAL

    Divorce is particularly damaging to children but so is being an out-of-wedlock child.

    If we make divorce more difficult, presumably it would discourage marriage. It certainly would among some subset of Americans.

    If we make divorce easy we eliminate much of the incentives for men (most divorce is initiated by women) to invest in their families. Their family can become someone else’s family suddenly and without cause. Men have only provisional status as father or husband.

    Any conceivable family legal system will harm some and be convenient/beneficial for others.

    It’s perhaps wise to base our legal situation on moral grounds and not utilitarian or practical ones.

    Divorce should be heavily regulated if it exists because it is a compromise with our sinful nature.

  • Peter Leavitt

    Todd, as to religion the Barna statistics indicate that both the Catholics and Lutherans have by far the lowest rates of divorce at 21% of their populations. My mention of “religion” had to do with these denominations.

  • Peter Leavitt

    Todd, as to religion the Barna statistics indicate that both the Catholics and Lutherans have by far the lowest rates of divorce at 21% of their populations. My mention of “religion” had to do with these denominations.

  • http://carolmsblog.blogspot.com/ C-Christian Soldier

    RE:SAL # 34-(most divorce is initiated by women)
    I wonder why more women initiate divorce-esp-since no fault is not advantageous-financially- to women?–
    anyone have an answer?-
    C-CS

  • http://carolmsblog.blogspot.com/ C-Christian Soldier

    RE:SAL # 34-(most divorce is initiated by women)
    I wonder why more women initiate divorce-esp-since no fault is not advantageous-financially- to women?–
    anyone have an answer?-
    C-CS

  • J. Baker

    @Todd, thank you so much for the all the statistical information, it was enlightening and very helpful. I haven’t had a chance to finish looking at everything, but I hope to do so in the coming day. Once again I apologize for offending anyone. However, I do want say that while everyone seems to be assuming that I am ignorant of the degradation in among white popular artists (e.g. Lady GaGa, Nickleback’s more recent songs, etc.) this is not the case. I strongly believe that the entire hedonistic mindset of current popular culture is contributory to the issue at hand, particularly when ingested by young people at an early age.

    Bottom line, it was wrong of me to present a knee jerk, abstractly reasoned response without carefully looking for and at the statistics/ hard data. I’m very sorry.
    However, as someone who doesn’t post often or ever in online forums I find it interesting how quickly people interpret what one says. Or, more pointedly, that any omission indicates an complete ignorance on the part of the poster. I suppose I’m still getting used to the mechanics of forum communication. I hope ya’ll can be patient with me.

    So, that all being said I do have one serious question that I would like to ask:
    1. Is it really that unfair of me to relate so-called “rap culture” with African-American popular culture? I really do try to keep up with trends in current music and though this is just my personal observation it seems like the majority of rap artists are African-American (there are exceptions of course). The connection of this with the broader idea of culture was reinforced in my mind by depictions of what is supposedly “African-American” in popular media. Now, granted popular media is famous for unfair stereotypes, but nontheless there seems to be a certain amount of self-identification (not just one imposed by me) by African-Americans (particularly of the younger age group) with this form of music.

    Oh, I should add that I don’t believe that there is anything particularly bad about the form. I strongly encourage those who are interested to look up the works of Lupe Fiasco as a good example of truly brilliant rap music. His piece “Dumb it Down” is actually an insightful critique of some of the problems with “rap culture” in general. While I’m thinking about it, “Cigarette” by Fort Minor is another good self examination by a rapper on the rap industry.

  • J. Baker

    @Todd, thank you so much for the all the statistical information, it was enlightening and very helpful. I haven’t had a chance to finish looking at everything, but I hope to do so in the coming day. Once again I apologize for offending anyone. However, I do want say that while everyone seems to be assuming that I am ignorant of the degradation in among white popular artists (e.g. Lady GaGa, Nickleback’s more recent songs, etc.) this is not the case. I strongly believe that the entire hedonistic mindset of current popular culture is contributory to the issue at hand, particularly when ingested by young people at an early age.

    Bottom line, it was wrong of me to present a knee jerk, abstractly reasoned response without carefully looking for and at the statistics/ hard data. I’m very sorry.
    However, as someone who doesn’t post often or ever in online forums I find it interesting how quickly people interpret what one says. Or, more pointedly, that any omission indicates an complete ignorance on the part of the poster. I suppose I’m still getting used to the mechanics of forum communication. I hope ya’ll can be patient with me.

    So, that all being said I do have one serious question that I would like to ask:
    1. Is it really that unfair of me to relate so-called “rap culture” with African-American popular culture? I really do try to keep up with trends in current music and though this is just my personal observation it seems like the majority of rap artists are African-American (there are exceptions of course). The connection of this with the broader idea of culture was reinforced in my mind by depictions of what is supposedly “African-American” in popular media. Now, granted popular media is famous for unfair stereotypes, but nontheless there seems to be a certain amount of self-identification (not just one imposed by me) by African-Americans (particularly of the younger age group) with this form of music.

    Oh, I should add that I don’t believe that there is anything particularly bad about the form. I strongly encourage those who are interested to look up the works of Lupe Fiasco as a good example of truly brilliant rap music. His piece “Dumb it Down” is actually an insightful critique of some of the problems with “rap culture” in general. While I’m thinking about it, “Cigarette” by Fort Minor is another good self examination by a rapper on the rap industry.

  • Mark Veenman

    Leavitt’s on to something. Poland’s (over 95% Catholic) divorce rate is 17%. Sweden’s divorce rate is 54%. Finland – 51%. Italy – 10% (!) North American jurisdiction with lowest divorce rate is Newfoundland and Labrador – %21.

  • Mark Veenman

    Leavitt’s on to something. Poland’s (over 95% Catholic) divorce rate is 17%. Sweden’s divorce rate is 54%. Finland – 51%. Italy – 10% (!) North American jurisdiction with lowest divorce rate is Newfoundland and Labrador – %21.

  • http://www.geneveith.com Gene Veith

    Interesting, Peter! For Catholics, marriage is a sacrament and for Lutherans it is a vocation, which comes to much the same thing as a calling from God in which Christ is present.

  • http://www.geneveith.com Gene Veith

    Interesting, Peter! For Catholics, marriage is a sacrament and for Lutherans it is a vocation, which comes to much the same thing as a calling from God in which Christ is present.

  • Joe

    I am late to the party and I have not looked at the stats tODD gathered, but I have a question.

    tODD did the stats you looked at account for the decline in marriage rates over time? It has been steadily declining for 20 years in the US. Here is why I think it matters. Every set of stats I have seen on divorce calculates the rate by comparing the number of divorces and marriages in the same year. But people married in 2010 are not the same people getting divorced in 2010 (usually). The folks getting divorced in 2010 were most likely married some time prior to 2010 – and possibly at a time when the marriage rate was higher.

    To calculate the true % of marriages that end in a divorce you would have to account for the decline of marriages otherwise you get an artificially high rate. When comparing marriage rates by states, this matters and will skew the results unless we can demonstrate that the decline in marriage has been uniform across all states. I think that a uniform decline is unlikely. Any thoughts?

  • Joe

    I am late to the party and I have not looked at the stats tODD gathered, but I have a question.

    tODD did the stats you looked at account for the decline in marriage rates over time? It has been steadily declining for 20 years in the US. Here is why I think it matters. Every set of stats I have seen on divorce calculates the rate by comparing the number of divorces and marriages in the same year. But people married in 2010 are not the same people getting divorced in 2010 (usually). The folks getting divorced in 2010 were most likely married some time prior to 2010 – and possibly at a time when the marriage rate was higher.

    To calculate the true % of marriages that end in a divorce you would have to account for the decline of marriages otherwise you get an artificially high rate. When comparing marriage rates by states, this matters and will skew the results unless we can demonstrate that the decline in marriage has been uniform across all states. I think that a uniform decline is unlikely. Any thoughts?

  • DonS

    To defend Bubba’s “moving of the goalposts” here, tODD you stated at the outset that you could not make heads or tails out of the data, but then at 13 your comment that divorce rates are better in gay marriage states strongly implies that there is a correlation. Bubba’s response is fair — you cannot make a correlation absent data on the rate of marriage to population. I strongly suspect that the reason divorce rates are better in some “progressive” blue states is because there is less social pressure to marry — so those least valuing the institution of marriage simply co-habitate rather than marrying at all. As a result, since only those truly committed to the institution marry at all, the divorce rate for those marriages is substantially lower.

  • DonS

    To defend Bubba’s “moving of the goalposts” here, tODD you stated at the outset that you could not make heads or tails out of the data, but then at 13 your comment that divorce rates are better in gay marriage states strongly implies that there is a correlation. Bubba’s response is fair — you cannot make a correlation absent data on the rate of marriage to population. I strongly suspect that the reason divorce rates are better in some “progressive” blue states is because there is less social pressure to marry — so those least valuing the institution of marriage simply co-habitate rather than marrying at all. As a result, since only those truly committed to the institution marry at all, the divorce rate for those marriages is substantially lower.

  • Cincinnatus

    Which is what I just said in my last comment, DonS (and Joe and Mark).

  • Cincinnatus

    Which is what I just said in my last comment, DonS (and Joe and Mark).

  • Norman Teigen

    This is always an interesting place to park one’s self to read the interesting posts and the thoughtful responses. I am very much in favor of the no-fault divorce tendencies of the past generation. The intellectual root of these laws goes back, I think, to Milton’s Divorce Tracts.

    I think that it would be useful to de-spiritualize marriage. I have seen in my many years that divorce among non-believers is less toxic than it is among those who profess the faith. This is one of those surprising insights which run counter to the ideas of the faith-tradition in which I was raised.

    A personal note: my wife and I have just observed our 37th wedding anniversary.

    Norman Teigen
    ELS layman

  • Norman Teigen

    This is always an interesting place to park one’s self to read the interesting posts and the thoughtful responses. I am very much in favor of the no-fault divorce tendencies of the past generation. The intellectual root of these laws goes back, I think, to Milton’s Divorce Tracts.

    I think that it would be useful to de-spiritualize marriage. I have seen in my many years that divorce among non-believers is less toxic than it is among those who profess the faith. This is one of those surprising insights which run counter to the ideas of the faith-tradition in which I was raised.

    A personal note: my wife and I have just observed our 37th wedding anniversary.

    Norman Teigen
    ELS layman

  • Cincinnatus

    Norman,

    Beyond unspecified anecdotal “evidence,” upon what grounds do you call for a “de-spiritualization” of marriage (and what does that mean?) and how do you square your advocacy of “no-fault” divorce with Christ’s very clear words in the Gospels (i.e., at most, divorce is only acceptable in cases of clear infidelity)?

  • Cincinnatus

    Norman,

    Beyond unspecified anecdotal “evidence,” upon what grounds do you call for a “de-spiritualization” of marriage (and what does that mean?) and how do you square your advocacy of “no-fault” divorce with Christ’s very clear words in the Gospels (i.e., at most, divorce is only acceptable in cases of clear infidelity)?

  • Peter Leavitt

    Excellent, Cincinnatus. Christ’s view of marriage is clear. He understood that the heart-heartedness of the Jewish tradition compromised the ideal of life-long marriage between a man and a woman.

    The truth is that the liberal cum romantic idea that somewhere out there is our true soulmate has caused contemporary society to do great damage to both the children and adults involved. Probably the largest factor involved in contemporary poverty in America has to the with the single mothers and a few fathers who have suffered the ill consequences
    of divorce.

    Marriage, as Dr. Veith suggests, is a holy vocation or sacrament. Actually, those who despite the tensions of any marriage stick their marriages out have the best chance over time of discovering a true soul mate.

  • Peter Leavitt

    Excellent, Cincinnatus. Christ’s view of marriage is clear. He understood that the heart-heartedness of the Jewish tradition compromised the ideal of life-long marriage between a man and a woman.

    The truth is that the liberal cum romantic idea that somewhere out there is our true soulmate has caused contemporary society to do great damage to both the children and adults involved. Probably the largest factor involved in contemporary poverty in America has to the with the single mothers and a few fathers who have suffered the ill consequences
    of divorce.

    Marriage, as Dr. Veith suggests, is a holy vocation or sacrament. Actually, those who despite the tensions of any marriage stick their marriages out have the best chance over time of discovering a true soul mate.

  • Norman Teigen

    Cincinnatus: Read Milton’s Divorce Tracts, which I cannot summarize here, and then send me an e-mail when you have finished.

    Norman Teigen

    norman61@me.com

  • Norman Teigen

    Cincinnatus: Read Milton’s Divorce Tracts, which I cannot summarize here, and then send me an e-mail when you have finished.

    Norman Teigen

    norman61@me.com

  • SAL

    #36 That is a good question. I’m not sure why 2/3rds of all divorces are initiated by women.

    Some studies indicate that the nature of our divorce laws have a role in this. In states where the default is shared custody of children, fewer women initiate divorce. In states where custody is presumed for the mother, more women initiate divorce.

    Besides that husbands are more likely to have problems with alcohol and drug abuse than wives. That creates a lot of socially acceptable excuses for women to divorce.

  • SAL

    #36 That is a good question. I’m not sure why 2/3rds of all divorces are initiated by women.

    Some studies indicate that the nature of our divorce laws have a role in this. In states where the default is shared custody of children, fewer women initiate divorce. In states where custody is presumed for the mother, more women initiate divorce.

    Besides that husbands are more likely to have problems with alcohol and drug abuse than wives. That creates a lot of socially acceptable excuses for women to divorce.

  • Booklover

    I’m going to go out on a limb here and aver that birth control is the number one reason women are now able to ask for divorce. In the past, women were tied to the home and to birth-giving (a gift from God, not a burden); but with the vast usage of birth control, a woman looks at her last baby who has grown, looks at her husband who hasn’t, then looks at her value in the workplace; and moves on for a “better life.”

    I know this is not always the case, but it happens. There is also alcohol addiction, gambling addiction, affairs, and TV addiction. But often, it’s the case that the man is just another child.

  • Booklover

    I’m going to go out on a limb here and aver that birth control is the number one reason women are now able to ask for divorce. In the past, women were tied to the home and to birth-giving (a gift from God, not a burden); but with the vast usage of birth control, a woman looks at her last baby who has grown, looks at her husband who hasn’t, then looks at her value in the workplace; and moves on for a “better life.”

    I know this is not always the case, but it happens. There is also alcohol addiction, gambling addiction, affairs, and TV addiction. But often, it’s the case that the man is just another child.

  • fws

    #44 Cincinatus.

    context:

    In jesus´time, jewish men did not have to commit adultery, they could divorce or take on another wife. So the comments of Jesus about adultury and committing adultery in the heart were to tell these legalists that the law meant their death and not life.

    Adultery was simply about property rights in old testament law. ditto rape. Women had absolutely NO volition in marriage, divorce or who they were supposed to have sex with.

    This is the context of Jesus comments. As usual, Jesus law comments are always directed at men and women who felt they could keep the law. Jesus said : “do that and you will live.” The intent was always to show that law=death. law never = life.

    Women, on the other hand, could not divorce.

  • fws

    #44 Cincinatus.

    context:

    In jesus´time, jewish men did not have to commit adultery, they could divorce or take on another wife. So the comments of Jesus about adultury and committing adultery in the heart were to tell these legalists that the law meant their death and not life.

    Adultery was simply about property rights in old testament law. ditto rape. Women had absolutely NO volition in marriage, divorce or who they were supposed to have sex with.

    This is the context of Jesus comments. As usual, Jesus law comments are always directed at men and women who felt they could keep the law. Jesus said : “do that and you will live.” The intent was always to show that law=death. law never = life.

    Women, on the other hand, could not divorce.

  • fws

    #44 cincinatus

    My point is that if we read Jesus comments like he his handing down new legal code of dotted i´s and crossed t´s then we miss that his comment is an illustration of a point he is making.

    It is not the point is it? It is illustration to drive home a point. If we focus on the illustration, we will miss the point. So then what is Jesus´point?

    Martin Luther:

    “You must not understand the word law here in human fashion, i.e., a regulation about what sort of works must be done or must not be done. That’s the way it is with human laws: you satisfy the demands of the law with works, whether your heart is in it or not. God judges what is in the depths of the heart. Therefore his law also makes demands on the depths of the heart and doesn’t let the heart rest content in works; rather it punishes as hypocrisy and lies all works done apart from the depths of the heart. All human beings are called liars (Psalm 116), since none of them keeps or can keep God’s law from the depths of the heart. Everyone finds inside himself an aversion to good and a craving for evil. Where there is no free desire for good, there the heart has not set itself on God’s law. There also sin is surely to be found and the deserved wrath of God, whether a lot of good works and an honorable life appear outwardly or not.

    Therefore in chapter 2, St. Paul adds that the Jews are all sinners and says that only the doers of the law are justified in the sight of God. What he is saying is that no one is a doer of the law by works. On the contrary, he says to them, “You teach that one should not commit adultery, and you commit adultery. You judge another in a certain matter and condemn yourselves in that same matter, because you do the very same thing that you judged in another.” It is as if he were saying, “Outwardly you live quite properly in the works of the law and judge those who do not live the same way; you know how to teach everybody. You see the speck in another’s eye but do not notice the beam in your own.”

    Outwardly you keep the law with works out of fear of punishment or love of gain. Likewise you do everything without free desire and love of the law; you act out of aversion and force. You’d rather act otherwise if the law didn’t exist. It follows, then, that you, in the depths of your heart, are an enemy of the law. What do you mean, therefore, by teaching another not to steal, when you, in the depths of your heart, are a thief and would be one outwardly too, if you dared. (Of course, outward work doesn’t last long with such hypocrites.) So then, you teach others but not yourself; you don’t even know what you are teaching. You’ve never understood the law rightly. Furthermore, the law increases sin, as St. Paul says in chapter 5. That is because a person becomes more and more an enemy of the law the more it demands of him what he can’t possibly do. ”

    http://www.ccel.org/l/luther/romans/pref_romans.html

    This is where each and every one of us are, including you and me Cincinatus, when it comes to us as Old Adam “keeping” the law.

    We need to repent. Our Old Adam needs to die. He cannot be fixed or cured. This is exactly why we must have a NEW birth, not just a reformation or transformation. It is false to say a christian never willfully sins. EVERY sin a believer does totally is about his will and springs from it.

    Every single thing a christian believer says or does or things must unfortunately pass through the processing of the will of the Old Adam. And that will is an enemy of God. It hates God. It is the very font of all sin within us. It is why we sin and are sinners.

    Willpower cannot overcome sin ever. Willpower however can know and do ALL outward righteousness. Like be faithful in marriage and not get divorced and be perfectly righteous externally. pagans and christians are both exactly alike here.

  • fws

    #44 cincinatus

    My point is that if we read Jesus comments like he his handing down new legal code of dotted i´s and crossed t´s then we miss that his comment is an illustration of a point he is making.

    It is not the point is it? It is illustration to drive home a point. If we focus on the illustration, we will miss the point. So then what is Jesus´point?

    Martin Luther:

    “You must not understand the word law here in human fashion, i.e., a regulation about what sort of works must be done or must not be done. That’s the way it is with human laws: you satisfy the demands of the law with works, whether your heart is in it or not. God judges what is in the depths of the heart. Therefore his law also makes demands on the depths of the heart and doesn’t let the heart rest content in works; rather it punishes as hypocrisy and lies all works done apart from the depths of the heart. All human beings are called liars (Psalm 116), since none of them keeps or can keep God’s law from the depths of the heart. Everyone finds inside himself an aversion to good and a craving for evil. Where there is no free desire for good, there the heart has not set itself on God’s law. There also sin is surely to be found and the deserved wrath of God, whether a lot of good works and an honorable life appear outwardly or not.

    Therefore in chapter 2, St. Paul adds that the Jews are all sinners and says that only the doers of the law are justified in the sight of God. What he is saying is that no one is a doer of the law by works. On the contrary, he says to them, “You teach that one should not commit adultery, and you commit adultery. You judge another in a certain matter and condemn yourselves in that same matter, because you do the very same thing that you judged in another.” It is as if he were saying, “Outwardly you live quite properly in the works of the law and judge those who do not live the same way; you know how to teach everybody. You see the speck in another’s eye but do not notice the beam in your own.”

    Outwardly you keep the law with works out of fear of punishment or love of gain. Likewise you do everything without free desire and love of the law; you act out of aversion and force. You’d rather act otherwise if the law didn’t exist. It follows, then, that you, in the depths of your heart, are an enemy of the law. What do you mean, therefore, by teaching another not to steal, when you, in the depths of your heart, are a thief and would be one outwardly too, if you dared. (Of course, outward work doesn’t last long with such hypocrites.) So then, you teach others but not yourself; you don’t even know what you are teaching. You’ve never understood the law rightly. Furthermore, the law increases sin, as St. Paul says in chapter 5. That is because a person becomes more and more an enemy of the law the more it demands of him what he can’t possibly do. ”

    http://www.ccel.org/l/luther/romans/pref_romans.html

    This is where each and every one of us are, including you and me Cincinatus, when it comes to us as Old Adam “keeping” the law.

    We need to repent. Our Old Adam needs to die. He cannot be fixed or cured. This is exactly why we must have a NEW birth, not just a reformation or transformation. It is false to say a christian never willfully sins. EVERY sin a believer does totally is about his will and springs from it.

    Every single thing a christian believer says or does or things must unfortunately pass through the processing of the will of the Old Adam. And that will is an enemy of God. It hates God. It is the very font of all sin within us. It is why we sin and are sinners.

    Willpower cannot overcome sin ever. Willpower however can know and do ALL outward righteousness. Like be faithful in marriage and not get divorced and be perfectly righteous externally. pagans and christians are both exactly alike here.

  • fws

    norman @ 46

    excellent. thanks for the tip to milton. here is a link…

    http://www.humanities.ualberta.ca/emls/iemls/work/etexts/bradley.html

  • fws

    norman @ 46

    excellent. thanks for the tip to milton. here is a link…

    http://www.humanities.ualberta.ca/emls/iemls/work/etexts/bradley.html

  • Cincinnatus

    Norman: You didn’t remotely answer my question. In fact, you engaged in a rather notable cop-out that leads me to wonder why you even bothered to comment in this thread. Your argument proceeds thusly: “I think no-fault divorce and de-spiritualized marriages are awesome, but rather than attempting to justify my assertions in the slightest, I’m going to direct you to read some really long seventeenth century tracts on the subject and then email me privately!”

    I’m familiar with Milton’s ideas, though I’ve not read all four tracts: like the radical Puritan he was, he engaged in some radically Puritan exegesis to justify divorce on the grounds of spousal incompatibility. But I’m not a radical Puritan, and, beyond Paradise Lost, I’m no ardent fan of Milton’s political writings (and these divorce tracts are exceedingly political). Since I’m–for what I consider to be fairly good reasons–indisposed to accept Puritan theological and political principles at face value, tell me, why should I find the “divorce tracts” convincing? Why do I need to email you privately about this? I’ll be glad to continue this discussion in private later, but we’re still having this discussion in public right now. So do tell: why, in your own words, is no-fault divorce acceptable and/or desirable, and why should I consent to the idea of despiritualizing marriage (which, by the way, you have failed even to define)? Why is Milton a more desirable authority on the subject than, say, the Pope (who, of course, is ardently against divorce) and Martin Luther (who certainly did not espouse no-fault divorce)? Because he agrees with you or because there are valid reasons to accepting his exegesis?

    FWS: While I agree with the spirit behind your statements–that Christ did not come to provide a law or amend the old law, etc.–I must emphatically disagree with the substance you employ to embody that spirit. If I pursue your logic to its completion, I am forced to conclude that, in abstract terms, form (in the broad sense) doesn’t matter. But, as a Lutheran who places “confessionalism”, the Word, words in very particular constructions, above all else, I find it hard to believe that you would consent to such a claim. So Christ had nothing of relevance to say about marriage? Marriage has no symbolic value deserving of preservation and sanctity (say, as an image of the insoluble and unconditional union of Christ and the Church)? The command to “love your neighbor” really has no meaningful content (such as, say, honoring the solemn vows spoken in marriage)? Jesus was just using a randomly selected contextual example to convey a more important message? While the root of Christ’s words are certainly pointing to a higher message, so is marriage itself. The form conveys the content. We cannot merely dispose of the form without irreparably obfuscating the content. Marriage itself communicates something of the Gospel–if we honor it.

    Let’s use another example to demonstrate my problem with your logic: Christ, on the night preceding his death, quite literally commands that we should honor the supper of unleavened bread and wine–i.e., the Eucharist. Of course, the meaning of this sacrament points to the Gospel. Unleavened bread and wine, like the particular constructions of marriage at the time, were merely Jewish symbols being repurposed as forms for the overwhelmingly important Gospel. Jesus wasn’t teaching a new “law.” Since the form is merely an execrable form of “external righteousness,” does this mean I can celebrate the Eucharist using pizza and beer, then? Or donuts and coffee? Maybe I can just skip it altogether–it is an external act of righteousness, after all–so long as I believe the content of the Gospel?

    See my point? Again, I agree completely with the idea that the Gospel writings are not filled with a list of ethical rules and laws from Christ’s lips. On the other hand, your logic is not the best way to convey that all-important message. In fact, I think it is self-defeating. Of course, observing the bonds of marriage could be construed as mere “external righteousness” (I don’t completely agree with this statement, but I will accept it for the purposes of argument). But I utterly fail to see how that means I shouldn’t argue against no-fault divorce, or that I should conclude that marriage, as “external law” or what have you, is thus pointless because, in itself, it is not the Gospel. Or, for that matter, that Christ had nothing worthwhile to say about marriage.

  • Cincinnatus

    Norman: You didn’t remotely answer my question. In fact, you engaged in a rather notable cop-out that leads me to wonder why you even bothered to comment in this thread. Your argument proceeds thusly: “I think no-fault divorce and de-spiritualized marriages are awesome, but rather than attempting to justify my assertions in the slightest, I’m going to direct you to read some really long seventeenth century tracts on the subject and then email me privately!”

    I’m familiar with Milton’s ideas, though I’ve not read all four tracts: like the radical Puritan he was, he engaged in some radically Puritan exegesis to justify divorce on the grounds of spousal incompatibility. But I’m not a radical Puritan, and, beyond Paradise Lost, I’m no ardent fan of Milton’s political writings (and these divorce tracts are exceedingly political). Since I’m–for what I consider to be fairly good reasons–indisposed to accept Puritan theological and political principles at face value, tell me, why should I find the “divorce tracts” convincing? Why do I need to email you privately about this? I’ll be glad to continue this discussion in private later, but we’re still having this discussion in public right now. So do tell: why, in your own words, is no-fault divorce acceptable and/or desirable, and why should I consent to the idea of despiritualizing marriage (which, by the way, you have failed even to define)? Why is Milton a more desirable authority on the subject than, say, the Pope (who, of course, is ardently against divorce) and Martin Luther (who certainly did not espouse no-fault divorce)? Because he agrees with you or because there are valid reasons to accepting his exegesis?

    FWS: While I agree with the spirit behind your statements–that Christ did not come to provide a law or amend the old law, etc.–I must emphatically disagree with the substance you employ to embody that spirit. If I pursue your logic to its completion, I am forced to conclude that, in abstract terms, form (in the broad sense) doesn’t matter. But, as a Lutheran who places “confessionalism”, the Word, words in very particular constructions, above all else, I find it hard to believe that you would consent to such a claim. So Christ had nothing of relevance to say about marriage? Marriage has no symbolic value deserving of preservation and sanctity (say, as an image of the insoluble and unconditional union of Christ and the Church)? The command to “love your neighbor” really has no meaningful content (such as, say, honoring the solemn vows spoken in marriage)? Jesus was just using a randomly selected contextual example to convey a more important message? While the root of Christ’s words are certainly pointing to a higher message, so is marriage itself. The form conveys the content. We cannot merely dispose of the form without irreparably obfuscating the content. Marriage itself communicates something of the Gospel–if we honor it.

    Let’s use another example to demonstrate my problem with your logic: Christ, on the night preceding his death, quite literally commands that we should honor the supper of unleavened bread and wine–i.e., the Eucharist. Of course, the meaning of this sacrament points to the Gospel. Unleavened bread and wine, like the particular constructions of marriage at the time, were merely Jewish symbols being repurposed as forms for the overwhelmingly important Gospel. Jesus wasn’t teaching a new “law.” Since the form is merely an execrable form of “external righteousness,” does this mean I can celebrate the Eucharist using pizza and beer, then? Or donuts and coffee? Maybe I can just skip it altogether–it is an external act of righteousness, after all–so long as I believe the content of the Gospel?

    See my point? Again, I agree completely with the idea that the Gospel writings are not filled with a list of ethical rules and laws from Christ’s lips. On the other hand, your logic is not the best way to convey that all-important message. In fact, I think it is self-defeating. Of course, observing the bonds of marriage could be construed as mere “external righteousness” (I don’t completely agree with this statement, but I will accept it for the purposes of argument). But I utterly fail to see how that means I shouldn’t argue against no-fault divorce, or that I should conclude that marriage, as “external law” or what have you, is thus pointless because, in itself, it is not the Gospel. Or, for that matter, that Christ had nothing worthwhile to say about marriage.

  • fws

    Cincinatus @ 52

    Where to begin….

    ok. here:

    “Marriage itself communicates something of the Gospel–if we honor it.”

    Here is what the Lutheran Confessions teach and so alone is what can be called “Lutheran”:

    Marriage is pure law. There is NO Gospel in it at all. None.Zero. Zip. Marriage is pure mortification of the flesh and the Old Adam.

    Marriage is pure earthly righteousness and this is why it will perish with the earth just as Christ also says.

    Marriage is also fully providenced by God. It is God-pleasing earthly righteousness. God uses this righteousness just as he uses the law of gravity and other means to provide us with happy lives.

    But it is not to be made into religious sacrifice. Meaning it is not to be done to please God. It is done by us to serve our neighbor. Only. Marriage pleased God only when done for others. It is a stench in his nostril when we think we can please God with such righteousness.

    What we do with or to marriage does NOTHING to the Holy Gospel . What is done to marriage by those who abuse it threatens the Holy Gospel in no way whatsoever.

    Marriage is used by God as illustration. So are pig stomachs, both used and new. Vines. Dirt. Stones. That fact sets none of these things apart as holy.

    Marriage is divinely instituted. So is eating meat and government use of lethal force. Neither does this make the vocation of marriage any more holy than being a janitor.

  • fws

    Cincinatus @ 52

    Where to begin….

    ok. here:

    “Marriage itself communicates something of the Gospel–if we honor it.”

    Here is what the Lutheran Confessions teach and so alone is what can be called “Lutheran”:

    Marriage is pure law. There is NO Gospel in it at all. None.Zero. Zip. Marriage is pure mortification of the flesh and the Old Adam.

    Marriage is pure earthly righteousness and this is why it will perish with the earth just as Christ also says.

    Marriage is also fully providenced by God. It is God-pleasing earthly righteousness. God uses this righteousness just as he uses the law of gravity and other means to provide us with happy lives.

    But it is not to be made into religious sacrifice. Meaning it is not to be done to please God. It is done by us to serve our neighbor. Only. Marriage pleased God only when done for others. It is a stench in his nostril when we think we can please God with such righteousness.

    What we do with or to marriage does NOTHING to the Holy Gospel . What is done to marriage by those who abuse it threatens the Holy Gospel in no way whatsoever.

    Marriage is used by God as illustration. So are pig stomachs, both used and new. Vines. Dirt. Stones. That fact sets none of these things apart as holy.

    Marriage is divinely instituted. So is eating meat and government use of lethal force. Neither does this make the vocation of marriage any more holy than being a janitor.

  • Cincinnatus

    “It is a stench in his nostril when we think we can please God with such righteousness.”

    Did I say that marriage “pleases God”? Did I say that marriage is a harbinger of salvation? Did I say anything about anything you’re addressing in your comment?

    I did not. You’re on a major tangent, and neither you nor Norman have justified (or attacked) the concepts of no-fault divorce and “despiritualized” marriage (the meaning of which I am still confused about). I don’t need a Gospel lesson right now. Even if we have different understandings of the stark distinction between law and Gospel that you advocate, your message is irrelevant, and fails to speak to the issue at hand. Should we or should we not applaud the advent of no-fault divorce?

    I say no and I have a host of reasons for saying so. What say you?

  • Cincinnatus

    “It is a stench in his nostril when we think we can please God with such righteousness.”

    Did I say that marriage “pleases God”? Did I say that marriage is a harbinger of salvation? Did I say anything about anything you’re addressing in your comment?

    I did not. You’re on a major tangent, and neither you nor Norman have justified (or attacked) the concepts of no-fault divorce and “despiritualized” marriage (the meaning of which I am still confused about). I don’t need a Gospel lesson right now. Even if we have different understandings of the stark distinction between law and Gospel that you advocate, your message is irrelevant, and fails to speak to the issue at hand. Should we or should we not applaud the advent of no-fault divorce?

    I say no and I have a host of reasons for saying so. What say you?

  • fws

    Cincinatus @ 52

    “Christ, on the night preceding his death, quite literally commands that we should honor the supper of unleavened bread and wine–i.e., the Eucharist. Of course, the meaning of this sacrament points to the Gospel. Unleavened bread and wine, like the particular constructions of marriage at the time, were merely Jewish symbols being repurposed as forms for the overwhelmingly important Gospel.”

    No. The sacrament = the Gospel. The sacrament IS the holy gospel Cincinatus. Your comparison and parallel is repellant to a Lutheran.

  • fws

    Cincinatus @ 52

    “Christ, on the night preceding his death, quite literally commands that we should honor the supper of unleavened bread and wine–i.e., the Eucharist. Of course, the meaning of this sacrament points to the Gospel. Unleavened bread and wine, like the particular constructions of marriage at the time, were merely Jewish symbols being repurposed as forms for the overwhelmingly important Gospel.”

    No. The sacrament = the Gospel. The sacrament IS the holy gospel Cincinatus. Your comparison and parallel is repellant to a Lutheran.

  • Cincinnatus

    Ah, well, since I tend to view marriage as a sacrament (and since I have a rather broad understanding of the word “sacramental” as applied to the world in general), that may explain the divergence in some of our thinking. We’re quite literally talking past each other on that point.

    But we’re also talking past each other because you’re still not addressing the actual point at issue, which is whether no-fault divorce is acceptable or not, whether socially, legally, religiously, or ethically.

  • Cincinnatus

    Ah, well, since I tend to view marriage as a sacrament (and since I have a rather broad understanding of the word “sacramental” as applied to the world in general), that may explain the divergence in some of our thinking. We’re quite literally talking past each other on that point.

    But we’re also talking past each other because you’re still not addressing the actual point at issue, which is whether no-fault divorce is acceptable or not, whether socially, legally, religiously, or ethically.

  • fws

    cincinatus @ 52

    “In fact, I think it is self-defeating. Of course, observing the bonds of marriage could be construed as mere “external righteousness” (I don’t completely agree with this statement, but I will accept it for the purposes of argument). ”

    I am a Lutheran. What can I say. I don´t need to baptize aristotelian ethics and make them christian to value them completely.

    I and the Lutheran Confessions are happy to say this “there is nothing that can be added to aristotle´s ethical system.”

    pagans can do any and all righteousness that a christian can do cincinatus. any. ALL. and can know fully what that is and looks like. period. this is the official Lutheran teaching.

  • fws

    cincinatus @ 52

    “In fact, I think it is self-defeating. Of course, observing the bonds of marriage could be construed as mere “external righteousness” (I don’t completely agree with this statement, but I will accept it for the purposes of argument). ”

    I am a Lutheran. What can I say. I don´t need to baptize aristotelian ethics and make them christian to value them completely.

    I and the Lutheran Confessions are happy to say this “there is nothing that can be added to aristotle´s ethical system.”

    pagans can do any and all righteousness that a christian can do cincinatus. any. ALL. and can know fully what that is and looks like. period. this is the official Lutheran teaching.

  • Cincinnatus

    @57:

    a) I never disputed that so-called “pagans” are not capable of “righteousness” like Christians. In fact, I’m not making a Christian/pagan distinction at all. Why are you bringing it up?

    b) The ethics I’ve espoused here are not Aristotelian. You may want to review your Aristotle before you accuse me of the heinous “crime” of Aristotelianism. If only I were guilty as charged. You may also want to review Luther’s relationship to Aristotle, which, rather like many marriages, was neither completely amicable nor utterly incompatible.

    You’re still sermonizing. We were having a nice discussion about the logic and permissibility of divorce.

  • Cincinnatus

    @57:

    a) I never disputed that so-called “pagans” are not capable of “righteousness” like Christians. In fact, I’m not making a Christian/pagan distinction at all. Why are you bringing it up?

    b) The ethics I’ve espoused here are not Aristotelian. You may want to review your Aristotle before you accuse me of the heinous “crime” of Aristotelianism. If only I were guilty as charged. You may also want to review Luther’s relationship to Aristotle, which, rather like many marriages, was neither completely amicable nor utterly incompatible.

    You’re still sermonizing. We were having a nice discussion about the logic and permissibility of divorce.

  • fws

    “Should we or should we not applaud the advent of no-fault divorce?I say no and I have a host of reasons for saying so. What say you?”

    speaking as a Lutheran christian:

    two questions:

    does no fault divorce reduce harm to others? collateral damage?
    does it cause harm to others?
    Does it allow people to better mind their own business and keep others and the government from meddling in their personal lives?

    to the extent the answer is yes to these questions I would say that no fault divorce is ok. using no religious grounds or arguments whatsoever. .

    note that there is nothing in what I say about God or conforming to some religious set of sacrificial rules intended to adhere to divine command.

    Luther: ” life is about dying.”

    Marriage is pure mortification of the flesh and actions that make the lives of others better. period.

  • fws

    “Should we or should we not applaud the advent of no-fault divorce?I say no and I have a host of reasons for saying so. What say you?”

    speaking as a Lutheran christian:

    two questions:

    does no fault divorce reduce harm to others? collateral damage?
    does it cause harm to others?
    Does it allow people to better mind their own business and keep others and the government from meddling in their personal lives?

    to the extent the answer is yes to these questions I would say that no fault divorce is ok. using no religious grounds or arguments whatsoever. .

    note that there is nothing in what I say about God or conforming to some religious set of sacrificial rules intended to adhere to divine command.

    Luther: ” life is about dying.”

    Marriage is pure mortification of the flesh and actions that make the lives of others better. period.

  • kerner

    fws @50: Bravo!

    The point I want to support most is that I agree with Frank that I don’t think Jesus was advocating changing the Judean divorce laws nearly so much as He was asking 1st century Jews to examine their hearts. The question then becomes: “If the civil laws (even those civil laws ordained by God Himself for ancient Israel) don’t reflect God’s perfect moral law, to what extent should we try to change the civil laws to reflect God’s perfect moral law?” (And boy, does starting with the proposition that God’s civil law for ancient Israel DOES NOT reflect God’s perfect moral law open cans of worms on numerous subjects, but let’s save those for later).

    When the Roman Empire became an officially Christian institution, the “Christian” government changed the divorce laws to reflect Jesus teaching about divorce and adultery. I don’t know whether that helped, hurt, or had no effect on the moral development of western civilization.

    I had a Christian law professor who argued that all Criminal law is “moral law”. But I would argue that much of non-criminal law has a moral component similar to criminal law. There is a moral rightness in keeping your promises (Contract law) or paying for the damage you cause, even by accident, (Tort law) or taking responsibility for the upbringing of your children, your debts, and your property (family/divorce law).

    But I think the moral questions involved in the secular law mostly have to do with 2 questions. “Does an act unjustly hurt another individual?” And the far more complex: “Does an act cause harm to society in general?” Crimes like drug crimes and prostitution and other crimes of vice are justified by responding yes to the second question. They are maintained because few legislators want to come out in favor of activity that most people believe is wrong (even if that majority is shrinking) or that enough voters to intimidate a legislator think is wrong. I have no idea how many voters it takes to intimidate a legislator, but apparently there are enough of them who don’t like marijuana to keep us in the situation we are in.

    But getting back to the subject, I am not convinced that Jesus statements regarding the Mosaic law and the hardness of people’s hearts was a call to revise the Judean family code, or intended to be the basis of the family codes of future societies. I think it was a call to individual believers to more carefully examine why they do what they do.

  • kerner

    fws @50: Bravo!

    The point I want to support most is that I agree with Frank that I don’t think Jesus was advocating changing the Judean divorce laws nearly so much as He was asking 1st century Jews to examine their hearts. The question then becomes: “If the civil laws (even those civil laws ordained by God Himself for ancient Israel) don’t reflect God’s perfect moral law, to what extent should we try to change the civil laws to reflect God’s perfect moral law?” (And boy, does starting with the proposition that God’s civil law for ancient Israel DOES NOT reflect God’s perfect moral law open cans of worms on numerous subjects, but let’s save those for later).

    When the Roman Empire became an officially Christian institution, the “Christian” government changed the divorce laws to reflect Jesus teaching about divorce and adultery. I don’t know whether that helped, hurt, or had no effect on the moral development of western civilization.

    I had a Christian law professor who argued that all Criminal law is “moral law”. But I would argue that much of non-criminal law has a moral component similar to criminal law. There is a moral rightness in keeping your promises (Contract law) or paying for the damage you cause, even by accident, (Tort law) or taking responsibility for the upbringing of your children, your debts, and your property (family/divorce law).

    But I think the moral questions involved in the secular law mostly have to do with 2 questions. “Does an act unjustly hurt another individual?” And the far more complex: “Does an act cause harm to society in general?” Crimes like drug crimes and prostitution and other crimes of vice are justified by responding yes to the second question. They are maintained because few legislators want to come out in favor of activity that most people believe is wrong (even if that majority is shrinking) or that enough voters to intimidate a legislator think is wrong. I have no idea how many voters it takes to intimidate a legislator, but apparently there are enough of them who don’t like marijuana to keep us in the situation we are in.

    But getting back to the subject, I am not convinced that Jesus statements regarding the Mosaic law and the hardness of people’s hearts was a call to revise the Judean family code, or intended to be the basis of the family codes of future societies. I think it was a call to individual believers to more carefully examine why they do what they do.

  • fws

    kerner @ 60

    thanks K-man.

    ” I think it was a call to individual believers to more carefully examine why they do what they do.”

    no. Jesus comment was to the Jews, not to believers. This point matters in that we need to know that there is no difference at all , in any way, between the earthly righteousness of pagans and believers. None. Zip. Nada.

    If we do not understand this important point says Luther, we will not be able to retain the doctrine of the Forgiveness of Sins.

    Earthly righteousness should be thought of as God´s providence and work on the planet to produce 1st article and 4th petition goodness “even to all the wicked” (Luther small catechism 4th petition). Think of all earthly righeousness as naturally occurring events of nature that God works… rain… gravity…food…sunlight… THAT is the idea I am expressing and the Lutheran Confessions and Luther also assert.

    As such we should conceive of the workings of the Holy Spirit wielding the Law written and in conscience similarly to forces of nature like gravity.

    I am saying that earthly righteousness has utterly NO heavenly dimension at all in any sense more than the law of gravity or forces of nature have a moral dimension or a divine element or meaning to them. These things are life or death only in an earthly sense and in no heavenly sense whatsoever.

    God compels old adams to self discipline and love towards each other by carrot and stick.

    Self retraint + love produced as a result of it = true (ie god pleasing) earthly Old Adam righteousness. Period.

    If we don´t exercise restraint and love willingly, then he will force us to do them.

    This is called God´s alien work. It is like a parent disciplining his child with the full intention of producing self-discipline and the good habits that are love in that child. And now you see that even this alien work is all about goodness and love.

    Luther on this here:
    http://www.thirduse.com/?p=10

    Lutheran Confessions where they say what I am merely repeating here:

    http://www.thirduse.com/?p=13

    Todd are you here man? This is a better and more Lutheran answer than you gave on the april post about God´s foreign work.

    This means that noone goes to heaven or hell because they have or lack earthly righteousness.

  • fws

    kerner @ 60

    thanks K-man.

    ” I think it was a call to individual believers to more carefully examine why they do what they do.”

    no. Jesus comment was to the Jews, not to believers. This point matters in that we need to know that there is no difference at all , in any way, between the earthly righteousness of pagans and believers. None. Zip. Nada.

    If we do not understand this important point says Luther, we will not be able to retain the doctrine of the Forgiveness of Sins.

    Earthly righteousness should be thought of as God´s providence and work on the planet to produce 1st article and 4th petition goodness “even to all the wicked” (Luther small catechism 4th petition). Think of all earthly righeousness as naturally occurring events of nature that God works… rain… gravity…food…sunlight… THAT is the idea I am expressing and the Lutheran Confessions and Luther also assert.

    As such we should conceive of the workings of the Holy Spirit wielding the Law written and in conscience similarly to forces of nature like gravity.

    I am saying that earthly righteousness has utterly NO heavenly dimension at all in any sense more than the law of gravity or forces of nature have a moral dimension or a divine element or meaning to them. These things are life or death only in an earthly sense and in no heavenly sense whatsoever.

    God compels old adams to self discipline and love towards each other by carrot and stick.

    Self retraint + love produced as a result of it = true (ie god pleasing) earthly Old Adam righteousness. Period.

    If we don´t exercise restraint and love willingly, then he will force us to do them.

    This is called God´s alien work. It is like a parent disciplining his child with the full intention of producing self-discipline and the good habits that are love in that child. And now you see that even this alien work is all about goodness and love.

    Luther on this here:
    http://www.thirduse.com/?p=10

    Lutheran Confessions where they say what I am merely repeating here:

    http://www.thirduse.com/?p=13

    Todd are you here man? This is a better and more Lutheran answer than you gave on the april post about God´s foreign work.

    This means that noone goes to heaven or hell because they have or lack earthly righteousness.

  • Cincinnatus

    fws: Your sermonizing is still obfuscating the actual question at hand. Of course, Christ did not come to preach the soteriological necessity of earthly righteousness. Interestingly, no one here has even remotely claimed that he did. Of course, “pagans” are also capable of righteousness. Interestingly, no one claimed that they weren’t. While I may disagree with your claim that righteousness “has utterly no heavenly dimension” (in fact, I would emphatically disagree, depending upon what you mean by “heavenly”), and while we may differ as to the sacramental status of marriage, you’re still addressing what, for the purposes of this discussion, is a moot point. Again, no one here insists upon the value of salvation as a key to opening the heavenly gates.

    But you’re forgetting something: if there is such a thing as “earthly righteousness,” there is also such a thing as earthly unrighteousness, and allow me to assume that the proposition that the former is more desirable than the latter is uncontroversial. In other words, what, exactly, is your point? Are we to abandon, then, the pursuit of righteousness in our own lives and in our communities? Did Christ really have nothing to say about righteousness?

    You’ve finally gotten around to posing relevant questions, the summary of which can be stated as “does no-fault divorce cause harm to others?” I think that it does indeed. Let’s discuss that. Furthermore, let’s discuss your continued implication that the form of marriage is irrelevant. There are tremendous implications in this otherwise well-intentioned statement.

  • Cincinnatus

    fws: Your sermonizing is still obfuscating the actual question at hand. Of course, Christ did not come to preach the soteriological necessity of earthly righteousness. Interestingly, no one here has even remotely claimed that he did. Of course, “pagans” are also capable of righteousness. Interestingly, no one claimed that they weren’t. While I may disagree with your claim that righteousness “has utterly no heavenly dimension” (in fact, I would emphatically disagree, depending upon what you mean by “heavenly”), and while we may differ as to the sacramental status of marriage, you’re still addressing what, for the purposes of this discussion, is a moot point. Again, no one here insists upon the value of salvation as a key to opening the heavenly gates.

    But you’re forgetting something: if there is such a thing as “earthly righteousness,” there is also such a thing as earthly unrighteousness, and allow me to assume that the proposition that the former is more desirable than the latter is uncontroversial. In other words, what, exactly, is your point? Are we to abandon, then, the pursuit of righteousness in our own lives and in our communities? Did Christ really have nothing to say about righteousness?

    You’ve finally gotten around to posing relevant questions, the summary of which can be stated as “does no-fault divorce cause harm to others?” I think that it does indeed. Let’s discuss that. Furthermore, let’s discuss your continued implication that the form of marriage is irrelevant. There are tremendous implications in this otherwise well-intentioned statement.

  • fws

    Cincinatus @62

    CINCINATUS: Of course, Christ did not come to preach the soteriological necessity of earthly righteousness. Interestingly, no one here has even remotely claimed that he did. Of course, “pagans” are also capable of righteousness. Interestingly, no one claimed that they weren’t.

    FRANK: Ok then. So we are fully agreed that..
    1) nothing we do here on earth as righteousness or unrighteousness has any eternal consequences whatsoever. Following this truth, we are also agreed that
    2) there is not one iota of difference between the earthly visible righteousness or unrighteousness of a pagan vs that of a believer.

    Great. These two points are essential foundations for considering anything that is about earthly righteousness, including vocations such as being married, a janitor, pastor or president.

    CINCINATUS: [I emphatically] disagree with your claim that righteousness “has utterly no heavenly dimension” depending upon what you mean by “heavenly”.

    FRANK: See my points above as to what I mean by “heavenly”. “Earthly” or “flesh/body” in romans 8 means anything we can do in our bodies. This fully includes true and God-pleasing earthly righteousness.

    This as opposed to “heavenly” or romans 8 “spirit” which is faith alone and excludes everything “earthly” . This “heavenly” invisible Righteousness of faith is meaningless here on earth except to God and troubled consciences just as St James says in his epistle.

    I hope that did not feel like a sermon. I suspect we Lutherans radically disagree with you on all these points dear brother Cincinatus. So this part is important to identify for honesty´s sake.

    CINCINATUS: But you’re forgetting something: if there is such a thing as “earthly righteousness,” there is also such a thing as earthly unrighteousness…[so] what, exactly, is your point? [1]Are we to abandon, then, the pursuit of righteousness in our own lives and in our communities? [2] Did Christ really have nothing to say about righteousness?

    FRANK: Answers [1] silly question. Of course not. If we abandon self-restraint and love, then God will use force to make these two goods happen. [2] Christ had a lot to say about earthly visible perishable righteousness. He is the perfect Example of that kind of righteousness. But Christ IS the Heavenly Righteousness.

    We need Christ as this Savior/Righteousness. We don´t need him as a New Moses/Example. Christ is both Law and Gospel. Christ is the most horrifying form of the Law as he hangs dying on the Cross!

    CINCINATUS: Let´s discuss: [1] “does no-fault divorce cause harm to others?” [2] your continued implication that the form of marriage is irrelevant. There are tremendous implications in this otherwise well-intentioned statement.

    FRANK; Ok. Let´s discuss this in the context set up by the Lutheran Confessions on Two Kinds of Righteousness or Two Kingdoms that I have just articulated. Here is a link to the Luther Sermon that the Confessions say is the model for this teaching:

    http://www.thirduse.com/?p=10

    Your word “Irrelevant” implies a context. Marriage is relevant or irrelevant in relation to the context of a given discussion. Reasonable Cincinatus? I would never say absolutely that “marriage is irrelevant”. That would be wrong.

  • fws

    Cincinatus @62

    CINCINATUS: Of course, Christ did not come to preach the soteriological necessity of earthly righteousness. Interestingly, no one here has even remotely claimed that he did. Of course, “pagans” are also capable of righteousness. Interestingly, no one claimed that they weren’t.

    FRANK: Ok then. So we are fully agreed that..
    1) nothing we do here on earth as righteousness or unrighteousness has any eternal consequences whatsoever. Following this truth, we are also agreed that
    2) there is not one iota of difference between the earthly visible righteousness or unrighteousness of a pagan vs that of a believer.

    Great. These two points are essential foundations for considering anything that is about earthly righteousness, including vocations such as being married, a janitor, pastor or president.

    CINCINATUS: [I emphatically] disagree with your claim that righteousness “has utterly no heavenly dimension” depending upon what you mean by “heavenly”.

    FRANK: See my points above as to what I mean by “heavenly”. “Earthly” or “flesh/body” in romans 8 means anything we can do in our bodies. This fully includes true and God-pleasing earthly righteousness.

    This as opposed to “heavenly” or romans 8 “spirit” which is faith alone and excludes everything “earthly” . This “heavenly” invisible Righteousness of faith is meaningless here on earth except to God and troubled consciences just as St James says in his epistle.

    I hope that did not feel like a sermon. I suspect we Lutherans radically disagree with you on all these points dear brother Cincinatus. So this part is important to identify for honesty´s sake.

    CINCINATUS: But you’re forgetting something: if there is such a thing as “earthly righteousness,” there is also such a thing as earthly unrighteousness…[so] what, exactly, is your point? [1]Are we to abandon, then, the pursuit of righteousness in our own lives and in our communities? [2] Did Christ really have nothing to say about righteousness?

    FRANK: Answers [1] silly question. Of course not. If we abandon self-restraint and love, then God will use force to make these two goods happen. [2] Christ had a lot to say about earthly visible perishable righteousness. He is the perfect Example of that kind of righteousness. But Christ IS the Heavenly Righteousness.

    We need Christ as this Savior/Righteousness. We don´t need him as a New Moses/Example. Christ is both Law and Gospel. Christ is the most horrifying form of the Law as he hangs dying on the Cross!

    CINCINATUS: Let´s discuss: [1] “does no-fault divorce cause harm to others?” [2] your continued implication that the form of marriage is irrelevant. There are tremendous implications in this otherwise well-intentioned statement.

    FRANK; Ok. Let´s discuss this in the context set up by the Lutheran Confessions on Two Kinds of Righteousness or Two Kingdoms that I have just articulated. Here is a link to the Luther Sermon that the Confessions say is the model for this teaching:

    http://www.thirduse.com/?p=10

    Your word “Irrelevant” implies a context. Marriage is relevant or irrelevant in relation to the context of a given discussion. Reasonable Cincinatus? I would never say absolutely that “marriage is irrelevant”. That would be wrong.

  • Peter Leavitt

    FWS, you are in serious error with your position of an earthly/heavenly dualism. Serious Christians know well that eternal moral law applies to both the earthly and heavenly dimensions.

    Martin Luther gets at this with his broad definition of marriage as being The God-appointed and legitimate union of man and woman.

    Luther, also, wrote that the ultimate purpose of marriage …is to obey God, to find aid and counsel against sin; to call upon God; to seek, love, and educate children for the glory of God; to live with one’s wife in the fear of God and to bear the cross; but if there are no children, nevertheless to live with one’s wife in contentment; and to avoid all lewdness with others.

    While we are forgiven through the Cross when we truly repent of our sins, we are under strict obligation to act within the bounds of the moral law that includes the sacred institution of lifelong marriage between a man and a woman. When it comes to this moral law, there is no such thing as a “no fault” divorce. In Todd’s paltry R squared terms of the relation is 1.0 to 1.0; one hardly needs a spread-sheet to do the algorithm.

  • Peter Leavitt

    FWS, you are in serious error with your position of an earthly/heavenly dualism. Serious Christians know well that eternal moral law applies to both the earthly and heavenly dimensions.

    Martin Luther gets at this with his broad definition of marriage as being The God-appointed and legitimate union of man and woman.

    Luther, also, wrote that the ultimate purpose of marriage …is to obey God, to find aid and counsel against sin; to call upon God; to seek, love, and educate children for the glory of God; to live with one’s wife in the fear of God and to bear the cross; but if there are no children, nevertheless to live with one’s wife in contentment; and to avoid all lewdness with others.

    While we are forgiven through the Cross when we truly repent of our sins, we are under strict obligation to act within the bounds of the moral law that includes the sacred institution of lifelong marriage between a man and a woman. When it comes to this moral law, there is no such thing as a “no fault” divorce. In Todd’s paltry R squared terms of the relation is 1.0 to 1.0; one hardly needs a spread-sheet to do the algorithm.

  • fws

    Peter @ 64

    These are not my private and personal opinions Peter. These are the official teachings of the Lutheran Church found in her confessions.

    So now you know exactly where you disagree with the teachings of the Lutheran Church. Congratulations Peter!

    If you follow the link, you will see that Luther appears to agree with what the Lutheran Confessions say in his sermon that was the model for the Formula of Concord article VI. There you will also find a link to FC Article VI which states all the points I made as being the Lutheran understanding of Holy Scripture.

  • fws

    Peter @ 64

    These are not my private and personal opinions Peter. These are the official teachings of the Lutheran Church found in her confessions.

    So now you know exactly where you disagree with the teachings of the Lutheran Church. Congratulations Peter!

    If you follow the link, you will see that Luther appears to agree with what the Lutheran Confessions say in his sermon that was the model for the Formula of Concord article VI. There you will also find a link to FC Article VI which states all the points I made as being the Lutheran understanding of Holy Scripture.

  • fws

    Peter @64

    Marriage is about fleshly earthly righteousness . It is about mortification and killing of the flesh.

    There is nothing at all eternal about earthly righteousness which includes any and all kinds of sense-ible tangible visible righteousness. This fleshly /bodily righteousness will die with the earth.

    Marriage is a part of true god-pleasing yet transitory and provisional righteousness that will perish with the earth along with all who seek to be righteous before God with that kind of righteousness. There is no eternal essence to marriage.

    Now there is a heavenly righteousness that will never perish. The just shall live by this Righteousness now and forever.

  • fws

    Peter @64

    Marriage is about fleshly earthly righteousness . It is about mortification and killing of the flesh.

    There is nothing at all eternal about earthly righteousness which includes any and all kinds of sense-ible tangible visible righteousness. This fleshly /bodily righteousness will die with the earth.

    Marriage is a part of true god-pleasing yet transitory and provisional righteousness that will perish with the earth along with all who seek to be righteous before God with that kind of righteousness. There is no eternal essence to marriage.

    Now there is a heavenly righteousness that will never perish. The just shall live by this Righteousness now and forever.

  • kerner

    Cincinnatus @62:

    “…’does no fault divorce cause harm to others?’ I think that it does indeed. Let’s discuss that.”

    Yes, let’s. I think the more precise question is what system of divorce, “fault” vs. “no fault” causes the least amount of harm, because I think we can all agree that any divorce causes some harm. And a side question is whether (at least in some particular cases) granting a divorce causes more harm than not granting one.

    The usual argument Christians make against no fault divorce is Jesus’ statements, but Jesus also made statements condemning lending at interest and taking oaths, and maybe more. Yet our secular law allows these things.

    I have not reached a firm conclusion yet on the divorce question, but I have practiced law for 30 years under a system that had recently gone to “no-fault” when I started practicing. The arguments I heard from the lawyers who were old when I was young went kind of like this.

    The “fault” system harmed the poor. Fault didn’t just have to exist, it had to be proved. This often required the prolonged attention of a good lawyer. In other words, it cost a lot. So the poor, who might be being abused, could not get justice. Sometimes the fault could not be proved to the satisfaction of the court (which depended on which judge you had) at all, and justice was denied entirely. This meant that a lot of people stayed in marriages that were “unhappy”. But unhappy could mean anything from miserably abusive to shallow dissatisfaction.

    The policy decision was made that it was better to let the miserable and abused dissolve their marriages easily, even if it also meant that the shallow and dissatisfied could blow off their possibly innocent spouses as well. The theory was that forcing the shallow and dissatisfied to stay in their marriages might make them improve, but it was more likely to prolong the agony of a bad marriage that would end up failing anyway. Sort of the Gary Sheffield theory of divorce.

    (Mr. Sheffield was a Brewers outfielder who didn’t like Milwaukee. When the Brewers wouldn’t trade him, he played badly on purpose till they did.)

    And making these people stick it out would be harder on children (who would learn worse behavioral lessons from watching mom and dad interact than they would by observing them separately).

    I see some, but not perfect, merit in these arguments. Do you? Or do you think that the harm caused by making divorce easier outweighs the harms cited by the the proponents of no fault?

  • kerner

    Cincinnatus @62:

    “…’does no fault divorce cause harm to others?’ I think that it does indeed. Let’s discuss that.”

    Yes, let’s. I think the more precise question is what system of divorce, “fault” vs. “no fault” causes the least amount of harm, because I think we can all agree that any divorce causes some harm. And a side question is whether (at least in some particular cases) granting a divorce causes more harm than not granting one.

    The usual argument Christians make against no fault divorce is Jesus’ statements, but Jesus also made statements condemning lending at interest and taking oaths, and maybe more. Yet our secular law allows these things.

    I have not reached a firm conclusion yet on the divorce question, but I have practiced law for 30 years under a system that had recently gone to “no-fault” when I started practicing. The arguments I heard from the lawyers who were old when I was young went kind of like this.

    The “fault” system harmed the poor. Fault didn’t just have to exist, it had to be proved. This often required the prolonged attention of a good lawyer. In other words, it cost a lot. So the poor, who might be being abused, could not get justice. Sometimes the fault could not be proved to the satisfaction of the court (which depended on which judge you had) at all, and justice was denied entirely. This meant that a lot of people stayed in marriages that were “unhappy”. But unhappy could mean anything from miserably abusive to shallow dissatisfaction.

    The policy decision was made that it was better to let the miserable and abused dissolve their marriages easily, even if it also meant that the shallow and dissatisfied could blow off their possibly innocent spouses as well. The theory was that forcing the shallow and dissatisfied to stay in their marriages might make them improve, but it was more likely to prolong the agony of a bad marriage that would end up failing anyway. Sort of the Gary Sheffield theory of divorce.

    (Mr. Sheffield was a Brewers outfielder who didn’t like Milwaukee. When the Brewers wouldn’t trade him, he played badly on purpose till they did.)

    And making these people stick it out would be harder on children (who would learn worse behavioral lessons from watching mom and dad interact than they would by observing them separately).

    I see some, but not perfect, merit in these arguments. Do you? Or do you think that the harm caused by making divorce easier outweighs the harms cited by the the proponents of no fault?

  • Peter Leavitt

    FWS, Luther wrote as follows that the ultimate purpose of marriage …is to obey God, to find aid and counsel against sin; to call upon God; to seek, love, and educate children for the glory of God; to live with one’s wife in the fear of God and to bear the cross; but if there are no children, nevertheless to live with one’s wife in contentment; and to avoid all lewdness with others. This is hardly a “temporary” or “provisional” statement.

    Also the Formula of Concord, Article Six, Section twenty-Six with marvelous conciseness addresses Christian antinomians as follows:

    Accordingly, we reject and condemn as an error pernicious and detrimental to Christian discipline, as also to true godliness, the teaching that the Law, in the above-mentioned way and degree, should not be urged upon Christians and the true believers, but only upon the unbelieving, unchristians, and impenitent.

    Luther, following the Bible here, knows that Christ, as he made clear, came to fulfill the Law but not to erase any of it. Christ made it clear that it was only due to the hard-heartdenes of some Jews that divorce was allowed to corrupt the sanctity of marriage.

    I should suggest that you take a close look at Jonathan Edward’s remarkable sermon, Sinners in the Hand of an Angry God that strikes a nice balance between the truth of God’s awful justice and fine mercy.

  • Peter Leavitt

    FWS, Luther wrote as follows that the ultimate purpose of marriage …is to obey God, to find aid and counsel against sin; to call upon God; to seek, love, and educate children for the glory of God; to live with one’s wife in the fear of God and to bear the cross; but if there are no children, nevertheless to live with one’s wife in contentment; and to avoid all lewdness with others. This is hardly a “temporary” or “provisional” statement.

    Also the Formula of Concord, Article Six, Section twenty-Six with marvelous conciseness addresses Christian antinomians as follows:

    Accordingly, we reject and condemn as an error pernicious and detrimental to Christian discipline, as also to true godliness, the teaching that the Law, in the above-mentioned way and degree, should not be urged upon Christians and the true believers, but only upon the unbelieving, unchristians, and impenitent.

    Luther, following the Bible here, knows that Christ, as he made clear, came to fulfill the Law but not to erase any of it. Christ made it clear that it was only due to the hard-heartdenes of some Jews that divorce was allowed to corrupt the sanctity of marriage.

    I should suggest that you take a close look at Jonathan Edward’s remarkable sermon, Sinners in the Hand of an Angry God that strikes a nice balance between the truth of God’s awful justice and fine mercy.

  • Tom Hering

    “And making these people stick it out would be harder on children (who would learn worse behavioral lessons from watching mom and dad interact than they would by observing them separately).” – @ 67.

    kerner, the arguments of those old lawyers went too far in one respect. Living as a child with both my parents, and seeing how they hated one another, was painful for me. But their divorce was painful as well – and lasting. Even forty years later, after I learned of the secret abuse that led my Mom to divorce my Dad. There simply is no outcome that is better for the children (short of literally saving their lives). So let’s never lie to ourselves. It’s all bad.

    I understand why God says He hates divorce – and condemns everything in a marriage that leads to divorce.

  • Tom Hering

    “And making these people stick it out would be harder on children (who would learn worse behavioral lessons from watching mom and dad interact than they would by observing them separately).” – @ 67.

    kerner, the arguments of those old lawyers went too far in one respect. Living as a child with both my parents, and seeing how they hated one another, was painful for me. But their divorce was painful as well – and lasting. Even forty years later, after I learned of the secret abuse that led my Mom to divorce my Dad. There simply is no outcome that is better for the children (short of literally saving their lives). So let’s never lie to ourselves. It’s all bad.

    I understand why God says He hates divorce – and condemns everything in a marriage that leads to divorce.

  • kerner

    Tom Hering:

    I’m sorry to open old wounds, and I know you are right. I’ve never been where you’ve been first hand, but I’ve had to see it professionally many times.

    There’s a line from an old movie about divorce that goes:

    “Win? There’s no winning in this. There’s only degrees of losing.”

    And when you’re in it, those degrees must seem inconsequestial.

    But the secular law has to manage it all somehow, even though no approach to it is going to make it right.

  • kerner

    Tom Hering:

    I’m sorry to open old wounds, and I know you are right. I’ve never been where you’ve been first hand, but I’ve had to see it professionally many times.

    There’s a line from an old movie about divorce that goes:

    “Win? There’s no winning in this. There’s only degrees of losing.”

    And when you’re in it, those degrees must seem inconsequestial.

    But the secular law has to manage it all somehow, even though no approach to it is going to make it right.

  • Tom Hering

    kerner @ 70, you didn’t reopen my old wound. But thanks for being concerned! I agree that the civil realm must manage divorce somehow. I just don’t want us to fool ourselves. Whether a revival of “fault” makes divorce more difficult, or “no fault” continues to make it easier, the children of marriages gone bad are going to suffer. Let’s keep them in mind.

  • Tom Hering

    kerner @ 70, you didn’t reopen my old wound. But thanks for being concerned! I agree that the civil realm must manage divorce somehow. I just don’t want us to fool ourselves. Whether a revival of “fault” makes divorce more difficult, or “no fault” continues to make it easier, the children of marriages gone bad are going to suffer. Let’s keep them in mind.

  • sg

    I am pretty sure that both conscientiousness and intelligence correlate inversely with divorce. Check the GSS. I will let you guys bicker over the direction of causality or whether there is any. Personally, I think smart, diligent folks are less likely to pick someone they can’t stick with.

  • sg

    I am pretty sure that both conscientiousness and intelligence correlate inversely with divorce. Check the GSS. I will let you guys bicker over the direction of causality or whether there is any. Personally, I think smart, diligent folks are less likely to pick someone they can’t stick with.

  • fws

    peter levitt at 63

    “Accordingly, we reject and condemn as an error pernicious and detrimental to Christian discipline, as also to true godliness, the teaching that the Law, in the above-mentioned way and degree, should not be urged upon Christians and the true believers, but only upon the unbelieving, unchristians, and impenitent. ”

    Wow. I am really pleased you are coming back at me with the Lutheran Confessions Peter. You will have me listening to your every word with this strategy!

    So ok! :)) What did this say to you Peter? It means this right?:

    We believe, teach and confess that both Christians and Pagans alike should be urged with the SAME Law, in the SAME above mentioned way and and in the SAME above mentioned degree.

    And this says that there is NO outward difference whatsoever between “christian” piety and pagan piety. Right? You can disagree, but we are agreed now that THIS is what the Lutheran Church teaches officially right?

    Read the rest of article VI where it will tell you that there will be no Law and no Gospel in the resurrection because these are only earthly temporary things:

    “(SD) 24] This preaching of the Law is to be urged with diligence upon the Believer [on account of his Old Adam], until the body of sin is entirely put off, and man is perfectly renewed in the resurrection, when he will need neither the preaching of the Law nor its threatenings and punishments, as also the Gospel any longer; for these belong to this [mortal and] imperfect life.”

    This includes everything you can say about the estate of Marriage Peter is what this is saying right? Marriage is about the Old Adam and mortification of the flesh.

    I am not puritanical. so don´t direct me to edwards. And I am not a Luther-an. So you can quit with the luther quotes. If you want to try to tell me what the Lutheran doctrine is, you MUST go to the Lutheran confessions alone Peter. Get that?

    Here I have given you an example of what that kind of dialog would look like.

  • fws

    peter levitt at 63

    “Accordingly, we reject and condemn as an error pernicious and detrimental to Christian discipline, as also to true godliness, the teaching that the Law, in the above-mentioned way and degree, should not be urged upon Christians and the true believers, but only upon the unbelieving, unchristians, and impenitent. ”

    Wow. I am really pleased you are coming back at me with the Lutheran Confessions Peter. You will have me listening to your every word with this strategy!

    So ok! :)) What did this say to you Peter? It means this right?:

    We believe, teach and confess that both Christians and Pagans alike should be urged with the SAME Law, in the SAME above mentioned way and and in the SAME above mentioned degree.

    And this says that there is NO outward difference whatsoever between “christian” piety and pagan piety. Right? You can disagree, but we are agreed now that THIS is what the Lutheran Church teaches officially right?

    Read the rest of article VI where it will tell you that there will be no Law and no Gospel in the resurrection because these are only earthly temporary things:

    “(SD) 24] This preaching of the Law is to be urged with diligence upon the Believer [on account of his Old Adam], until the body of sin is entirely put off, and man is perfectly renewed in the resurrection, when he will need neither the preaching of the Law nor its threatenings and punishments, as also the Gospel any longer; for these belong to this [mortal and] imperfect life.”

    This includes everything you can say about the estate of Marriage Peter is what this is saying right? Marriage is about the Old Adam and mortification of the flesh.

    I am not puritanical. so don´t direct me to edwards. And I am not a Luther-an. So you can quit with the luther quotes. If you want to try to tell me what the Lutheran doctrine is, you MUST go to the Lutheran confessions alone Peter. Get that?

    Here I have given you an example of what that kind of dialog would look like.

  • Tom Hering

    “And I am not a Luther-an. So you can quit with the luther quotes.” – @ 73.

    Unless you’re quoting the Smalcald Articles or the Small and Large Catechisms. (A Lutheran just can’t get away from being a Luther-an, to one degree or another.) ;-)

  • Tom Hering

    “And I am not a Luther-an. So you can quit with the luther quotes.” – @ 73.

    Unless you’re quoting the Smalcald Articles or the Small and Large Catechisms. (A Lutheran just can’t get away from being a Luther-an, to one degree or another.) ;-)

  • fws

    tom hering @74

    Figured it would be you that would catch me dear brother! :)

    I have been studying Luther alot these days. So I am becoming more Luther-an by the day!

    But I still aspire to be a Confessional Lutheran Luther-an….. ;)

  • fws

    tom hering @74

    Figured it would be you that would catch me dear brother! :)

    I have been studying Luther alot these days. So I am becoming more Luther-an by the day!

    But I still aspire to be a Confessional Lutheran Luther-an….. ;)

  • Tom Hering

    Hey, let’s hijack this thread and talk about the sort of consideration that ought to be given (or not) to Luther’s extra-Confessional writings in the thinking of Confessional Lutherans. Whee!

  • Tom Hering

    Hey, let’s hijack this thread and talk about the sort of consideration that ought to be given (or not) to Luther’s extra-Confessional writings in the thinking of Confessional Lutherans. Whee!

  • fws

    tom hering @76

    and just where else would I have those sorts of conversations down here in brasil. wheeeeeeeeee!

  • fws

    tom hering @76

    and just where else would I have those sorts of conversations down here in brasil. wheeeeeeeeee!

  • Tom Hering

    Wherever there is beer, there are Lutherans. You can’t be the only one.

  • Tom Hering

    Wherever there is beer, there are Lutherans. You can’t be the only one.

  • fws

    tom @ 78

    how true you are! and the beer is great here.

    and I have a GREAT pastor and church. so… but I don´t get to be my bloviating, overly wordy self in portuguese. In portuguese I am even MORE tedious to listen to… if you can believe that this is possible from your observations up to now. Ahem. cough.

  • fws

    tom @ 78

    how true you are! and the beer is great here.

    and I have a GREAT pastor and church. so… but I don´t get to be my bloviating, overly wordy self in portuguese. In portuguese I am even MORE tedious to listen to… if you can believe that this is possible from your observations up to now. Ahem. cough.


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