Greater Acceptance of Divorce in America



Greater Acceptance of Divorce in America

Richard Hollerman

The older a person lives and the longer he is a resident of the United States, the more he realizes that we are in a sweeping tide of change. While change can be good or bad, the change I am referring to is related to a change for the worse. More and more of the American population are accepting immoral and degraded activities and relationship as compared to the past.

While we may be surprised with these findings, we have known all along that Christianity is becoming less and less of a major factor in modern life.  While some people seem to think that Christian values are having a greater effect in public life, statistics don’t bear out this mistaken belief.

Most of us are well acquainted with the Gallup organization, a leading pollster in America that measures the views of Americans on everything from cars to food, from clothes to political opinion.  A new report on culture tells us the story that must be told if we would have an accurate view of the opinions and lifestyle of contemporary Americans.

Let’s view the subject of divorce as we begin.  The Gallup report says:

More Americans than ever believe divorce is morally acceptable, with the percentage who say this jumping to 70% in Gallup’s 2008 Values and Beliefs survey, up from 59% in 2001, and breaking the previous high of 67% in 2006. ( cultural-tolerance- divorce-grows-70. aspx?version=print.)

If we had the figures at hand for the acceptance of divorce for, say, 1825 or 1850 or 1875, surely the percentage of acceptance would be very low by comparison. Today some 70 percent of Americans are willing to accept divorce in a positive way. (The report comes from 2008, a few years ago.)

But what about other moral issues that are discussed in our age? Gallup found that Americans found “morally acceptable” a number of immoral activities and relationships. Here are the statistics:

70%   Divorce

63%   Gambling

61%   Sex between unmarried men and women

55%   Having a baby outside of marriage

51%   Doctor assisted suicide

48%   Homosexual relations

40%   Abortion

15%   Suicide

8%     Polygamy

7%     Married men and women committing adultery

We can be glad that there is still a sizeable proportion of people who would find these immoral and sinful activities wrong, yet it is a shame that some people do find these acceptable.

Just who are finding divorce acceptable? Gallup tells us:

Tolerance of divorce continues to be higher among younger adults compared with those 65 and older. Also, conservatives show far less support than do self-described moderates and liberals. And barely half of Americans who say religion is very important in their lives believe divorce is morally acceptable, compared with virtually all non-religious Americans.

As is the case with many different issues of morality, the young are more willing to endorse immoral relations while the older adults are more unwilling to accept them. Further, the conservatives and religious are less inclined to accept divorce (and other immoral activities).

Let’s take a closer look at the various elements of society in the matter of divorce. Some 70% of men and 69% of women now accept divorce (very similar views). Further, some 71% of 18 to 29 year olds, 74% of 30 to 49 year olds, 71% of 50 to 64 year olds, and 57% of those 65 and older. We can see from this that older Americans are slightly less inclined to have a positive view on divorce.

What about political persuasions?  61% of Republicans, 74% of Independents, and 72% of Democrats find divorce “morally acceptable.” Another finding is that 57% of Conservatives, 72% of Moderates, and 87% of Liberals accept divorce. As to religion, 65% of Protestants (of all kinds) and 75% of Catholics accept divorce. (It would have been interesting to note the views of atheists, Muslims, Jews, and others.) As to whether or not religion is “important,” Gallup discovered that 55% of those who view religion as “very important,” 83% of those who view religion as “fairly important,” and 91% of those who say religion is “not very important” would accept divorce. Probably none of these findings are too surprising but it is noteworthy that our suspicions have probably been verified.

When we come to the end of the article on public views on divorce, Gallup makes this significant comment:

People going through divorce often deal with a range of difficult emotions, including anger, sadness, trepidation, remorse, and a sense of failure. One issue becoming less and less a factor in that gut-wrenching mix is the sting of moral condemnation.

This shows that divorce can still have a big impact on our life and result in many emotions. However, as the Gallup organization points out, “moral condemnation” is not the kind of factor that remains in our modern life. In other words, more and more people are unwilling to say that divorce is immoral and to be condemned.

How does the Christian view this report? We can see that indeed John the apostle was correct when he declared that “the whole world lies in the power of the evil one” (1 John 5:19). We can also see that evil will grow more and more in some contexts (cf. 2 Timothy 3:13). In America, increased numbers of people are willing to accept a wrong behavior (not to speak of other cultures that have not been as greatly influenced by Christianity as our own country).

We would add to this another observation. As a Christian grows in the Lord and in his spiritual life, he will grow increasingly uneasy about sinful and wrong relationships and behavior (cf. 2 Peter 3:18). In other words, if he was converted after his marriage and his wife (or her husband) did not also come to Christ, we can see that marriage can bring great upheaval and disappointments. The unsaved spouse may become so upset over the Christian’s conversion and godly lifestyle, the he or she chooses to end it all in divorce. Thus, “Christianity” can result in some divorces that may never have occurred (cf. 1 Corinthians 7:12-16; Matthew 10:34-37).

While the world around us increasingly is willing to accept moral compromise, true Christians must be willing to take a moral stand for truth and righteousness. When the world derides us or just can’t understand us, we need to stand solidly on the Word of God and do what is right. Will you determine to stand alone, if need be, if only you will stand for the Lord? If so, I’ll plan to stand with you!







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