Marriage is arguably one of the most important topics in all of Mormonism. It is considered ordained of God (PoF), temple marriages are sealed through the Melchizedek Priesthood, and it’s considered required for Mormon exaltation (D&C 132). The importance of marriage has led the church, in several situations, to support legislation to preserve the sanctity of traditional marriage. During these heated campaigns the church has made its point clear – it respects, loves, and welcomes those who favor, or desire same-sex marriage, but it highly values the preservation of traditional heterosexual marriage and supports legislation to that end. But is there a clear way to strengthen marriage staring us right in the face, or rather, wallet?
During the last two years, the U.S.A. (and the world in general) has seen tremendous economic hardship. It has been dubbed the “Great Recession” by many – a nod to the 1929 “Great Depression.” I recently read an interesting piece in The Christian Science Monitor (which I generally find to be a good, mostly unbiased source of information – this article being a noteworthy exception) entitled Recession’s silver lining: falling divorce rate.
This article presents some profound, highly methodical research, and is very well written. There are absolutely no poor leaps of logic, it is based on sound science, and it certainly does not equate correlation with causation. 😉 Okay, okay, so the article leaves a lot to be desire.
Here is the key:
These tough economic times may have at least one positive side effect: they might be encouraging greater family solidarity. The evidence for this? The US divorce rate fell during the first full year of what might be called the Great Recession. That’s the first such decline since 2005.
But others may be rediscovering why they got married in the first place. Recession reminds them that marriage can be more than an emotional relationship. It is also an economic partnership and social safety net, points out the National Marriage Project report, “The State of Our Unions 2009” (WARNING: pdf file).
If this is true (and since it’s in print, it must be!) maybe the church is “barking up the wrong tree” to preserve the sanctity of marriage. My suggestion would be to increase tithing to 20% or 30% even. Furthermore, a strong campaign pushing for legislation raising taxes, and further government intervention in the way of fixing higher prices would be just what we need to truly preserve the sanctity of marriage! After all
There’s nothing like the loss of a job, an imminent foreclosure, or a shrinking 401(k) to [help spouses] gain new appreciation for a wife’s job, a husband’s commitment to pay down debt, or the in-laws’ willingness to help out with childcare or a rent-free place to live.
What do you think? Discuss. http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Society/2009/1208/p02s04-ussc.html  http://www.virginia.edu/marriageproject/pdfs/Union_11_25_09.pdf
How about a Churchwide fast for the recession to continue?
Wow. I’m almost speechless.
My friend Meghan worked at a women’s shelter and with the recession she saw fewer women and children enter the shelter because they were too poor and too afraid to leave their abusive situations.
You know what happened? A few of them died. Yes, women and children. Because there were no jobs and no money to leave, they stayed and were beaten to death.
So, that’s my picture of why divorce rates are falling. Women can’t get out of bad situations so they’re just putting up with it, bruises and all.
People used to ask me if cancer had brought my husband and I closer together. I maybe did a little, but it felt more like normal, real life with the good and the bad. Another time we had a major issue with a child. That felt like it was tearing us down.
My husband’s layoff in January however, felt like it brought us closer together. (He did find a job, btw).
You just can’t predict whether a particular challenge is going to bring you together, or tear you apart, or just be neutral. You just take it a day at a time and do your best through any circumstances life brings.
If this is true (and since it’s in print, it must be!) maybe the [LDS?] church is “barking up the wrong tree” to preserve the sanctity of marriage. My suggestion would be to increase tithing to 20% or 30% even.
The LDS church already did that in California, where the leaders of many wards and stakes used ecclesiastical intimidation to “persuade” members to turn over their kids’ college funds, their family savings accounts, etc., to the Prop 8 campaign. A few even threatened to remove temple recommends from those who didn’t “follow the prophet” by “donating.”
Nick, do you have details or links?
As for the OP, a 4% decline in the rate is probably statistical noise. As for #2, I’m skeptical that the recession is causing substantially more battered women to stick around. This is overwhelmingly a man’s recession, with male job losses vastly outstripping female layoffs.
By the same logic, it might also encourage people to tell a loved-but-profligate spouse to “hit the road, Jack…”
Personally, I like this idea the best
Marriage must be protected!
Let’s go with that one.
Of course, the flip side of this (in the report as well) is that fewer new marriages are being contracted. After all, if we expect the husband to be the breadwinner and he doesn’t have a job, he’s not getting married. So people put off getting divorced and put off getting married. Yay for the status quo!
Not to discount the economy: indeed, throughout most of human history we do see how economics and survival was a major reason for getting married and staying married. Not to say those were necessarily happy, loving and mutually fulfilling marriages as we desire now. But then again, that whole “love-based” idea together with the freedom of wage labor (and the economic growth that accompanied it) is what redefined marriage and prompted us to get divorced when marriage didn’t make us happy. (Not to mention made SSM a logical application of our new marriage concept.)
If we really want the “traditional” marriage and low divorce (and no SSM) of a couple of centuries ago, we’d have to not only wreck the modern industrial/service economy but also lower people’s expectations for love and fulfillment in marriage, so that we could get back to focusing on survival.
Or we can admit that societal mores have and necessarily will continue changing with our shifting economic reality, just like they always have.
“My suggestion would be to increase tithing to 20% or 30% even”
I’m joining the catholic church if that happens!
Re 5 Thomas
Yes, I agree. I was a bit surprised that this made news. Especially for only one year’s worth of downturn. I suppose when this is analyzed 5 years from now it might carry a bit more water.
Re 7 Dan
I love it! I think that’s definitely the next step! 😉
Re 8 SW Clark
You serious? do you know that as fact or are they the rumors going round in gay circles?
“During these heated campaigns the church has made its point clear – it respects, loves, and welcomes those who favor, or desire same-sex marriage, but it highly values the preservation of traditional heterosexual marriage…”
I try not to ever weigh in on the comments (as opposed to the article), but I’m going to (and I’ll end up regretting it…again).
In my CA stake, where I am personally acquainted with both ward and stake leadership and what they were doing during prop 8. I can categorically state that no such thing happened within my stake. The plural of anecdote is not data, yadda yadda, so take it for what it’s worth. The leadership in my stake all donated enough to end up on the petty-revenge-list of donors that went around the internet during the campaign and some paid a social/professional cost for their involvement. They wouldn’t have “blackmailed” anyone for a few shekels more.
My own (completely baseless) opinion is that Nick continues to be disappointed in the outcome, and so has been willing to believe highly unlikely rumors in order to help himself with those feelings.
I will gladly eat my hat if any of the above allegations were to be found verifiably true. (Did I mention my hat is made out of pizza? I just want to make that clear.)
Another side effect is that the birth rate seems to be falling:
#11 – can you prove those allegations are *not* true?
#4 & #13 – I agree with N. I also live in CA, and my stake tried its hardest to ensure that no one felt ostracized from the church if they chose not to participate in Prop 8. In fact, campaign organizers were specifically told NOT to meet and discuss and distribute materials on church grounds for that very reason. We didn’t talk about it during meetings at all (except for the occasional testimony–but people rarely use good judgment during those anyway).
For the sake of argument, Nick, let’s assume you’re right an some leaders in certain wards/stakes did do the things you allege: it’s a rash generalization to claim THE CHURCH did these things, even if a few leaders overstepped their bounds. And if you want to point fingers, let me tell you I watched plenty of “No on 8” folks tearing down Yes on 8 signs, screaming at our groups as they legally demonstrated, and generally being very uncivil. So let’s put the lie to “No on 8” and the self-righteous claim that they are anti-hate. That’s almost laughable. Too bad we all just couldn’t grow up and find the ever-elusive compromise or win-win.
Ok, now for my “real” comment about the original post:
I have a brother-in-law who has now been out of work for over a year. I have to say, aside from the financial distresses, it’s been the best thing that could happen to the guy and his family. He actually helps out with the kids, takes them places, and gives his wife time to herself. He has become noticeably kinder, and his tendency to become angry and verbally abusive when frustrated has diminished. I think he’s learning to be humble, not to mention learning all the ways to honor his priesthood beside being the bread-winner and presiding authority of the household.
However, I think that increasing tithing, or taxes, or creating some other barrier to entry for marriage would be counter-productive. You would just encourage folks to cohabitate rather than get hitched–both gay and hetero. And if people are just sticking together because they can’t afford to file divorce, then we really haven’t achieved much, have we?
“going round in gay circles?” That just doesn’t sound grammatically right to me somehow.
This seems to me like the same old lemonade from lemons philosophy, that adversity makes us stronger. It’s the same argument to get kids to eat their vegetables, I guess, but that doesn’t mean that in the store the kids are going to make a bee line for the produce section. We may grow from difficult circumstances, but they’re still unpleasant.
Trying to define marriage is the Mormons shooting the Mormons in their own foot.
The Great Satan George W. Bush’s Marriage Amendment “Marriage shall be defined as between one man and one woman.” seems to do disservice to the LDS DC 132 Mandates.
Official Declaration #1 did not invalid the doctrine articulated in DC132, it just temporarily postponed it.
In order for you Mormons to fully exercise your First Amendment “Congress shall make no law … prohibiting the free exercise [of Religion]”
You eventually will need to follow the Orthodox Jews, Muslims, and Hindus in practicing Abrahamic Marriage.
The Coalition for Heterosexual Marriage suggests this wording for any future Marriage Amendment:
“Marriage between members of the same gender shall be held to be invalid within the States and territories of the United States of America”
This preserves your “Sanctity of Marriage” as well as preserves Freedom of Religion, not just for Mormons, but for Orthodox Jews, Muslims, Hindus and others as mentioned above.
Your comment disturbs me a little.
This is a “male” recession primarily because there are fewer women in the workforce and men generally get paid more than women for the same job. It makes financial sense to lay off the people that cost more. On the other hand, when there are so few jobs available, it is difficult for both men and women to find jobs. On top of that, even if women are keeping their jobs more than men right now, they are still very likely to be affected by pay cuts, potentially making women in abusive relationships even more dependent on their husbands. And abusive relationships thrive on dependence. That’s all assuming the woman was employed to begin with; if she was unemployed and didn’t have education or work experience, it would be even more difficult for her to find a job.
So basically, I don’t find Jessawhy’s (#2) comment hard to believe at all.
I sense a little tongue-in-cheek in regards to increasing tithing percentages!
Perhaps I view this differently.
So, big WHOOP if this is overwhelmingly a man’s recession with men having the higher job loss numbers. Does this mean it does not effect women? If it is a couple and it means that the woman now has to figure out how to cope with the man who is having issues because he lost his job, that can be a big deal. It will not automatically cause either divorce or closeness. It is a family issue that will effect the couple, their children, dogs, cats, vans, houses, etc.
When family dynamics change, for whatever reason, many are left scrambling while trying to figure out what happened, how to move on, and where they fit in.
You are right jmb. I think the point was missed. I include myself.