Despite our neverending discussions of various sorts of marriage, I don’t think we’ve had an extended conversation about divorce. I don’t have any particular wisdom to offer; I’m mostly curious about how a bunch of smart Mormons might think about the issues involved.

A very quick overview of statistics on Mormon divorce is available here. The upshot is that U.S. Mormons on the whole divorce almost as often as non-Mormons, although I’ve read in other places that the divorce rate for temple marriages is substantially lower, except when the age of the bride is <21 and/or the groom <23 (?)–divorce rates for those marriages were higher than the national average for all marriages. (This is not especially surprising, since young couples are the most likely of any group to get divorced.)

Just a couple of questions to get the discussion started:

It seems that temple marriage increases the level of commitment of the parties to the marriage, with good results. However, it also raises the stakes considerably–if we really believe in eternal marriage, then it becomes more important than it might otherwise be to get out of an untenable union.

Although divorce has generally been tolerated among Mormons, especially during the era of polygamy, official rhetoric has never reflected this reality. Is there a way to preach the ideal without increasing the agony of those whose marriages don’t measure up?

Finally, what are the circumstances under which you all think divorce is justified? It seems to me that there is broad agreement that physical abuse is a good enough reason to leave (although as recently as 1993, the Ensign published an article on divorce that was laudatory of a woman who stayed with a man who beat her–grrr!). Likewise, adultery is generally considered acceptable grounds for divorce, although I think there is a lot of admiration for couples who manage to put the marriage together again after adultery. A recent book group discussion of Carol Lynn Pearson’s _Goodbye, I Love You_ with Mormon women in my ward had support for divorce if one member of the couple comes out at around 60%. What about pornography abuse/addiction (there have been a couple of poignant letters from wives read over the pulpit lately)? Emotional abuse (what constitutes emotional abuse)? Irreconcilable differences (are there any between righteous couples)? What about one spouse leaving the Church?


301 comments for “Divorce

  1. There can certainly be irreconcilable differences between righteous partners. Some people are more or less compatible with each other. I believe its perfectly possible for two obedient commandment-keeping people to despise each other or to dislike each other — at least enough to prevent a successful marriage union.

  2. I may be in the minority here, (I’m the first commenter…we’ll see…) but I think life is too short to be miserably married. I had a bad first marriage. It didn’t start out bad, but it deteriorated pretty quickly. I gave it a much better shot as a LDS than I would have had I not joined the church, but when it reached the point that I knew he was lying because his lips were moving and I had no idea what STD I might catch if I continued to have sex with him…well, it was time to end it.

    No mutual respect, no communication, no interest by one party in improving the marriage and fixing the problems? Stick it out for as long as you can endure it to see if things change, and do what you can to make things better. At some point, though, people deserve the opportunity to pursue happiness; not to keep beating their heads against the wall because it feels so good when they stop. Unhappiness and the CK are mutually exclusive; a temple marriage between two unhappily married people is probably not going to be celestial material.

    As the New Order Mormon half of a marriage, I am thrilled that both my husband and I hope for eternity together, even though I no longer have any idea what that might look like. I know people for whom loss of faith by one spouse has led to (or could lead to) divorce; I don’t think that reason alone is even remotely valid. Why would a woman leave a loving husband, the father of her children, who is genuinely trying to build the relationship and is committed to their mutual happiness, over a church? The mind boggles…

  3. It’s reasonable to assume that divorce results from problem behaviors–particularly on the part of the husband–such as those you suggest: abuse, adultery, pornography. After all, most divorces with which one may be anecdotally (or personally) familiar probably have one of these causes at the root; even President Hinckley, in his recent address on women, attributed divorce to bad behavior and sin.

    But it seems clear that divorce rates rise primarily when it becomes economically feasible for the *wife* to survive alone–that is, when greater numbers of women can compete in the workplace. Perhaps the Mormon lag in divorce–if there is one–is due more to low rates of two-income families than to an inherent advantage in the marriage relationship.

  4. I think the evidence is overwhelming that divorce because of ‘irreconciliable differences’ has been a disaster.

  5. I find it impossible to draw any sort of line for when it is acceptable and when it is not to end a marriage. It seems that if one person wants out they are saying they have given up. How long should we fight single handedly to hold something unhappy, kind of together.

    If I were currently in an unhappy marriage I can confidently say that the concept of eternal marriage wouldn’t be too enticing.

  6. When I told one of my non-Mormon friends about the principle of eternal marriage her immediate response was “but what if you don’t want to be with that person for eternity?” She had just watched her parents go through an ugly divorce.

    I do hope that some or many unhappy marriages might be healed in the eternities. I think often here in mortality there could be righteous people who suffer from emotional issues, imbalances, baggage, etc. that might cause rifts or difficulty in communication and relationships. The rather plain, boring, typical or dysfunctional person in this life (who is neverthless just and righteous) might be quite glorious in the next. Some people who endure faithfully in difficult marriages in this life might be delighted with the eternal outcome that lies in store. But I’m only guessing and speculating here.

    Marriage is one of those complicated issues. There are so many people who were thrown together by life or who ended up together in a seemingly random fashion and who lived in cultures where they simply had no choice to continue in their marriages. Again, maybe those marriages will be more desirable in the world to come. It’s just hard to say.

    I certainly don’t think that anyone, especially an exalted righteous being, will be coerced into maintaining an unfixable and unhappy marriage into the eternities.

  7. There are many excuses used for divorce but one I found from my experience and several others I am familiar with, is narcissism on the part of one of the parties. Perhaps when we examine the the benefits of of good moral behaviour we should also look at the consequences of immoral behaviour, because they don’t often manifest themselves until 10,15 or 20 years down the road.
    Without proper counselling, those who engage in bad behaviour and don’t assign or take proper responsibility, usually take it out on their spouse and hold them responsible even though they weren’t around at the time.

  8. danithew.

    I find what you have said interesting, but it leaves me with questions and I would love some clarification.

    You say that you don’t think “an exalted righteous being , will be coerced into maintaining an unfixable and unhappy marriage in the eternities.� But from your previous comment I feel that you are saying that in our temporal life we should consider maintaining these unhappy marriages in hopes that the marriage will be glorious in the next.

    If this IS what you are saying, I worry about the effect a house hold such as this would have on a children, and that child’s children and so on… this is its own eternal effect that I believe should be considered.

  9. I just love divorce humor:

    A man and wife are in divorce court arguing over the custody of their children.

    The mother leaps to her feet and protests to the judge that since she brought the children into this world, she should retain custody of them.

    The judge then asks for the man why he should retain custody. After a long silence, the man slowly rose from his chair and replied, “Your Honor, when I put a dollar in a vending machine and a Pepsi comes out, does the Pepsi belong to me or the machine?�

  10. Rebecca,

    Disposable marriages. Now that’s a real boon for children. Since happy homes should always exist, any sign of conflict should be grounds for divorce.

  11. Larry,

    Very good point. I suppose since I don’t have children I never considered the other side, I was looking purely from the point of a marriage that is childless. I wish I had made this clear originally because I do believe you have a different responsibility once the family grows greater than just the two.

    Differentiating between the divorce in a marriage with children and one with out raising only a million more questions…

  12. Danithew: with all due respect, Pres. Kimball said otherwise (i.e. _any_ two good members can make an eternal marriage work). He also indicated, among others, that “selfishness” & “pride” are the two great marriage killers.

    Emotional abuse? I have yet to see a definition that was more than “one spouse is mean sometimes & the other thin-skinned/unforgiving”.

    Divorce is “tolerated” among Mormons? I don’t think so, at least I hope not. For those that seek to split asunder that which God joined together…the only word I can think of is sinful.

    David: That was supposed to be a joke?

  13. I think Rebecca brings up a valuable distinction between marriages that have produced children and those that have not. From what I know, most of the “ills of divorce” research has found that children and mothers of children suffer most. While divorce is never an easy or desirable solution–and Rebecca wasn’t suggesting that it was–I think the social, emotional and spiritual calculus shifts significantly when children are not in the equation.

    Still, Larry’s point–however brusquely delivered–may have some merit: it seems to me that children care a lot less that their parents are happy in their marriage than merely that their parents are together in a marriage (excluding physical and emotional abuse and all the rest, of course).

  14. “That was supposed to be a joke?”

    Ah DKL, you loused that one up. It’s supposed to be a Coke not a Pepsi.

    Get it?… Get it?…

  15. I think a lot of couples in the Church are staying together mostly because they know that if they admit it’s not working, and divorce, the other people with whom they go to church (whose marriages are, by and large, also unhappy) will judge the holy heck out of them.

    I don’t see many people long married who would really be happy if God holds them to the eternal aspect of their temple covenants.

    Turn your question around a bit. If one’s marriage is not of celestial quality, and is not improving with time, why stay in it?

    (Put me in the “improving” column. I know my probationary status in mortality and marriage!)

  16. If eternal marriages aren’t really eternal and can be gotten out of at will after death, what’s the point? Also, why seal together all these pre-Victorian age couples who may have been forced into marriage, sold into marriage, recorded marriages while living with other people, etc.? Seems to me like the Celestial Kingdom is going to be one BIG round of musical marriages/a square dance…SWING your partner round and r…change partners!

  17. If eternal marriages aren’t really eternal and can be gotten out of at will after death, what’s the point?
    Sealing is a promise, not a padlock.

    Divorce is “tolerated� among Mormons? I don’t think so, at least I hope not. For those that seek to split asunder that which God joined together…the only word I can think of is sinful.
    There is no ecclesiastical consequence for divorce. Two righteous people who are full tithe payers and decide they simply can’t bear to be married any longer both get to keep their temple recommends. How can something be sinful if participation doesn’t prohibit entry into the House of the Lord?

  18. Lyle,

    My point is that two basically righteous people can despise each other. We see this all the time as members intermingle in wards. It also happens sometimes in marriages. I actually thought of what Spencer W. Kimball said when I was writing my first comment. I think Spencer W. Kimball said what he said in reaction to the problem I was talking about. SWK recognized that a righteous pair can still have an unhappy marriage and he is encouraging those LDS people who are in unhappy marriages and struggling to continue. He is telling them they can work things out by increasing their righteousness and refusing to toss in the towel. He certainly isn’t going to say to those types of people: “Oh well. Give up. Go ahead and get divorced.”


    For some reason as I was seeking to respond to your statement, the following opening line from Anna Karenina came to mind: “Happy families are all alike, every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.”

    I don’t think all unhappy marriages should be maintained. I’m not trying to make a blanket statement to that effect. It’s just that in some marriages, good people who are married struggle to continue to love each other because of their differences. My guess is that in these cases, if they endure and make things work, they might find that conditions in the celestial kingdom are more conducive to a happy marriage.

    I have to admit that my thoughts on this are quite speculative. But let me give an example of what I mean. Let’s say you have two righteous people who are married, who have very different perspectives about how money should be spent. They argue continually about this. For example, every time the wife comes home from shopping, the husband is upset because of the financial decisions the wife made (or something similar) and so they get angry at each other a lot. They still raise children, remain married, are faithful to each other and pass away. Assuming that in their circumstances they are worthy of the celestial kingdom … what happens to arguments about money at that point? If that factor is removed, will that issue still drain happiness away from the marriage or will they be able to see each other in a new light? If this couple endured to the end and remained faithful in their marriage, is God going to condemn them for struggling with this issue?

    This is just one example. There are a lot of other factors that could afflict a basically righteous couple in their marriage. For example, one partner might struggle to express himself or herself affectionately or romantically. Or perhaps one partner is stubborn and doesn’t know how to apologize, but still has integrity. Etc. and etc. There are so many possibilities. People are complicated. People bring all kinds of baggage with them into their marriages. Even good people. ;)

  19. Lyle,

    I just looked at my first comment again and I see why you drew the conclusion you did about what I was saying. I didn’t mean to contradict SWK but I can see that I was a bit too emphatic on the point. Hopefully my last comment makes more sense.

  20. Lyle (or anyone), do you happen to have a source for that SWK quote handy? It’s often attributed to him, but I have some dim recollection that he was quoting President Lee or President McKay, and I’d be interested in the date when it was originally said. I wonder how time-bound that advice may be–it seems to me that marriage circa 2005 is a really different institution than, say, marriage circa 1905. Two young Latter-day Saints getting married today come with wholly different expectations about friendship and fulfillment in a marriage–when President Kimball was married, women hoped that the men they married would be good providers, would be decent fathers, would be kind. But there wasn’t a lot beyond that–mild (if there is such a thing!) physical abuse was often tolerated, total economic dependence was the norm, men were not expected to contribute to housework or childcare, there hadn’t been decades worth of popular literature and advice about sexual fulfillment, and on and on.

    It seems that in general, Mormons are more similar to Americans than not in their marital practices–they now marry later, have fewer children, have more equal economic relationships, have more education (especially the women), etc. than they did when that counsel was given. This may be a simple case of people not following the prophets–heaven knows that happens–but it could also be complicated by the cultural conditioning of prophets who are, in the contemporary church, always several generations older than the young people they counsel. Marriage practices seem heavily influenced by cultural change, and the church seems, as Ann points out, not to put a lot of ecclesiastical weight behind the rhetoric about marriage, and I wonder if that means anything.

  21. It means that because of the hardness of our hearts we are suffered to put away our wives.

  22. John, part of my point is that it simply isn’t possible for that statement to make sense any more–marriage is regarded as a partnership, not the man’s caretakership. It may mean only that women’s hearts are hard, too, and they are suffered to put away their husbands, but it’s hard to know if that’s so, or if regarding women as more fully human and adult inevitably makes marriage less stable and that’s part of what we have to figure out in our progress toward the kinds of unions that could result in exaltation.

  23. “…the church seems, as Ann points out, not to put a lot of ecclesiastical weight behind the rhetoric about marriage, and I wonder if that means anything.”

    I think it means that the post-sixties “enlightened” generation is so thoroughly drenched in post-sixties “enlightenment” that it can’t tell it’s back side from the dark side of the moon when it comes to understanding just how destructive the post-sixties “enlightenment” really has been. In light of the effects of the “enlightenment”, it seems only fair that individuals who have been blinded by such should be judged with a greater degree of tolerance than those of preceding generations whose motives were less ambiguous as the sun had not yet set on the pre-sixties “benighted” generation.

  24. Jack, I think you are perhaps partly right–certainly I think that the belief that sexual fulfillment is a crucial part of marriage is a post-60s notion that doesn’t do anybody much good. However, I’m loathe to concede that women’s rights to educational and economic equality (or near-equality) are evils, despite the fact that they clearly contribute to an increase in divorce.

  25. ann: You are right; both parties _can_ keep their temple recommends after a divorce. I admit to quasi-apostacy on this point, as I don’t see how one parnter can simply walk away from a marriage, refuse a Bishop’s counsel, secular counseling, GA intervention, etc., and still be honoring their covenant. But hey…that is just my faithlessness.

    Kristine: I’ll look for the quote. However, I suspect that it wouldn’t make a big difference. I don’t really buy into the “time bound” theory of Prophetic counsel. As John M. referenced, the first known (scriptural) divorces are referenced in the Books of Moses, which point out that divorces were granted unwillingly, by both Moses & the Lord (in my broad interpretation), & only because of the hardness of the peoples hearts (i.e. selfishness & pride).

  26. lyle, if you don’t believe that the prophets’ counsel on marriage is time-bound, perhaps you should become acquainted with some of our fundamentalist brethren, who also hold that view.

  27. Is the increase in divorce a bad thing? It might be due to an increase in selfishness in both men and women as is often assumed, but I don’t think that’s at all obvious. Perhaps the amount of selfishness is the same, but because divorce was more impractical in the past people just lived with it and suffered. Maybe nowadays people just divorce—and still suffer. :) But I’m not convinced the increase in divorce is a bad thing, if it represents more women being able to get out of bad situations.

    Rosalynde (#14): It may be that women and children suffer most from the ‘ills of divorce,’ but I read recently that these days a majority of divorces (about 70% as I recall) are initiated by women. That would be curious if the women are suffering the most… Perhaps the women and children suffer more economically. But I suspect that many men suffer greatly emotionally as a result of divorces initiated by their wives; I think men are often blindsided by something their wife has been internally gearing herself up for for a long time, with the men not being emotionally ‘in tune’ enough with their wife to see it coming.

    For some reason I’ve come to believe in something of a double standard: that women should have the right to leave relatively freely and be with whoever makes them happy, while men should not leave their families under almost any circumstance. (At least, I think men would be wise to try and live that way, thinking they must always be actively seeking their wife’s happiness or they’re in danger of losing her. I may not particularly succeed in doing so, but I hold it as an ideal, and would like to think I wouldn’t blame my wife for leaving if I were a net negative in her life.)

  28. Whether to divorce or not seems like a tremendously difficult issue to judge from the outside. Some cases seem quite clear, but it might not be possible to establish a uniform standard.

    But once someone has already made that decision, there might be useful guidelines for how Mormons should divorce. Turning as always to the scriptures for our role models, we find St. Joseph: when made aware of what seemed at first an illicit liaison on the part of his (soon-to-be) wife, he decided to put her away privily, with a minimum of fuss and without seeking to exact revenge or to impose legal consequences on her.

    That seems to me a better response than the couple of cases I’ve been distantly aware of in the last few years where one spouse, upon becoming aware of their partner’s infidelity, decided to have their own affair, just to show their eternal companion how it felt to be cheated on. I suggest that this is not how Mormons should divorce.

  29. Christian, I think you may be right that the increase in divorce represents a gain for some (many?) women. But it’s pretty clear that the increase in divorce has had devastating consequences for children, and that has to enter into the calculus somehow, too.

  30. Perhaps this is the source:

    “While marriage is difficult, and discordant and frustrated marriages are common, yet real, lasting happiness is possible, and marriage can be more an exultant ecstasy than the human mind can conceive. This is within the reach of every couple, every person. ‘Soulmates’ are fiction and an illusion; and while every young man and young woman will seek with all diligence and prayerfulness to find a mate with whom life can be most compatible and beautiful, yet it is certain that almost any good man and any good woman can have happiness and a successful marriage if both are willing to pay the price.”

    Oneness in Marriage

  31. Kristine, you’re right that considerations of the children are mostly missing from my post. The only place it enters is in my assertion that men should virtually never leave their families. That shows how I think men should take the children into account; I don’t presume to speak for the women. ;) I suppose I trust (perhaps too readily) that most often women do what’s best for children pretty naturally.

  32. Kristine,

    Why doesn’t “belief that sexual fulfillment is a crucial part of marriage” do anybody much good? Perhaps it turns on how you define “crucial”? Certainly sexual fulfillment isn’t as important being a good father to your children. And if by “crucial” you mean that without it no marriage isn’t worth staying in–then I would agree with you. On the other hand, downplaying the idea that sexual satisfaction for both a man and a woman in a marriage is important and can do a lot to strengthen the marriage bond ignores a truth that was known well before the 60s. You seem to be suggesting that since the 60s the importance of sexual satisfaction has become paramount–I’m not sure I agree with that. Couples still fight much more over money than anything else.

  33. Ahh yes, those wonderful 50’s. Prior to the 60’s enlightenment. Prior to Loving v. Virginia. When anti-miscegenation laws were still on the books. And if a Black man wanted to marry a white woman — or vice versa — the result was jail time.

    How wonderful. Can’t we just turn back the clock and bring that wonderful time period back?

  34. Are those beehive hairdos from the 50s? Because I’d really really like to see those come back.

  35. Mat, you’re right–I should have been more careful. Even the Church Handbook of Instructions now talks about the benefits of a healthy sex life! I just mean the extreme version of the idea–that lousy sex is grounds for divorce.

  36. What about the concept of enduring to the end? Is there a difference between living in a world that is difficult and trying and living in a marriage that is difficult and trying?

    That having been said, I am divorced and remarried and I feel that I was justified in the divorce. The result is a great deal of hardship for my children and my current wife for that matter.

    Here is an interesting issue that I haven’t seen mentioned so far. When I was interviewing with my stake president for a temple recommend to get sealed a second time, he said that I had better make this marriage work because the First Presidency will probably not grant me permission to be sealed again if it does not. An effective scare tactic I must say.

  37. Since the sex life issue has been broached, I’ll venture comments/questions about the phrase “pornography abuse/addiction” from the original post. Specifically, when does “use” of erotic material become “abuse”?

    The question itself is jarring to the typical Mormon sensibility, to which virtually (a) all conceivable varieties and (b) all levels of use of such material are automatically painted with the same broad brushes: ‘pure evil’ for (a) and ‘addiction’ for (b).

    Because this was the point of view drilled into me growing up, a conversation I had a few months ago surprised me greatly in this regard. The person I was talking to was taken aback by the ‘full-court press’ against such material being taken in our church. It was asserted that it is in actual fact a mutually agreed upon facet of many couples’ love lives, even religious ones, that might serve several functions (providing an outlet for a disparity in interest in sex, serving a function not unlike Viagra, mutual enjoyment, etc.)

    This surprised me because I had always assumed that any taint of erotic material would necessarily lead to destruction of a marriage, a perception perhaps fed by stories like the one read by President Hinckley in the last conference. Thinking back over that particular story, it seems that many marriages could be unhappy from unkindness, etc. that had nothing to do with pornography, and I wonder if it became a bogey-man for many other ills in the marriage. I have also come to wonder if it wasn’t the shock of deception that left the woman more distraught than the thing itself. If it is the hiding and deception that in fact does the most damage, does the ‘full-court press’ do more harm than good by increasing the likelihood of hiding and deception being associated with succumbing to increasingly difficult temptations in these areas?

  38. Kaimi,
    Don’t try and enter an obtusity arms race with me. Your comment with respect to the 50s is a real humdinger but I bet you with time and effort I can outdo it.

    Seriously, do you think divorce is a good thing, because during the 50s American society frowned on divorce but also infringed on civil rights of African-Americans? Am I a fascist because I like music from the 30s?

  39. Kristine: Touche. It’s something of a Pascal’s wager. Prophetic advice is either time bound or it isn’t. If it is, then you risk fundamentalist style apostasy. If it isn’t, then you risk “stoning” the prophets, albeit figuratively, by ignoring their counsel & by your example encourages others to do likewise. Everyone weighs the cost/benefit & make’s their choice.

  40. lyle:

    (#12) “Emotional abuse? I have yet to see a definition that was more than “one spouse is mean sometimes & the other thin-skinned/unforgiving”. ”

    I want to believe that you are joking, but I don’t think that you are. Anyone who has worked in the medical or social services fields in an urban area for any time at all would tell you that your fluffy definition has no foundation in reality.

    Define it this way — a spouse consistently berates and demeans his/her partner, calling him/her a worthless piece of dreck at every available oppportunity. “Pet names” are not publishable in this forum, and are the rule rather than the exception. S/he maintains control with constant threats of harm and coercion. S/he controls every aspect of the partner’s life, without exception. The victim is not allowed to leave the house, talk to a member of the opposite sex, or have friends. Et cetera.

    That is emotional abuse, lyle, and it happens. A lot. You might not see it yourself, and you might know of thin-skinned people who are NOT abused who cry wolf, but that doesn’t negate the reality of emotional abuse for thousands of other people. If my sister were in a situation like that, I would pay for the divorce attorney myself, and consider it a privilege.

  41. I find Christian’s questions interesting. I had some of the same thoughts while listening to Pres. Hinckly’s talk. While I understand that pornography can lead to other types of abuse, I don’t know if that’s always the case. I can’t help but wonder how many mormon marriages could be saved if wives could just understand and accept that their husband likes to look at pornography.

    Also, I understand the teaching that using pornography is in itself evil, even apart from its effects on the marriage. But I wonder how far this extends…is it sinful if a married couple finds it improves their sex life if they become aroused looking at the victoria’s secret catalog together, or reading the kama sutra?

  42. “I can’t help but wonder how many mormon marriages could be saved if wives could just understand and accept that their husband likes to look at pornography.”

    Curtis, could you please explain how this could help save marraiges? Are you saying that if wives just accept that husbands have a desire to look or accept that they look?

  43. I’m sorry, my last question isn’t worded well. What I meant was are you saying wives should accept the fact that men have a desire to look at pornography or that a wife should just accept the fact that her husband looks at pornography.

  44. Oh boy, never try to blog with two small children in the room. Curtis and Ed, I’m sorry I mixed up your names. My comment #47 was quoting from Ed’s comment #46 and was meant to question him not Curtis.

  45. Adam,

    I’m merely saying that the idea that “marriage was all fine and dandy before the 60’s” is a sugar-coated, rose-tinted version of reality. If today’s society has an ugly divorce problem, well, the 50’s had their own problems. And so did probably every other time period.

    Two of my wife’s (white) cousins are married to Asian men. They have great marriages and beautiful kids. Every time someone says “marriage would be better if we went back to the way things were in the 50’s” I can’t help but think that there are two wonderful families that would wouldn’t exist if we went back to the way things were in the 50’s.

    UPDATE: Fixed an obvious typo. I meant to type “wouldn’t”, not to sound like an overly sarcastic fellow.

  46. Andrea: I meant that the wife could possibly accept that her husband looks at pornography. Most people wouldn’t advocate getting out of a marriage if the spouse, say, smokes cigarrettes. But for pornography it seems we adopt a zero tolerance approach.

    (I’m not claiming to really understand these issues, I’m just wondering.)

  47. Curtis. Good definition, looks like it meets clinical muster too. You are right though, I have yet to see a case that actually meets the high standards that your definition sets.

  48. lyle, part of the reason that you have never seen it (or think you haven’t) is that emotional abuse thrives on secrecy, and on scaring and humiliating the abused spouse into never talking about the abuse. It seems pretty unlikely that you (or I) would ever know about such a case until after a divorce had occurred, or until the abuse escalated into violence.

  49. I know of one man who was disfellowshipped because of emotional abuse. At least that’s what members of his family were saying. The story may have been more complicated of course. Still, it must be pretty significant as a problem if it can be a cause for church discipline.

  50. Er, I should be more careful how I word things. I know of a man who was disfellowshipped because he perpetrated emotional abuse on members of his immediate family (particulary his wife). There… I think that’s a little clearer than what I wrote earlier.

  51. lyle:

    Dude, don’t you watch Oprah? =)

    Yeah, I guess if I had only seen people citing “emotional abuse” in petty disagreements, it would make me cranky… especially having seen the flotsam of the real thing a time or two.

  52. Thanks for clarifying, Ed. I’m not sure that it would be justifiable to divorce someone because they looked at pornagraphic things a few times. When it reaches a level where an addiction to porn creates an emotionally abusive environment like the one President Hinckley read about, that’s very different from smoking.

    Also, you and someone else asked if pornography was wrong if couples used it together for their mutual enjoyment. In those cases I guess it’s good that they’re not fighting about pornography, but surely there are other perils in utilizing such a tool. I just can’t believe that inviting anything into a marraige that is so incompatible with the Spirit can have a positive result.

  53. My personal view is that saying that pornography actually has a positive affect on some marriages is like saying that wife swapping has a positive affect on a marriage.

    Satan never supports his followers!

  54. Andrea, thanks for thinking about my (and Christian’s) questions…but I don’t think you’ve really addressed them. I’m asking about habitual pornography use that is NOT accompanied by emotional abuse. Or do you think such a thing is impossible? Also, I’m asking what constitutes “pornography” when used by a husband and wife?

  55. Kaimi –

    are yous eriously suggesting that because there was racism in the 50s, we should toss out everything about the 50s?

    It seems to me those who wish for the 50s are wishing for a golden age (that likely never truly existed) where families loved each other and divorce was rare because most marriages were happy and the spouses weren’t so focusedon their own personl needs.

    I have doubts about wether that was how the 50s were, but to impugn racist motivations to wistful nostalgics seems a bit over the top to me.

  56. Ed,

    Pornography debases those who are being filmed or photographed. I’m sure there’s the rarest exception, but 99% of porn (according to my understanding) involves unmarried couples having extramarital sexual relationships — so this is an industry that is founded on activities prohibited by God. LDS people must oppose this industry.

  57. I think this is pretty straightforward:
    * Divorce is caused by selfishness. A successful marriage requires that both partners care more for the wants and needs of the other than they do for their own (give-give). A give-take or take-take relationship doesn’t work.
    * People are pretty much as selfish today as they always have been since the beginning of time.
    * Divorce has become easier (through no-fault divorce), and it is much less stigmatized today than it was in the past. When there is little cost and no shame in divorce, there is no reason not to divorce when things get difficult.
    * Mormons are not nearly as separated culturally from society as many would think. We tend to adopt many of the current cultural attitudes and mores (or at least we’re only one or two steps behind). Like the rest of U.S. society, we see divorce as a bad thing, but accept it and don’t stigmatize divorced people. (IMHO, it’s good not to stigmatize people, but there is a consequence.)
    * Ergo, divorce is common in the U.S. and among Mormons.

  58. Ed, I meant to say that there are obviously all kinds of different scenarios. I don’t think we can say that anytime one spouse has a problem with pornography that is grounds for divorce. I do think that there are times it is though. I don’t know enough about it to say whether or not it’s possible for one to be addicted and not be emotionally abusive or unfaithful, it probably is.
    I also feel unqualified to say what constitutes “pornography” as used by a couple. I think that line just has to be judged by the couple based on what they feel offends the Spirit.

  59. Sheri Lynn:

    I don’t see many people long married who would really be happy if God holds them to the eternal aspect of their temple covenants.

    Rather than try to argue this point with you, I will simply note that your experience and mine do not jibe.

    Russ Johnston:

    What about the concept of enduring to the end? Is there a difference between living in a world that is difficult and trying and living in a marriage that is difficult and trying?

    The difference here is that the world will not always be with us — we will eventually conquer it and move beyond to a reward. But marriage IS its own reward; we get to keep the house we built. I don’t know anyone who will grit their teeth and eat their spinach for the opportunity to get even more spinach.

    (Obviously, the analogy doesn’t work if you like spinach…)

  60. Danithew,

    Your “effect on the subject” test may be broader than you’re anticipating.

    I think it depends on your definition of pornography. But it’s my understanding that a lot of porn is so-called “soft” porn — naked pictures, but no actual sexual contact. (Isn’t this what Playboy magazine is, for example? I can’t say for certain, but that’s my understanding).

    At that point, is it really any different of an experience for the particular model, than it would be to pose nude for an artist?

    So are we equally commanded not to go to museums that display nude Monets?

  61. Kaimi,

    Good point. I thought of that after I posted my comment. A model posed naked and alone isn’t as sinful as a film of a couple engaging in extramarital sex. I guess my thought on this is that yes they aren’t still the same. Still, Playboy is celebrating a hedonistic sinful lifestyle. So I don’t think soft-porn really gets off the hook.

  62. From the church publication “True to the Faith”

    Pornography is any material depicting or describing the
    human body or sexual conduct in a way that arouses sexual
    feelings. It is distributed through many media, including
    magazines, books, television, movies, music, and the
    Internet….Members of the
    Church should avoid pornography in any form and should
    oppose its production, distribution, and use.”

    This is a pretty broad definition.

  63. “If today’s society has an ugly divorce problem, well, the 50’s had their own problems. And so did probably every other time period.”

    Kaimi is exactly right, and it doesn’t address his good points to misrepresent what he was trying to say by suggesting that not everything in the 50s was fine and dandy. We can easily cite statistics for divorce rates and claim that society has gone to hell in a handbasket because we don’t look down on divorce today and because there are far more divorces. But this naive approach ignores the lack of statistics on happiness in marriage and staying in a loveless, miserable marriage for fear of social disapproval. Less divorce doesn’t necessarily = happy marriages.

    I’m sure most reasonable people will agree that there’s far, far too many divorces in our society today. However, it isn’t enough to just point our fingers at Satan and “the world” and blame them. In the Mormon world, part of the problem can be placed at our own feet. The majority of young people in the Church I know who have been divorced got married to quickly because of pressure from family and friends, didn’t take the time to learn anything about each other, and then realized they had no business getting married.

    We also have painted marriage and family life as the happiest place on earth (aside from Disneyland, of course) without giving young people a realistic sense of what it’s actually all about. So, for example, one friend who married a guy with serious emotion and mental problems assumed it would all just go away when they got married.

  64. More than once I’ve heard a story that goes something like this:

    “Soon after I married my husband I was shocked to find he was secretly adicted to pornography. We tried counseling, but he wouldn’t stop. So we got divorced.”

    No mention of emotional abuse, beyond the hurt felt by the woman that her husband wouldn’t stop. If you replace “pornography” with “tobacco,” the story sounds strange.

  65. We can joke around but a number of those Rodin statues are definitely celebrating passionate erotic relationships. They are incredible works of art. I’m not questioning that at all.

  66. Ed,

    Part of the issue is that sexual sin is more serious than breaking the word of wisdom. Also, a woman might not like it if she feels her husband is comparing her to sexier younger ladies who are in the pictures.

    At the same time, I don’t think a spouse’s pornography interest or addiction should automatically be grounds for divorce. But there’s a lot of factors that could be a concern in dealing with this sort of thing.

  67. ed, I think your comparison fails, not because tobacco addiction is in itself more sinful than pornography addiction, but because pornography use represents a serious betrayal of the spouse. If he’s promised to love me, and my body, then looking at another woman–even just a flat 2-dimensional magazine representation of one–to lust after her represents him giving a portion of himself to her. I don’t think he gives himself to a cigarette in the same way.

  68. I think comparing tobacco to pornography is a false analogy. As an activity considered on its own terms, tobacco doesn’t directly threaten the trust in relationship. At least, I have difficulty imagining how it would. But I have very little difficulty imagining how the activity of looking at pornography, by itself, directly threatens the trust in a relationship.

    It’s easy to see, especially from a woman’s point of view, how a man who looks at other women to lust after them is committing adultery in his heart.

  69. On the pornography issue:

    I hope I’m not construed as approving of it or suggesting it isn’t without its problems. Some have already been cited, including the objectification of women and the unrealistic portrayal of women as ever-ready for sex.

    That said, I’m not sure it’s fair to paint anyone who looks at pornography as an addict. I have relatives whose husbands have Playboy in their home, but it isn’t an issue at all in their marriage because she doesn’t disapprove. In a Mormon marriage, a wife discovering her husband looking at Playboy would be a serious threat to their marriage. But let’s not forget that there are plenty of marriages where it’s not an issue because it’s not regarded as sinful.

    Because pornography is so strongly frowned upon on Mormon culture, those who do look at it do so in secret, further promoting this image that they’re addicted. Maybe they’re just ashamed or embarrassed. Again, we’re really good in the Church at painting those who participate in activities we disapprove of with a broad brush: Anyone who looks at porn must be an addict; anyone who drinks alcohol is an addict or a drunk or right on the verge; anyone who has sex before marriage is going to get an STD, get pregnant, or deeply regret it; anyone who drinks coffee is addicted and “needs” it every morning. My point isn’t to approve of these things that we as Latter-day Saints shun; rather, I just think we need to recognize that people participate in these activities without the deadly consequences we assume they will. But because we disapprove, we need to demonize these things as much as possible to justify our beliefs.

  70. The state with the lowest divorce rate in the union is Massachusetts. Many conservative states, like Texas, have very high divorce rates.

    As I recall, the biggest factors in predicting divorce are the age of the parties and their financial and educational status.

    So, if the church is really serious about preventing divorce, why not some church wide rules, along the lines of:

    -No marriage before age 25.
    -No marriage unless at least one party has been working at the same job for two years, or has earned at least a bachelor’s degree.
    -Both parties required to undergo pre-marriage counseling.

    I realize that those requirement would impose sacrifices on some people. But hey, we’re talking about protecting the institution of the family, right? So everyone is on board for those sorts of rules, right?

  71. I don’t know Kaimi. I’m guessing many parts of Afghanistan have very low divorce rates — maybe even lower than Massachussetts. Maybe we should follow their rules. ;)

  72. BTW, in Utah, one of our brilliant legislators has proposed legislation that would eliminate the no fault clause from the books. That means no more divorce for “irreconciliable differences.” Aside from being extremely naive, the legislator also said she thinks this is a good idea because there should be some “shame” involved with divorce, to discourage people. Yeah, society is definitely better off when people don’t want to be married but stay together anyway. That’s gotta be good for the kids, seeing their parents fight all the time.

    The letters to the Tribune, from a surprisingly diverse group, have caustically reminded this state representative that there’s already plenty of shame in divorce and that it hardly needs to be legislated.

  73. Kiami,

    I can see that you are being facetious, but I’m not sure to what end. Are you saying that the word “family” is used as an all-purpose club to bludgeon up support for whatever cause we are really pushing? If so–then I agree. But it is a really great club.

  74. I think Kaimi’s saying (not that he can’t speak for himself) that we’re quick to condemn divorce and call it evil without knowing the reasons behind it. If what he’s saying is correct, then youth and finances are the main problems. Mormons are notorious for getting married at a young age and Utah has the highest rate of bankruptcy and mortgage forclosures. Coincidence?

  75. Kristine, re “pornography use represents a serious betrayal of the spouse”: Part of the surprise I expressed in an earlier post, and as John H also affirmed from experience of his relatives, is that this sentiment does not seem to be universally shared by women. That you (and maybe even probably most) women feel this way is valid, and you have every right to choose a spouse who agrees.

    But I just wonder if the church is sort of propagating a lie by instilling the view that it always leads to disaster. I think it might be healthier and more realistic for young people contemplating marriage to have open, honest discussions to find out if they’re compatible vis a vis ranges of interests vs. jealousies in these things. If it always led to disaster that would be one thing; but if it doesn’t, I worry that the ‘one-size-fits-all’, ‘full-court-press’ against it prevents such discussions from happening between potential spouses, with challenging results down the road.

  76. Like I said before, if there is one surefire way to curb divorce, it would be to disallow–culturally or structurally– married women from entering the workplace. Marriage has been primarily an economic institution–because offspring were considered economic assets–for most of history. Now that we’re emphasizing the social and spiritual aspects of the institution, it seems to be failing quickly.

    (Note: let it be known that I am not at all in favor of implementing the above measure; indeed, my feelings about the ills of divorce are not strong.)

  77. Danithew, Kristine, Nana, John H: thanks for the responses.

    I agree that using porn isn’t the same as using tobacco. But neither is it the same as having an afair.

  78. Kristine:

    If he’s promised to love me, and my body, then looking at another woman–even just a flat 2-dimensional magazine representation of one–to lust after her represents him giving a portion of himself to her. I don’t think he gives himself to a cigarette in the same way.

    Spoken like woman who’s never smoked! :)

  79. Christian and anyone else who may be of a similar mind, please consider this as a sincere question rather than an attack on your well-considered points:

    To what extent is the wrongness of a man’s pornography mitigated by his wife’s tolerance of it?

  80. Kaimi: I can’t help but think that there are two wonderful [mixed Caucasoid/Mongoloid] families that would exist if we went back to the way things were in the 50s.

    This sounds to me just like another sloppy, oversimplified preconception about the 50s.

  81. Nana:

    That’s a fair question. I think the wrongness of pornography as a sin and a social problem still exists, even if a spouse is tolerant of it. However, some like to portray viewing pornography as always done in secret, always done behind a spouses back because it represents betrayal and emotional adultery. Again, plenty of couples watch pornography together, and plenty of spouses don’t object to its use. So Christian is right, IMO, that we shouldn’t approach the issue by saying it always destroys marriages, no matter what. If we as Latter-day Saints believe we have the truth, then we shouldn’t have to conjure up fiction to support our beliefs. There are good temporal and spiritual reasons to be wary of pornography. Let’s talk about those instead of inventing phantom addictions and shattered lives.

  82. DKL,

    First, thanks for pointing out my typo — I fixed it. Second, cross-racial marriages were prohibited under criminal law in many jurisdictions, and their participants subject to jail time and other punishments. So is it unrealistic to point out that those marriages couldn’t exist at that time?

    Here’s an exercise — find a happy, cross-racial married couple in your ward, and then wax nostalgic to them about how perfect marriage was in the 50’s.

  83. Earlier on Ann said -“There is no ecclesiastical consequence for divorce.”

    Although there may be no eccliesiastical consequesnce, the church clearly discourages divorce. One need look at the Church Educational System. If I was a teacher with CES, married twenty years, and my wife divorced me, I would be out of a job. It would not matter who was at fault, I would not be allowed to teach because I would not be a good example for encouraging eternal marriage. Though this is not ecclesiastical, it still shows the church’s stance is clear.

    John H.

    I agree that not all p-rn viewers are addicts, but I feel that one cannot know until one is left without the option to view the material. Try taking away the Playboy’s and the videos from the non-addict user, and I would bet the majorit of them would go out quickly and replace them, because the idea of not having access would be too unbearable. That is a sign of an addict.

    Ed and Christian – I read a book once entitled Every Man’s Battle. The book deals with all levels of sexual “addiction” ranging from a lustful eye, to movies, to extra-marital affairs and how to refocus attention to your wife. Soem of it was a liitle too simplified, but I was touched by one man’s experience. he noted that he had always imagined being with other women while with his wife, though he never cheated on her. He had stopped finding her attractive and used images from magazines, movies or even people he met to make sex pleasurable. After recommiting himself to his wife and working to change, he began to see her as a sexual being and became aroused by her. The quote that I enjoyed, paraphrasing, is that “I even began to be turned on by the rolls on her tummy, because they were her rolls, and nobody else had access but me.”

    I think the use of p-rnography to enhance a sex life shows that the actual physical attraction between two people is no longer there. This man’s experience, to me, shows what a commitment to a healthy marriage means. To resort to outside images shows a commitment to the physical aspects of sex, not the emotional and spiritual.

  84. Kristine wrote, “when President Kimball was married, women hoped that the men they married would be good providers, would be decent fathers, would be kind. But there wasn’t a lot beyond that–mild (if there is such a thing!) physical abuse was often tolerated, total economic dependence was the norm, men were not expected to contribute to housework or childcare, there hadn’t been decades worth of popular literature and advice about sexual fulfillment, and on and on.”

    To me, this is a very interesting point that doesn’t get raised enough. We expect so much more than people did from marriages 100 years ago: not only to do we want a role fulfilled (homemaking or wage earning), but we also want emotional fulfillment, a best friend, shared hobbies, etc., etc., etc..

    I would imagine that a woman 100 years ago would have been satisfied with a husband who brought home a wage, wasn’t a drunk, wasn’t unfaithful, and didn’t beat her. Today, her granddaughter might have those conditions met in her marriage but feel that ‘something is missing.’

    I’m not sure how to think about this from a Gospel perspective. Should we collectively lower our expectations of marriage to historical norms?

  85. John H, I agree. The problem with pornography is not how its use is viewed by others or how others are victimized by its use, although that “can” be (and very often is in a Latter-Day Saint marriage) a significant issue. But rather the deep fashion in which pornography grieves, and then deadens, the spirit and one’s spiritual sensitivities is the underlying issue. These problems are unavoidable and, at least in my mind, universal. I don’t think that the “church” or the “Brethren” sensationalize this issue at all, but rather they give very real anecdotal evidence of the not-so-unlikely consequences of sin. Are we as a people guilty of generalizing and sensationalizing? Guilty.

  86. “We also have painted marriage and family life as the happiest place on earth… without giving young people a realistic sense of what it’s actually all about.”

    John H.,

    I don’t understand how this argument holds up today in light of the fact that nowadays (as opposed to the “50s”) young people are much more aware of marital problems than they used to be. I think the real problem is that we’ve trained our young people to seek their own happiness at the cost of those things that will truely bring them that happiness.


    I think you’re relating the specific to the general. No one here (as far as I can tell) would be against a happy inter-racial marraige. I, for one, have 5 daughters and would be happy with African, Asian, Hispanic, Polynesian, Native American (or any other race) sons in law as long as the marraiges were happy. But, to imply that this improvement in society somehow justifies the rise of an orifice friendly generation is plain silly. It’s like saying that sexual promiscuity is justifiable because some lucky couple was able to adopt a beautiful child whose biological mother was a whore. Sure we want the child. Sure we want the African son-in-law. Sure we want women to have equal access to education. But does that mean society has to head toward extinction (and the west will become extinct by virtue of the birth-rate alone if we don’t wise up) in order to bring about such change?

  87. Thanks, John H. (#88). I think I agree with you mostly or perhaps entirely. I fear that with pornography it isn’t always necessary to “invent” stories of addictions and shattered lives, but I guess you’re arguing that overemphasizing only those stories turns them into self-fulfilling prophecies.

    I think the deeper problem, if you’ll allow me to become a bit abstract, is that many people judge the wrongness of an act only by its consequences. If the consequences are bad, then the act is bad. To prove that an act is bad, then, we feel obligated to show that its consequences are as heinous as possible. (Another problem with this mindset is that we allow ourselves to become vulnerable to hosts of “small” sins because we’re so busy looking out for sins with monstrous consequences.) Instead, I like to think that acts are right or wrong largely on their own terms and then consequences follow, sometimes in the ways we would expect but sometimes not. Pornography is wrong, and as a result sometimes people become addicted and marriages are destroyed, and sometimes relationships suffer in more minor ways, and sometimes ill effects are completely invisible to us. It’s false to say that pornography inevitably leads to the destruction of marriages, and as a result pornography is wrong.

    I realize that my sketch above of what makes acts right and wrong is pretty fuzzy and incomplete, but speaking of right and wrong I probably shouldn’t be doing this at work.

  88. Now that the lottery’s been brought up, another divorce joke is in order:

    A man wins the lottery. He calls home and says, “Honey, we won the lottery! Start packing!� His wife responds, “What should I pack? Winter things? Summer things?� The man responds, “I don’t care, as long as your gone by the time I get home!�

  89. Julie –

    Good points. I have a friends that were divorced because “something was missing.” I often wonder what that something is. I think as members of the church we may have desires and wants that don’t fall into gospel standards. Of these friends, they were promiscuous as teens, later repented and served missions and married in the temple. After three kids each, both claimed “something was missing” and had affairs. Their marriages broke up and their spouses, They never went to the bishop for advice and support, went to counseling or stayed in the church. Their spouses, on the other hand, were devestated, held firm to the church and are still active.

    I guess I am left to think that if we are active in the church and hold to gospel principles, we are more satisfied with a spouse that is a good parent, faithful to us, and has a good testimony. There is a shared commonality in the gospel. If one has not had that gospel foundation, it is easier to become nit-picky and claim “something is missing” so we can justify immoral behavior as the spouses fault, or God’s.

  90. Jack

    I was referring to young people in the Church. And I do think that young people in Mormonism are more aware of marital problems, but there also appears to be a strange bit of cognitive dissonance going on. Our emphasis on family and celestial marriage (good things, obviously) has led to the misbelief among many young people that so long as one is obedient and married in the temple, all will be well. It’s just not that simple, as we all know.

  91. Mention of the expectations of 100 years ago brings to mind Tolstoy’s marriage novel from 130 years ago in which the title character’s husband “wasn’t a drunk, wasn’t unfaithful, and didn’t beat her,” but wasn’t satisfying either. Today everyone wants to live like an aristocrat.

  92. “If I was a teacher with CES, married twenty years, and my wife divorced me, I would be out of a job. It would not matter who was at fault, I would not be allowed to teach because I would not be a good example for encouraging eternal marriage. ”

    Of course, your wife would have been out of a job much earlier, by virtue of being a married woman. Let’s hope CES employment policy has no doctrinal implications!!

  93. Oh, good. We’re talking about porn.

    First, I wonder how many of the men participating in this conversation look at porn.

    Second, I’m reminded of the fact that Shere Hite’s report on female sexuality in 1976 claimed that 81% of American women masturbate (I remember this little tidbit from a paper I wrote on the female orgasm for Dr. Miller’s psych class). When I was at BYU, I used to joke that the remaining 19% went to BYU. A quick-witted chick who TA’d with me retorted that BYU couldn’t possibly accommodate 19% of American women.

    As far as porn leading to other problems, it can when other problems are already there. But for most people, looking at porn becomes just another way to get off. (Can we say “get off� on T&S?)

    Like ed, I’ve heard of chicks divorcing guys because they won’t stop looking at porn. If this is the reason and the only reason, then this is utter foolishness. There are a great many problems that necessarily make men bad husbands and fathers. Among these are long stints behind bars, alcoholism, inability to hold a job, committing adultery, and physically or emotionally abusive behavior. Looking at porn is not in this league. But if you’re willing to look your children in the eyes and say, “I’m going to take you away from your father because he likes to look at porn when nobody else is around,� then you’ve got real problems.

    Kristine: pornography use represents a serious betrayal of the spouse. If he’s promised to love me, and my body, then looking at another woman… to lust after her represents him giving a portion of himself to her.

    Earth to Kristine: Unless you married a eunuch or a blind man, you’re husband is going to lust after other woman. Fact: Guys dig looking at attractive chicks. Most nonmember women I know take it for granted that men look at porn. And the notion that his looking at pornography betrays you trivializes the notion spousal betrayal. I’d advise any wife that views looking at pornography as betrayal to talk to a woman that’s been married to an adulterer.

    Looking at porn is clearly a problem behavior, and nothing good will come of it. I think that it’s pretty clear that porn is habit forming (though John H. is obviously correct that not all porn-viewers are drooling addicts). I’m involved with the young men in my ward, and porn is among the things I’m most anxious for them to avoid. But lets keep human imperfections in perspective here.

  94. Surely there can be varying degrees of betrayal. I agree with Kristine that viewing pornography is a betrayal, but not necessarily on the same level as adultery is.

    “Unless you married a eunuch or a blind man, you’re husband is going to lust after other woman. Fact: Guys dig looking at attractive chicks. Most nonmember women I know take it for granted that men look at porn”

    There is a difference between a husband having some lustful thoughts upon happening into a situation and actively pursuing them by looking at porn.

  95. DKL, you can say “get off” if you must, but calling women “chicks” makes you look like a jerk. I’m not going to spend any more time editing your posts to help you seem otherwise.

  96. I’m with Nana, I really like her post #94. Just because there may not be consequences to something, doesn’t make it any less wrong.

  97. Nana (86 and 94), I too am at work, and am having a hard time keeping up with this thread (and having a hard time feeling great about taking the time out to do so!).

    To answer your initial question (and tweak it just a bit for equality’s sake), I don’t know for sure, but I think the wrongness of a woman’s (or man’s) use of pornography does in fact have a lot to do with how their husband (or wife) feels about it.

    I lean towards disagreeing with you about inherent rightness or wrongness of something, apart from consequences. I think all right and wrong derive from consequences, primarily consequences to human relationships. It seems plausible to me that our collective and individual senses of right and wrong derive from our mutual effects upon and obligations to each other. The ability of homo sapiens to survive and develop as a species depended strongly on our social nature; therefore conscience was selected for as part of our nature, and has been passed down to us in both biology and culture.

    Even if someone points to driving away the Spirit, or distancing one from God, these also are consequences, in particular consequences involving ruptured (putative) relationships.

  98. Kristine: calling women “chicks� makes you look like a jerk.

    I was tempted to paraphrase Hamlet here, (I’m thinking of some variation on, “Seems, madam! nay it is; I know not ‘seems’�), but what would be the point?

  99. “what would be the point?”

    Well, it would make me smile and think you’re at least a clever and well-read jerk.

  100. I skimmed through the last 50 or so posts, so apologies if I missed somebody’s comment on this subject.

    It’s odd that a discussion of pornography can be held without at least a nod in the direction of the effect of that business on the people involved. One need only consider one’s loved one–a spouse, a daughter, a sister–in front of that camera to recognize one of the greatest harms that that sleazy business inflicts.

  101. Last Sunday (no, 2 Sundays ago… whatever) our branch presidency was talking about Christmas. Well, two of them were. The first counselor got off on a tangent and starting chastizing the brethren for not appreciating their wives.

    “When was the last time you told her you love her? When was the last time you told her she was beautiful to you? When was the last time you opened the car door for her, or told her how much you appreciated her? Blah-bitty-blah…”

    I looked around the congregation thinking, “Um, this morning… and who ARE these a**holes I go to church with?”

  102. Briefly mentioned above is the issue of a lack of ecclesiastical consequences to divorce other than losing one’s job if one is a CES teacher.

    However, I have recently been given to understand that there is an official or perhaps informal prohibition on calling divorced men as bishops, even if there were no moral issues and they are remarried in the temple. Anyone know if this is the case?

    No modern GAs are divorced, and I am unaware of any modern mission and temple presidents who have been. Could this be being applied to local leadership positions as well?

  103. Julie in Austin wrote: We expect so much more than people did from marriages 100 years ago: not only to do we want a role fulfilled (homemaking or wage earning), but we also want emotional fulfillment, a best friend, shared hobbies, etc., etc., etc..

    I’m not sure how to think about this from a Gospel perspective. Should we collectively lower our expectations of marriage to historical norms?

    If we do, then aren’t we tacitly conceding that the subsequent changes to marriage were either neutral or net negatives? Though we can disagree about such things, I just don’t view them that way.

  104. All I can contribute to this conversation, I think, is that my mother made two very serious errors in picking husbands (I was a product of the second one), some more serious errors in deciding what were and were not grounds for divorce (waiting until one had the mob following her around so that they’d know whether they could trust him…), and one lucky shot at someone she should have married two years before she met Husband #1. And my dad made some serious errors, too (they were not members of the Church when they were married, and my father still isn’t), but his second one mostly worked out okay. I can’t quite see any way that the two of them sticking together would have worked out well (especially for me), though yes, their divorce made my life pretty crummy there, too (sometimes thanks to their foolishness, but more often because I had a lot of trouble adjusting to two houses and the like — my problems with “oh my gosh I can’t like tomatoes that would mean I love Mommy more than I love Daddy, because Daddy hates tomatoes” are not strictly speaking a consequence of their divorce as compared with their actual relationship). My stepfather’s first marriage wasn’t a very good idea, either. I think my stepbrother is at least a little glad his parents didn’t stay married.

    If anything, I’ve got a much bigger problem with people making foolish decisions before the wedding itself, and with immature behavior after that wedding, than I do with the result of those two things, i.e. divorce. I don’t think that easy divorce did anything but lower the apparent risk of making a foolish marriage choice — does anyone think Britney Spears would have married that first guy she married, if she knew it’d take six lawyers and a year of waiting periods to get a divorce (and that there was a ton of social stigma attached to the idea)? Oh, and it also meant that the poor didn’t get trapped in violent marriages (though that was also a product of economic freedom for those women), and a few other things (mostly positive, or neutral).

    Remember that kids are completely at the mercy of their parents’ foolishness, whether or not divorce is easy. If your parents are constantly contending with one another, going behind one another’s back, contracting one another’s parenting decisions, and generally behaving evilly, whether one’s in Texas and the other Michigan makes relatively little difference. Any studies out there on the actual cost of divorce as opposed to the cost of evil/foolish parents?

    (In any case, I’ve always blamed most of my “hey, maybe that’s because of the divorce” problems on being here in general, as opposed to the divorce specifically — my parents’ reasons for bringing a child into this world were no more well thought out than their marriage had been, which is especially apparent in light of my October birthdate and their wedding the March of that same year)

    I can’t speak to the “if they’re good upstanding members and they both work hard their marriage will definitely work” thing. I don’t have nearly enough of a sample to judge that; most of the adults that I know who are married, are nonmembers.

  105. There is an unwritten policy (I think). However, it is not hard and fast. The Bishop of my ward currently has been divorced. It was over thrity years ago and many people who knew him then are not living in the area now. It has kept others from being offered the position that I know though.

    The idea that porn, or any other violation of a covenant could end a marriage is a good subject to discuss. That’s the reason they call them covenants. That’s the reason we go to the temple to be married. The sealing is to be taken much more seriously than a civil cermony. Parents would do well to teach their children the ramifications of a temple marriage.

    The atonement, however, applies to all of us. If a violation has occurred, and the negligent party has repented, should it destry a marriage? It depends ont he circumastances and the poeple involved. Until you have the opportunity to experience the tragedy first hand, it’s all lip-service. None of us know how we will react to a situation until it is presented to us and we know all the facts. Then, as an enjoined party, we will have to seriously pray and ponder how to deal with the consequences of sin and atonement. There is no easy answer for any of us.

    I am a child of divorce. Now a grandparent. I made a decision when I was young to be very careful how I chose a spouse. I never wanted my children to go through what I went through. My parents marriage of the fifties ended in a violent, scary manner. Never did my children experience anything like it. Unfortunately, I can’t speak to the way their spouses were raised. We caution and counsel each of them often on the merits of repentance and forgiveness.

  106. Christian, now that I am clocked out maybe I’ll feel less guilty about responding to your last post (#104).

    I’ll try to clarify my position, which may be difficult when I’m not entirely sure myself what my position is. I think my inclination is that how someone feels about a spouse’s pornography use affects *how* wrong it is, but not *whether* it is wrong. If a spouse’s pornography use results in deep hurt and betrayal, the sin is greater because relationship damage has been added to it. If one spouse uses pornography and the other doesn’t mind, is it still wrong? I think yes. If one spouse uses pornography and the other doesn’t know about it but would mind very much if he/she did know, is it still wrong? I think yes.

    Speaking more generally, I agree that an act’s consequences are relevant to an evaluation of its rightness or wrongness, and I agree that consequences to human relationships are fundamentally important. But I’m still doubtful that consequences are the *only* determinant of rightness or wrongness. Granted, saying the inherent nature of the act itself is the *only* determinant of rightness or wrongness is problematic in other ways. For instance, it seems to lead to a “because God said so” explanation for what is right and wrong, which feels frustratingly arbitrary.

    So I guess I really don’t know what makes things right or wrong, and I’ve managed to confuse myself completely and get rather far away from the “Divorce” topic of the thread. Sorry about that.

  107. My views on divorce are definitely influenced by a separation my parents had for a couple of years. They had lawyers and were close to finally processing the divorce when they decided to give it another try. My Mom said it was especially difficult for her because she had created an independent life where she was supporting herself and us two kids … then she basically burned her bridges behind her to move back in with my father (taking us with her of course). It was a dramatic act of faith.

    At the time I was completely opposed to her making that decision. I was a junior in high school and was feeling like life was starting to make some sense. I definitely didn’t want to leave friendships behind and move to a different state, especially when I in fact thought the same problems would inevitably arise.

    I’m glad to say that I was wrong in my opposition. Since they renewed their love and commitment to each other, many years have passed and our family has benefited greatly from their decision to work things out. They’re both still human but there are significant differences in the way they relate to each other and care for each other.

    Obviously that’s a unique story for one couple and every marriage and family has its own culture and needs. I wouldn’t try to tell every couple going through divorce proceedings to give it another try. But I’m grateful for my parents. When my Mom made the decision to return to be with my Dad, it created a dynamic where I could rebuild a relationship with him as well.

  108. Everyone has agreed that there are certain issues where divorce is warranted, and I think that the church sometimes frowns upon divorce and ignores problems enough to make it quite difficult for people in situations that cry out for a divorce when it doesn’t involve sexual impropriety.

    Specifically, I think that the church could be more active in disciplining misbehaving men. As pointed out above, secrecy is essential for abuse to prosper. And it’s difficult for abused people to step up and say, “I’m abused� because we often (rightly or wrongly) take this to say as much about the abused as the abuser. Church discipline would be an effective way of blowing the lid off of this kind of thing. I’ve seen instances where women and families have left the church because after a divorce, their abusive husband/father was still well regarded in the ward.

    In on case a guy remarried in the temple in spite of physical abuse issues in his first family that were severe enough to warrant hospitalization and police involvement. The second wife had been warned, but when the guy denied everything and was granted a go-ahead on the second sealing, she went ahead with a temple marriage that lasted exactly 8 months. She left when he swung a pick-axe at her children—again no church discipline even though he earned an assault conviction. This guy remains in full fellowship to this day, home teaches, gives priesthood blessings, speaks in church, and continues to use his priesthood to obtain social prestige. I guarantee that this guy has does a lot more damage than (say) Grant Palmer.

  109. Earth to DKL: Unless you married a prostitute or a wanton, your wife doesn’t really like having sex with you. Fact: women tolerate sex at best, and complain about it in derisive detail to their friends at worst. Most nonmember men I know take it for granted that their wives won’t put out. And the notion that her holding out on you could be unsatisfactory to you trivializes the notion of an unsatisfying marriage. I’d advise any husband that views a perpetually frigid wife as sexually unfulfilling to talk to a man that’s been married to Lorena Bobbit.

    Think I’m painting women with too broad a brush? Think I’m being too callous about the sexual and emotional needs of men? Think I’m making some unsupportable assumptions about your marriage?

  110. Rosalynde,

    I’m a little confused by your last comment and maybe I’m being naive. I thought I was understanding the points you were making (even if I didn’t agree with some of the things being said). Then your last couple of sentences make me think the previous paragraph is an exaggerative exercise of some sort.

    Maybe I need to go back and see what you and DKL have been saying to each other to figure this out.

  111. What’s really funny about this discussion is that fact that it leans very much in the way of the man being the offender. It is a little known fact that women are abusers (physically, emotionally) as much as men. It rarely gets to go public because so few men would want the world to know that their wife kicks them around at home. Even the meanest of women rarely gets the press they deserve. Women are excellent emotional abusers. They aslo have very little trouble now days having a ‘fling’, you know, it’s okay, no one will know…

    So let it go on record that women can carry their own evil bag of tricks and it isn’t always the guys fault. Especially when physical vioence is involved. Most men would do anything not to have that known about their wives. The percentage is about one in ten. Who do you know that beats up her husband? I personally know two women. Their husbands will be sainted in the next life.

  112. Rosalynde Welch: What’s going on here? where do you get off publishing my most private thoughts for everyone on T&S to see? And when did you start corresponding with my wife? You mention Lorena Bobbit. Did my wife tell you something that indicates I should be worried for my goodies?

  113. Ah, David, I don’t think I need to talk to your wife to understand her lot in life… ;)

  114. When the whole Lorena Bobbit thing happened I was listening to the radio and some DJs were sponsoring a party with cans of Slice and hot dogs. Then they played that song with the lyric: “Every time you go away, you take a piece of me with you.” That song has never been the same for me since.

  115. Ros, dear,

    You and DKL are skirting dangerously close to TMI, and may have already passed the threshold. Besides, all comments about female sexual responsiveness are supposed to be confined to the-thread-that-makes-Kris-blush-just-thinking-about-it. (at http://timesandseasons.org/wp/index.php?p=1385 ).

    We can’t turn every thread into a makes-Kris-blush-just-thinking-about-it, or poor Kris will have nothing left to read. ;)

  116. (for what it’s worth, I was not seriously arguing the point in comment 117; I was merely satirizing DKL’s position.)

  117. I was hoping that Kristine would jump in with some comments and then DKL could refer to Ros and Kris as “chicks” and then a real brouhaha could start.

    Kaimi that post you wrote some time ago is legendary and though it causes some to blush, it also brings relief. Anytime I’ve written something I’m embarrassed about – anytime I wish I could retract something I’ve written — anytime I think I went a little over the top with something — I then remind myself that I didn’t write that post. Then I feel a little better. So thank you. :)

  118. Rosalynde Welch: ROTFLMAO. Mostly I’m curiosity about what evidence you might have to support your implication that a prostitute or a wanton would enjoy having sex with me. Do you have anyone specific in mind?

  119. DKL: here on T&S we prefer that you merely ROTFLYBO–sensibilities, you know, and all the rest.

    As for a likely candidate for you, it would have to be a wanton in her seventies at the youngest–you know, somebody from a different generation who actually likes being called “chick” and “doll” and finds neanderthals appealing.

  120. I know that this has gone way off the tracks since the initial topic, but is there some sort of blanket qualification that would give the stamp of approval to a divorce – say a cancellation of sealing? For me, that’s as good as the Lord Himself coming down and giving that dissolution His personal thumbs up.

  121. I believe that the comment was made earlier that important components of the divorce rate among Mormons was marriage at relatively young ages (early 20s) after short acquaintance. Given the importance of eternal marriage in LDS doctrine, I find it surprising that so few resources are devoted to premarital preparation. One would think that the potential return in marital stability would justify carving a few practical discussions about the realities of married life out of the endless lectures on premarital chastity and scripture chasing for older Mutual age and young Institute students.

    Interestingly, most Roman Catholic dioceses in the US have adopted a common marriage policy:

    “This common policy has five components: (1) a six-month minimum preparation period, (2) the administration of the new premarital questionnaires that have been tested for their capacity to predict marriages likely to end in divorce (PREPARE, the Pre-Marital Inventory, or FOCCUS), (3) the use of lay leadership and “mentoring couples” with the engaged and newly married, (4) the use of marriage instruction classes (weekend workshops, evenings for the engaged in the homes of mentor couples), and (5) engagement ceremonies held before the entire congregation.”

    Isn’t odd that we have marriage classes in Sunday School for married people after the fact, but have NOTHING for engaged couples about to enter into the most important covenant in eternity?

  122. JWL –

    I don’t know if it counts, but the two times I have taken a “temple prep” class at church, about half the lessons were geared towards marriage prep (mostly because engaged couples were often taking it).

    But, yeah – a good marriage prep class all by itself is a great idea.

  123. Christian (#104)
    “It seems plausible to me that our collective and individual senses of right and wrong derive from our mutual effects upon and obligations to each other. The ability of homo sapiens to survive and develop as a species depended strongly on our social nature; therefore conscience was selected for as part of our nature, and has been passed down to us in both biology and culture.”

    There is also the belief that conscience is the Light of Christ (D&C 84:46), divinely given to us. If it is evolutionary then right and wrong are subjective. If it is a divine gift, then right and wrong are not negotiable, and God’s judgement is based on the knowledge of light and truth recieved at the time.

    As for the porn issue, we’ve known for 2000 years that “whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.” I do not know of any that have regularly looked at porn with the desire to develope a mutually exclusive spiritual and emotional bond with those they are viewing.

  124. Rosalynde Welch: it would have to be a wanton in her seventies at the youngest–you know, somebody from a different generation who actually likes being called “chick� and “doll� and finds neanderthals appealing.

    Sounds tasty! Hopefully, my wife will approve. And how very clever of you to be recommending mistresses in a thread about divorce.

  125. As a matter of policy I have no problem with barriers to easy marriage in the Church, but I have to say that I would not relish getting marriage advice from my bishop (and he’s a good one (and I’m his counselor)) or anyone else in my ward in a preparation class setting.

    I am in favor or hunter education classes, however.

  126. DKL –

    Perhaps what Ros is really suggesting is a reinstatement of polygamy. . .

    (There — now we’ve introduced polygamy into the thread. With any luck, abortion will follow. Hmm, any other hot topics we should discuss? The ever popular SSM?)

  127. I’ve just been reading along but the marriage advice from the bishop struck a nerve. When I was engaged our BYU bishop brought my fiance (now wife -it did work out) into the office and talked to us frankly about the need for a healthy sex life, including examples of his cardioligist suggesting he have sex at least three times a week for health and that he and his wife like to use manual stimulation and may never get to intercourse because the other is so much fun. We also learned that he interviewed his daughter in-law and asked if she had had an orgasm yet with his son, then offered his son advice on how to do so. Needless to say, we both left appreciative that sex was ok but ill from the vision of our naked bishop telling his son how to do it right.

  128. So, do any of you work?

    Just wondering because last night when I turned in at 3 a.m. there were only a few comments and now I am not even sure what is being discussed… it is still divorce, right?

  129. Spiritguy–now imagine if that fellow were given a commission to teach a marriage prep class. Count me out.

    I had a similar experience with my BYU married ward bishop, except he was talking to my new wife without me. I should have punched his lights out.

  130. Nana (114): If you think of what really makes something wrong other than damaged relationships, let me know. I think that even if it does come down to something being wrong because ‘God said so,’ a violation of his will still represents a ruptured relationship (with God in this case).

  131. Ed et al,

    Regarding the subject of p–n. The debilitating effects of porn on the individual and the family are legion.
    However, there is some material out there that is invaluable. One such is a book titled “The Act of Marriage” which is available in Christian bookstores. I can’t remember the author’s name but it has common sense suggestions on how to handle the issue of sex in a marriage and is a good read.

    As to how the ecclesiastical authority handles divorce, it varies from stake to stake. In our city, my stake doesn’t give positions of authority to divorced persons, while in others here, they have been made bishops etc.

  132. Gilgamesh: “There is also the belief that conscience is the Light of Christ (D&C 84:46), divinely given to us.”

    I agree that’s the usual perspective.

    “If it is a divine gift, then right and wrong are not negotiable.”

    If by ‘not negotiable’ you mean ‘unchanging,’ I think it’s a tough row to hoe, unless you’re talking about something very general, like the golden rule. For example, regarding mutually exclusive relationships, the Lord in fact was willing to compromise with the United States Government.

  133. (Mark B, #108) “It’s odd that a discussion of pornography can be held without at least a nod in the direction of the effect of that business on the people involved.”

    Yes, I agree this is a very important consideration. Is there any good research on this subject?

  134. #143

    I am always amused when I hear of people divorcing because one of the partners prayed about it and received an answer. If ever there was a case for answering your own prayers, this is the icing on the cake.
    Boyd K. Packer once gave a talk in the Tabernacle, while I was present :), where he said that couples would be eternally grateful if they would exercise the principles of patience and long-suffering, rather than taking the easy road out.
    As someone pointed out earlier, mortality has it’s ups and downs, and we can’t just opt out of it because we feel some pain. Marriages are the most fertile fields for growth and development. Therefore, they provide the fodder for both good and ill.
    How do we know that the attitudes and behaviour of one spouse doesn’t foster some bad behaviour in the other spouse. Over time a recognition that if we want to be happy requires that we work on ourselves and not our partner, comes only with patience and long-suffering on both parts.

    The Brethern’s comments about any 2 people being happy is not old fashioned or out of date. It is simply a matter of attitude. Unfortunately, there are too many narcissists out there.

  135. Julie,

    Re:#141 Isn’t that like shooting ducks in a pond. It’s too easy a target and yet so much fun. :)

  136. Re: My comment in #147. I don’t know how #143 made it into the heading. Probably an age thing.

  137. So, Larry, do you really think that all couples who divorce are doing so because they’re narcissists, unwilling to endure a little pain? That seems like an extreme position. I don’t think anybody commenting here thinks that divorce should be as commonplace as it is, or that it should be undertaken as anything but a last resort, but are you sure you want to say that God would never give his blessing to a divorce? Are there *any* marriages that a righteous person could leave? Are there any circumstances in which a person *should* leave? (Besides physical violence, which I think–I hope–is a case everyone would agree on)

  138. Kaimi: now we’ve introduced polygamy into the thread. With any luck, abortion will follow.

    I’ll follow you on this: Say a chick gets an abortion for no good reason over her husband’s objections. Is this adequate grounds for a divorce?

    Kaimi: …any other hot topics we should discuss? The ever popular SSM?

    I already brought up SSM in my comment #9, but Kristine found it too offensive and it wound up on the cutting room floor.

  139. DKL,
    How is it that you have this special talent to make any thread be about you and your clever use of words?

  140. ” I don’t think anybody commenting here thinks that divorce should be as commonplace as it is, or that it should be undertaken as anything but a last resort”

    I’m comforted to read this. Everyone’s comments here have given me the impression that most think divorce is a mighty fine thing, or at least that the exceptions were in danger of swallowing the rule.

    Every once in a while, while hammering away at the sub-problems, lets be sure to acknowledge the big ones.

  141. Emotional abuse? I have yet to see a definition that was more than “one spouse is mean sometimes & the other thin-skinned/unforgiving”.

    I’d have to seriously disagree, but then I used to do volunteer work for Legal Services Corp. Admittedly, most of those women had been sold multiple times by their husbands, beaten with shotguns, etc., but the emotional abuse was real and manipulative and on par with the physical.


    I really thought someone was going to cite David O McKay who in the 1950s was explaining that while divorce was bad, staying in an abusive marriage was worse.

    society is definitely better off when people don’t want to be married but stay together anyway. That’s gotta be good for the kids, seeing their parents fight all the time.

    Actually, studies do show that it is better for the kids for the parents to stay together and that the kids care little for the parents’ fullfillment over the kids’ stability.

    She left when he swung a pick-axe at her children—again no church discipline even though he earned an assault conviction.

    That is completely against the guidelines. Failing to sanction that sort of behavior has gotten Bishops disciplined and those above them released.

    There is a reason there is a related question on the Temple Recommend Interview Checklist.

    Boyd K. Packer once gave a talk in the Tabernacle, while I was present :), where he said that couples would be eternally grateful if they would exercise the principles of patience and long-suffering, rather than taking the easy road out.

    There is a reason why so many arranged marriages are successful, and that is the joint commitment to work at things. If both partners work at marriage with kindness and patience, it doesn’t seem to take much else. Both. Work. Kindness and Patience.

    But, that is about my last word on the topics.

  142. Christian

    “If by ‘not negotiable’ you mean ‘unchanging,’ I think it’s a tough row to hoe, unless you’re talking about something very general, like the golden rule. For example, regarding mutually exclusive relationships, the Lord in fact was willing to compromise with the United States Government.”

    I think there is negotiation, but I would suppose that such negotiation comes through prophetic voice. That is, at least, why I see the need for prophets. Times change and God can modify the moral code through the living oracle of the day. In the case of pornography – the prophet has spoken. One can argue that it is the opinion of one man based on an old fashioned sense of religious morality, but I choose to believe such warnings are valid and remain consistent with God’s word for us.

    As for the compromise – though this could start a whole new discussion – the practice of polygamy was ended, but since Section 132 is still in the D&C, the principle and doctrine remains in place.

  143. Larry (#144)

    FYI, “The Act of Marriage” is by Tim and Beverly LaHaye. Yes, that Tim LaHaye of “Left Behind” fame.

  144. “I’m comforted to read this. Everyone’s comments here have given me the impression that most think divorce is a mighty fine thing, or at least that the exceptions were in danger of swallowing the rule.”

    Oh, c’mon, Adam–how many times do people have to say things like “divorce is devastating for children,” “divorce is never an easy or desirable solution,” and tell how glad they are that their parents *didn’t* get divorced before you’re willing to assume that we ask the questions about the exceptions in good faith and with a fundamental commitment to the ideal of marriage? How would you frame the questions?

  145. “FYI, “The Act of Marriageâ€? is by Tim and Beverly LaHaye. Yes, that Tim LaHaye of “Left Behindâ€? fame.”

    Eeek–maybe that’s why the red states have such, er, apocalyptic divorce rates!

  146. Actually the practice does continue in part, for men who happen to lose their wives and get sealed again.

  147. I’m comforted to read this. Everyone’s comments here have given me the impression that most think divorce is a mighty fine thing, or at least that the exceptions were in danger of swallowing the rule.
    I think divorce is a mighty fine thing. If the options are to spend the only life I have married to a drunken, verbally abusive liar, or to divorce, I’ll pick divorce, hands down, every time. It shouldn’t be the first option considered, or even the second or third, but when there’s no hope, there’s no glory in sticking things out. Cut your losses, learn from your mistakes, go to Alanon and work the 12 steps if applicable, and move on. Life is too short to spend it miserable.

  148. “I think divorce is a mighty fine thing”

    Divorce sucks

    It broke my heart when I was three years old.
    It broke my heart when I was twelves years old.
    It broke my heart when I was twenty-four years old.

    It sucks!

    That lousy multi-generational(!) pattern is going to end with me. I’ll put a gun to my head before I loose my family.

  149. Kristine,

    Re:” but are you sure you want to say that God would never give his blessing to a divorce?” – I never said that. I did say that there were a lot of narcissists out there.

    “Are there any circumstances in which a person *should* leave? (Besides physical violence, which I think–I hope–is a case everyone would agree on)”.
    Well since women are proven to be just as abusive as men, and since most abuse of children is perpetrated by the parent who has day to day care of them, I am surprised that you want to find an out of marriage. Of course, if the man leaves he is abandoning the family, but if the woman does it is for hers and the children’s sanity. Of course, 70% of divorces are initiated by women.
    Excuse my brusqueness, but I have been through and seen enough of the garbage that paints men as the demons and women as the angels. It just ain’t so. Just look at the case in Texas where a new trial has been granted for the woman who killed her five children. What man in this world would ever receive such an outpouring of sympathy if he were to do the same thing?

  150. Yes, it’s trying to be maligned so as a man, Larry. Here’s hoping all the power, long-term financial security, and righteous indignation will comfort you.

  151. Not so fast, Rosalynde Welch.

    First, regarding power: just because all powerful people are men doesn’t mean that all men are powerful people.

    Second, regarding money: while married men earn more than any other demographic, single men earn less than single women, and they have since the late 1950s. If chicks did the same work as guys for less, then this would make it quite difficult for guys to get jobs.

    Third, regarding righteous indignation: the tone of your comment tells me that this is the pot calling the kettle black (at best).

    Fourth, in general: I try to be a good sport when people sneer at me or pepper me with snide comments, because I’ve pretty much got it coming. I don’t think it’s fair to jump on Larry’s case because he takes up what you may consider to be a counter-intuitive defense of masculinity.

  152. Our high divorce rate is a product of our western elitism, period. We’re a bunch of snobs who believe that we’re entitled to take the high road that leads to self-fullfillment. It (self-fullfillment) is our golden calf and anything that comes between us and our idol must be sacrificed upon the stone cold altar of our self-seeking ideals.

  153. The Act of Marriage is a great book – much better than the LDS alternative Between Husband and Wife which is okay (but it doesn’t have a chapter on accepting Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior complete with prayer like Act does).

    And Tim LaHaye didn’t really do any writing on the Left Behind books – he was basically the fact checker, there to make sure the doctrine was correct. He did write several non-fiction tie-in books (such as Are We Living in the End TImes? – to which he answers: yep!).

    But Act is quite a sensible book and well thought out, tasteful yet explicit.

  154. Rosalynde,

    What you don’t know! I am ever amused by the feminist approach to this problem.
    Thank you DKL. I initially wrote out in detail the cause and effect of my experience but then deleted it. No amount of evidence convinces one of your nature.
    Needless to say, I ended up in exactly the opposite position you portray. But I am grateful to say that regardless of what it cost me, my children knew they had a father and that he loved them. Three sons have served or are about to serve missions, three of my children who are married were married in the temple. Another is dating an RM and I expect an engagement and temple marriage there. That will leave me with 2 worthy sons. One who is going thru college to be a chiropractor and one who is about to go on a mission to Thailand.
    All that, and what I didn’t tell you and I am only $60,000 in debt. I have no savings. But I am a grateful man. I have a great wife who has supported my efforts with my children and who sustains me as a man. And I am not the only man who has had this experience.
    And you wonder why I find people like you highly offensive?

  155. Jack,

    If you only knew how bang on you are. Clearly we grew up under similar circumstances.

  156. Rosalynde,

    I have to apologize for being so hard on you. You are still young and idealistic, (though wrongheaded) :). Time and experience changes the way we look at a whole lot of things.
    I just hope that what I and others have been through will not continue into your generation. If it does, as Brother Packer says, there will be a men’s revolution the likes of which no one has ever seen and it will mean the destruction of the family. We have reached a point where finger pointing needs to stop and both sexes need to accept responsibility and take acountability instead of playing victims and martyrs. Both sexes are equally guilty of abuse, physical and verbal, and both need to be held to accounting.
    If this occurs we can move on to better things. We have to stop demonizing men if there is to be a future because women are not innocent bystanders.
    Anyway, I apologize for being so hard on you.

  157. Kristine, in all these posts, I am missing how you hope we will benefit from the greater acceptance of divorce you advocate. Is there something our greater culture is enjoying that you wish the saints had more of?

    The best idea I get is that you don’t want those who have failed in marriage to feel like failures. It seems that the opinions of others would be of marginal significance in comparison to the reality of the situation. If I lost my leg, it would be annoying to have everyone thinking poorly of me for it, but far less annoying than not having a leg, even if the leg had become mangled and grangenous and had to be cut off before it killed me.

    The worst idea I get is that divorce equates with female emancipation and therefore must be good.

  158. “Earth to DKL: Unless you married a prostitute or a wanton, your wife doesn’t really like having sex with you. Fact: women tolerate sex at best, and complain about it in derisive detail to their friends at worst.”

    That is just sad. I don’t know about your circle of friends, or where you get your facts, but in my sample size of 1, my wife loves sex, and she is certainly not a prostitute. Indeed, I think that most, if not all prostitutes despise sex, Hollywood stereotypes notwithstanding.

  159. That lousy multi-generational(!) pattern is going to end with me. I’ll put a gun to my head before I loose my family.

    Well, I’m sure theydl be very comforted by that…like a dead father is better for a family than a living, caring father three miles away…talk about selfish…

  160. For any wondering, a grangenous leg is one that has been stuffed with wheat or corn or some other grain. Combine accidents on the plains inflict dozens of farmers with this unfortunate condition each year. It shouldn’t be confused with a gangrenous leg.

  161. I don’t know HOW this degenerated into an opposite gender bashing, “[my sex is] so put upon” fest. Hey, abused men should leave! And there ought to be a lot more consideration given to parental and custodial rights for men in the law. Many states ARE at least paying lip service to moving in that direction, and a man divorcing today is not going to lose custody by default just because he’s male.

    I don’t think any of us is saying that the current legal and social situation is ideal. Lots of things could be changed for the better, including better services for at-risk families.

    But sometimes, when you’ve tried everything else, and worked and worked and worked, and given chance after chance after chance for things to change, and nothing…divorce is the option that’s left. I’m glad it’s there.

  162. Well, let that teach me to post after midnight! Nothing good ever comes of it, that’s what my mother always told me. Larry, no need to apologize–though it was kind of you to do so. My comment #167 was intended to be a wry and gentle reminder of the fact that in the gender wars both sexes have got plenty of ammunition–though I realize now that it came across as caustic and combative. Thank you for sharing your personal circumstances: since your experience, while not singular, is also not typical, it does change the way I understand your position. And I’d like to think you’ll give me the benefit of the doubt, as well: I am a feminist, but I think, if you check the electronic trail of my posts and comments, you’ll find that I am neither angry nor righteously indignant (although I accept the possibility that I may well be wrongheaded on some things!). In fact, if you’ve read my comments on this thread, you’ll see that, like you, I do not attribute the rising divorce rates men’s bad behavior–but rather to women’s increasing financial viability in the marketplace.

    And JH–please understand my comment in context of DKLs comment #100, and know that my #117 was not argued seriously, but was a facetious parody of DKL’s #100, as I indicated in both #120 and #126.

    Okay, I have caused enough trouble on this thread, so I will bow out with apologies for offense inadvertently caused (though not for the positions I seriously espoused!).

  163. John, all–I’m not advocating greater acceptance of divorce. I don’t think you can read anything like that in my original post or in my comments. I’m not advocating *anything*–I’m not at all sure what I think about this issue. I’m asking sincere questions about Latter-day Saints and divorce, because I don’t think we have a very good understanding of how divorce fits into our doctrine or our culture–the varying practices of local leaders on whether divorced people can hold leadership positions is just one example, but there are lots of ways in which we just haven’t made sense of divorce in our church. I also did not introduce *any* gendered language about abuse in my comments, and I and others have noted that divorce is a mixed bag for women, as well as men–women suffer economically, despite having more options for employment than they used to. And I strongly believe that divorce is bad for kids, even worse, in many cases, than observing conflict between their parents.

    Please read what *I* write and not what you think some liberal feminist would write.

    Larry, your comment #171 is a blatant violation of our comments policy, which prohibits ad hominem (or, in this case, ad feminam) attacks. You can disagree as vehemently as you like with what Rosalynde has written, but you absolutely may not make comments about “people of her nature” or why she, as a person, is so offensive to you. You don’t know her, and she is your sister in the gospel, so you will have to figure out a way to disagree respectfully.

  164. Oh, and one last thing–if I am wrongheaded, I prefer to accept full intellectual responsibility for the error and not to blame it on the accident of my youth–and I’d prefer others to do the same! :)

  165. Ann,

    I knew I should have been more gaurded about my personal experience with divorce. I was certain that someone would run over it like a frieght train but posted it anyway. That’s what I get for being overly emotional. My point was intended to come across with the blackest of humor only to convey that nothing has caused me more grief than the multiple divorces I experienced while growing up.

    I wonder at your comment: “Well, I’m sure theydl be very comforted by that…like a dead father is better for a family than a living, caring father three miles away…talk about selfish…”

    If the father is living and caring, there better be a damn good reason for the divorce.

  166. Kristine,

    Does repentance figure anyway into the T&S comment policies? (see Larry’s comment # 173) Or does he get an extra lashing because he dared buck against feminism?

  167. There’s a topic related to divorce that might be of use to discuss. It also might be a topic for an entirely new post. I’m wondering what (if any) Mormon perspectives exist on the issue of separation. I know that couples sometimes separate for a time, during which they are usually deciding whether or not to divorce. Some couples get back together and some do not. I don’t know much about LDS thought on this (though I suspect separation is discouraged on many occasions). Maybe the astute minds of T&S and its readers could shed some light on the issue.

  168. Larry’s comment #173 was not an actual apology for the violation of the comment policy. It was a patronizing, if kindly, restatement of his position, but it did not make clear (to me, at least) that he understood the nature of his offense. And no, there’s no extra punishment for bucking against feminism–if there were, I wouldn’t be allowed around here either, as I’m hardly a poster child for feminist causes (stay-at-home moms who divide their time being very active in a conservative, patriarchal church and being president of the PTA are hardly the dominant demographic at NOW meetings, y’know?).

  169. Ann,
    Jack’s commitment to his family was inspiring and admirable. Your reply was disgusting. You can think that divorce is justified in some situtations without acting like a small-time political hack in campaign season to someone who disagrees with you.

  170. I have read a lot of comments in this thread about the financial burden on the woman when there is a divorce but very little about the financial burden that the men carry. (Though I admit that I may have missed some as there are just too many comments to read them all.) My experience is there is a tremendous burden on both sides. When I was divorced, I was ordered to pay so much child support and alimony that found that I could not even afford an appartment (she kept the house) so I lived with my parents until I remarried.

    It is little wonder to me that so many men don’t pay. It appears that the rest of us get punished by the system for their indiscretion.

  171. Adam,

    I don’t know — Jack’s comment seemed to unambiguously state that he would rather commit suicide than be divorced, precisely because divorce breaks the hearts of children.

    Meanwhile, Ann’s comment was the perfectly reasonable follow up: Isn’t it possible that parental suicide has an even worse effect than divorce?

  172. Russ, it sounds like your situation was very difficult; divorce can be financially devastating for all pieces of the broken family.

    My husband and I recently had an eye-opening experience as we tried to figure out how much life insurance we should purchase for me. Not being actuaries, and thus not knowing how one should properly calculate such a figure, we decided to start by determining how much he would have to pay to replace my services for one year. We very quickly realized that the bill would almost immediately outstrip his annual salary! (He’s a medical intern, so doesn’t make much.) He literally couldn’t afford his wife and kids! The financial efficiency of the intact family (even the two-income-trapped family) is revealed in its dissolution.

  173. In marriage a man and a woman become one flesh. Somewhere (I can’t find the quote) C.S. Lewis drew on this image to compare divorce to an amputation. I find this analogy to be very insightful. Just as amputation might sometimes be necessary to save the rest of the body, divorce might sometimes be necessary. But it is going to be a traumatic action and a shock to the person who experiences it.

    As Russ has pointed out, divorce often creates unusual and lasting financial burdens as well. That is not a factor that should be underestimated in making a divorce decision.

  174. Russ Johnston (188),

    I can’t speak to your own situation, but there is a _lot_ of evasion of legitimate child support orders by truly deadbeat dads.

    When I was clerking, we had a trial for failure to pay under the Federal child support act. (It applies to people who cross state boundaries to refuse to pay). The fellow was a well-known entertainer, who had made a very substantial sum over the previous several years (he was making more than I do, and I’m a Wall Street lawyer). This fellow had several children, with several women, and was essentially behind on all of their payments, some of them years behind. I expected to hear stories of drugs and wild parties, but it actually turned out that he was spending his money buying high-end dogs (I’m not kidding) and keeping them in lavish, custom made, air-conditioned dog houses.

  175. Kristine, I was considering the things you had written. Your take on the Spencer Kimball quote is the main thing that drew my attention. Comment #22 seems to write off Kimball as an old man remembering the way things were way back when. Your point that he may have been quoting a previous church president seems intended to dilute the relevance of the teaching, not strengthen it. When the quote was produced, you strained through it to pull out the “almost” in comment #35, a slim opening to continue a line of inquiry counter to the overall meaning of the Kimball quote. In comment #152, you posed a series of questions which in the form they were presented don’t seem like inquiries but more a statement that there must be legitimate reasons for a couple to end their marriage.

    Your take on the Matthew scripture on divorce was also interesting. Your point seemed to be that divorce used to be a way for men to escape responsibilities, so Jesus would condemn that, but now women are regarded as “more fully human and adult,” so maybe he accepts divorce now. You also brought up a goal of “progress toward the kinds of unions that could result in exaltation” which in the context of divorce means termination of unexalting unions to try again.

    So, you have stated that you are not advocating greater acceptance of divorce or anything else. However, this search for a “good understanding of how divorce fits into our doctrine or our culture” seems directed in a particular direction. So again, why that direction?

  176. Jack: Olive branch. As someone who has considered suicide multiple times in the last six months, and mostly decided against it because it would leave an incredible mess behind (and because we don’t own a gun), I guess I didn’t see the black humor in your statement. Divorced and alive is better than dead. Life often takes turns we do not expect, and while divorce is not the easy solution modern society seems to believe it to be, suicide is no solution at all. I’m sorry if I hurt your feelings by treating your hyperbole too seriously.

  177. #188: My arrears is $28,000, at $25/week for two kids. I tried to get him to sign a waiver (required by the court) to reduce the arrears to $0 after the older was emancipated and the younger adopted by my current (final) husband, but I honestly think the man would not sign his own stay of execution.

  178. Kristine: Larry, your comment #171 is a blatant violation of our comments policy, which prohibits ad hominem (or, in this case, ad feminam) attacks

    Is this a comment 117 style parody? I think it’s a bit late to introduce strict enforcement of the T&S comment policy into this thread. Moreover, I don’t see how Larry’s comment deserves reprimand while (say) Rosalynde Welch’s comment which sparked it doesn’t. (I remember Jim F. rebuked me once—rightly, I might add—for jokingly accusing someone of defending Jeffrey Dahmer.) I’m left to wonder whether your selective sensitivity here isn’t a bit self-serving.

  179. Kristine,

    I’d like a clarification as to how Larry’s violation of T&S policy and subsequent apology is worse than all the proceeding posts that led up to it, including suggestions, albeit satirical and amusing, that DKL sleep with a woman in her seventies, is himself a neanderthal, can not satisfy his wife sexually, etc.
    Or Rosalynde’s generalization that all men are righteously indignant that sparked Larry’s comment in the first place.

    Personally, I feel like DKL gets what he deserves and I was rooting for Rosalynde, but to publically single out Larry after his apology in a thread that was getting nasty, personal, and heated for quite some time seems a bit arbitrary at best.

  180. Come on, DKL–I got (rightly) reprimanded by Kaimi for 117, which wasn’t an ad hominem attack, and neither was 167. Most everybody has apologized. and most everybody has accepted said apologies. We’re reaching a rapprochement–let’s let our big happy family get back together again, sound good?

  181. Oh dear, Brian, have you been witnessing all this?

    It seems I cannot win… if I try to counter seriously, DKL responds unseriously. If I counter unseriously, DKL becomes very serious.

  182. (By the way, I give my unqualified permission for anybody to tease me for being unable to stay out of a thread I had oh-so-dramatically bowed out of…. :) )

  183. Ann (195),
    Don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of deadbeat dad’s out there and something needs to be done about it. My burden has been more like $250/week for two kids. If my current wife didn’t work for the first two years of our marriage, we couldn’t even have afforded the 2 bedroom condo that we lived in.

  184. Ann,

    Water under the bridge. I guess we all (including myself) need to tread more carefully. We never really know in what ways those arround us are suffering. I’m sorry if my harshness salted your wounds, and it seems that you have some very deep and painful ones. I ache for you.

    Ann, Kaimi, et al,

    Just to clarify; I was merely trying to illustrate the pain of loss that may be experienced by children because of divorce. I suppose that my twisted rhetoric did not clearly convey that idea. Even if my comment was intended to be understood at face value, killing myself would only be a deliverance from the pain of loss because of divorce. Though Ann is certainly right, It would be an utterly selfish act.


    Thanks for understanding what was at the heart of my comment.

  185. John, I’m interested in the context of the Kimball quote, as well as the timing, because I’m honestly curious about how his advice applies to marriage today, when people come to marriage with such different expectations. It would make a difference if he were quoting an earlier prophet only because then one could more clearly locate the social context in which it was given. I was careful not to write off President Kimball as an old man nostalgic for the past, but instead to raise the more general question about how advice about culturally-specific practices applies across time. I really, honestly don’t know what to make of President Kimball’s statement in the context of marriages that are not merely economic and social and childrearing partnerships, but are expected to be the locus of a kind of emotional fulfillment that wasn’t really expected in the early part of the century. Asking the question is not the same as dismissing the counsel, and I’m sorry I didn’t make that clearer.

    My take on the Matthew scripture was much the same: it’s hard to know how to read it in our modern culture, in which wives can and do put away their husbands as well. You have to extrapolate a fair bit to think I was advocating the dissolution of non-exalting unions. I was just pointing out the difficulty of translating scriptural advice into a wholly different social context. While I think that regarding women as full partners in a marriage is a good thing, it does seem to increase the likelihood that one partner or the other will be discontented enough to want to leave. (Simple math–before, only husbands could leave; now, wives can too). That *doesn’t* seem like an unambiguously good thing to me, and I’d like to consider whether and how we can preserve the new opportunities and status for women without such high rates of divorce, or if higher divorce rates are an inevitable consequence of marriages between more equal partners. It really didn’t occur to me that “working toward the kind of marriages that produce exaltation” could be read as advocating the dissolution of marriages; I was serious about the “working” part, and assumed that we could do something to encourage marriages which would produce growth toward exaltation for both partners and would be *mutually* satisfying.

    In comment 152, I was really only trying to draw Larry out. He made what I view as an extreme statement about the reasons people leave marriage, and I honestly wanted know if he thought there were ever legitimate reasons. His other comments sounded like things I’ve heard from people at church, whose views I don’t understand well, and I was hoping he’d elaborate a little–my questions were provocative, I admit, but I really wanted to understand why he was saying what he did.

    In all of this, I am really curious about what Mormons think about divorce these days–I’m trying *not* to take a strong position, because I don’t have one. Maybe I should have asked my questions one at a time so the discussion could have been more focused.

    One interesting thing to me about this thread is how defensive men feel. I really tried not to demonize men, and I don’t think there’s anything I said that could be construed as blaming men for divorce or the problems that lead to it, and yet there’s a lot of defensive response. This suggests to me that in many ways, we do still think that men are responsible for divorce–certainly the number of Priesthood Session conference talks encouraging men to cherish their wives and chastising them for abuse, etc. would contribute to this perception. I’m interested in how feminists are blamed for this male-bashing, but no one mentions the older cultural and even scriptural precedent for holding men accountable. I can sympathize with men’s frustration–they are really damned if they do and damned if they don’t. If they suggest that men should take care of their wives and children no matter what, they can be accused of not regarding their wives as capable equals; if they avail themselves of the options now available to women for seeking more fulfilling relationships, they are accused of being horrible and irresponsible for abandoning their families.

    Also, I guess I’ve discovered that my writing can’t be perceived neutrally–there are readers who have identified me as a feminist, and somehow opposed to the church, and everything I say is read in that light. This makes me very sad.

  186. goes back aways, but:

    rather than argue the merits of divorce vs. suicide; again, what about prophetic (if olde fashioned for some) advice to “divorce” your selfishness/pride, or suicide/kill your selfishness/pride? If the eye offends…pluck it out? since we’re all imperfect, isn’t focusing on yourself, the only person you have the power to change (albeit mostly via divine help), the real answer? Before glorifying divorce, mayhap we should glorify those that dedicate themselves to _living_ the covenant they made, even if the other party just plain sucks, for a considerable amount of time?

  187. Kaimi,
    Someday we need to have a little chat about the use of metaphor and hyperbole in colloquial speech.

  188. On the contrary, Kristine, on this thread you’ve been wishy-washy and cow-towing to the conservatives!

    Why can’t we just say what we all really think: it’s sad when things don’t work out between people, but that’s the way the ball bounces sometimes. In other words, these complex human relationships aren’t reducible to bright-line policies and doctrinal interpretations, no matter how much we’d like them to. No one likes the idea of failed relationships and hurt children and broken covenants, but reality is harsh. Nobody really knows what happens when things fall apart, and yet it happens all the time. All we can do is have compassion and try to be as good as we can to each other.

    If there’s one doctrine to apply here, it’s this: everybody hurts.

  189. Kristine: “I really, honestly don’t know what to make of President Kimball’s statement in the context of marriages that are not merely economic and social and childrearing partnerships, but are expected to be the locus of a kind of emotional fulfillment that wasn’t really expected in the early part of the century.”

    I don’t have it with me at work, so I can’t put up the exact quote, but in one of the recent broadcast leadership conferences one of the talks (maybe by Pres. Faust) quoted with approval some family guru lamenting the very fact that marriage had come to be more about fulfillment of spouses than a child-rearing institution.

    Maybe we should dig up the exact quote. But to me it comes close to implying that the leaders feel the Saints should not follow the world in expecting emotional fulfillment, but rather go back to the older view of childbearing partnerships. You say ‘What does President Kimball’s statement mean in today’s context?’ Their apparent answer: ‘Today’s context is unrighteous.’

  190. Rosalynde Welch, I wasn’t trying to pick on anyone—let alone. I was just trying to draw a moral equivalence and use that as a basis to ask about a lack of symmetry.

    Given that, the only thing that has been said here that could possibly offend me is your statement that “DKL becomes very serious.� I am never very serious, Rosalynde Welch, and I cannot imagine what I could have said to convince you otherwise.

    Even so, I’m willing to apologize to everyone and accept everybody’s apologies provided that we can all agree with Brian G. that “DKL gets what he deserves.â€?

  191. I believe the quote that Christian is referencing is:

    “Also disturbing is the shift in attitude about the purpose of marraige. More and more young people view marraige ‘as a couples relationship, designed to fulfill the emotinal needs of adults, rather than an instituion for bringing up children.’ The pursuit of such ‘soul-mate relationship[s] may [well] weaken marraige as an instituion for rearing children.'”

    He was quoting David Popenoe and Barbara Dafoe Whitehead, “Marraige and Children: Coming Together Again?” in The State of our Unions 2003: The Social Health of Marraige in America, National Marraige Project (annual report, 2003)

  192. Kristine,

    I guess my comments came across with a little too much emotion and not enough reasoning. Until my divorce I was not aware of the extent nor the pain that divorce brings. That after being raised in a family where my parents divorced when I was 6 and my mother never remarrying. I was the oldest of 5 children. My mother hated my father and raised us to have the same attitude.
    I never understood the seriousness of this attitude and it’s impact on me until after my wife decided to divorce me.
    The extent to which divorce affected men was something I had never contemplated. After all, my father was a demon, right. Therefore all divorced men were unfeeling jerks.
    After my divorce, i became better acquainted with my father. I learned some things that I never knew before. At the same time I became acquainted with a community that I never really knew existed. That of divorced men.
    As I became aware of them and talked with them, I learned of careers that were destroyed, depression that came from not being allowed to see their children (even though the courts ruled they could), false claims of sexual abuse and on and on.
    For some, not all, the wife grew tired of the relationship and wanted to do better. For others the term abuse became so popular, that if the husband disagreed with the wife, that was abuse.
    We all know that communications between spouses can be heated at times. Differences come up all the time over money, sex, raising the children, time spent away from home, drinking etc. But these are all problems that can be resolved.
    My point regarding narcissism dealt with the fact that most people take the very narrow view of marriage as pertaining to this life only. They have a Hollywood perspective on love and all that that entails. With such a perspective, any discomfort that lasts for a period of time becomes grounds for divorce, usually on the grounds that they’ve grown apart….
    (I am not running from the abuse issue either, but I think I addressed that earlier.)
    The problem with this is that children do not learn conflict resolution but rather, how to run away from difficulties.
    There was a study or a talk I heard some time ago that dealt with perspectives on marriage. The nub of it was, the longer the perspective, the better the chances of a successful outcome in marriage. Differences and problems were able to be worked out, since some take years and not minutes like Hollywood likes to portray.
    In my comments to Rosalynde I mentioned her youth. I did not do that to demean her. Quite the opposite. No matter how much study we do on anything, or how much we think we know of something, the best instructors are always time and experience. If she and I were to have the same conversation 30 years from now, I believe her responses would have been different, only because she would now have experience and not pc rhetoric to rely on.
    Much of what we hear in the press, in university, on talk shows, and in books on this topic bears little resemblance to reality. In the main men are demonized. I appreciated your references to General Priesthood sessions. I would take my sons to those and would listen to Pres. Hinckley blast men and then would experience the effects of that when I would try to counsel them as a father.
    Even though I lived up to every obligation I had financially to my children and more, and even though I visited with them several times a week, because I was a divorced father and their mother would complain I was not doing enough (in spite of her remarriage to a man with far more money) Pres. Hinckley’s remarks affected my children and my own self-esteem. I lost my career and my earnings dropped by half because of a false accusation by my wife.
    The impact of divorce causes a grieving process that no one ever explained to me adequately until I read Matt Evans account. Matt has understanding and explains that process in a masterful way. I would encourage all to read his account. I am 15 years past the divorce and I still find the grieving process going on. As much as I try to move on, there are still reminders that creep up from time to time, if only in my dreams at night.
    I share this because I have found so many men who have had the same experience. They have become less effective in the workplace, they have a lowered self-esteem, they make less money and then have to provide for their families and themselves, knowing that the American dream of home and family is only that.
    The destruction of the family has had a devastating impact on men and women. Each responds in the way they feel compensates them for the loss they suffered. Some become deadbeat dads. Some become moms who don’t allow fathers to see their children etc.
    We talk of preventative measures in the health care system to reduce the costs of medicare. How much better it would be if we provided the same for marriages, instead of looking for the easy way out. After all, in the eternal perspective, the amount of time spent here trying to overcome our difficulties is but a blink of the eye.
    In every way this has been an excellent blog. Thank you for posting it. The opportunity to vent, to offend (intentionally or unintentionally), to apologize, to forgive, to go on together, feels a little like a metaphor for marriage. Maybe we can all learn something from this experience.

  193. Andrea,

    Good quote. But if that is the one Pres. Kimball was using then we really do have dead prophets speaking from the grave. :)

  194. Larry,
    I’m on your side, pal. But careful with the “pc rhetoric” comments. Your point about experience is good without it.

  195. Larry, I bear you no ill will, and I trust that you bear me none. I’m grateful for your very personal and engaged contributions. You are probably weary of commenting on this thread, so I understand if you’re not interested in continuing the discussion. But it is fascinating to me how a reader like you might assimilate my comments on this thread to “PC rhetoric”, as you do above. If I may ask, where in this discussion (or elsewhere, for that matter) have I spouted PC rhetoric? When I identify as a feminist, does that influence you to interpret my comments against the grain? Or is it simply the fact that I am a woman and that I objected to your analysis? Listen, I’m probably as guilty as the next person of misinterpreting others or misarticulating my own position–but the particular phenomenon of a woman’s comments being written off as PC boilerplate is interesting to me.

  196. Larry, I apologize for being unclear. That quote was by Pres. Faust at the Worldwide Leadership Training Meeting, Jan. 10, 2004. Christian referenced it in his comment #210, but he also talked about Pres. Kimball’s quote.

  197. Rosalynde,

    Your comment back in #167 is almost word for word the rhetoric I received in a debate with a feminist around 1994. That is why I responded the way I did. I may have used the term pc inappropriately, but at that time it was the way men were defined after divorce and it was considered pc back then, particularly at university.

  198. Okay, then, Larry–I will accept full responsibility for spouting PC rhetoric enitrely satirically in order to send up the pretensions of both sides of the gender wars.

  199. Rosalynde,

    Would you please explain. Your answer seems to be very defensive and I’m not sure why. My comment wasn’t a scathing attack. Is pc not pc anymore or are you just arguing that my use of it was not appropo.

  200. Nope, not defensive, Larry! I wasn’t seriously channeling PC, I think you understand that, and it doesn’t seem you’re seriously accusing me of doing so. I think we’ve reached understanding. (friendly, conciliatory tone)

    (I loathe the emoticons–they’re so cheezy–so I try to avoid them, but with the negative result that my tone is misinterpreted.)

  201. I’ll try harder to be be more discerning. This could be an age thing that doesn’t improve with time. Thank you for a good discussion.

  202. As a book end or a bridge to further discussion may I just say that if Jim F. can believe that a tsunami is evil, we can all agree the divorce is evil. Right?

  203. Jack,

    Are you attempting to make this blog the record holder, or just bring it closer to the top? Remember #1.

  204. Larry,

    This thread could easily hit the 400 mark. I mean, Rosylande almost came out of the closet and admitted that she’s a women! Heck, a thread that can evoke that kind of a response should have enough fuel to stay active for months. ;)

    By the way, your comment (#214) will stick with me for days to come. I can’t imagine that kind of loss. You have my admiration and respect. There are others around here who have experienced similar loss. (Ann… others) It grieves me to think of the burdens you must carry day after day.

  205. As far as Tsunami’s being evil, anyone here remember the good old days when they were called “Tidal Waves”?

  206. Jack,

    Thank you. The burden has been largely lifted but the pain doesn’t leave. The interesting side note to all this is the impact it had on my relationship with the Saviour. I had taught Gospel doctrine for years, taught institute classes and been associated with brethern who have done extensive research in various areas of the gospel. In the midst of all this I had a yearning to know the saviour on a more personal level.
    Be careful what you wish for. My experiences over the last 15 years have taken me places that I never would have dreamed. The net effect has been a closer relationship and, I trust, a better understanding of who He is and what the atonement really means for us average folks.
    I certainly have a more simple understanding of the atonement vis a vis it’s impact on our lives. In other words, I take the Saviour at His word. But that’s another discussion for another blog I guess.

  207. Thanks, Andrea, for finding the quote. When I first read it, I was irritated, and that impression was still with me when I referred to it yesterday.

    But I woke up this morning thinking that marriage not being expected to fulfill _everything_, but be mainly expected to be a child-rearing institution, could turn out to be quite liberating—_if_ spouses were sufficiently generous and charitable to allow some obtaining of fulfillment outside the marriage.

    Unfortunately, when it comes to friendships with the opposite sex, jealousy seems to come into play strongly. And in Mormon culture, this jealousy seems to be enshrined as a ‘standard’ rather than a trait of the natural man (and woman) that should be tamed.

  208. I think there’s a lot to be said for staying married even while fighting and quarrelling. My wife and I both came from homes like that. My parents are some better now, but starting when I was about 11 their disagreements became very public. They would literally run through the house throwing things and saying horrible things about each other. Really horrible things. When we were alone with one parent that parent would start to tell us horrible things (mostly lies) about the other. Now that i’m older, I can tell that this affected my and my brothers and sisters, for the worse. But the wierd thing is that we remember our life at home as mostly happy. We felt our parents loved us.

    My wife’s parents were the same way, but they ended up getting divorced about the time she went to college. She and her brothers and sisters are a lot worse off than me and mine were, psychologically and emotionally. As best as i can tell, they all went into a tailspin, especially the ones still at home. Its years later and they’re still raw, and angry at their parents sometimes.

    Maybe some parents do need to divorce. This is a messy world. But things have to get really, really bad at home before the kids are better off with divorce.

  209. The thing I don’t get about this whole discussion is its whole Jerry Springer-like character.

    It is as conventional American behaviour as it gets. The religous references seem incidental to the emotions and judgments people are expressing.

    Here is what I just can’t understand. Does no one take the Sermon on the Mount literally?

    Was Jesus being ironic, like Plato?

    What does it mean to love one’s enemies? How can one be righteous and despise someone?

  210. Martin James: These are exactly the kinds of questions that we ought to be asking. Thanks for doing so.

  211. Sr. Pitt & Senora Anniston might not be Mormon, but maybe they’ve been reading this thread here at T&S. After all, they just decided to end their marriage. Why? Senora Aniston doesn’t see marriage as having anything to do with having & raising children. I guess her notion of marriage isn’t “time-bound” & me & Sr. Pitt are just too olde-fashioned.

    Also, ironically enough, I was listening to NPR, about a new book about the causes of & self-reinforcing of poverty. The one common thread? The lack of a father in the house hold. Don’t suppose divorce had anything to do with that, now did it?

  212. What does it mean to love one’s enemies? How can one be righteous and despise someone?

    Martin James, good point. I’m just not surprised much anymore when I see contradictions in human character, whether you can call it hypocrisy or not. What is surprising is not that people profess one thing and express another in their words or behaviors — but when they don’t. And I’m not pretending I’m not (very) susceptible myself to this problem either.

  213. I apologize for my bit of crassness on this thread. However, I have to wonder at a statement which implies that we would behave ourselves to one’s liking if we were just a little more like Jesus. Also, remember that some (including myself) find it difficult not to wince with pain when speaking of divorce and are therefore liable to reveal the dark side of ourselves. That said, perhaps if I let wisdom dictate my actions, I would stay away from discussions on this topic.

  214. My curiosity is aroused when I see those sitting on the sidelines making comments after the fact. Would someone please explain where someone talked about hating their enemies on this thread.

  215. Larry:
    In number 1 there was

    “I believe its perfectly possible for two obedient commandment-keeping people to despise each other or to dislike each other”

    and again in number 20.

    “My point is that two basically righteous people can despise each other. We see this all the time as members intermingle in wards.”

    I just don’t know what “basically righteous” or “obedient commandment-keeping” means if it includes despising fellow ward members.


    It is not the hypocrisy that confuses me, it is the particular things that are singled out as being important that confuses me. For example, materialism seems as addictive and morally suspect from a religious perspective as does pornography, but my experience with mormon culture is that we are completely without shame in regard to lusting after material objects. Why?

    Again, its not that individuals profess one thing and do another that confuses me. Its why some carry so much more social sanction and get so much more discussion than others.

    My children go to seminary and attend church more than I do but when I suggest that they turn the other cheek on occassion they say that I am crazy and that no one behaves that way.

    It seems to me that the narcissism discussed in regards to marriage thread above begins with the casual acceptance of unkind behavior towards those we dislike.

    Like the old adage about choosing a mate, we eventually treat our spouses and loved ones as bad as we treat those we don’t like.

  216. Jim F., I agree that Martin brought important questions to the discussion. I’m even more gratified that he took a stab at an answer (at Larry’s prodding). What’s your take?

  217. Martin,

    You’re probably right. I used the word “despise.” What if we replaced the word “despise” with “dislike”? Would it be more palatable or make more sense if the wording was changed slightly?

    What I mean to say is that great friction can arise among/between people who are (despite that friction) making efforts to be obedient in most areas of their lives. A righteous person isn’t necessarily going to be a perfect person or a person who doesn’t have major issues to work out. A righteous person might be someone who is striving to be righteous and is battling some major personal flaws, weaknesses, etc. That could include learning to love one’s enemies — a very difficult task.

    For a scriptural example, we know that frictions arose between disciples and apostles — whether during the Lord’s earthly ministry, Paul’s missionary travels, etc. There’s a sense that even the Lord’s inner circle of disciples and friends had to sometimes learn to lay aside their egos and aspirations and learn to get along.

    Even in the analogy of the groom and bride that is used to describe the Lord’s relationship with the Church, there are times when the Lord turns his face away (in anger) from the unfaithful bride. Of course the Lord states that he will always remember the bride and that he will cherish her in the eternities … but there’s definitely a sense that this couple has gone through a lot and that at times the Lord chastised the bride severely. [Let me add that this is a special pair and I don’t think any less-divine groom should think this is justification for him to chastise his spouse.]

  218. Christian: I misunderstood Martin James’s comment, thinking it to be about the ways people were dealing with each other rather than about the causes of divorce, but his answer is more interesting than was my thinking. However, I think the questions he raises apply to both cases.

    Jack: You say that you “have to wonder at a statement which implies that we would behave ourselves to one’s liking if we were just a little more like Jesus.” As you put this, it sounds like you are suggesting that Martin James has said that if people were more like Jesus, then they would behave more as Martin James wishes them to, making his subjective likes and dislikes his standard for good and bad. That is quite unfair. His question suggested that Jesus’ teachings ought to guide our lives, and that we should question our motives and behaviors when they don’t. I don’t see how any Christian could think otherwise.

    Martin James: You have identified a phenomenon that we find all too often among those who claim to follow Christ. We aren’t alone in failing to live up to our ideals (see here), but that doesn’t excuse us.

  219. “I don’t see how any Christian could think otherwise”

    Ouch. I guess I had it coming…

  220. Jim F: “the ways people were dealing with each other rather than about the causes of divorce”

    I suppose it has been assumed that “the ways people were dealing with each other” are in fact “the causes of divorce.” If this is mistaken, what are the true causes?

    Thanks for the link to the interesting article, BTW; if the article contained the answers, I was too dense to get it.

    Similarly, I’ve been too dense to understand the real difference between `what we are’ and `what we do’ that seems to have been fashionable in recent years (including, if I remember correctly, a conference talk by Elder Oaks).

  221. Jim F.,

    Thanks for persevering and getting that link up. That article about evangelical teaching and living is powerful and it just keeps going and going. I was really impressed with what it was saying and a little surprised by some of the statistics that are provided. Food for thought.

    I have an uncle who is evangelical and he might want to read that article. He seems like a good example of evangelical Christianity but I’d like to hear his take on what that article is saying.

  222. Jim, now that I’ve been to church and my boiling has calmed down to a simmer let me explain the “ouch” (and I’ll try to be christian about it).

    I too understand Martin a little better after reading his second (and more specific) post and apologize for my brash response to his first. I don’t think anyone here disagrees with the notion that our lives ought to be guided be the teachings of the Savior and am in favor of receiving a reminder from time to time (as needed) of that notion.

    However, as one who comes from a family where within the narrow context of grandparents, parents and siblings there have been no less than twelve divorces, I can only say (according to my own experience) that the christian thing to do in most of these messy situations is to withold judgement and be a supportive friend. The last thing you want to do is preach to them a generalized version of the Sermon on the Mount. I admit that because of a fix on my own suffering because of divorce I took Martin’s comment to mean more than what he intended – again my apologies.

    That said, what hurts the most, Jim, is when you intimate that any other interpretation of Martin’s comments than what you personally espouse must be because one is less than christian – ouch! – especially when being draged through divorce after divorced has already taxed my christian sensibilties to the uttermost extreme.

    Well, now that I got that off my chest; please be assured that I have the highest opinion of you and owe you a belated thanks for those times when you have expressed kind compliments.

  223. Ehthesis,

    You make an interesting point, but how do you respond to “Married Man” in #231, given his experience, and undoubtedly the experience of many others where divorce did not occur.

  224. Ethesis, I like the point your essay makes about the scripture from the Sermon on the Mount that mentions divorce and adultery. I had never heard that before but it makes sense and helps to put the issue in a perspective that is understandable to me. Thanks!

  225. Ethesis,

    Your essay is excellent and as danithew says, it really clarifies the scriptures. My point was regarding abuse in #250.

  226. Kristine Haglund Harris writes:

    The upshot is that U.S. Mormons on the whole divorce almost as often as non-Mormons, although I’ve read in other places that the divorce rate for temple marriages is substantially lower, . . .

    That’s because temple divorces require First Presidency approval before they can be obtained. Typically the First Presidency won’t authorize one until the female ex-partner is ready to temple marry again.

    If temple divorces were as easy to obtain as civil divorces, they’d probably occur at the same rate.

  227. Dr. Shades, the lower rate is for civil divorces of temple-married couples, not cancellations of sealings (as far as I know, those stats are not publicly available).

  228. In retrospect, I can see that my first post sounded simplistic and judgemental (about others being judgemental).

    This may stray “off-topic” but I think divorce is a topic so broad that everything relates to it.

    For me, it is an important aspect of religion that we are judged AFTER our lives not during them.

    I believe suffering to be an imponderable. Many people, maybe even most people, concentrate on the virtues of “success” common to Christianity and (just as a placeholder for non-Christian wisdom let’s say, Aristotle) things like temperance, courage, liberality, friendliness, prudence, etc. There is much to be said for the beneftis of these virtues. They are after all virtuous.

    They will certainly mitigate suffering and strengthen marriages.

    I am more interested in a religion that goes beyond prudence into the paradoxical land of the Gospels where those that lose their life find it, where one gives to thieves, one helps strangers, where anyone one meets just might be Jesus.

    Its not that I think that people who practice these selfless virtues will never get divorced, its that I think taking these teachings seriously is the ONLY thing serious enough for the suffering that is the cause and effect of divorce. Self help and practical advice only gets one so far…and its not far enough.

    Since I may have denigrated other traditions, I will try to make some amends. I love the Plato of the Crito and Phaedo, Marcus Aurelius, Tolstoy’s Death of Ivan Illich, anything by Faulkner maybe even the renunciation of desire in Buddhism.

    Again, try not to hear these as preachy but simply as confusion. Its likely my own lack of understanding, but at Church it seems that suffering is only a safe topic after its been cured. Humility and suffering seems interpreted as something for losers, sinners, or masochists.

  229. Martin, excellent thoughts. Overall, I must agree with you.

    However, I like to believe that the gospel lives at every level (for lack of a better term) and therefore is powerfully inclusive in it’s workings. I agree that in the long run no amount of “self-help” will do all that is required for complete healing. Even so, though self-help and practical advice may not get us as far as we need to go in a “final” sense, they may get us as far as we need to go *today*. And that, for me, is the Gospel at work – especially if it is a result of one faithfully participating with Diety in seeking out a solution.

  230. I just still find it interesting that we seal long-dead couples together when we have no idea about the state of their marriages except that on paper they remained wed “until death (did) they part.” At the same time we secure the right for ourselves to divorce and remarry, become resealed, divorce again, etc.

    I wonder if *anyone* will truly be “sealed” to whomever we are married to in life, if we can just pick new husbands after death. Maybe the reason we don’t know who our heavenly mother(s) is/are is that HF still hasn’t even made up HIS mind…

  231. A Visitor,

    Your cynicism must come from some deep hurt. Even though there are those who behave like you suggest, they are not, in any way, representative of the Church at large.
    Even though divorce has become an accepted way of escaping, there are limits that, as individuals, we should accept in our relationships. That puts the burden on us and not on the Church or our Heavenly Father.
    There is no equivocating on His part. There often is on ours. Those who don’t establish a solid framework on which to build a relationship, may flee from relationship to relationship. That is their own problem and not one that can be imputed to the Church.

  232. No hurt; just pragmatism. If we’re so (heaven) bent on sealing long-dead ancestors and anyone else whose names appear together on a piece of yellowed paper and yet our own sealings for eternity only last a few years, what’s the point?

  233. Dying on the cross for an individual and getting married because someone has the warmies for someone else are two different things. You have to have a broken heart and a contrite spirit to avail yourself of the atonement, but all you need is a blood test and a marriage license to be sealed (and not even that if you are already dead).

    We are saved as individuals, yet exalted as marrieds/families. Doesn’t anyone else find it strange that we seal “families” who were coerced into marriages, listed as families but actually weren’t, etc.? And these people are “together for time and all eternity?”

  234. A Visitor,

    My guess is that a lot of family contentions are healed in the in the light of the morning of the resurrection. Matters that were serious issues in this life (such as money, emotional handicaps, etc.) might simply melt away at that point. Also, the blessings the sealings will bring are so great that people might be reluctant to give them up over petty personal issues.

    At the same time, I can’t conceive that any exalted being will be trapped unwillingly in an unhappy and unhealthy relationship.

    I’m content that the exertion of the Lord’s godly and priesthood powers will be to great effect — I doubt that the efforts made to save people will be greatly wasted.

  235. A Visitor,

    You have to have a broken heart and a contrite spirit to avail yourself of sealings as well. Sealings are meaningless without the Atonement.

    Speaking of Temple work, can we not liken it unto the Atonement in the sense that both are done by proxy and are preparing the way for all to be redeemed even though not all will choose to accept such redemption?

  236. Visitor: I agree it’s strange. We just go ahead with things and blithely postpone getting everything right to the Millenuium, when the openness of the heavens will allows us the knowledge necessary to straighten everything out. It would make a lot more sense to me if the openness of the heavens were the order of the day.

  237. Christian,

    I too have my own frustrations with sealings. Considering the myriad of divorces in my family, I haven’t the foggiest idea as to how things are going to work out. Even so, I wouldn’t equate doing the best with what we know with “blithely postpon[ing] getting everything right to the Millenuium, when the openness of the heavens will allows us the knowledge necessary to straighten everything out”.

  238. We go ahead and baptize everyone though lots and lots probably don’t want it. Doesn’t matter, because we believe the dead don’t have to accept it if they don’t want to.

    Ask yourself this: what’s the harm of sealing people together? If they don’t want it, they refuse it, and nothing’s changed. But if they do want it, then suddenly they’re married again.

  239. When I was being born, the nuns at the Catholic hospital thought my mom and I might not make it. So in the process they sprinkled water on both of us and baptized us Catholics. Afterwards when all was well, they approached my Mom and were somewhat apologetic — but wanted her to know what had happened. She didn’t mind. Having heard about it, I don’t mind either. To us it was harmless and even a nice gesture from sincere believers of another faith.

    Not everyone feels that way of course (at least among the living). We have all heard about Jewish dead being baptized in LDS temples and how members of the Jewish community strenuously objected to this until it was stopped.

  240. “What’s the harm of sealing people together”?????

    Here on earth, we have to jump throuh a multitude of hoops for a sealing cancellation. This is supposed to be a binding, eternal, solemn, serious covenant. And yet, we seal the dead as long as their names appear in the right places on a dusty old piece of paper. If they don’t want to be married to each other but DO want to be exalted and live with Heavenly Father for eternity, what then? Are you saying this is not a binding ordinance? Do they get to pick new partners after death if they didn’t like the one they were married to, for whatever reason, in life?

    In fact, some couples and families that we seal on earth have never even *had* a “wedding”, particularly the further back in history you go. I won’t even get started on the sold-into-marriage, slave-and-master couplings, or any other bizzare but very common situations.

    Why waste time sealing everyone on earth together as spouses and family units when we don’t know if they want to be *sealed to each other*? Note: this is different from baptism, where we make a covenant with Christ, not just someone who took advantage of us one day in 1443 and called us his “husband.”

    And it most definitely matters, because even in 2005, when young widows lament that they can’t get a date because the young men in their wards want “sealable” wives and cleaner situations, it can be a big problem. Also (back to the main issue) in the case of divorces, where the kids are sealed to the former spouse and there are very few real “eternal families.”

    What a mess. I move they strike “Families Can Be Together Forever” from the Children’s Songbook.

  241. I don’t think that’s responsive, Mr. Visitor. The point is that sealings for the dead, just like baptisms for the dead, don’t take effect until the dead have accepted them.

    Why waste time baptizing people if we don’t know if they want to make a covenant with Christ? Because we want them to have the chance to.

    “And it most definitely matters, because even in 2005, when young widows lament that they can’t get a date because the young men in their wards want “sealableâ€? wives and cleaner situations, it can be a big problem. Also (back to the main issue) in the case of divorces, where the kids are sealed to the former spouse and there are very few real “eternal families.â€?”

    It sounds like your real problem is sealings for the living. I don’t see how the dead come into it.

  242. why? well, call me orthodox, but because the Prophet, i.e. the Lord, has asked us to? in a worst case scenario…”none” of the proxy sealings are accepted. However, that doesn’t take away the benefit/blessings the “live” individuals receive/experience because of their obedience & increasing their hearts from grinch like proportions to ones of those who truly love & appreciate _all_ of their family members, whether 7 times 70 “cousins” or direct ancestors.

  243. Here’s how “the dead come into it.” It was adequately explained in my prior posts.

    We have no idea whether g-g-g-g-g-Rudolph really wanted to marry/enjoyed being married to his wife, yet we seal them together for eternity. We don’t even know whether Rudolph chose his wife or whether it was forced/arranged/shotgun or anything else. Yet we make (possible) a binding covenant between them.

    Marriage has meant a variety of things throughout the centuries. A 17th century teen forced to marry an old man who ends up mistreating her during their life together is happily sealed to him by a temple-going couple in the 19th/20th century. Why? This mismatched couple–one among millions–might accept the gospel of Jesus Christ but *reject* the pairing or family grouping that they accepted however grudgingly in life. What of them?

    During the last few decades, it’s been increasingly easier for Latter-day Saints to become divorced or to have sealing cancellations. I’m just saying that we propose that sealings are meaningful for those we seal by proxy, and yet reserve the right to “loosen” the sealing bonds for ourselves on earth.

    If we do sealings by proxy on earth, we should also do sealing cancellations by proxy, just as we have marriages/divorces/sealings/sealing cancellations on earth now for the living. “Whatsoever…bound on earth…as in heaven,” remember??

  244. The gift is offered. We don’t have to receive it if we don’t want it.

    I seem to recall reading something about either Joseph or Brigham encouraging a group of reluctant brethren to be sealed to their wives (they were living mind you!). Who knows? Maybe we’ll have fewer warts in the next life.

  245. But my point/question is: what if we want eternal life but don’t want to be sealed to the “eternal companion” who would not have been our choice in the first place had we known better? I’m speaking, of course, for the millions of pairings throughout history that had nothing to do with love, choice, nurturing, etc., yet they’re “married” and now “sealed eternally.”

    For exaltation, we must make the covenant of eternal marriage. Otherwise we simply don’t get to dwell with God forever or get to do all the cool stuff that goes along with exaltation (whatever that is). For the millions and millions of people who were stuck in awful marital situations throughout the ages, what then? What if they qualify for eternal life but “reject” the sealing ordinances?

  246. A: You don’t have to have 100s of years ago hypotheticals. Try my Gparents. My gparents were both converts. They weren’t sealed during life. After Gpa died, Gma wasn’t interested in the sealing. Several years after she died, we felt like it should be done. Assuming they individually make it that far, together they can ‘ratify’ the proxy sealing. If they reject it…who knows? Take the “stuff you know” re: a loving God, etc. & plug it into a formula, & out pops “it will work out somehow.” Good enuff for me. Again, even if _all_ of the proxy work is rejected, 100%…it does have a reason & purpose in perfecting the lives of the living saints.

    sidenote: i’m with you (i think?) in that divorce is too common in the LDS world. however, we might differ as to prescription. I’d prefer it to be much much harder for sealings to be cancelled, thereby incentivizing couples to think twice, three times…alot of times before going for the easy out of divorce.

  247. Yes; I realize we don’t have to go back hundreds of years, but that’s also my point. If modern divorce patterns are any indication (and the unhappiness or mismatches and marital abuse throughout the ages) I’m sure there are abysmally few couples that will opt to have their sealings intact or even want to be sealed after this life is over.

    I’m sure your family felt impressed to have your grandparents sealed against their wishes on earth, so I won’t speak to that, but it’s interesting that the living have the choice to “unseal” themselves and the dead don’t–in fact, they are sealed by well-meaning family members and others who often don’t know their wishes at all. Then they either have to accept that sealing as a condidtion of their exaltation or forfeit eternal life with God.

  248. Look, Visitor, I’m going to repeat myself for the third time.

    When we vicariously seal a couple in the temple, they are not sealed. They have to accept the sealing for it to count. Same with baptisms. When we baptize people in the temple, they have to accept it. They aren’t automatically members. So no dead person is made a member without their volition and no dead person is married to anyone else without choosing to. NOBODY IS BEING FORCED TO LIVE WITH ANYONE THEY DON’T WANT TO. We’re not dragging people to the altar. We’re unlocking the gate to the temple. If they want to go inside, its up to them.

  249. A: You said “Then they either have to accept that sealing as a condidtion of their exaltation or forfeit eternal life with God.”

    Um…no one here ever claimed that. In fact, this view can only be supported by a twisted view of God’s loving nature. I at least said “I don’t know & I’m sure God will work it out.” Personally, I’m sure that folks that don’t work it out in the Spirit World & don’t want the proxy sealing will have the opportunity to be sealed to someone they do want to be with.

    Also, studies show that arranged marriages are more full of love & less prone to divorce than marriages “for love,” on average. So, your historical argument falls fairly flat. Assuming of course that current data can be applied backwards in time…although this is certainly a better assumption that any other.

  250. I’m not trying to be obtuse. Everyone knows what it means to “accept a baptism.” But when we speak of “accepting a sealing”, what does that mean? Just saying that they recognize some living person knelt across an altar on their behalf? It has to have something to do with the person to whom they were actually married, or else what’s the big deal with being sealed at all?

    If accepting a sealing means accepting the ordinance of being sealed to a particular person, how is that not “being forced to live with that person for eternity”? ****Why bother seal people together at all**** if it means nothing?

    Why seal people if most couples throughout history possibly don’t want to be sealed, or at least were somewhat relieved to be parted at death? That’s all I’m asking.

  251. Lyle: “…studies show that arranged marriages are more full of love & less prone to divorce than marriages “for love,â€? on average.”

    Wow. That is quite a set of studies. Could I get a some links or references, please?

  252. I’m coming late to the discussion, but I think “A Visitor” has a point. I’d suspect that one of the great works of the millennium isn’t just doing work for all those people with no historical records but fixing up all the work we have done. This isn’t just for couples married who didn’t want to be but other situations. i.e. the people for whom it is clear who they were married to or married to first. Then there is the issue where one person accepts the gospel while their spouse doesn’t. To receive exaltation they need marriage which presumably means a proxy sealing. And that, I suspect, means knowing who they want to be sealed to. I’d lay a good guess that would be someone they met in the spirit world.

    i.e. the vast majority of work for the dead will require fairly accurate information from the spirit world.

    I actually think that most of the work we do now in the temples will have to be redone for these simple reasons. i.e. we’re more setting the pattern and establishing the value than actually getting things done. I’d lay pretty good odds that for most work done past 4 generations isn’t worth that much… Well the baptism and priesthood ordinations probably are. But not necessarily the sealings.

  253. A Visitor,
    To assume that the person that you are sealed to is all important is to assume that you cannot advance to the celestial kingdom if your spouse does not qualify. I am under the impression (sorry no sources on this point) that the sealing of parents to children is the bond that binds the family of God. That appears to be the grand plan.

  254. Guys, I think Kaimi (?) said it best when he talked about seeing everything in a different light when we get to the Spirit World. We are at least fantasizing when we think there are so many errors committed here. That is a very mortal perspective and has no foundation in scripure.
    The beauty of the atonement is it heals all wounds and brings to light the real reasons we have done what we have done, even if it seemed fruitless here. Relationships can be healed and joy will be found in spite of the traumas of this life.

  255. Visitor, no sealing is finalized if it is not accepted willingly by all parties…even sealings (including “born in the covenant”) between children and parents. Personally, I chose “hell” rather than remain sealed to my single (“worthy” and “faithful”) biological “mother” because associating with her is hell. When I meet a compatible LDS couple who appreciates me and would be honored to have me as part of their family, I would hope to be sealed into that family…not the mess of a family with which I have little/no connection now.

    In the Nauvoo era, living adults were not uncommonly sealed as children to other un-related living adults to build new spiritual families.

  256. Randy,

    I’m not sure what to make of your comments. All of us have some burdens to bear. My mother rejected me because I was the oldest in the family, I reminded her of my father whom she divorced when I was six, and she hated men. However, she has always been a faithful member and served capably and willingly wherever called. She and I can never have a conversation because she turns on me.
    In spite of that I love her and look forward to the changes she will undergo when she passes from mortality and sheds some of the genetic garbage she inherited. I promise you, if you get rid of the emotional baggage and forgive her, your life will be immensely rewarded and enriched.
    I kind of smile at myself as I tell you this because, in a hypocritical way, I have consciously chosen not to forgive my ex-wife for her decision to get a divorce, because she split up a family that was united and happy. She too has remained faithful (and remarried as have I) but I wish her all the pain she caused the family to be visited upon her ten fold. It won’t happen, but a liitle fantasy, now and then, makes some pains a little more bearable.

  257. Larry, thanks for the patronizing and condescending comments, jumping to conclusions and projecting your own feelings and point of view on me apparently because you have not forgiven your ex and still have emotional baggage regarding her.

    “I promise you…”?…You have no idea what kind of person my mother is or her ultimately destiny or mine. How foolish is that?

    The stick-to-itiveness counseled by GAs in the past is poor advice which is why it is made absolutely clear in the current leadership manuals not to counsel for or against divorce. It is a case-by-case personal decision. There are NO hard and fast rules except that sticking it out in any undesirable relationship will NEVER guarantee that you will be glad that you did. A similar thing can be said of a parent-child relationship. I’m of the same mind of Ann above, that there is no point in sticking out a relationship with a toxic spouse (or a toxic parent for that matter). Why be miserable if things can be otherwise?…The fact is, some people don’t marry well, and some people don’t make good parents.

    Having been through divorce myself and trying to do everything within my power to stop that divorce–looking back 12 years now–I know I’m much happier than I would have been otherwise simply because I have a more compatible spouse now. Similarly to my parents…we are not compatible among other things. It has a lot less to do with forgiveness and emotional baggage and a lot more to do with just enjoying daily happiness. As it stands now, I’m happier not associating with my mess of a family and hope to be part of some other family I can enjoy more.

    My advice: if someone is considerably unhappy and has been seriously considering divorce for some time (even if they have children), then that itself is the sign that they probably should get a divorce. However, if that person divorces, that person needs to make sure she assesses herself well and make sure she is prepared to reenter any other marriage relationship and do a better job at matching up with a compatible partner.

    While it’s noble to consider the effects of divorce on the health of children and the soon-to-be-ex-spouse, you’re own long-term health should always be the first consideration.

    Divorce, like any conflict, is obviously terrible. But divorce is not the primary problem. It’s the attitudes and personalities involved that are the primary problem. Sometimes the best way to handle the problem, sadly, is divorce.

  258. compatible – schmompatible

    If we were all consigned to tilling the ground we’d find our selves a lot more compatible.

  259. Randy,

    My comments were not meant, nor was the intention to be, condescending. You have no idea what I meant. The issue is one of attitude. You can choose however you want to feel about your mother. The Saviour forgave his enemies and asked us to do the same. If you can’t, so be it. But please don’t counsel everyone else to run and hide.

  260. Jack
    Some personality types simply do not get along well. That would be just as manifest if we were all tilling the ground as it would be if we were all sunbathing at Cabo San Lucas…although it be manifest in different ways, say, hidden resentment versus open chiding.

    Not to beat down Kimball, but it encourages a false hope and it’s unrealistic to suppose that–for all their hope, effort and good intentions–MOST (LDS) couples with disparate personality types are able to live up to the standard they need to finesse the personality conflicts that inevitably arise between incompatible personalities.

    While you may be able to get along with all various sorts of personality types, or think that you do, not everyone is like you.

    Whether and how personality flaws are “fixed” over eternity is anyone’s guess. But in the meantime, why not be matched with those who will bring you the most happiness over the long-term?

  261. Randy,

    I’ve had enough experience with divorce to learn that witholding judgement in specific cases is the wisest thing to do. Nevertheless, I think society deserves thirty-nine lashes for forcing a bunch of mechanistic B.S. down our throats.

  262. Reshyl, I’m glad you resurrected this thread. I want to say something and it won’t fit on any current thread. I am married to someone I have often wanted to divorce since we married in August 1982. My parents want me to divorce, too. They hate him. He could find the cure for cancer, rescue an orphange full of babies from a fire, never make a single mistake as a father to our three children, and make us multi-millionaires, and they would never forgive him a 23-year-old mistake that I quite willingly helped him to make. That was long before we were baptized, and neither one of us had been taught any better. They’ll go to their graves hating him. My father threatened to kill my husband in front of my then 10-year-old daughter, and he wasn’t joking.

    The man I’m married took a three-day-long ride on Greyhound buses to go take care of his dying mother, and help his younger brother organize her affairs. She had ovarian cancer. She had beaten it twice before, but this last time it had spread everywhere. She had refused chemo. Her abdomen looked like she was about twenty months pregnant, but the rest of her was skeletal. She had difficulty breathing and keeping any food or liquid down. My husband fixed whatever sounded good to her about every two hours around the clock. That’s how often she had to eat, because she could keep down only a few teaspoons full of food or liquid at a time, and generally only one odd food at a time could overcome her nausea. At midnight she’d want custard. At two am she’d want sliced tomato. At four she’d want mashed potatoes. And so on. If she got the right food fast enough, she could keep it down. The wrong food or the right food too late, and she’d throw up and then have dry heaves for a long, long time.

    He cleaned her, held her head when she vomited and helped clear her airway when she choked, and changed her adult diapers whenever it was necessary. He improvised solutions to many of her problems, finding ways to prop her up to help her breathe that would not put weight on the bedsores she had developed before he arrived. She had no muscle or fat on her buttocks at all, just folds of loose skin, and all of that loose skin had to be carefully arranged every time she had to be moved or shifted, so that the circulation was not cut off to it. When he got there, huge rashes and bedsores covered her legs. I have never had to deal with bedsores but it is my understanding that once they set in, it’s very difficult to get them to clear up.

    Whenever she slept, he cleaned her house. Much as I loved my mother-in-law, I was and am appalled at how she lived even when she was healthy. Had anyone ever called the animal control people, she’d have made the news. She was a collector of cats and just about everything else; she could not throw anything away. She had one entire shed outside full of decades-old Tupperware. Her home, located in the desert, was a minefield of impulse purchases and dust. The un-neutered male cats she kept in the house had sprayed just about everything on a horizontal surface. Even her countertops were crusted with dry cat urine under all the papers and dirty dishes. She even slept on a cat-urine soaked pillow when he arrived. The house was infested with mice, far too numerous for even her three indoor cats to eliminate. She had two other cats in cages in the backyard; at one time she’d had many more. My husband took care of all of these animals and improved their living conditions as bes the could. He made arrangements for her dog to go to another family member when she passed away.

    The carpet…but you get the idea. Many people who tried to take care of my mother-in-law had to quit because the environment literally made them sick. She had never let anyone in when she was healthy because she couldn’t bear anyone to see how cluttered and awful her home was. She had to get so sick she couldn’t get from the couch to the bathroom before she gave in and let anyone help her. My husband took all that on, forced his younger brother to help. He did all this in ways that didn’t make her defensive. I never could do anything for her like clean her bathroom without her getting hurt and offended, so I consider his ability to do that for her as a real spiritual gift. (She lived like that even when she was healthy. I don’t know why. But her home was never a safe or healthy place, and it is actually a marvel to me that she managed to die of cancer instead of the hanta virus or something else like that.)

    I doubt he slept much at all for the time he was gone. Sometimes she hurt so badly she just had to yell at somebody. She had had four husbands, and every one of them beat her and cheated on her. From age 15 on she had worked as a waitress, so you know what she had to show for forty-five years of hard work (not much.) She had raised three boys without any significant help and never took welfare. He let her yell, scream, and cry. He wrote it all off to the pain she was having, which is easy to will to do but probably not so easy to carry out, sleep-deprived and overworked as he was.

    He had to come back before she passed on, but he left things in shape that his younger brothers could take over.

    Why do I think this belongs on this divorce thread? Because what my husband did for his mother, I know he would do for me. Yes, he has a few of his mother’s traits. Thank goodness he isn’t a cat hoarder, but he can’t resist tools and computer stuff. He is a clutterer and his shop spills over into the rest of the house a little too often. He really doesn’t “see” a mess unless it’s actually in his way. But he does the majority of the housework because I’m usually physically unable to do it. The important stuff DOES get done. He never seems to resent it when I am ill and too much is falling on him. Yeah, he yells a lot. He was raised in a household where a lot of yelling went on. I wasn’t, so I usually take it too seriously. It used to be the end of the world. I’m learning that I am not going to break if he yells. Funny how it doesn’t happen as much since I stopped taking it so much to heart. “Men don’t change” Amy Dalley sings, but you know, if they’re following Jesus Christ, they do.

    I was falling asleep one night last week after a bad bout with one of my chronic illnesses. I cost him a lot of sleep because I am sick so often and I often need help. (I’m up right now because of pain too great to let me sleep.)

    He thought I WAS asleep already. I heard him say softly, “I love you,” not knowing I was awake enough to hear it. He knows I have trouble with those words–I don’t say them that easily to anybody but my kids anymore. I am ten years younger than he is but thanks to my health I now look ten years older. I am definitely overweight, and every course of steroids, every week I’m bedridden, that gets worse. I’m not anything like the girl he married any more and it would be fair to say I’m a huge burden on him. Yet there he was whispering “I love you” to me there in the dark.

    I can’t imagine how I even begin to deserve that. No, mine is often not a happy marriage. We are blessed in many ways, but also cursed. But there’s a hint of the celestial here and I wish everyone could feel how I felt when my eternal companion whispered that in the dark. I doubt anyone will actually read this whole thing, but I want to bear my testimony that even an imperfect marriage with a lot of misery mixed in can be the foundation of eternal marriage. I know that I could have fallen in love with a more “perfect” man, but I honestly don’t think I’ve ever met a man more “perfectable.”

    Divorce that? Just because we’re not there yet?

    Divorce anything less, anything that offers no hope. Nothing dishonors marriage more than clinging to a bad one. Life is too precious to spend it in a marriage that doesn’t seem to be celestial-bound.

  263. Sheri, that is one of the most eloquent and profound comments I’ve ever read in the ‘Nacle. I loved it and was surprised at the point where you express doubt that anyone would read it all. This is the kind of thing I could read many times over because of the principles it teaches.

    I won’t go into too much detail but just months ago we attended a wedding dinner and reception. The beautiful bride tearfully called my wife last week to say her husband insisted on getting a divorce for a number of seemingly superficial reasons. Of course there are two sides to every story and we’ve only heard one. But we have both wondered aloud to each other if this man ever realized what love is or if he realized how blessed he was.

    It sounds to me like both you and your husband are wonderful “perfectable” people who truly understand what love is and appreciate the celestial in each other. My heart is so full right now after reading your comment. Thank you again.

  264. Sheri lynn, good post. That is marriage for you.

    I’ve been widowed and I’ve been divorced. Widowed was better. My first husband died and I was treated with respect, consideration, and sympathy. I divorced my jerk second husband after a few months of marriage and suddenly I was a credit risk and a bad word. I lost my respectability in a few months time.

    But I do not regret that divorce. It was the right thing to do and freed us both up to go on to better marriages.

    An aside: My first and third husbands were not raised in the church, my second husband was the returned missionary son of a stake president, who attended BYU. My first and third husbands were much better men. Single girls, you can’t judge a book by its cover.

  265. Sheri,

    Thanks for that wonderful comment. I want to shout “hear oh Israel”!

    I agree with Reshyl–divorce is evil. It is evil as war is evil. And, though some have no other recourse but to fight for a just cause (as in annegb’s case), it is still evil as war is evil.

  266. Sheri – thank you for a great post and yes I did read it all the way through. It’s posts like yours that keep me coming back to T&S.

    I like the way marriage has been described as each having emotional ‘bank accounts’. Everytime your spouse does a kind deed, or says a kind word they make a deposit. Each time something is done to hurt, a ‘withdrawal’ is made. Every time my husband makes a ‘withdrawal’ I think of the thousands of deposits he’s made over the last 38 years of marriage, and it helps to overcome the hurt and remember what made me fall in love with him. Not bad going since all our family and friends gave us six months!

    I can imagine that too few deposits and too many withdrawals can bring couples to the brink of divorce whether or not they ‘believe’ in divorce.

  267. My point regarding narcissism dealt with the fact that most people take the very narrow view of marriage as pertaining to this life only. They have a Hollywood perspective on love and all that that entails. With such a perspective, any discomfort that lasts for a period of time becomes grounds for divorce, usually on the grounds that they’ve grown apart….

    I think that goes well with “Married Man”‘s comments at 231 This is a messy world. But things have to get really, really bad at home before the kids are better off with divorce.

    That is really, really true. Amazingly true.

    But, true abuse is “really bad.”

    I’m not sure I see the issue.

    And I really liked Sheri Lynn’s post – much of it reminds me of my Mom’s history (with differences, but they both dropped Radcliff to elope, both have parents that hate their husbands, etc.).

  268. Thank you so much. I can’t say how much it means to me that what I said was understood. I wish my parents would understand it.

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