Multiple faults in the no-fault divorce proposals

Apr 10, 2019 by

by Christopher Shell, Anglican Mainstream.
What is missing from the no-fault divorce proposals? Foresight. Joined-up thinking. Knowledge of human nature. Conscience. Compassion. Coherence. Morality of any kind.  It is deja vu for those who think back to interminable proposals to make abortion safe, legal and rare; or to beam in pornography from Europe for general consumption and easy child-access; or to shove the lifestyles of the sexual revolution with their bitter fruit and family-destructive nature down innocent and modest pupils’ throats.
But actually it’s far worse even than that. These new proposals trumpet the message, ‘Evil, be thou my good.’. Does that sound extreme? Then read on.
Suppose that you are a comparatively-innocent spouse who has just suffered the worse-than-death torture of being abandoned by your loved-one, your other half. The following list (a kind of infernal ninefold-fruit) is the treatment you get at the hands of the law now, already. On all the nine fronts, within 3 months the seemingly impossible will happen: things will get significantly worse still.
This is what the law already does to this poor spouse, all of which will be greatly (and intentionally!) intensified:
1. It rewards the capricious and fickle…
…and also abandons those who display steadiness and steadfastness.
2. It rewards controlling individuals who seek unilateral dominance…
…and also abandons those who are kind and fair.
3. It rewards those who are demanding (in the manner that spoilt and immature children are demanding)…
…and also abandons the mature.
4. It rewards the divisive…
…and abandons peacemakers and conciliators.
5.It rewards the ‘entitled’, those who are quick to cite their individual rights, and those with a victim mentality – those quick to blame ‘the marriage’ (‘it went loveless’, ‘it broke’, ‘it died’) as though it were some entity entirely separate from its two component parts either of whom could unarguably now be investing in loving initiatives the time they squander in infantile blame-games: an alien entity that threw a spanner in the works, a bit like the lamppost that walked out into the middle of the road and hit the car…
…and abandons those who have a sense of responsibility.
6. It rewards the impatient…
…and abandons the patient and tolerant.
7. It rewards those who are abusers of power…
…and abandons those who believe in equality and seek to model it..
8. It rewards promise-breakers…
…and abandons the faithful, the loyal, and the promise-keepers.
9. It rewards short-termists, and those who display a throwaway mentality…
…and abandons those who sign up for the long haul and can see the big picture.
Notice that this rides roughshod over some of the most fundamental liberal principles – exposing the incoherence and selectivity of liberalism. After all, I thought liberals were supposed to like tolerance (no.6) and equality (no.7) and dislike control (no.2). They have often spoken out against the power imbalance of simply being able to say to your wife ‘I divorce you’ three times, and to get your own way by fiat (no.7). Wasn’t that supposed to be archaic? And unfashionable? But within the proposals such a practice is now suddenly their most-recommended attitude! – quite a culture-shift. As with all incoherent systems, we have a reductio ad absurdum. What masquerades as situation ‘ethics’ is just a lot of incompatible proposals each of which individually (in the absence of joined-up thinking) holds out the enticing promise of short-term gain or pleasure.
On the ‘power’ point, all will agree that there will be compulsion or coercion either way, whether it is the peaceable spouse or the divisive one that is followed. So these two coercions cancel one another out, However, one coercion is towards being ripped apart, while the other is a coercion towards love together with the person you chose all along. Here there is no comparison, no need to ask which of the two is better. But the wicked steamrollering system has it that division is obviously the better option, and also that love is obviously the worse!
There is also a large inconsistency here. Parents cannot and generally do not just abandon their children. They generally have a lifelong love for them – it would be shameful to confess otherwise – but in fact this expectation not only does people good, but also engenders reality: they actually do love very much the ones they are expected to love. There is not the slightest reason why the same beneficial expectation – and its resultant good fruits – cannot also apply in the case of husband and wife. It is inconsistent (and also cruelly damaging to the poor children, as shown by Judith Wallerstein’s research) to have one rule for love towards spouses and another for love towards children – and these same children will see the inconsistency and the fakery, and the lack of real love that it lays bare. But what is the reason for the inconsistency? It is that premarital sex (with each other or with others) will make the husband-wife bond less exceptional, less close and more brittle than it would otherwise have been, robbing it of its true glory. The one who has been your sole lifelong partner – now that is a close relationship, if you like.
Did I say that all this is what ‘the law’ or ‘the system’ does? I need to correct that, to avoid being guilty of the depersonalising mistake mentioned above under no.5. What I should say is: this is what the legislators and authorities do. They have proceeded (as is the wont of the devious) in a very calculating way.
Just like with same-sex marriage, the law-change has been relentlessly pressed through without any addressing or airing of counter-arguments like those above.
The cause celebre that has been deliberately repeatedly recycled (the advance tactic was that a human-interest story would be the way to crack the nut: a tried and tested method) is the case of Mrs Tini Owens.
This lady had an affair, and her husband kindly forgave her. Now, far from being contrite, she wants to compound this with an even worse (and again premeditated) punishment, by also abandoning him.
The media, unbelievably, simply assumes that we will of course sympathise with her and not with him. Why? She has done two especially bad things – compared to faux pas on his side that have been judicially dismissed as laughable everyday trivia.
He is also a millionaire.
There is the line that she had the affair as a cry for help. Anyone who sympathises with that one must also therefore think it is fine if a man comes home and tells his wife, ‘Honey, I had an affair – but it’s okay, because it was a cry for help – no self-indulgence or desire involved whatever. It’s me that is the victim, not you.’!
The media, and The Times in particular, have pressed this one ‘Tini Owens’ angle exclusively and relentlessly. The angle of avoiding fault and blame. But our ninefold list above comprises eighteen other angles that could have been brought to the table, but were never allowed to be: the same tactic we saw with same-sex marriage. Since we were not born yesterday, we are wise to this. Those who are so selective as that must have a great deal to hide. What is the value of a ‘conclusion’ that shuts off the majority of the relevant angles?
If some are able to get their minds round considerably more than one angle, why are the laws instead being made by the one-eyed? But things are worse than that – because this one angle is a spectacular failure, The idea is that a spouse firstly abandoning their precious wife or husband; secondly saying ‘Hey – what do you mean, Why did I do it? I don’t need to give you a reason’; and thirdly saying ‘I’m the moral one here – the law says so’ – that this will decrease blame and resentment?! We will name it as it is: it’s the most exquisite torture.
In the partial and (therefore) dishonest way they ‘frame’ the narrative for their readers, the newspapers select the negative and abandon the positive: the very pattern we have seen above. Two examples among legion:
Metro 09.04.19, p1 speaks of ‘trapping…partners in broken marriages’, when of course it is only the partial testimony of the divisive one that anything is ‘broken’. And The Times 09.04.19, p1 headline says ‘Spouses lose right to fight divorce at end of unhappy marriage’ – again, it is only the unsupported assertion of the divisive one that ‘unhappy’ is at all accurate. This is undeniable, since otherwise it would not now be the case that divorce proceedings are three-quarters of the time initiated by one party against the other’s will, which does seem like cruelty, They have taken one quarter and made it swallow the other three as the thin cows swallowed the fat.
While the media are playing these games with their readers, it is worth pointing out that they are the only ones who ever had the audience or the inclination to spread the larger and worse narrative that marriage itself (something that has been pretty universal in most societies and periods!)  is on the rocks. By ‘jamming’ this message, a perceived normality can be created (which may or may not have any relation to actual normality, since most of us know personally little more than 0.0001 percent of the population even of our own small island) that divorce is one of the chief mainstream options – and few are not keen to be mainstream. Most will follow patterns set by families and peergroups. And so the snowball keeps rolling. But what is the actual truth of the matter?
The reality is that marriage is the thing most correlated with happiness (religious involvement, which regularly goes together with marriage, runs it close). This is a repeated finding: see, e.g., S Grover & J F Helliwell, How’s Life At Home? (Working Paper 20794. National Bureau of Economic Research, 2014). Marriage is also an absolutely prime correlate of health: see T F Robles et al., ‘Marital Quality and Health – A Meta-Analytic Review’ (Psychological Bulletin 140.1, 2014).
It is therefore not surprising that the UK Happiness Formula Survey 2005 quotes 1957 (when 52% were ‘very happy’) as the peak happiness year, given that only 1.9% of married adults (less than one couple) per 1000 married people divorced in 1958 (Office of National Statistics; E S Williams, The Great Divorce Controversy [Sutton: Belmont House,2000]). Happiness and marriage go together like a horse and carriage. Not always – but more than any other factor whatsoever that can be cited.
Marriage goes together with happiness, but religious involvement is the factor that runs it closest. The happiest cultures, those least likely to need to access mental health services, are those with the highest marriage rates (i.e., also with the closest families) and the closest religious communities: Indians, churchgoing Christians, etc.. Nothing could be less like rocket science.
So if a type of culture (the Christian mass-marriage culture) has been experienced, known, and tested in the UK both for a period of many generations and well within living memory, and has shown itself capable of achieving such excellent figures for children’s and families’ wellbeing – then, obviously, let’s replicate and emulate it. Don’t say ‘It’s a different world now’ – that’s a circular argument, for the media-engendered attitude-revolution is just the sort of thing that actively forces it to become a different world in the relevant ways. If people avoid the option that is so obviously and by such a margin the best, then they cannot object when Christians speak of a spiritual blockage or blindness, because they have no diagnosis of their own that fits the facts, and their only remedy is actually to drink increased doses of the same potion that caused the epidemic. There is a simple and accurate perspective here: it is that if the law holds out ever-lowering expectations, these will be fulfilled. Conversely, our grandparents’ generation, not long ago, showed that high expectations will also be fulfilled – even in an age where behaviour was so much harder to monitor. What is the common denominator here? It is that the expectations implied by the law are critically important. Which is why we are now in for big trouble, and why we weep for the abandoned spouses and for the children.
Disagreement is never an irretrievable situation. Abandonment, by contrast, is always irresoluble while it persists. Every abandoned spouse – together with their children, and their parents who belong to a less immature generation and have long looked forward to grandchild-time – have to wake up to its nightmare reality every succeeding day of their life. They are condemned to an unhappy rest-of-life and an unhappy end, all through one person’s selfishness – were it not for Christ and the power of forgiveness. (Which point is not an excuse for the divisive ones to say, ‘You’re a Christian, so you have to forgive me now.’.)
Look what an enormous mess – a transposition of good and evil – happens when a country turns away from the course that has a good and long-proven track-record – and it has that record because it has power and is true. For those who still follow it, it still has that track-record. Do we care for the spouses and children of this country? So much of the church is going AWOL at the battle – what use was the C of E’s again-appeasing reaction to these proposals, so starkly different from the Catholic on this occasion? Yet we know what happened when the church went AWOL at former critical crossroads when the floodgates were opened to abortion, the beaming in of pornography, and the confusion of genders. This is the one life each of us will have on earth. Don’t join the ranks of the short-termists. Let’s have some foresight and see ‘what will be the end of these things’ if they are adopted. Children and loving spouses, we care about you, and we are coming to fight for you.

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