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Post No. 18

September 24, 2008

Today I’m at home, down with a feverish cold of all things. That Beecham Flu Plus works wonders, I tell you. But then again, it could just be the placebo effect.

I’m sure you couldn’t be bothered with my state of health, so I’ll skip to the juicy bits.

I’ve been reading miles of column inches of drivel (pro and con to be fair) about divorce and abortion (as unrelated as the topics are to each other!) . I will not tackle the issues per se here because

a) it is not my place

b) there are persons  far better suited than I for the job

Suffice it to say that I am (try to be, rather) a practising Catholic and I can see the logic behind the Church’s stance (as explained in the Catechism) on the issues.

What interests me here is the methods used by either side of the divide. In a nutshell, the “popular” debate (i.e. what is being written on the blogs and in the newspapers) has become a ramming match. It is easy to see why.

The pro-divorce’s (and pro-abortion’s) corner is utilitarian and, I dare say, based on poorly-disguised solipsism. Life is now, what came before is water under the bridge and what’s still to come doesn’t exist so it’s not there. No argument, however brilliant or convincing, can sway such a frame of mind.

Then there’s the other corner: the anti-divorce and anti-abortion people. These should be arguing from the premise of the sanctity of marriage and that life is a gift from God. I think that when they fling about statistics borrowed from other countries they’re doing themselves a disservice.

How can you scientifically quantify the magnitude of social ills directly caused by divorce? How sure can you be that you have managed to effectively isolate cause and effect? I remember reading once a study – scientific, mind – claiming that wine is a better stress reducer than beer. A few weeks later a party-pooper asked whether or not it could be possible that rather than the drink reducing the stress, it was a matter of life style, i.e. people with a low-stress life-style have a propensity for wine and people who plump for beer are on average more highly strung individuals. There was a bit of thumb-twiddling and “uhm-ah”-ing all round and that was that. Same goes for studies trying to show the ghastliness of divorce and abortion. The conclusions can be easily shot down with a few well-placed questions.

Sometimes you hear the argument that countries where divorce has been introduced are reviewing the situation and are looking into ways to turn back the clock. Fine. But what is their motivation for doing so? I don’t know, but probably it’s got something to do with expenditure on welfare. Can we directly relate this expenditure to the existence of divorce?

The above points of view are smashed against each other innumerable times with nobody emerging as the clear winner. Obviously.

If you’re going to argue against divorce and against abortion it’s probably because you believe in the sanctity of marriage and in life as a gift from God. You can’t support these arguments by data and statistics coming from social scientists. It’s illogical. All you can say is that God gave us clear guidelines on how to live our life and then left us free to follow them (or not). At the end of the day it’s a matter of faith. Of course this won’t wash with a non-believing crowd.

If I believed in divorce no amount of statistics would make me say “hmmm … perhaps divorce isn’t so great after all”. If I think that a woman has a right to kill her unborn child no study on earth would make me think otherwise.

On the other hand, if people who, out of religious and moral conviction militate against divorce and abortion lead exemplary lives all across the board then their behaviour might just make others sit up and listen …


From → Misfires

  1. I fail to see much difference between not allowing people to divorce and obliging women to go around wearing a veil. You will note that these restrictions on individual liberty often find their source in a conception of the ‘common good’ which often coincides neatly with ‘God’s law’.

  2. The only acceptable argument I see against divorce is the religious one.
    Marriage as a life-long bond only makes sense in a religious context. Of course, religious beliefs cannot be forced down anyone’s throat. So, the way I see it, arguing “logically” against divorce is like arguing against the seasons …
    From a religious point of view, God’s law is the common good, but that takes us back to square 1. But what if I don’t subscribe to any set of religious beliefs?

  3. I’m not sure I agree with you that marriage as a life-long bond only makes sense in a religious context. People make that promise for various other reasons: love, security, economic expediency, comfort, the children’s best interest, fear of loneliness and so on (without necessarily bringing God into the picture).

    The important step that Malta must now make is to understand that ‘God’s law’ on this issue shouldn’t coincide with State law, precisely because there may be members of the society who don’t subscribe to ‘God’s law’ as expressed by the Church. The threat for the Church is obvious.

  4. I think that we are going to have a semantic discussion.

    A Catholic marriage – which is what I’m concerned with – requires unconditional love and precludes any other basis.

    Although true, the reasons you provide for people wanting to emabrk on a life-lng pair bond do not constitute what a Catholic understands by “marriage”.

    So, if I married somebody only for myself, e.g. to gain security, to have financial stability, to beget children, not primarily because I love my partner, the marriage “never was” in a Catholic sense. So talk of “divorce” of such a marriage is “nonsensical”.

    On the other hand, I agree that Catholicism should not be imposed on non-Catholics. And this brings me back to my original point that the argument against divorce – which is essentially a Catholic viewpoint – can only be based on the indissolubility of marriage.

    In other words, how can I be accused of breaking the rules of an organisation of which I am not a member?
    Corollary: The statute of a party – to shift the argument to familiar ground 🙂 – can only be brought to bear on its members.

  5. daphne4dummies permalink

    @Reuben – your last sentence puts the whole anti divorce legislation argument in context. If a party’s statute can only be enforced on its members, then non-members should be allowed to do what the hell they like. But I think even this is beyond the Pepp-Xarabank crowd.

    – Great blog by the way, sensible and logical

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