March 11th, 2008

Divorce and Broken Contracts


photo credit: I am Nothing..

Throughout the course of his life, a man may enter into many contractual agreements. Employment, gym membership, e-commerce accounts, and marriage are all examples of contracts entered into by two parties.

The latter example, that of marriage, is one I wish to discuss—especially as it relates to public trust.

The high divorce rate in America, coupled with seemingly rampant adultery, depicts a disappointing scenario. The result of such actions is a vast amount of broken contracts.

We know, of course, that not all divorces are the result of mutual foul play. In most cases, a divorce is the result of one party reneging on his/her promise, thereby leading the other to take action and seek divorce. Whatever the individual circumstances, nearly all divorces stem from broken trust and breach of contract.

I submit that there are severely negatively consequences when a society looks the other way while half of its members break their contracts right and left. It must be emphasized that the covenant of marriage is far more important than that of an HOA membership, for example. The latter is binding so long as you live in that home; the former is meant to perpetuate throughout one’s life (or eternity, depending on the type of marriage).

This widespread trend of divorce and adultery surely engenders a societal perception that grows to tolerate, dismiss, and minimize the implications of a broken contract. The fundamental consequence of these actions is a loss of trust—he who cheats on his wife is hardly credible when offering promises in other areas of life.

A recent example of this situation occurred a few days ago, when it became public knowledge that the current (ex-) Governor of New York has been involved with a prostitute. Some supporters have argued that the consensual actions of two adults are their own business, and the governor should therefore be able to remain in office.

While I agree that under most circumstances two consenting adults can frolic as they please, the fact that this specific individual is an elected leader raises the broken contract issue to an important level. If a person cannot be trusted to keep a promise he made to one person (his wife), how can he be trusted to keep the promises he has made to his millions of constituents? It becomes apparent, then, that the breach of trust caused by this governor’s “private” actions renders him unfit for office.

Sadly, a society that contests the importance of keeping one’s marriage vows is far less likely to hold such people accountable for their actions. Under this circumstance, the boy who cried wolf is able to repeatedly get away with his shenanigans, as the public continues to trust his words despite his evident history of untrustworthy actions.

There are, no doubt, a plethora of other examples of broken contracts in our society. The teenage boy who steals a video game; the DVD collector that rents and then makes copies of the latest movies; the student that plagiarizes copyrighted content; the public officer that fails to uphold the Constitution; the employee that calls in sick to go snowboarding; all such examples, along with countless others, illustrate a pervasive existence of dishonesty, broken contracts, and a blatant disregard for fulfilling one’s promises.

As such, we would be mindful to remember that the nation that disregards its contractual obligations and supports those who have broken the most important of all trusts will not last long. As Lawrence D. Bell said, “Show me a man who cannot bother to do little things and I’ll show you a man who cannot be trusted to do big things.”

15 Responses to “Divorce and Broken Contracts”

  1. Travis
    March 12, 2008 at 7:22 am #

    Perhaps this puts me in the half that “looks the other way,” but I think you need to check your statistics on the divorce rate. The number has never been near 50%, as the link you provide indicates. Do an Internet search for “The Real Divorce Rate” and you will learn what the real statistics are.

  2. Connor
    March 12, 2008 at 8:37 am #

    The number has never been near 50%, as the link you provide indicates. Do an Internet search for “The Real Divorce Rate” and you will learn what the real statistics are.

    Searching for those terms led me to this page which says:

    While it is true that most couples in the older generation will never divorce, 40-50% in the younger generation probably will–unless we do much more as a society to help prevent this.

    There are, to be sure, a plethora of factors that come into play when analyzing the statistics for divorce. Nevertheless, the point of the post remains the same, I believe, even if the percentage is lower then 50%. The important element here is not how many people divorce, but what the mentality is of the society that tolerates or dismisses it.

  3. Brian
    March 12, 2008 at 9:58 am #

    Your bring up some interesting thoughts. I read a few of your posts. I heard this morning on the radio that 70% of divorces are now initiated by women. Just thought I would put that out there and see what you thought. Thanks

  4. David
    March 12, 2008 at 11:56 am #

    Two thoughts, one on divorce, and one on public cases such as (ex)Governor Spitzer’s.

    On divorce you say “In most cases, a divorce is the result of one party reneging on his/her promise, thereby leading the other to take action and seek divorce.” I think that misrepresents the true nature of the problem. I could cite multiple examples based on my own experience where divorce is initiated and even aggressively pursued by the party who has done the most to break their marital vows. This, coupled with the acceptance of no-fault divorce, illustrates that the dangers of our high divorce rate are not merely the breaking of promises, but the growing attitude that promises are made to be broken. Once upon a time (yes, it was like a fairy tale then) a man could usually be taken at his word. Now we have a society that builds escape clauses into virtually all contracts on the assumption that an escape may be necessary.

    As for high-profile incidents like the Spitzer case, the actual breaking of promises is not the only trap here – even the allegation of having broken such personal promises can render a person ineffective in keeping the promises they have made to constituents thus it is only practical that they must hold themselves to a higher standard than might otherwise be expected.

  5. Connor
    March 12, 2008 at 12:09 pm #

    David,

    On your first point, I think you’re dead on with your correction/clarification. I hadn’t thought about the scenario, but now that I have, I agree.

    Regarding the second point, I would agree from a tactical standpoint that even an allegation initially leads to mistrust, and therefore renders a politician less effective. For this reason, I generally favor an open, transparent approach to government, which ultimately benefits the politician (in terms of his trustworthiness, of course, and not self-serving benefits that might come from being shady and conniving).

  6. Travis
    March 12, 2008 at 4:46 pm #

    Wow, Connor, I thought that you of all people would look deeper than the first link that I provided. But, I guess I gave you too much credit.

    I didn’t direct you to anything more than a search term because I wanted you to read more than just a few articles I pointed you to. When you read an article on divorce especially, you need always keep the hidden agenda of the writer in mind.

    Your point still stands, an I am not arguing with it. I just simply hate when myths (especially about marriage) are perpetuated.

  7. Connor
    March 12, 2008 at 4:57 pm #

    Travis,

    I did read more than the first link. I read/skimmed through three pages of results, many of which were junk. I do realize that hidden agendas permeate such figures, but haven’t we all heard the quote that says “86% of all statistics are made up”? :)

  8. Kiley
    March 13, 2008 at 9:28 pm #

    1-The high divorce rate leads me to believe that either marital problems are becoming worse, OR that people are giving up on tough situations more quickly. If it is the latter, that worries me.

    2- I understand the idea that sex between two consenting adults is their business. In fact there are groups that argue prostitution should be legal. But it isn’t. It doesn’t matter whether Mr. Ex New York Governor and his hooker are adults. It is illegal. If you break the law, you often can lose your job. I think that goes double for elected officials.

    (BTW: I noticed you are reading Presidents and Prophets–great book!)

  9. Janet
    March 14, 2008 at 8:25 pm #

    Connor,

    Marriage is a serious contract that when broken has many social and economic consequences for families and for communities. That’s why the job interview called “dating” is so important. I wrote a post on this a while back. http://janetwalgren.wordpress.com/2007/04/08/the-job-interview/

    It amazes me that so many young wives are totally lacking in any homemaking skills. Their homes are slovenly, chaotic, filthy, disorganized…they don’t know how to budget or parent; they are totally clueless. Many young men are equally bad. They are addicted to sports, the Internet and the television. They don’t know how to budget, support a family, take out the trash or fix anything. In this environment, is it any wonder that the grass on the uncommitted side of the fence always looks greener?

    I disagree that consensual sex is ever OK when participated in by adults who have not made a contractual commitment. This behavior also comes with serious social and economic consequences for the consenting individuals, their families, and the communities that condone and eventually end up paying for the consequences of this behavior.

    Marriage, like any other contract has a purpose. It would be unwise, imprudent and just downright stupid to allow someone to purchase on credit, lease, or even use your car without a contractual agreement. You can’t even legally use your own car without insurance to protect the rest of civilization while you’re on the road. Why then would it be considered wise, or even OK to allow someone to use your body without a commitment? If you knew how much it costs you to be so open minded, you would be singing a different tune. The marriage contract is civilization’s insurance policy.

  10. Dan
    March 15, 2008 at 3:39 pm #

    The high rate of divorce is nothing new, however, it is a sign of a much larger problem. The culture in the US today largely lacks respect, honesty, and responsibility. Everywhere you go people break contracts and on the surface society says it is ok to do so, thats why we have lawyers. Communities are no longer “communities” but a group of houses where people live. TV, video games, computers, internet, and expectation of instant gratification are partly to blame. Lack of parenting and relationship skills are really the problem. Most parents today were never taught these important life skills hence the extra problems. (Started in the 60’s, went really bad in the 80’s. Today they just use parenting examples from the Simpson’s and South Park).

    If you study the divorce cycles you’ll find the 35-50% remains the same over the years, I suspect it will lower in the next 10 years. What changes is people stop getting married, they “live” together rather than risk the marriage statistic. They have children etc. without the marriage commitment. Interestingly these relationships tend to do better. They stay together because they want to rather than they have to in order to fulfill the contract.

  11. Connor
    March 18, 2008 at 7:27 am #

    CNN, that bastion of journalism, is carrying two headline links this morning showing further (alleged) infidelity on the part of lawmakers:

    These things surprise me less and less as time goes on. Repentance is assured those who falter, but the trust they destroy renders them unfit for office for quite a while, I believe. And yet, there is no public outcry. Looks like my suspicions are correct: our society is so tolerant and accepting of bedroom backwardness that we look the other way when our leaders participate themselves.

  12. Chip
    March 21, 2008 at 2:03 pm #

    Matt. 19: 6
    6 Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.
    7 They say unto him, Why did Moses then command to give a writing of divorcement, and to put her away?
    8 He saith unto them, Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so.
    9 And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery.

    To me, this is a key aspect to the problem we have. We think that we can put asunder what God hath joined together.

    Questions: Whose marriages do we believe God has joined? Is putting asunder a marriage an offense now towards God? Are some divorces blessed by God? What is the consequence that God has in store for those who initiate a divorce which does not have his blessing? Is a man or woman truly committing adultery he or she is with someone who has been divorced? Will we ever be required to live this higher law in this dispensation?

  13. Amore Vero
    April 16, 2008 at 8:56 am #

    In answer to chips questions,

    I believe that God NEVER ever wants us to break our covenants & abandon our spouse, no matter what they do. Though a rare Divorce may be needed for legal protection & safety, that does not mean we should break our covenants to remain faithful to & love our spouse. The main purpose of marriage is to save our spouse if they get off the path & become unrighteous. That is the power of marriage & True Love, (Charity). But few want that responsibility anymore & instead they put their own needs, well-being & happiness 1st & destroy their spouse & children’s hearts & lives for their selfish whims. They trade their greatest blessings & power for a mess of pottage.

    God has been very clear on the severe consequences of breaking marriage vows. It is one of the greatest sins a person can commit. It is often worse than murder. The breaking of marriage vows brings a death sentence upon those who do so & the societies that tolerate it. Thus the Proclamation warns of impending destruction because of divorce.

    The Prophets have said that most divorces are Adultery today, as much as it ever was, even though most consequences may not usually be enforced till later. One wise patriarch who understands these things, said that for a divorcee to even put their name on one of those ‘single’ web sites & date is Adultery, let alone remarry & commit further abuse & adultery on a former spouse & children. Dating & remarriage is severe abuse to the children already born, which just multiplies a divorcee’s transgressions.

    Christ’s higher law is in effect now & has been since he declared it, though the consequences aren’t always or usually applied these days because most divorcees feel they haven’t sinned or are justified & so they don’t confess their guilt, for they have hardened their hearts to even be able to feel or see their guilt anymore. Often leaders just believe their proclaimed innocence without really searching to know the truth, so most get away with it for the time being. But the Prophets have said that if people were truly keeping their marriage covenants they would NEVER abandon their spouses, no matter what.

    No righteous person would ever break their marriage covenants, even if their spouse does, they would remain faithful & keep the marriage in tact even through abuse, adultery, addictions, apostacy or even abandonment. They would protect themselves as needed but save the marriage & eventually their spouse. It only takes ONE spouse to save a marriage.

    ‘True Love’ always wins & never gives up, but endureth forever, no matter what. It is the most powerful thing in the world.

    The Prophet plead with us to ‘NEVER’ give up on our spouse.

  14. Chip
    April 16, 2008 at 9:15 am #

    Amore, I admire your beliefs and your commitment to God and to your spouse. I agree that abuse, adultery, addictions and apostasy are not excuses to justify a divorce. The only way that a person would avoid committing adultery is if their spouse committed it first i.e. “saving for the cause of fornication.”
    Still, I believe that true love or charity can be learned in the midst of these trials that are imposed on one spouse by another.
    Chip

  15. More Christ Like
    November 22, 2008 at 10:17 pm #

    Les McFall has an interesting way to deal with the exception clause in Matthew 19:9. He has written a 43 page paper that reviews the changes in the Greek made by Erasmus that effect the way Matthew 19:9 has been translated. I reviewed McFall’s paper at Except For Fornication Clause of Matthew 19:9. I would love to hear some feedback on this position.

Leave a Reply

Leave your opinion here. Please be nice. Your Email address will be kept private.