Faith: Children of Divorce

A study just came out that children of divorce have a weaker connection to God and religion than compared with children who grow up with a married family.  The first reaction I saw to this article was, “this is the first positive outcome to divorce”.  And yes I laughed, after all we are universally born atheists.  But there is a huge underlying problem in this.  Religion and family are so delicately balanced that at the onset of divorce, it is so easy to say goodbye to religion as well.  It makes me wonder just how many people out there are getting married for religions sake being the primary reason.  This raises all sorts of societal implications regarding the true importance of marriage.  Would it be so important in our society if not for religion.
I know in my own personal experience that within the month my ex and I got engaged he was offered a promotion and a raise.  Being engaged with plans to marry says something in the corporate world, something favorable about a man’s character.  I am not quite sure this is the case with woman, as the assumption is that once that lady walks down the aisle, the kids will start popping out.  But it also says something about faith and morality.  If a person is the marrying type, then it stands to reason that they have strong family values and a good moral compass.   They can plan, see their future, which is proof of this strong foundation.  These core values are rooted in many religions throughout the world.  So it is no wonder that religion prays so well with marriage. 
“You don’t need religion to have morals. If you can’t determine right from wrong then you lack empathy, not religion.” – Unknown (I am leaving this unknown, as some people have credited this to Morgan Freeman, however there are sources that look like it was said prior to him).  With more atheists having freedom to share their views with less backlash, it is no wonder that the breakdown of marriage directly affects a child’s ability to see the value in religion.  An organization that puts such strong focus on simple human behavior is bound to see a slide in their attendance and subscriptions when eyes are opened to the notion that empathetic human beings with strong morals can exists in the absence of religious guidance.
George Carlin said “don’t just teach your children to read, teach them to question what they read. Teach them to question everything”.  When we educate our children to their full capacity, we provide them the most valuable gift, critical thinking.  It is not just enough anymore to follow in the political, and religious footprints of our parents.  We are not raising little clones of ourselves, instead we are raising individuals who have the chance to make a difference in the world.  To have the freedom to think, and choose to be the people that they want to be, for themselves and not an invisible being.  I clearly remember when I realized that could be a good person without the fear that something or someone was watching me all the time.  I do not think there is any direct correlation between my mom getting divorced and my lack of religious belief.  But I do feel very strongly that because my parents were breaking their ties, I learnt the skills to think critically about their situation, and this for me lead to a natural questioning of religion.  

Questioning Our Relationships and Accepting Nothing

The subject of how I was able to question my faith and became an atheist was briefly discussed in an earlier blog.  Now time for the meat and potatoes of my blog which is to take the questioning and exploration one step further.  We have great minds who have questioned faith in our society endlessly, Christopher Hitchens, Richard Dawkins, Friedrich Nietzsche and John Stuart Mill to name a few.  The material available to people who would like to become more informed in their life and the decisions they are making for their children and generations to come is pretty inspiring.  But what about how we view relationships?

I have briefly touched on the subject of divorce.  We are at record numbers in our divorce rates with almost no end in site.  And I wonder how many people actually question why this is?  I have heard the argument so many times that so and so did this and that, broke my heart, cheated, we grew apart, etc.  But why is this occurring really?  In our society marriage is an institution for monogamy, raising children and in Quebec especially, getting tax breaks.  If you are a person of faith, this goes one step further and is sanctioned by God.  That you promise to be faithful to not only your spouse but to God and to be fruitful and multiply, a sure fire way to bring the next generation into religion.

But oddly this idea of marriage still is not lasting even with the legal expense of divorce and the bond breaking with God.  Could it be that it is time to expand on our limited ideals of what marriage should be and in essence our relationships in general?  If the top three reasons for divorce in Canada are : Communication, Money and Cheating, then perhaps the reasons we get married should be re-evaluated.  Humans have the basics in common, to want to share experiences with fellow humans, eat and have sex.  So now is the time to start questioning why we would ruin meaningful relationships over money and sex, and open up the channels for communication over what actually matters.

I think we can get to a point where money is just money, sex is just sex and we find a partner to share the raising of children and our experiences with, for better and worse.  I am questioning why I was raised to believe that monogamous relationships work, if this is only a myth and is there something much better out there.  Something that fits the human condition much better for men and for women.  I know that mistakes will be made and feelings may get in the way but I am willing to put my fears on hold for the exploration of the most amazing relationship and finding the partner to share that with.   I am trying to explore solutions for the demise of marriage and lasting relationships in our society.

The rampant increase of dating sites and ways to meet people is overwhelming right now, but before we get to a point where speed dating is the normal way to have a relationship, lets accept that the confines of a relationship are becoming broader.  Our society is becoming more educated and with that restrictions must be questioned.  If we start judging people based on a few minutes with a skewed perception of what marriage and a relationship really mean than our next generation is going to have an increase in broken homes and more challenges to face.

Ask the scary question of why your relationship would end right at the beginning, try and get on the same page with open communication and let us start evolving our ideals with education and acceptance.