“Divorce is the scandal of the evangelical conscience.”

Albert Mohler, Jr., president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, wrote a remarkable blog post criticizing Evangelicalism for its acceptance of divorce:

When the Christian right was organized in the 1970s and galvanized in the 1980s, the issues of abortion and homosexuality were front and center. Where was divorce? [University of Washington political science professor Mark] Smith documents the fact that groups such as the “pro-traditional family” Moral Majority led by the late Jerry Falwell generally failed even to mention divorce in their publications or platforms.

“During the 10 years of its existence, Falwell’s organization mobilized and lobbied on many political issues, including abortion, pornography, gay rights, school prayer, the Equal Rights Amendment, and sex education in schools,” he recalls. Where is divorce — a tragedy that affects far more families than the more “hot button” issues? “Divorce failed to achieve that exalted status, ranking so low on the group’s agenda that books on the Moral Majority do not even give the issue an entry in the index.”

But the real scandal is far deeper than missing listings in an index. The real scandal is the fact that evangelical Protestants divorce at rates at least as high as the rest of the public. Needless to say, this creates a significant credibility crisis when evangelicals then rise to speak in defense of marriage.

As the culture changed — and Evangelicalism along with it — divorce came to be seen as a purely private matter. Mohler regrets the surrender, and says divorce is now “the scandal of the evangelical conscience.” 

[Hat tip: David Gibson]

Brian Saint-Paul

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Brian Saint-Paul was the editor and publisher of Crisis Magazine. He has a BA in Philosophy and an MA in Religious Studies from the Catholic University of America, in Washington. D.C. In addition to various positions in journalism and publishing, he has served as the associate director of a health research institute, a missionary, and a private school teacher. He lives with his wife in a historic Baltimore neighborhood, where he obsesses over Late Antiquity.

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