Friday, September 11, 2015

When Divorce isn't Ugly

Shannon and Chris Neuman, a Canadian couple, posted a happy, grinning photo of themselves outside the Calgary courthouse where they filed their divorce paperwork.
“Here’s Chris Neuman and I yesterday after filing for divorce!” Shannon’s upbeat post read.
“We are, and always will be, a family. We are parents first and foremost.”
With hashtags of #teamneuman and #divorceselfie, the photo has been shared more 35,000 times after being posted on Facebook.
Why are the Neumans so happy at the dissolution of their marriage? Because they are celebrating the good things they have done together while married, namely having two children.
“We respectfully, thoughtfully and honorably ended our marriage in a way that will allow us to go forward as parenting partners,” they shared in their post.

Gwyneth Paltrow sparked the “exes, best pals and parenting partners” conversation when she “consciously uncoupled” with her then-husband Coldplay front man Chris Martin.
“We are, and always will be, a family. We are parents first and foremost,” the famous and uber-wealthy couple issued in a statement.
Many people were supportive, and many more were annoyed. The phrase “conscious uncoupling” fell in line with other seemingly out-of-touch edicts from the actress and entrepreneur, such as, “When I pass a flowering zucchini plant my heart skips a beat,” and “I’d rather smoke crack than eat cheese from a tin.”
What is with all this breakup bravado and downright happiness when it comes to divorce?
What is with all this breakup bravado and downright happiness when it comes to divorce? Is it relationship evolution or a form of shared delusion? One thing seems true: Sometimes staying together for the kids is not the answer.
In a 20-year-old study of parental conflict and children’s stress still referred to by psychologists today, anthropologists Mark Flinn and Barry England analyzed samples of the stress hormone cortisol, taken from children in a village on the east coast of the island of Dominica in the Caribbean.
Children who lived with parents who constantly argued and fought had higher average cortisol levels than children who lived in calmer, happier families. As a result, the children with angry parents became tired and ill more often, they didn’t play as much, and they slept poorly. Overall, those children never come to terms with the family stress.
The children with angry parents became tired and ill more often, they didn’t play as much, and they slept poorly.
So can divorcees be friends? And what happens to all that friendliness when mom or dad meets a new someone special right away?
Bill Ferguson, a former divorce attorney and relationship expert who shares friendly divorce information at, said that looking under the layers of a relationship is very important.
“It takes two people to keep a relationship going and just one to end it,” he told LifeZette. “To move forward, the two people involved have to heal the hurt. There is the actual reality of who someone is, and then there is our reality when it comes to our partner — that person we perceive them to be. Work toward the actual reality of who that person is, and you will find the love for them again that allows you to move forward under the hurt that has piled up.”
How do you heal the hurt? It’s deceptively simple, Ferguson said.
“Allow yourself to feel it. Children are so good at expressing hurt, but we grow up and develop a shell, given to us by society,” he said. “Once you heal the hurt, miraculous things begin to happen — even in divorce.”
Said Canadian mom and soon-to-be ex-wife Shannon Neuman of her and Chris’ shared intentions moving forward: “They (the children) won’t have to struggle with their own wedding planning because we’ll be sitting on the same side of the aisle — THEIR side.”
Neuman told Global News that she and Chris had been separated for almost four years, and “this marriage was mourned, I promise you.”
Mourning, Ferguson said, is important.
“As a divorce attorney, I realized that when people healed the emotional wounds, the relationship thrived, even moving forward separately,” he said. “And, I had 15 percent of my clients not go through with their planned divorce after they were allowed to feel their hurt completely, and express it.”

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Pope Francis decides to make divorce easier

Pope Francis announced new procedures on Tuesday to make it easier for Roman Catholics to obtain marriage annulments, a change intended to streamline a process long criticized by many Catholics as too cumbersome, complicated and expensive.
Under the new rules, the process will be much faster for cases in which a couple is not contesting the annulment.
Such cases had required two separate judgments from a diocesan tribunal. Now, the process, overseen by local bishops, will require only one judgment. Moreover, the new rules require that the hearing process be held within 30 days of application, eliminating a longer waiting period.
Obviously, this is fine with me. But it's difficult to understand theologically. The Bible contains virtually nothing on the subject of abortion, and yet the church considers it a grave sin. Conversely, Jesus could hardly be clearer about his disapproval of divorce, and yet the church is making divorce easier.1 Aside from the fact that men often want divorces, while abortion is limited to women, what accounts for this?
1And let's hear no nonsense about annulment being different from divorce. Even church leaders admit that there's usually little substantive difference.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

What Marriage Would Look Like if We Actually Followed the Bible

Social conservatives who object to marriage licenses for gay couples claim to defend “Christian marriage,” meaning one man paired with one woman for life, which they say is prescribed by God in the Bible.
But in fact, Bible writers give the divine thumbs-up to many kinds of sexual union or marriage. They also use several literary devices to signal God’s approval for one or another sexual liaison: The law or a prophet might prescribe it, Jesus might endorse it, or God might reward it with the greatest of all blessings: boy babies who go on to become powerful men.
While the approved list does include one man coupled with one woman, the Bible explicitly endorses polygamy and sexual slavery, providing detailed regulations for each; and at times it also rewards rape and incest.
Polygamy. Polygamy is the norm in the Old Testament and accepted without reproof by Jesus (Matthew 22:23-32) contains pages dedicated to 40 biblical figures, each of whom had multiple wives.
Sex slaves. The Bible provides instructions on how to acquire several types of sex slaves. For example, if a man buys a Hebrew girl and “she please not her master” he can’t sell her to a foreigner; and he must allow her to go free if he doesn’t provide for her (Exodus 21:8).
War booty. Virgin females are counted, literally, among the booty of war. In the book of Numbers (31:18) God’s servant commands the Israelites to kill all of the used Midianite women along with all boy children, but to keep the virgin girls for themselves. The Law of Moses spells out a ritual to purify a captive virgin before sex. (Deuteronomy 21:10-14).
The Women of Midian Led Captive by the Hebrews, 1896-1900, watercolor by James Tissot, at the Jewish Museum, New YorkIncest. Incest is mostly forbidden in the Bible, but God makes exceptions. Abraham and Sarah, much favoured by God, are said to be half-siblings. Lot’s daughters get him drunk and mount him, and God rewards them with male babies who become patriarchs of great nations (Genesis 19).
Brother’s widow. If a brother dies with no children, it becomes a man’s duty to impregnate the brother’s widow. Onan is struck dead by God because he prefers to spill his seed on the ground rather than providing offspring for his brother (Genesis 38:8-10). A New Testament story (Matthew 22:24-28) shows that the tradition has survived.
Wife’s handmaid. After seven childless decades, Abraham’s frustrated wife Sarah says, “Go, sleep with my slave; perhaps I can build a family through her.”  Her slave, Hagar, becomes pregnant. Two generations later, the sister-wives of Jacob repeatedly send their slaves to him, each trying to produce more sons than the other (Genesis 30:1-22).
Sarah, Abraham's wife, offers Hagar her maid to her husband. Copperplate engraving c1804Other slaves. A man should not have sex with a slave if she is betrothed to another man - but if they do, she is to be scourged (beaten) and he must sacrifice a sheep (Leviticus 19:20-22, KJV).
Rape victim. A Hebrew girl who is raped can be sold to her rapist for 50 shekels, or about $580 (Deuteronomy 22:28-29). He must then keep her “because she has been “humbled”.
Note: Female consent is simply irrelevant in the Bible, from the time that Eve gets made from Adam’s rib onward (Genesis 2: 18-22).
New Testament endorses Old Testament
Lest someone claim that the Old Testament doesn’t apply to modern Bible believers, please note that none of these norms or rules—is reversed or condemned by Jesus. Quite the contrary:
Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke or a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. (Matthew 5:17-18)
Bible believers or simply change-averse?
For centuries, Christian leaders disagreed about concubines and polygamy, just as they disagreed about slavery more broadly. The nuclear family so prized by America’s fundamentalists emerged from the interplay between Christianity and European cultures, including the monogamous tradition of Rome.
As humanity’s moral consciousness has evolved, coerced sex and marriage have become less acceptable. Today even devout Bible believers oppose sexual slavery. Marriage, increasingly, is a commitment of love, freely given.
Gay marriage is a part of this broader conversation, and opposition by conservative Christians has little to do with biblical monogamy. Many who call themselves Bible believers are simply change-resistant. What really concerns them is protecting the status quo, an ancient hierarchy with privileged majority-culture straight males at the top.
Freedom to marry will expand, as will other rights related to sexuality, reproduction, and family formation; and some conservative Bible believers will adapt to these changes as they have others: reluctantly and with angry protests, but in the end accepting the new normal, and perhaps even insisting that it was God’s will all along.
Valerie Tarico is a psychologist and writer in Seattle, Washington.  She completed her Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology from the University of Iowa and postdoctoral studies at the University of Washington.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

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Law Professor: Davis Can't Evoke Religion to Deny Marriage Licenses

Katherine Franke, formerly of Arizona Law, breaks down the Kentucky marriage debacle in concise, direct terms:
"She has absolutely no legal ground to stand on. As a public official, she's supposed to abide by the law and perform her public duties, which are issuing marriage licenses to qualified couples. Same-sex couples are now qualified to marry in the state of Kentucky, so she is refusing to do her job."