June 19, 2018

Article at Authory

History Can Be Messy

Here's a handy apologetics pro tip for wannabe apologists. Y'all need to be more careful in parsing historical data. For example, I was just reading a fundraising letter by an apologist who stated:

I'm sure you're well aware that we live in a toxic cultural environment that puts every family at risk. I dare say that America has degenerated into perhaps the most anti-family, anti-marriage culture in Western history.

Divorce, which used to be rare, was already gaining steam as far back as 1965. The divorce rate has doubled since then, leaving a trail of misery.

Let's grant him his assertions about the state of marriage and the family in the U.S. Even on his own terms, his assertions are shaky, but we'll grant them for the sake of argument.

His assertion about the rarity of divorce depends on the reported rates of divorce, which in turn depends on state recognition of divorces. It absolutely does not take into account marriages that ended through extra-legal means.

For example, my father's paternal grandparents were widely believed by the family to have divorced sometime in the early 1920s. But when my sister, the family genealogist went digging into the pertinent data, she could not find record of a divorce anywhere. What she did find was a census record of my great-grandmother calling herself a "widow." She found the daughter of a subsequent "marriage" my great-grandfather had entered into after his first wife left him. And she found that our "widowed" great-grandmother also eventually "remarried" another man.

Genealogy is a fascinating discipline, and one of the things it teaches us is that history is a lot messier than we might think.

(Image: Sword and wedding rings, Pixabay.)