‘Til Divorce Do Us Part

I am one of the fortunate few. My parents stayed together through it all. They still live in the house where I grew up. I can’t tell you what it means to me to be able to go back there for visits, and be surrounded by everything familiar. It will always be my home. It will always be inextricably linked to Mom and Dad. There, in the midst of those thick walls built at the turn of the 20th Century, lies a vault of memories.

I may now disagree with them religiously, politically, and in other ways, but they gave me hearth and home. They gave their children an example of sticking it out “for better or for worse.” I was talking with a friend of mine the other day. We are both approaching middle age, and are crossing over that threshold where we can begin to imagine actually losing our parents. They are senior citizens now, and truly part of a dying breed. They are the last generation of Americans to not be overly concerned with self-fulfillment. They are our connection to an America that vanished before we were born. All of those cars, those Main Streets, the music, the atmosphere, it only exists in photographs and old black-and-white movies now. They lived it. They actually remember life without television. I vicariously drink it up from their memories. Our generation has nothing to compare to it. The Baby Boomers stand awkwardly and rather obnoxiously in the way between our two eras.

Divorce was unheard of in my parents’ generation; it is practically revered in mine. It is so commonplace that its ill effects go unnoticed. For a good example of what it does to a child, and how it still affects the adult, read this man’s account. I can’t say I agree with all of his conclusions, or how and where he lays blame, but his sentiments reflect those of other adults of his generation whose politics lay elsewhere, including Steven Spielberg, who admits that “E.T.” was about his parents’ divorce. (How many of his movies feature children being separated from their parents, especially their mothers?)

I think the most sobering account I have yet read on this scourge is from Touchstone magazine, in an article written by Stephen Baskerville, author of Taken into Custody: The War Against Fatherhood, Marriage, and the Family. Most disturbing to me as an anarchist is the realization of how much of a hand the government has in these private matters. There is an entire industry created to actually aid families in breaking up. From this industry, the government makes a great deal of money, what the government affectionately refers to as “revenue.”

You know what revenue is, don’t you? Revenue is what the government collects whenever a cop pulls you over for going 3 miles per hour faster than he prefers on a particular day. Revenue is what the government slips out of your paycheck before you even see it. Now, thanks in part to the eye-popping success of the feminist movement’s quest for The Ring, revenue can be gained from sending a helpless dad to jail.

How did all of this happen? To Baskerville, and a host of Christians like him, it mostly begins and ends with the advent of modern feminism and no-fault divorce in the ’60s. A lot of Christians’ minds work this way, which is one of the problems with modern American Christianity. Baskerville gets the solution partly right at the end of his article when he states, “Family integrity will be restored only when families are de-politicized and protected from government invasion.” Spot on. However, though this may not apply to Baskerville’s thinking specifically, I can tell you as a formerly religious individual that for an explanation of the cause of divorce, the idea of Satan is very powerful. It’s all his fault!

Now that I’m an agnostic, I can’t say there is an evil spiritual presence that is ultimately responsible for all the evil in this world. Nevertheless, one of the central points continually driven home by Christian teaching is that there is a spiritual war going on at all times, between actual angels and demons, for the soul of humanity. For a lot of religiously conservative people, this–not government, nor the ideas that government is created from–is the core of the problem. Feminism is merely a part of Satan’s plan. Even Baskerville makes the contention that divorce is “today’s greatest threat to constitutional freedom,” as if we’d be all right if we abhorred Satan and embraced the God-given Constitution.

In my view, this has been part of the problem all along: “constitutional freedom.” My journey to anarchy was greatly precipitated by the Internet, as I have previously stated. I come from religious conservatism. Another religious conservative whose online writing used to be of great importance to me, Joseph Farah, who owns WorldNetDaily, is probably firmly in Baskerville’s camp. Both wring their hands to Heaven over the loss of “constitutional” government. What these men don’t understand is that one need only look cursorily at the document itself to understand the true nature of what they’re advocating. Need a little help? Okay. I’ve alluded to it before, and I’ll point it out again. Just look at Amendment 16:

“The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever source derived, without apportionment among the several States, and without regard to any census or enumeration.”

For all you religiously conservative, Constitution-worshipping Christians out there, read that quote several times. Understand that the Constitution has authorized the federal government, since 1913, to take whatever it wants from whomever it will, however much it desires.

Is that the only problem with the document? Not by a long shot, but let’s just say that it is. Let’s say that next year, while the nation is still under the spell of its light-brown Messiah, two-thirds of the states ratify a new amendment to overturn Amendment 16, and set in stone a commitment to do away with income rape:

“1. The sixteenth article of amendment to the Constitution of the United States is hereby repealed.

“2. Neither the Legislative, the Executive, nor the Judicial branch of the federal government, nor any other branch of government whether elected or appointed, shall have power to lay and collect taxes on incomes, from any source derived, whether there be apportionment among the several States, with or without regard to any census or enumeration.

“3. The Internal Revenue Service is hereby abolished.”

Would this be a Constitution a religious conservative could weep over while pounding the pulpit? I think so. But every man out there who is concerned with the loss of manhood brought about by government interference in marital matters should understand that we’ve had Amendment 13 for well over a hundred years, yet in the last hundred years alone, men have been drafted into “involuntary servitude” to their violent, bloody deaths in no less than four massive wars — for other countries’ interests. Do you really think that an amendment to overturn one of Leviathan’s sources of revenue is going to stop them from calling income tax something else? “This isn’t a tax on income. It’s a tax on ‘profit’… a tax on ‘personal revenue’… a tax on ‘individual distributions’… a tax on ‘financial privilege’… a ‘Victory Tax’…” Okay, I know that last one’s a bit of a stretch. Who the hell would buy that one?

The threat brought about by the divorce/abuse industry isn’t a threat to our constitutional republic. We don’t really have one, and we don’t really need one. It’s a threat to the individual who goes to prison because his wife is tired of him. It destroys his children emotionally, who are far more likely to repeat the pattern of divorce once they’re older. The threat exists because at some point in our history, we decided that Judeo-Christian marriage is so vital to our way of life that it must be enshrined in law. It must be enforced with the threat of violence. We gave the beast our freedom when the Constitution was ratified. Then we gave it our families.

The problem with the Baskervilles and Farahs of this world is that they still believe in using force and violence in matters that are important to them. Farah even goes so far as to advocate murder when adultery has taken place, continually calling the murder victim “The Creep” throughout his article. Tongue-in-cheek, perhaps, but violent and bloody all the same.

The issue conservative Christians have with feminism is its very existence. The issue I have with feminism is that it is looking to make itself the government, the “-ism” that gets the gravy and the guns. This is why I also have an issue with conservatism. It’s another power grab. Neither side is going to help those who are the real victims here, whether or not they’re “creeps.” Allow me, as a single guy who is never going to be married, to give a little advice to my brethren who plan on taking the plunge someday:

  1. Don’t. At least, don’t get a license. True, the government will find a way to call it “common law” and rape you anyway. They need their revenue, after all, but why help them by giving them ammunition? Find a church that isn’t particular about requiring some legal license.
  2. Pardon my being crude, but don’t think with your… ahem. If she’s a hottie, or if you think so little of yourself that she’s the best you can do, you may find it difficult using your, uh, other head, but you must, for the sake of your own freedom. Then proceed to Numbers 3 through 8.
  3. Take a good look at her parents and siblings. Also know her extended family as well as you can. If divorce happens, what is she likely to try and do? What is her family likely to try and do? How do they get on with your family? How does she get on with your family?
  4. Be like my parents: Stay put. Go one step beyond my parents, and live in the same town as your extended family. With the country headed in the direction it is, it’s time to resurrect small-town America . I say, bring it on. I’ve never liked this culture where people uproot and drastically change their lives in a matter of weeks without prior warning. My grandparents moved away when I was very young. Their deaths meant nothing to me, though they were nice people, because I didn’t know them. It’s not good for us. We’re homing creatures.
  5. Your hottie’s family, extended and all, should live in the same local area as yours. If the state is able to interfere in your “common-law marriage” and divorce happens, where’s she going to go with the kid? How is any court going to take a kid completely away from that much family? (This worked for a friend of mine. He got full custody when she decided to move out-of-state.)
  6. If she is a feminist who believes in being politically active to any extent (including voting), say goodnight, Gracie. She’s really after that other ring.
  7. Bury some gold coins in an undisclosed location. I’m not kidding.
  8. Use condoms until you have mutually decided to become parents. You must use birth control that you can control. A kid changes absolutely everything, and boy, do women know it.

Baskerville is right to stress the central nature of family life. He is also right to admonish the churches, who can be considered a type of voluntary extended family, to intervene in these private matters instead of the state. But he never gets to the root of the problem. As Thoreau says at the top of the STR main page, he’s flailing at the branches with a lot of other Men’s Rights Activists. What makes us want to be violent towards feminist ideology? What makes us believe that a “constitutional” government is a tiger cub that will never grow up? What don’t we understand about having freedom in our hearts continually? How is it that we don’t understand that freedom and peace are interminably linked to non-violent and thoroughly voluntary relationships? If Men’s Rights Activists succeed in biting The Ring off the feminists’ finger and taking it for themselves, will humanity be any better off? Well, at least divorced fathers will. For a time.

Religious conservatives of many denominations have recently gotten themselves heavily involved in California’s Proposition 8, in spite of the fact that it should have been the first priority of every so-called Christian in this country to stand against these wars in the Middle East, and in spite of the fact that gay marriage will only finish off an institution that heterosexuals have beaten into a coma all by themselves. Perhaps now is a good time for all those men who are still religiously devoted to make the separation of church and state in their hearts, to get up quietly and peacefully from the table that government has set, and walk away. The wind is taken out of the sails of the feminist grab for power with each step you take. You have the cojones. Now do it.

B.R. Merrick writes for “Strike The Root” and “A Voice for Men,” lives in the Northeast, is  proud to be a classical music reviewer at Amazon.com and iTunes, and in spite of the poisonous nature of television, God Himself will have to pry his DVDs of “Monty Python’s Flying Circus” out of his cold, dead hands, under threat of eternal damnation.

This article was originally published at “Strike The Root” on January 22, 2009.  It has been reprinted here with permission.

About B.R. Merrick

B.R. Merrick writes for "Strike The Root" and "A Voice for Men," and is proud to be a classical music reviewer at Amazon.com and iTunes.

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  • http://www.rip-factor.com/formen/index.html Richard

    “Bury some gold coins in an undisclosed location. I’m not kidding.”

    Best advice EVER. But – you forgot to say, bury it late at night when nobody is around, and nobody can see you!

    Monty Python’s Flying Circus – best TV show ever.

    P.S. – Paul Elam – you have made some really good improvements to your site.

  • Unassumption

    I feel so young reading this; i don’t remember a time before the internet. Maybe this generation will recognize and respond to feminism in a way the baby boomers did not, maybe it won’t, but its a new hope with a new tool, the internet.

    Legal Marriage and its associated benefits is a state invention, why wouldn’t divorce be too? Ending legal marraige is something to consider, unless it proves it gives something back to society to justify them.

    Law enforcement is poorly motivated, paid more to catch a quota, but this doesn’t mean police are irredeemable, same applies to government; the ones we’ve got have horrible flaws, but its better than nothing IMO. The fact that the constitution has been amended (and interprited!) over time shows there is no one ‘constitutional’ government – coming from a nation without a single 20 page document standing like mosses tablets above all mortal authority, it seems to exist primarily to block progress until someone finds a way of re-wording it to make it sound like things are staying exactly the same. Like biblical morality, ‘constitutional government’ could mean anything – both have in the mainstream changed with the flow of history, and became more in line with what is in the majority’s self interest in many ways – and in some ways (“women and children first” ways especially) haven’t changed nearly enough.

    Men have always suffered in society, and abolishing the one entity that provides free education for all (Even if it does tailor itself to women so men have worse results), regulates industry so men are slightly more safe at work (though most workplace injuries effect men), provides healthcare to men who otherwise would have none (even if men do get a lower quality service than women), etc, seems like running in the wrong direction to me. They may not be doing ENOUGH to help the real victims, and we should do all we can to change that, but less government always sounds like an appeal to a golden age, ‘state of nature,’ that said i’m way too young to remember the traditional way of life so maybe i’m missing something?

    If a nation were worth defending, people would volunteer in droves for the task; conscription is one of the cruelest laws, forcing people not just to die but to kill, and then blaming them for their PTSD and giving them no help for the injuries and losses they suffer? Probably the biggest men’s issue in existence, the continued existence of the 13th amendment (and conscription / national service in any country that retains it) is a blight on the American nation.

    1 is probably for the best – most courts will ignore a pre nuptual, and it won’t be as you imagine it whatever it is. Weird to think someone would conflate “person i want to live with for the rest of my life” with “person i want to shag” but it seems the majority falls for no 2. There are too many reasons in this modern world that 4 is impossible for most, and its probably not desirable to only know people in your family, we have to inject our lives with some verity. Leraning the circumstances of a deal before you make it is always for the best – marriage is possible the most expensive deal you’ll ever make so no 3 is great advice. 8 is a totally different issue to marriage and should never be conflated with it – never let a woman pressure you into making that kind of commitment. Not sure if prop 8 is a blessing in disguise – the only reason anyone supported it was the arbitrary choice of group to ban marrying.

    Refreshing to hear such a clear political approach to this issue, i wouldn’t agree but its good to get all the voices out there. Will go check them links.

  • Peggy Spencer

    Mr. Merrick,

    Not so long ago I would have taken exception to your practical approach to marriage. What? No! Marry for LOVE, darlin, and it will all work out! After all, that is what we girls heard throughout our happy-ever-after childhoods.

    But I have lived long enough and seen enough marriages last and fail to believe that a more practical approach makes a lot of sense. Who needs a license if all you want to do is have wild and passionate sex? Who needs wild and passionate sex when you’re 80 with cancer? Who needs merely a pretty/handsome face when there are tough decisions to be made? Making a contractual decision like marriage calls for some perspective and objectivity.

    One problem is, most of us aren’t too good at perspective and objectivity when we’re at the typical marrying age.

    Thanks for your post.

  • http://www.triond.com/users/Casey+Mack Word Phoole

    Funny thing is, I’m a baby boomer that is a child of divorce. The author seems to not be aware that the baby boomers didn’t start the ‘convenience divorce and always assume the guy is a bad parent’ syndrome. That was started in our parents’ generation.

  • keith

    All men struggle with the outcome of divorce and decry the institutional plunder and rape of personal security, family bonds and a future. I wonder if the internet had been available in the fifties if men would have spoken up about marriage and the provider role in which they were cast.

    I keep looking back to find a place in time when it was actually good for men. Where they lived in peace and with a security that would allow them the pleasure and joy that can come from a family. What I’m really looking for is a time when men were not a piece of inventory.

    I do not believe that marriage 60 years ago was a good deal for men. It looks more like a post war make do arrangement. Cocktails at 6, dinner at 7, shiny cars and fast scenery. Social etiquette, keeping up appearances, and keeping up with the neighbors. The big push for tomorrow, any damage today can be left behind at the confessional.

    Marriage was and is a package we climb into, close the lid and take our place on the shelf as another piece of inventory to be taxed. Marriage as an institution is a step into childish entitlement of role playing. Another process of indoctrination to incrementally distance ourselves from ourselves. Marriage is a process of indoctrination to enlist an agreeable form of governance and ultimately taxation.

    I believe that marriage is best left to those who can function reasonably well within it’s institution. Which would be women and government. The government however needs to learn how to be a wife to men, with something better than a prison system. Relationships will continue, sex like chocolate will still be enjoyed. What is pressing, is the family unit without marriage and single father families. For men, it is to address fathering, the father child relationship and father only families.

  • keith

    @Peggy Spencer

    “One problem is, most of us aren’t too good at perspective and objectivity when we’re at the typical marrying age.”

    I have never believed that (contractual) marriage was anything more than to ensure the development, security and future of children. After all what’s the point of forming a business if you have no product.

    The significance of a contract is to garner privilege and entitlements. Unfortunately today we have assigned the entitlements and privilege of children, the very product of that contract, to women. The decline in marriage, the increase in divorce and the increase in common-law relationships, would suggest that a more objective perspective has been brewing for many years.

    If we could embrace marriage as a responsibility toward our children and honor it. Then remove the machinations of intimate passion from that responsibility and further (I’m throwing this part in cause it’s fun) incorporate a third person into the relationship to balance the power, we would not need government intervention in the family unit. Every thing we do is based on power so why not have a tie breaker. When one has been so aggrieved in the relationship they can leave without tearing the family apart. The pull that children feel to take sides would disappear. They would obviously side with the majority. There would be more choice available, along with more prosperity and more freedom.
    But maybe we shouldn’t be to objective, it spoils our self importance.

  • keith

    @ Mr Merrick
    or anyone one else ……enjoy!!