Friday, April 06, 2007

Divorce

I came to these blogs with a firm notion of divorce, and the circumstances under which it was ethically possible, basically what I outline here. It’s greatly from my upbringing, and it was, actually, a softening of my younger stance. Divorce is rare in my family, and I had no idea it existed well into my youth, even though it had greatly affected immediate family. Not only that but I took the New Testament on the topic as seriously as Pope Clement (the seventh, not the fith). You know, Luke 16:18.

I understood that most modern religions didn’t uphold this doctrine, letting divorce (and remarriage [gasp]) happen for all sorts of reasons, but I felt that was a copout, a compromise of morals. When I became LDS my outlook softened a bit (to pretty much where Elder Oaks puts it). But even when my faith was no longer sustainable (1, 2) my views didn’t relax much. In short, being gay and married to a woman was not near an excuse for divorce, not when I first came here.

That's changed a bit over the months and I’m still trying to work it out. Ultimately I’m less concerned about a person’s promise of forever than the results, and the fate of possible children. With the way time teaches us, I can see how one person’s promise to another of “forever” may have been made to the eventual determent and regret of all involved, if kept, but that harm may have been unimagined or hidden, even purposefully by others, at the time it was made. I can see how that promise may have been made in error, and that, if kept through having children, the children could be needlessly hurt. Keeping the promise may not be worth all that, just like lying may sometimes be the right thing to do to stop greater harm.

But, once children are there... They are brought into a union without consent, and I do think they come with a claim in the promises that began their family. What to do once they are there? When I came to these blogs many months ago, I’d never have thought I could see a sliver of right in a parent splitting up their home, absent something like a cheating spouse.

Then I became familiar with Chris, his story, and his family. KK’s posts really helped me see it in a different, softer light. And now there’s Master Fob. They are all people who, with the limitations of the internet in mind, I’ve come to like and respect. Despite my regrettable fondness of riding the taller horses ;-), I can’t find myself able to say, or even think they did something they shouldn't with regards to their families. So, now what for a view on divorce?

I now think I was wrong… But I, of course, think I was right too ;-). I started this post hoping to better solidify my views on this topic. I gravitate towards lists, absolutes; tables of if then else, even in the complicated areas of morality, and I wanted to work out such a table for divorce. But I don’t think I can find a more stable or widely applicable rule here. I can’t measure such subtle and complicated weights for other families. If something obvious is involved, like abuse? Sure, the scales of right and wrong tip simply. But no family is the abstract family, and this issue now seems too near the tipping point, either way. I can see now it’s possible that what one gay man does easily, another may do with a struggle that could mire those around him, regardless of his intent. I fear I’d be making the same mistake I urge against in ignoring the fact that all humans and human situations must be looked at on their own merits, if I tried to simplify this issue further.

Time will tell for the individuals, but only one side of the story for each choice. So in the end, while I want to plant my feet, I now kind of feel like I shouldn’t and can’t here, when the variables are so vague and complicated and necessarily personal, and unknowable by my experience.

As a general rule, I still don’t think being gay, on its own, means a person should divorce their wife, kids involved or no. I do still think such marriages could, and most with children should find a way to make it work. I think divorce, as a general rule, is a tragedy or at least the culmination of a tragedy. Furthermore, I do know how I view divorce for my home. But the general rule does not deal with every person, and in the unknowable specifics of the lives and futures of others, I guess I’m where I began this post, though maybe less uncomfortably without an answer.

10 comments:

Master Fob said...

Most of my life I've been as vehemently opposed to divorce as you once were. Like you, I'm now figuring out how I feel about it. Right now I can only pray that in the long run this will turn out to be the best decision for everyone involved, particularly my children. Well, no, I can't only pray--I can also work to make it the best situation possible for my children--but the point is, like you say, only time will tell.

Kengo Biddles said...

You know, divorce sucks. I've been through one. It bit. Hard. I don't ever want to go through one again, and I'm very, very grateful that Miki works at ours as much as I do.

I have to admit, I had a very strong reaction to the news about Fob and Foxy, partially because of what I'm going through now, and what I went through with Helga.

I'm still really, really sad to know that it's happening. I do hope for the best for both of them because I know, personally both sides of the divorce equation, at least as far as motivations.

Scot, I have to say, I'm always happy to see your even-handedness in your views, and can agree with you that divorce is the culmination of a tragedy. Thanks for your point of view in our web-discussion.

-L- said...

I've got lots of opinions on everything. I can't help it. I was born that way.

I've discussed with Master FOB privately my ambivalence about posting on topics that will be so obviously colored by his current situation, and he has reassured me that I should just post as I always do. But I can't bring myself to hit the publish button on some stuff (not because it's insensitive, just because it doesn't seem dignified when people I love are currently hurting). You've managed to pull it off, so maybe I'll brave it. Maybe. :-)

MoHoHawaii said...

It’s ... a softening of my younger stance.

It's amazing what age does to us. When I was a young adult I felt confident about many, many topics that I now leave open.

I really appreciate the personal stories on these blogs. I believe -L- when he describes his contentment in a mixed marriage. This is good for me to hear because it tempers views that were informed by my own prior experience in an unhappy mixed marriage. Listening is a great way to combat prejudice. Over time you find it harder and harder to impose a one-size-fits-all approach.

Samantha said...

I still don’t think being gay, on its own, means a person should divorce their wife, kids involved or no.

Ummm...or husband? Sigh....

Scot said...

Master Fob
Like you, I'm now figuring out how I feel about it.

I do look forward to learning from whatever insights you can share down the road. I hate to be voyeuristic on such a sensitive matter, and hope L’s right, and this post wasn’t undignified. Well, at least not rude or crass; dignity be damned :-). I too fear the topic may be too personal, but I know I’ll encounter it again and again, and hate not being able to work such things out (or worse, suspect where I do stand is destructive and unnecessarily or unjustly hurtful to those involved).

Kengo, thank you.

L
I was born that way.

Hey me too, but I've changed ever so slightly :-). Let’s apply for a grant on the study of the opinionated lifestyle.

When I was a young adult I felt confident about many, many topics that I now leave open.

Man, I relate to that. I went to extremes I just don’t think I’ll ever see again… thank goodness. :-)

Samantha
Ummm...or husband? Sigh....

lol, I’ve been worried about that. When I first began writing on these topics everything was gay and lesbian (knowing how many of our lesbian friends don’t use “gay”), or even language considering the whole GLB and T… But I feared I’m long winded enough as is, and hope all the Ls and Bs and Ts forgive for sticking with what I know more directly. I hope the rest can just be translated accurately into “lesbians and husbands” (should have written “spouse”! :-)).

Master Fob said...

No worries, Scot. You've been neither rude nor crass, or even undignified. Except, of course, when you make sexist comments that invoke the wrath of Samantha. :)

Paul said...

It's interesting that I grew up with a very "mathmatical bent." There was one solution. Things were black and white. I had fairly strong opinions about everything.

I've mellowed greatly with age.

Making a "life commitment" to another person when you're young -- and you've really had very, very few life experiences -- is challenging.

I used to see divorce as "failure." The breaking of the most important committment to another person. I now realize that it just happens. And sometimes for the best of all involved.

Far too many people get married for the wrong reasons. And how do you correct that? Or do you just expect everyone to have to live with a bad decision?

Ideally there needs to be a better process of dating/courtship/pre-marriage counseling.

Chris said...

I agree with Paul -- now more than ever. Being against divorce is all well and good, but too many marriages start out when those entering them are really too young and inexperienced to know what they are getting into. I think that's certainly true in the case of gay men who marry young, hoping that their sexuality will change or work itself out. Keeping such a marriage together may ultimately be both possible and good, but ending it may also be the right thing to do as well. I certainly believe that to be true in my case.

Children complicate matters, of course. And I firmly believe that whether a couple divorces or stays together, it is incumbent upon them to cooperate with each other in raising their children. That means putting aside anger, jealousy, greed and ambition, and striving to build (or rebuild) and maintain a cordial, friendly parenting relationship.

I know that the ideal is for kids to be raised in a home with two loving parents. But we don't live in an ideal, we live in the real world.

Scot said...

I don’t disagree. In fact you seem to be expressing where I seem to be heading :-).