Brian Fitzpatrick

The most popular movie over Thanksgiving weekend, perhaps our most family centered holiday, was a lighthearted romp amongst two families torn asunder by divorce. 

Welcome to family values, Hollywood-style.

In the comedy Four Christmases, an unmarried couple unexpectedly trapped in town on Christmas Day has no choice but to bounce like pinballs between his father’s house (1), his mother’s house (2), her father’s house (3) and her mother’s house (4).  The foibles of relatives – people normally avoided by the hero and heroine – are prime fodder for humor.  

Laughing about quirky family members is a comedy staple, but using divorce as the setting for humor crosses some kind of line.  Certain problems are too culturally destructive to be treated as laughing matters. 

Mike McManus, cofounder (with his wife Harriet) of the ministry Marriage Savers, told CMI that divorce started to become a massive social problem in America when California established no-fault divorce in 1969, during the early days of the sexual revolution.  Overnight, the most sacred covenant in human society became less legally binding than a refrigerator warranty.  Anybody could break a marriage contract at will, whether or not his spouse wanted to preserve the marriage.  McManus said 49 states (all but New York) now practice no-fault divorce, saddling America with the highest divorce rate in the world.

In addition to betraying innocent spouses, divorce is harming, even crippling, millions of American kids.  In his book, Twice Adopted, Michael Reagan wrote: “Divorce is when two adults take everything that matters to a child – the child’s home, family, security, and sense of being loved and protected – and they smash it all up, leave it in ruins on the floor, and leave the child to clean up the mess.”

A most instructive paper by Heritage Foundation scholars Patrick Fagan and Robert Rector, “The Effects of Divorce on America,” finds that “half of the children born this year to parents who are married will see their parents divorce before they turn 18.”  According to Fagan and Rector, children of parents who divorce:

  • Suffer more emotional and behavioral problems
  • Have higher suicide rates
  • Are more likely to commit crimes
  • Are more likely to use drugs
  • Perform less proficiently in reading and math
  • Are more likely to drop out of school
  • Are less likely to graduate from college

Brian Fitzpatrick

Brian Fitzpatrick, a writer, editor, and commentator on political and cultural issues, is the Senior Editor at Media Research Center’s Culture & Media Institute.

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