Posts Tagged ‘Christianity’


New book available: Living On The Edge

October 22, 2013

Living On The Edge: a book for doubting Christians

Today Christians in the Western world are typically living in a post-Christian society. Christian beliefs are met with skepticism, and people see little reason to believe. Christians are confronted with daily challenges to their faith, and often struggle to understand the relevance of Christianity to modern life. Professional surveys indicate the following reasons why young Christians lose their faith.

  • Overprotective churches
  • Shallow church experience
  • Antagonism towards science
  • Simplistic teaching on morality
  • Christianity seems exclusive
  • Not treating doubters kindly

This 600 page book (written in English), addresses those concerns, providing evidence upholding and defending Christian beliefs and values, and proving they are relevant to the modern world. It is aimed at Christians struggling with faith and re-assessing their beliefs, as well as Christians who are interested in building a stronger faith. It is also useful for Christians who want a book to show their non-Christian friends that the Christian faith is reasonable.


Living On The Edge: challenges to faith

September 1, 2013

Today Christians in the Western world are typically living in a post-Christian society. Christian beliefs are met with skepticism, and people see little reason to believe. Christians are confronted with daily challenges to their faith, and often struggle to understand the relevance of Christianity to modern life.

The book ‘Living On The Edge: challenges to faith‘ (due to be printed in November 2013), addresses those concerns. For an overview of the book, click here.


What benefits are there to being religious?

June 21, 2011

The Challenge

Atheist authors Christopher Hitchens[1] and Richard Dawkins[2] have condemned religious belief as harmful and useless. Both authors have been criticized for failing to note specific benefits of strong religious belief. [3] [4] [5] [6] [7]

The Facts

Strong religious belief provides a range of physical, emotional, social, financial, psychological, and health benefits;[8] [9] reducing health risks, increasing the likelihood of longevity[10] and mental health,[11] and having a positive effect on wellbeing in childhood,[12] [13] [14] as well as later economic outcomes.[15]

High religious involvement has a positive effect on social integration,[16] [17] [18] behavioural regulation,[19] and a range of positive societal outcomes.[20] However, lower levels of religious belief, involvement, and commitment produce negative outcomes.[21] [22]

[1] ‘God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything’ (2007).

[2] ‘The God Delusion’ (2006).

[3] ‘Unfortunately, however, both authors either fail to appreciate, or have chosen not to acknowledge, the extraordinary importance that a very “personal God” may play in the lives of many individuals forced to deal with these profoundly life-changing situations.’, Markman, ‘Benefits of Religious Beliefs for Cancer Patients: A Response to Dawkins and Hitchens’, Current Oncology Reports (10.185), 2008.

[4] ‘But there is increasingly strong evidence that when confronted with a life-changing challenge such as being diagnosed with a malignancy, a genuine human need exists, as noted by Professor Dawkins and Mr. Hitchins’s headmaster, for the presence of personal spiritual support.’, ibid., p. 185.

[5] ‘Empiric evidence exists that a cancer patient’s ability to successfully deal with spiritual issues at the end of life is associated with less overwhelming despair and intense feelings of hopelessness [15]. Effective coping with these concerns can favorably impact the quality of life [16]. Existing data also support the hypothesis that it is the impact of a general feeling of spiritual well-being—not specific religious beliefs or practices—that is correlated with the favorable effect [17].’, ibid., p. 186.

[6]the overwhelming existing evidence demonstrates that some patients with malignant disease may experience considerable benefit from a strong sense of spiritual well being and the presence of a “personal God.”’, ibid., p. 187.

[7] ‘It is unfortunate that Professor Dawkins and Mr. Hitchens were not willing to fully acknowledge the relevance of these points.’, ibid., p. 187.

[8]Many studies have documented the benefits of religious involvement. Indeed, highly religious people tend to be healthier, live longer, and have higher levels of subjective well-being.’, Mochon, Norton, & Ariely, ‘Who Benefits from Religion?’, Social Indicators Research (101.1), 2010.

[9] It is recognized that not all religious systems provide such benefits; for example, some groups result in negative outcomes due to prejudice against education, or to oppressive power structures and failure to reinforce positive behaviours.

[10] ‘Similarly, although there are exceptions and the matter remains controversial (Sloan et al. 1999), a growing body of research documents an association between religious involvement and better outcomes on a variety of physical health measures, including problems related to heart disease, stroke, hypertension, cancer, gastrointestinal disease, as well as overall health

status and life expectancy. This research also points to differences by religious affiliation, with members of stricter denominations displaying an advantage (Levin 1994). Many of the early studies in this literature suffer from methodological shortcomings, including small, unrepresentative samples, lack of adequate statistical controls, and a cross-sectional design that confounds the direction of causality. Yet the conclusion of a generally positive effect of religious involvement on physical health and longevity also emerges from a new generation of studies that have addressed many of these methodological problems (Ellison and Levin 1998). In one of the most rigorous analyses to date, Hummer et al. (1999) use longitudinal data from a nationwide survey, the 1987 Cancer Risk Factor Supplement–Epidemiology Study, linked to the Multiple Cause of Death file. Their results show that the gap in life expectancy at age 20 between those who attend religious services more than once a week and those who never attend is more than seven years—comparable to the male–female and white–black differentials in the United States. Additional multivariate analyses of these data reveal a strong association between religious participation and the risk of death, holding constant socioeconomic and demographic variables, as well as initial health status. Other recent longitudinal studies also report a protective effect of religious involvement against disability among the elderly (Idler and Kasl 1992), as well as a positive influence on self-rated health (Musick 1996) and longevity (Strawbridge et al. 1997).’, Waite & Lehrer, ‘The Benefits from Marriage and Religion in the United States: A Comparative Analysis’, p. 2 (author manuscript 2003).

[11] ‘The connection between religion and mental health has been the subject of much controversy over the years, and many psychologists and psychiatrists remain skeptical, in part because most of the research has been based on cross-sectional analyses of small samples. The studies to date are suggestive of an association between religious involvement and better mental health outcomes, including greater self-esteem, better adaptation to bereavement, a lower incidence of depression and anxiety, a lower likelihood of alcohol and drug abuse, and greater life satisfaction and happiness in general (Koenig et al. 2001). Recent longitudinal analyses of subgroups of the population provide additional evidence in support of this relationship (Zuckerman et al. 1984; Levin et al. 1996).’, ibid., p. 3.

[12] Religious participation has also been associated with better educational outcomes. Freeman (1986) finds a positive effect of churchgoing on school attendance in a sample of inner-city black youth. Regnerus (2000) reports that participation in religious activities is related to better test scores and heightened educational expectations among tenth-grade public school students. In the most comprehensive study to date, using data on adolescents from the National Education Longitudinal Study of 1988, Muller and Ellison (2001) find positive effects of various measures of religious involvement on the students’ locus of control (a measure of self-concept), educational expectations, time spent on homework, advanced mathematics credits earned, and the probability of obtaining a high school diploma.’, ibid., p. 4.

[13] ‘Several studies have documented an association between religion and children’s well-being. Recent research on differences in parenting styles by religious affiliation reveals that conservative Protestants display distinctive patterns: they place a greater emphasis on obedience and tend to view corporal punishment as an acceptable form of child discipline; at the same time, they are more likely to avoid yelling at children and are more prone to frequent praising and warm displays of affection (Bartowski et al. 2000). As to other dimensions of religion, Pearce and Axinn (1998) find that family religious involvement promotes stronger ties among family members and has a positive impact on mothers’ and children’s reports of the quality of their relationship. A number of studies document the effects of children’s own religious participation, showing that young people who grow up having some religious involvement tend to display better outcomes in a range of areas. Such involvement has been linked to a lower probability of substance abuse and juvenile delinquency (Donahue and Benson 1995), a lower incidence of depression among some groups (Harker 2001), delayed sexual debut (Bearman and Bruckner 2001), more positive attitudes toward marriage and having children, and more negative attitudes toward unmarried sex and premarital childbearing (Marchena and Waite 2001).’, ibid., p. 4.

[14] ‘Overall, we find strong evidence that youth with religiously active parents are less affected later in life by childhood disadvantage than youth whose parents did not frequently attend religious services. These buffering effects of religious organizations are most pronounced when outcomes are measured by high school graduation or non-smoking and when disadvantage is measured by family resources or maternal education, but we also find buffering effects for a number of other outcome-disadvantage pairs. We generally find much weaker buffering effects for other social organizations.’, Dehejia et al., ‘The Role of Religious and Social Organizations in the Lives of Disadvantaged Youth’, NBER Working Paper No. 13369 (2007).

[15] ‘However, as we discuss below, an emerging literature shows a positive effect of religiosity on educational attainment, a key determinant of success in the labor market. These studies suggest a potentially important link between religious involvement during childhood and adolescence and subsequent economic well-being as an adult. Preliminary results from a new line of inquiry at the macro level are consistent with this hypothesis. Using a cross-country panel that includes information on religious and economic variables, Barro and McLeary (2002) find that enhanced religious beliefs affect economic growth positively, although growth responds negatively to increased church attendance. The authors interpret their findings as reflecting a positive association between “productivity” in the religion sector and macroeconomic performance.’, ibid., p. 3.

[16] ‘Ellison and George (1994) find that people who frequently attend religious services not only have larger social networks, but also hold more positive perceptions of the quality of their social relationships.’, Waite & Lehrer, ‘The Benefits from Marriage and Religion in the United States: A Comparative Analysis’, p. 7 (author manuscript 2003).

[17] ‘Recent research has emphasized that religion can play a pivotal role in the socialization of youth by contributing to the development of social capital. Religious congregations often sponsor family activities, stimulating the cultivation of closer parent–child relations; they also bring children together with grandparents and other supportive adults (parents of peers, Sunday-school teachers) in an environment of trust. This broad base of social ties can be a rich source of positive role models, confidants, useful information, and reinforcement of values that promote educational achievement.’, ibid., p. 7.

[18] ‘At the other end of the age spectrum, the social ties provided by religious institutions are of special value to the elderly, helping them deal with the many difficult challenges that tend to accompany old age: illness, dependency, loss, and loneliness (Levin 1994).’, ibid., p. 7.

[19]Most faiths have teachings that encourage healthy behaviors and discourage conduct that is self-destructive; they also provide moral guidance about sexuality. Some religions have specific regulations limiting or prohibiting the consumption of alcohol, tobacco, caffeine, and potentially harmful foods. Several studies show that religious involvement is generally associated with health-promoting behaviors (Koenig et al. 2001) and that such behaviors explain in part the connection between religion and longevity (Strawbridge et al. 1997; Hummer et al. 1999).’, ibid., p. 7.

[20] ‘At the societal level, higher religious involvement is related to increased levels of education (Gruber 2005), lower crime rates (Baier and Wright 2001; Johnson et al. 2000), increases in civic involvement (Putnam 2000; Ruiter and De Graaf 2006), higher levels of cooperation (Norenzayan and Shariff 2008; Shariff and Norenzayan 2007), lower divorce rates, higher marital satisfaction and better child adjustment (Mahoney et al. 2001; for a review, see Sherkat and Ellison 1999).’, Mochon, Norton, & Ariely, ‘Who Benefits from Religion?’, Social Indicators Research (101.2), 2010.

[21]While fervent believers benefit from their involvement, those with weaker beliefs are actually less happy than those who do not ascribe to any religion—atheists and agnostics..’, ibid., p. 1.

[22]Indeed, weakly affiliated adherents may actually be less happy than their unaffiliated counterparts—atheists, agnostics, and those who report no religion at all—and therefore would appear to benefit from abandoning their faith.’, ibid., p. 2.


Is the ‘Secret Gospel of Mark’ genuine?

April 30, 2011

The Text

The text (supposedly discovered in 1958), appears to be a letter from early Christian writer Clement of Alexandria (c. 150-c.215), quoting a ‘secret gospel’ by Mark.[1]  [2]


Smith himself noted features of the text which could indicate it was an imitation of Mark’s style by another writer.[3]  [4] [5] [6]

Physical analysis has been impossible since the original letter disappeared after being photographed in 1972,[7] [8] but there is no evidence Smith prevented access to the text. [9] [10]

Photographs show it has the appearance of age,[11] but this could be the product of forgery.[12] [13] [14]  Suspicion of forgery was raised immediately.[15] [16] [17] [18] [19] [20] [21] [22]

The provenance and style,[23] content,[24] date,[25] and lack of scribal errors, have all been questioned.[26] [27]

Scholarly Views

Few scholars believe ‘Secret Mark’ is historically useful to studies of Jesus, even if it is genuine,[28] [29] [30] and most question its authenticity.[31] [32] [33] [34]

[1] ‘According to Smith, the letter in question was found on the final blank pages of the works of Ignatius of Antioch, the latter of which was copied in 1646. The handwriting of the extract is written in a different hand from the works of Ignatius and has been dated to c. 1750, about a century later than the Ignatius works of which it is a part. In the letter published by Smith, Clement replies to a certain Theodore who has been troubled by the teachings of the gnostic Carpocratians, a sect that indulges in illicit sexual practices based upon a variant version of the Gospel of Mark. Clement refutes the Carpocratians by citing two passages from the suspect version of Mark, which Morton Smith calls the Secret Gospel of Mark.’, Edwards, ‘The Gospel According to Mark’, Pillar New Testament Commentary, p. 509 (2002).

[2]It was not until 1973 that the text, along with Smith’s translation and notes, was finally published.’, Charlesworth & Evans, ‘Jesus in the Agrapha and Apocryphal Gospels’, in Chilton & Evans (eds.), ‘Studying the Historical Jesus: Evaluations of the State of Current Research’, p. 526 (1994).

[3] ‘Smith recognized that Markan vocabulary and sentence construction could point either to Mark’s authorship or to imitation of Mark by another author. Smith noted three features that suggested imitation:’, Brown, ‘Mark’s Other Gospel: Rethinking Morton Smith’s controversial discovery’, p. 6 (2005); Brown is a supporter of the authenticity of the letter, which he defends comprehensively in this work.

[4] ‘More generally, he noted that “The text was more like Mark than a section of Mark should be.”‘, Brown, ‘Mark’s Other Gospel: Rethinking Morton Smith’s controversial discovery’, p. 6 (2005).

[5] ‘‘The style is certainly Mark’s, but it is too Marcan to be Mark’; such was already C.C. Richardson’s verdict in 1974, and E. Best in 1979 confirmed this judgment in detail. In Mark itself the Marcan peculiarities of style are nowhere so piled up as in the ‘secret Gospel’!’, Merkel, ‘Appendix: the ‘secret Gospel’ of Mark’, in Schneelmelcher & Wilson, ‘New Testament Apocrypha: Gospels and related writings’, p. 107 (1991).

[6] ‘Smith refers to three ‘semitisms’, which, however, often occur in the Synoptics; as Smith himself admits, such semitisms are easily imitated.’, ibid., p. 107.

[7] ‘Suspicion surrounded the text in part because after being photographed by Smith in 1958 and then a team of scholars in 1972, the text mysteriously disappeared, making it impossible to subject the text to the testing necessary to authenticate it even as an eighteenth-century production. The text still has its advocates.’, Köstenberger, Kellum, & Quarles (eds.), ‘The Cradle, the Cross, and the Crown: An Introduction to the New Testament’, p. 1343 (2009).

[8] ‘M. Smith photographed this text, which breaks off in mid-sentence on the third page, but did nothing about safeguarding the original, which to this day has not been accessible to anyone else. Only in 1973 did he publish the text with an extensive commentary; at the same time he published a popular presentation of the story of the discovery and his work upon it.’, Merkel, ‘Appendix: the ‘secret Gospel’ of Mark’, in Schneelmelcher & Wilson, ‘New Testament Apocrypha: Gospels and related writings’, p. 107 (1991).

[9]The truth is that at least three other scholars and two members of the Greek Patriarchate handled the manuscript. The information obtained by various inquirers, moreover, corroborates Smith’s account that he left the book containing the manuscript among the seventy items that he catalogued in the library at Mar Saba.’, Brown, ‘Mark’s Other Gospel: Rethinking Morton Smith’s controversial discovery’, p. 26 (2005).

[10] ‘It would appear, then, that the manuscript was found at Mar Saba in 1976 rather than 1977, or eighteen years after Smith photographed it, and it disappeared many years after the Archimandrite took it to Jerusalem and a librarian removed it from the book. These facts show how preposterous it is to suggest that Smith prevented other scholars from examining the manuscript.’, ibid., p. 26.

[11] ‘In view of what is known about the fading and browning of inks and the browning of paper in contact with ink, we can conclude that the photos depict a manuscript that looks like it is a few hundred years old.’, ibid., p. 28.

[12] ‘Brown’s research indicates that some formulas of iron gall inks result in writings that would turn brown quite rapidly through exposure to sunlight.’, ibid., p. 28; this would give the ink a false appearance of age.

[13]There was a way of ageing paper artificially that was used in the 1960s by experienced researchers such as Barrow.’, ibid., p. 28; Brown questions whether Smith had the skill for such forgery.

[14] ‘It is also possible to age paper and ink using chemicals that oxidize the ink and paper.’, ibid., p. 28.

[15]Some of the scholars Smith consulted in the 1960s thought the letter was an ancient forgery, although they had difficulty explaining how an ancient author would benefit by creating it. Smith dealt with their arguments in his book.’, ibid., p. 12.

[16] ‘However, the spectre of forgery came back with a vengeance in 1975, when two scholars offered influential arguments that the letter was a modern hoax.’, ibid, p. 12.

[17] Quesnell suggested that an erudite scholar who had access to Otto Stahlin’s 1936 index of Clement’s vocabulary and other modern studies of Clement’s style could have produced the document, especially if he had the help of someone skilled in imitating handwriting. Quesnell added that any scholarly apparatus Smith used to “authenticate” the document could have assisted a forger in imitating Clement. And he pointed out that Smith’s ability to gain access to the tower library at Mar Saba shows that a forger could have planted it there.’, ibid, p. 12.

[18] ‘According to Quesnell, Smith’s approach of not producing the original for scientific study and restricting his analysis to the content is congruent with the pattern of known forgers; that fact raises the possibility of recent forgery.’, ibid., p. 35.

[19] ‘many agreed with Quesnell that the manuscript should be subjected to forensic testing before it is deemed authentic.’, ibid, p. 12.

[20] ‘Their suspicions only increased when Charles Murgia offered arguments for modern forger based on the content of the letter. Murgia suggested that the letter consisted mostly of information that was suspiciously self-authenticating, and noted that the manuscript lacks the major errors that result from a long period of transmission.’, ibid, p. 12.

[21]Murgia noted parallels between the letter and “Classical fakes,” which raised the possibility that this manuscript was written much later than it appears to be.’, ibid, pp. 28-29.

[22]every sentence of the letter, other than the actual quotation of secret Mark, is admirably designed to provide A SEAL OF AUTHENTICITY for the passage of secret Mark. Great care is taken to convince the modern reader of why he has never heard of this gospel before.’, Murgia quoted in ibid., p. 29; Brown notes ‘Smith himself commented in 1976 that Murgia’s “theory of a ‘seal of authenticity’ is the strongest case I have seen yet for the supposition that the letter is a forgery”‘, but criticizes Murgia’s case, ibid., p. 29.

[23] ‘The only manuscript (actually, a photograph of a manuscript) seems to derive from a different provenance than the monastery where it was supposedly found, and evidence seems to suggest that it appeared at the monastery only in recent times. Its attribution to Clement is stylistically open to quesiton;117 it also clearly presupposes modern idiom and perhaps modern custom.’, Keener, ‘The Historical Jesus of the Gospels’, p. 60 (2009).

[24] ‘Attempts to argue that the Secret Gospel of Mark is older than canonical Mark3 are clearly mistaken, and have been judged so by a majority of scholars.4 The most important reason for this judgment is that the material alleged by Smith appears in no other church father and in none of the thousands of ancient manuscript witnesses to the Gospel of Mark. Furthermore, that Secret Mark is a later addition to canonical Mark is virtually proven by the fact that “they came to Bethany” is a glaring anachronism in the text of Mark since Jesus and the disciples have not yet come to Jericho (Mark 10:46), and Bethany lay beyond Jericho. Finally, the Carpocratians mentioned by Theodore to Clement did not arise until the mid-second century, that is, a full century after the composition of Mark.’, Edwards, ‘The Gospel According to Mark’, Pillar New Testament Commentary, p. 512 (2002).

[25] ‘Even if we accept the authenticity of the letter of Clement and grant that he knew a ‘Secret Gospel’, it suffices to posit a mid-second-century date for its composition.’, Klauck, ‘Apocryphal Gospels: An introduction’, p. 35 (2003).

[26] ‘Over against the linguistic indications which speak for authenticity, differences of substance as compared with the rest of Clement’s writing have been noted. Finally, it is striking that the text contains none of the errors typical in manuscript traditions.’, Merkel, ‘Appendix: the ‘secret Gospel’ of Mark’, in Schneelmelcher & Wilson, ‘New Testament Apocrypha: Gospels and related writings’, p. 107 (1991).

[27] ‘the lack of serious errors indicative of transmission weighs in Murgia’s favour’, ibid., p. 33., Brown, ‘Mark’s Other Gospel: Rethinking Morton Smith’s controversial discovery’, p. 8 (2005).

[28]Very few scholars believed that LGM 1 or 2 [the two texts of ‘Secret Mark’] can tell us anything about the historical Jesus or ventured to use this story to reconstruct the tradition that lay behind John 11.’, ibid., p. 11.

[29] ‘Accordingly, everything points to the view that the ‘secret Gospel’ is an apocryphon resting on the foundation of the canonical Gospels. On this ground alone any conclusions relating to the historical Jesus are not possible. The time of origin of the ‘secret Gospel’ probably lies not before the middle of the 2nd century.’, Merkel, ‘Appendix: the ‘secret Gospel’ of Mark’, in Schneelmelcher & Wilson, ‘New Testament Apocrypha: Gospels and related writings’, p. 107 (1991).

[30] ‘Even if the letter is authentic, however, we can deduce no more than that an expanded version of Mark was in existence in Alexandria about A.D. 170. When Smith seeks to go back to the last years of the 1st century for the composition of the expanded Mark, that rests on pure speculation.’, ibid., p. 107.

[31] ‘By the end of the 1970s, New Testament scholars still mentioned “secret” Mark in an incidental manner, but were generally reluctant to take the gospel too seriously and risk looking foolish should it prove to be a fake.’, Brown, ‘Mark’s Other Gospel: Rethinking Morton Smith’s controversial discovery’, p. 14 (2005).

[32] ‘The novelty value of this text and of the reporting of its find justifies the mention of it in this collection, but its antiquity and genuineness are questioned by many scholars.’, Elliott, ‘The Apocryphal New Testament: A Collection of Apocryphal Christian Literature in an English Translation based on M.R. James’, p. 148 (1993).

[33] ‘There can be little question that the extract produced by Smith considerably postdates Mark. On the whole, so-called Secret Mark appears to be a forgery, although whether modern or ancient is difficult to say.’, Edwards, ‘The Gospel According to Mark’, Pillar New Testament Commentary, p. 512 (2002).

[34] ‘If the jury is still out, it is seeming more and more likely that their verdict will be that the work is a modern forgery or hoax.’, Collins, & Attridge, ‘Mark: A Commentary on the Gospel of Mark’, Hermeneia: A Critical and Historical Commentary on the Bible, p. 493  (2007).


The Historicity of the book of Acts (5)

April 22, 2011

Paul’s Commission: Acts 9:1-2

It has been claimed there is no historical basis for Paul’s commission from the High Priest to extradite from Damascus to Jerusalem any Jews who had become Christians,[1] and that neither the High Priest nor the Sanhedrin had any jurisdiction in Damascus.[2] [3] [4]

Evidence & Commentary

Peerbolte raises a parallel in the history of the Maccabees, in which a Roman consul ordered Jewish rebels in Egypt to be extradited to the High Priest for punishment according to Jewish law[5] (qualifying this with care[6]); noting support for the record,[7] he still urges caution.[8]

The Maccabean parallel is dismissed as historically inadequate by Légasse[9] and Marshall,[10] but Bruce defends it with reference to a decree by Julius Caesar re-affirming all the previously held rights of the High Priest.[11] Kistemaker and Hendriksen likewise believe the High Priest actually had extradition authority.[12]

Dunn disputes the idea of formal jurisdiction,[13]  but notes the informal influence of the high priest and Sanhedrin over provincial synagogues was far higher.[14]

Bond[15] and Williams[16] note similarly that the letters would have carried influence despite their lack of formal weight.

Wallace and Williams approach the legal-historical background with care.[17] Observing the letters were addressed to the synagogues not local officials, they argue the matter was internal Jewish business in which Roman officials would not become involved.[18] Noting the apparent absence of Roman forces in Damascus at the time, they suggest this would have reduced the probability of Roman interference. [19]

Klauck and Bailey also view the letters as simply letters of introduction rather than legal documents with which to exercise authority over local officials,[20] and note no difficulty with the record. Oepke,[21]  Bond,[22] and Gaertner[23]  take a similar view.

[1] Acts 9: 1 Meanwhile Saul, still breathing out threats to murder the Lord’s disciples, went to the high priest 2 and requested letters from him to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he found any who belonged to the Way, either men or women, he could bring them as prisoners to Jerusalem.

[2] ‘Neither the high priest nor the Jewish Sanhedrin in Jerusalem ever had such powers of jurisdiction. The persecution would have taken the regular process in the local synagogue:’, Köster, ‘Introduction to the New Testament’, volume 2, p. 107 (2006).

[3]neither the high priest nor the Sanhedrin had judicial authority outside the eleven toparchies of Judaea proper. Their moral authority might be persuasive, but they could not empower Paul to make arrests, particularly on the territory of a Roman province.’, Murphy-O’Connor, ‘Paul: a critical life’, p. 66 (1998).

[4] ‘The jurisdiction of the High Priest and the Sanhedrin would in fact have been limited to the eleven toparchies of Judaea.’, Légasse, ‘Paul’s pre-Christian Career according to Acts’, in Bauckham (ed.), ‘The Book of Acts in its Palestinian Setting’, p. 389 (1995).

[5] ‘The Roman legal system was not built on the territorial principle of law, but on the personal.64 This meant that a Roman citizen fell under Roman law wherever he was. In consequence, it may have been that the High Priest in Jerusalem could extend his jurisdiction to Jews in Damascus.65 That this practice was indeed prevalent is often argued on the basis of a passage from 1 Maccabees: 1 Macc 15, 16-21. Here, the Roman Consul Lucius writes to the Egyptian king Ptolemy (probably VIII) on the subject of the Jews: ‘if any scoundrels have fled to you from their country, hand them over to the High Priest Simon, so that he may punish them according to their law’ Peerbolte, ‘Paul the Missionary’, p. 154 (2003).

[6] ‘However, although the assumption is that this custom was still in use in Paul’s day, it is unclear whether this was correct’, ibid., p. 154.

[7] ‘Many students of the book of Acts nevertheless consider 9, 1-2 as evidence that Paul was sent as a shaliach by the Sanhedrin’, ibid., p. 154.

[8] ‘Still, a more cautious approach is to be preferred: we simply cannot decide with certainty on the historicity of Paul’s commissioning by the High Priest. It is a possibility, but remains far from certain.’, ibid., p. 154.

[9] ‘But, even supposing this letter is authentic,85 it is not addressed, like the letter of which Acts speaks, to the ‘synagogues’ but to a local ruler by the Roman authority. The case is therefore wholly different, as are the period (the events mentioned are supposed to have occurred in 139 BC) and the political situation: whereas at the time of Paul Judaea was a Roman province administered by a Roman governor, Simon, the brother of Judas Maccabeus, was a sovereign, autochthonous vassal of the Seleucids of Antioch.’, Légasse, ‘Paul’s pre-Christian Career according to Acts’, in Bauckham (ed.), ‘The Book of Acts in its Palestinian Setting’, p. 389 (1995).

[10] ‘Haenchen (p. 320 n.2) argues rightly that previous scholars have drawn unwarranted deductions from such passages as 1 Maccabees 15:15–21, which deals with a different and much earlier situation;’, Marshall, (1980). Vol. 5: ‘Acts: An introduction and commentary’ Tyndale New Testament Commentaries, volume 5, p. 178 (1980).

[11]Julius Caesar confirmed those rights and privileges anew to the Jewish nation (although Judaea was no longer a sovereign state), and more particularly to the high-priesthood.5 Luke’s narrative implies that the right of extradition continued to be enjoyed by the high priest under the provincial administration set up in A.D. 6. The followers of The Way whom Saul was authorized to bring back from Damascus were refugees from Jerusalem, not native Damascene disciples.’, Bruce, ‘The Book of the Acts’, New International Commentary on the New Testament, pp. 180-181 (1988); his source for the decree of Caesar is a passage by Josephus, ‘I also ordain, that he and his children retain whatsoever privileges belong to the office of high priest, or whatsoever favors have been hitherto granted them;’, Antiquities 14.195, in Whiston, ‘The Works of Josephus: Complete and unabridged’ (electronic ed. 1996).

[12] ‘The high priest served as head of the Sanhedrin, which as a legislative body had jurisdiction over the Jews living in Jerusalem, Palestine, and the dispersion. Thus the high priest had power to issue warrants to the synagogues in Damascus for the arrests of Christian Jews residing there (see 9:2; 22:5; 26:12).’, Kistemaker & Hendriksen, ‘Exposition of the Acts of the Apostles’, Baker New Testament Commentary, volume 17, p. 329 (1953-2001); as evidence they cite ‘Emil Schürer, The History of the Jewish People in the Age of Jesus Christ (175 B.C.–A.D. 135), rev. and ed. Geza Vermes and Fergus Millar, 3 vols. (Edinburgh: Clark, 1973–87), vol. 2, p. 218.’, p. 329.

[13] ‘the high priest had no formal jurisdiction over synagogues, least of all in other countries.’, Dunn, ‘Beginning from Jerusalem’, p. 337 (2009).

[14]But he had at least two considerable constraints which he could bring to bear on archisynagōgoi and synagogue elders. One was that he was responsible for much of the content and timing of lived-out Judaism; he and his councillors were the ultimate authority in matters of dispute, and it is not at all unlikely that Jerusalem authorities occasionally wrote to disapora synagogues to encourage them to maintain the traditions and possibly to take sides in some dispute on timing of festivals and the like.86 The high priest might even have been willing to claim jurisdiction over a ‘greater Judea’ which included Damascus. In any case, the high priest was not a person whose envoy could be lightly disregarded or dismissed with his mission unfulfilled. The other is that the Temple in Jerusalem held an amazing range of financial deposits for Jews at home and abroad; it was Judaism’s ‘central bank’. It is quite conceivable, therefore, that any requests were backed, explicitly or implicitly, with threat of financial sanctions.’, ibid., p. 337.

[15] ‘Writing letters to Diaspora communities was one of the high priest’s duties (see above, p. 47). Such letters would have had no formal weight (the high priest had no legal jurisdiction in Damascus, situated as it was in the Roman province of Syria), but his position as high priest would have conferred authority on his requests.’, Bond, ‘Caiphas: friend of Rome and judge of Jesus?’, p. 81 (2004); she also suggests ‘Second, and more probably, the rather vague reference to “the high priest” in 9:1-2 and in the flashbacks of 22:5 and 26:12 may be simply another example of Luke’s attempt to give opposition to Christians official backing.’, p. 81.

[16] ‘The letters to the synagogues (v. 2) would be a help, for though the Sanhedrin had no legal authority outside Judea, its reputation did give it some moral authority over the Jews of the Diaspora (see Sherwin-White, p. 100). Paul would also have had to seek the cooperation of the local magistrates, but the name of the Jewish Sanhedrin may have carried sufficient weight even with them for him to be confident of their acquiescence, if not their active assistance.’, Williams, ‘Acts’, New International Biblical Commentary, pp. 167-168 (1990).

[17]Unfortunately, we know very little about the internal affairs of Damascus  in Paul’s day. It is therefore difficult to know how to make sense of Paul’s commission from the High Priest to seize and carry to Jerusalem ‘any belonging to the Way’ (Acts 9, 2).’, Wallace & Williams, ‘The Three Worlds of Paul of Tarsus’, p. 163 (1998).

[18] ‘Since Acts says quite clearly that the letters Paul was carrying were to the synagogues at Damascus (9, 2) and not to the Gentile authorities, whatever he was doing must have been an entirely internal Jewish affair.‘, ibid., p. 163.

[19] ‘Since it is unlikely that the arrest and extradition to Judaea of dissenters was one of the privileges enjoyed by diaspora communities (for discussion see Wallace and Williams 1995:51-2), what Paul was engaged in must have been unauthorised; that is to say, kidnapping. So why was he not stopped? Such evidence as there is suggests that no Roman forces were stationed in Damascus (Millar 1993:37), so that unless an appeal was made to the governor, or serious disorder broke out, the Roman authorities would not have become involved. As for the city authorities, if the business was done discreetly without causing public disturbances they might well have taken the view that what went on in the Jewish community was none of their concern, especially if those involved were not citizens of Damascus, but incomers.‘, ibid., pp. 163-164.

[20] ‘As a persecutor of Christians Paul carried letters with him to gain admittance into the synagogues in Damascus as an otherwise unknown representative of the high priest and the Jewish elders (Acts 9:1-2; 22:5).’, Klauck & Bailey, ‘Ancient Letters and the New Testament: a guide to context and exegesis’, p. 76 (2006).

[21] ‘Oepke, ‘Probleme’, 403/426, who does not exclude a request from Paul to the High Priest, sees it, not as a mandate to arrest officially entrusted to Paul, but a letter like the sustati kai epoistolai to which 2 Cor. 3:1 refers.’, Légasse, ‘Paul’s pre-Christian Career according to Acts’, in Bauckham (ed.), ‘The Book of Acts in its Palestinian Setting’, p. 389 (1995).

[22] ‘The question is whether any evidence supports a situation in which the Sanhedrin had authority over synagogues so far from home.4 The point may be moot, however, in view of the fact that Luke does not say that the letters were papers of extradition. The letters may simply have been letters introducing Paul and his mission, as well as recommendations that such Jews be handed over to him. Such letters would carry no official authority to enforce the arrests.’, Gaertner, ‘Acts’, The College Press NIV Commentary (electronic ed. 1993).

[23] ‘It is possible that Caiphas supplied Saul with letters of recommendation to Diaspora synagogues (rather like those of 2 Cor 3:1), introducing him to their leaders, asking for help to root out troublemakers’, Bond, ‘Caiphas: friend of Rome and judge of Jesus?’, p. 81 (2004).


Sexualized media & sex education

February 8, 2011

Christians have objected for decades to the sexualized imagery of secular media, [1] [2] [3] [4] citing Biblical principles [5] [6] and arguing that such content is damaging, [7] especially to young people. [8] Though such objections are derided by popular opinion as ‘old fashioned’, numerous professional studies confirm they are factually based. [9] [10]

Children are highly affected by sexual content on TV,[11] resulting in a range of negative outcomes.[12] [13] [14] [15] Girls are highly vulnerable;[16] [17] [18] [19] [20] objectification of girls is related to many destructive behaviours.[21]

Reliance on abstinence advice alone is unrealistic, as this can be, and often is, displaced by over sexualised media content. Comprehensive sex education in which the benefits of abstinence are emphasized[22] [23] and appropriate information on contraception is provided, reduces both the age of sexual initiation, and teen pregnancy rates.[24] [25]

[1] ‘Papers that cater for the evil in men and women should be shunned by all who are concerned for clean and healthy thinking and living.’, Carter, ‘Sunday Reading’, The Christadelphian (90.1072.309), 1953.

[2] ‘Worse even than the violence and the ridicule of all the kindly virtues is the preoccupation with sex. The reviewer says it is enough to glance through half a dozen “comics” to see that they are “thinly disguised pornography”.’, Sargent, ‘The Social Sign: “Horror Comics”’, The Christadelphian (92.1090.144), 1955.

[3] ‘Our eyes, ears, and minds are assaulted by magazine, poster, radio and television advertisements which set out to stimulate the wrong kind of emotions by making sex, drink and the different ways of having “a good time” seem attractive and proper.’, Marshall, ‘The New Life 6: A Dangerous World’, The Christadelphian (105.1250.350), 1968.

[4] ‘—the increased problem of drugs taken by the young, the addiction of both young and old alike to the T.V. set, and the new morality—which I am sure should be called the “old immorality”—where sex is pushed at every opportunity by every conceivable method’, Billington, ‘Life in the Arctic’, The Christadelphian (108.1284.249), 1971.

[5] ‘Or is there an altogether too easy tendency to lustful thoughts? Then let the conning of certain modern magazines be utterly banned, and let the modern sex-ridden novel—one of the curses of this generation—be wisely consigned to the dustbin. “If thine eye cause thee to stumble, pluck it out.”’, Whittaker, ‘Sunday Morning: No. 924 Temptation’, The Christadelphian (93.1109.402), 1956.

[6]The way of Cain is still very much with us. It glorifies man, it boastfully glorifies debased sex, brutality and violence in print, on screen and in reality.’, Eyre, ‘The Way of Cain’, The Christadelphian (103.1221.101), 1966.

[7] ‘In attempting a definition, the committee says that “pornography tends to see sexual practices as divorced from any tender considerations for one’s partner . . . (It) exploits and dehumanises sex so that human beings are treated as things and women in particular as sex objects”. There is plenty of evidence that it sometimes does harm.’, Nichols, ‘Signs of the Times: The Longford Report’, The Christadelphian (109.1301.512), 1972.

[8] ‘He continued: “What is true is that from this age onwards the adolescent is subjected to a barrage from every medium of communication and entertainment of stimuli which leads to a premature and excessive awareness and preoccupation with sex.”’, Sargent, ‘A Wholesome Voice’, The Christadelphian (100.1193.512), 1963.

[9] ‘There is increasing evidence that youth exposure to sexual content on television shapes sexual attitudes and behavior in a manner that may influence reproductive health outcomes.’, Chandra et al., ‘Does Watching Sex on Television Predict Teen Pregnancy? Findings From a National Longitudinal Survey of Youth’, Pediatrics (122.4.1047), 2008.

[10]‘Several studies 16,111,112,114,121,134 have demonstrated clearly that sexual content is pervasive in TV programming, movies, music videos, and magazines; however, much less is known about sexual content on the radio (including remarks by disc jockeys) and the sexual content of video and computer games.’, Escobar-Chaves, et al., ‘Impact of the Media on Adolescent Sexual Attitudes and Behaviors’, Pediatrics (116.1.320), 2005.

[11] ‘”I was surprised at how much 18- to 20-year-olds are still affected by media’s messages about sex” Ward says. “When we first started our research, we assumed that 15-year-olds who largely hadn’t started dating yet would have much of their reality shaped by the media. They don’t know the difference sometimes [between media reality and real life] and don’t have the maturity to make informed choices about sex. But 18- to 20-year-olds are at the pinnacle, so to speak, when it comes to dating and relationships. They’re older, more mature, less naive. And they’re still affected.”’, Stewart, ‘Sex-Saturated Culture Sends Message to Kids’, Insight on the News (May 22, 2000).

[12]This is the first study to demonstrate a prospective link between exposure to sexual content on television and the experience of a pregnancy before the age of 20. Limiting adolescent exposure to the sexual content on television and balancing portrayals of sex in the media with information about possible negative consequences might reduce the risk of teen pregnancy. Parents may be able to mitigate the influence of this sexual content by viewing with their children and discussing these depictions of sex.’, Chandra et al., ‘Does Watching Sex on Television Predict Teen Pregnancy? Findings From a National Longitudinal Survey of Youth’, Pediatrics (122.4.1047), 2008..

[13] ‘Adolescents in the United States are engaging in sexual activity at early ages and with multiple partners. The mass media have been shown to affect a broad range of adolescent health-related attitudes and behaviors including violence, eating disorders, and tobacco and alcohol use. One largely unexplored factor that may contribute to adolescents’ sexual activity is their exposure to mass media.’, Escobar-Chaves, et al., ‘Impact of the Media on Adolescent Sexual Attitudes and Behaviors’, Pediatrics (116.1.303), 2005.

[14] ‘Using the sexual-media–diet measure, these researchers report that among adolescents, heavier exposure to sexual content is associated with increased sexual activity and intentions to become sexually active’, ibid., p. 320.

[15]Our results indicate that frequent exposure to sexual content on television predicts early pregnancy, even after accounting for the influence of a variety of other known correlates of each.’, Chandra et al., ‘Does Watching Sex on Television Predict Teen Pregnancy? Findings From a National Longitudinal Survey of Youth’, Pediatrics (122.4.1052), 2008.

[16] ‘Narrative accounts of court-involved girls lives uncovered three social forces that combined to contribute to high rates of system involvement. I have discussed two: the emotional factor of familes’ not protecting their girl children or meeting young women’s needs and the economic factor of material need. In this section I dissect the cultural factor of an increased sexualization of young women caused by the global, burgeoning, multi-billion-dollar youth-sex-beauty industrial complex.’, Schaffner, ‘Girls in Trouble with the Law’, p. 98 (2006).

[17] ‘I mean oversexualized in the sense that young women are viewed primarily as sex objects by many male adults in their worlds, view their own place in the world as mostly providing sexual titillation for males, and see sex as their best – or only – resource for problem solving.’, ibid., p. 99.

[18] ‘Young women, bombarded with the cultural imperative to be sexy, reproduce the message as if they had thought of it themselves, thus falling into a dialectical, reflexive loop.’, ibid., p. 102

[19] ‘Journalists, child advocacy organizations, parents, and psychologists have become alarmed, arguing that the sexualization of girls is a broad and increasing problem and is harmful to girls (Bloom, 2004;“Buying Into Sexy,” 2005; Dalton, 2005; Lamb & Brown, 2006; Levin, 2005; Levy, 2005a; Linn, 2004; Pollet & Hurwitz, 2004; Schor, 2004).’, American Psychological Association,Task Force on the Sexualization of Girls, ‘Report of the APA Task Force on the Sexualization of Girls.Washington’, (2007).

[20] ‘This includes both short- and long-term effects of viewing or buying into a sexualizing objectifying image, how these effects influence girls’ development, self-esteem, friendships, and intimate relationships, ideas about femininity, body image, physical, mental, and sexual health, sexual satisfaction, desire for plastic surgery, risk factors for early pregnancy, abortion, and sexually transmitted infections, attitudes toward women, other girls, boys, and men, as well as educational aspirations and future career success.’, ibid., p. 43.

[21]Numerous studies have shown a connection between stereotypical attitudes about women’s sexuality and aggressive sexual behavior. Several have shown that women and men exposed to sexually objectifying images from mainstream media were significantly more accepting of rape myths, sexual harassment, sex role stereotypes, interpersonal violence, and adversarial sexual beliefs about relationships.’, Bailey, ‘Consequences Of the Sexualization of Girls: American Psychological Association Report Part IV’, From Now On: The Newsletter of the Montgomery County Chapter of the National Organization for Women (2007).

[22] ‘APHA further recognizes that abstinence from sexual intercourse is an important behavioral strategy for preventing HIV, STIs, and unintended pregnancy.’, American Public Health Association, ‘Testimony of the American Public Health Association “Domestic Abstinence-Only Programs: Assessing the Evidence” House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform’, (April 23, 2008).

[23] ‘The Society of Adolescent Medicine summarized its expert review of sexuality education with the following: Abstinence from sexual intercourse represents a healthy choice for teenagers, as teenagers face considerable risk to their reproductive health from unintended pregnancies and STIs including infection with HIV. Remaining abstinent, at least through high school, is strongly supported by parents and even by adolescents themselves. However, few Americans remain abstinent until marriage, many do not or cannot marry, and most initiate sexual intercourse and other sexual behaviors as adolescents. Abstinence as a behavioral goal is not the same as abstinence-only education programs.’, Blythe, ‘Testimony before the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform’, p. 7 (April 23, 2008).

[24] ‘By contrast, credible research clearly demonstrates that some comprehensive sex education, or “abstinence-plus,” programs can achieve positive behavioral changes among young people and reduce STIs, and that these programs do not encourage young people to initiate sexual activity earlier or have more sexual partners.’, Collins, et al., ‘Abstinence only vs. comprehensive sex education: What are the arguments? What is the evidence?’, p. 2 (March 2002).

[25] ‘Comprehensive sex education, which emphasizes the benefits of abstinence while also teaching about contraception and disease-prevention methods, has been proven to reduce rates of teen pregnancy and STD infection.’, Starkman & Rajani, ‘The Case for Comprehensive Sex Education’, AIDS Patient Care and STDs (16.7.313),  July 1, 2002.


Social effects of divorce

February 7, 2011

Conservative Christians have traditionally been known for their opposition to divorce. Various Biblical statements discourage divorce,[1][2] and reinforce the value of marriage,[3] [4] a value which is well recognized by professional studies.[5] [6] [7]

Many studies have demonstrated the long term negative effects of divorce on the individuals involved [8] [9] [10] [11] and on society.[12] [13]

Single parenting is a strong and reliable predictor of poor life outcomes for children,[14] [15] even when a single mother remarries.[16]

Fatherless families are strongly associated with negative life outcomes. [17] [18] [19] Outcomes for children with two parents are consistently better.[20] [21]

The common belief that cohabitation before marriage provides a more reliable basis for future marriage stability than non-cohabitation,[22] has consistently been proved false;[23] the opposite is in fact the case.[24] [25]

[1] Matthew 19:8 Jesus said to them, “Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because of your hard hearts, but from the beginning it was not this way. 9 Now I say to you that whoever divorces his wife, except for immorality, and marries another commits adultery.”

[2] 1 Corinthians 7:12 To the rest I say – I, not the Lord – if a brother has a wife who is not a believer and she is happy to live with him, he should not divorce her.13 And if a woman has a husband who is not a believer and he is happy to live with her, she should not divorce him. 14 For the unbelieving husband is sanctified because of the wife, and the unbelieving wife because of her husband. Otherwise your children are unclean, but now they are holy. 15 But if the unbeliever wants a divorce, let it take place. In these circumstances the brother or sister is not bound. God has called you in peace.

[3] Proverbs 5:18 May your fountain be blessed, and may you rejoice in your young wife –

[4] Ephesians 5:25 Husbands, love your wives just as Christ loved the church and gave himself for her 26 to sanctify her by cleansing her with the washing of the water by the word, 27 so that he may present the church to himself as glorious – not having a stain or wrinkle, or any such blemish, but holy and blameless. 28 In the same way husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no one has ever hated his own body but he feeds it and takes care of it, just as Christ also does the church, 30 for we are members of his body. 31 For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and will be joined to his wife, and the two will become one flesh. 32 This mystery is great – but I am actually speaking with reference to Christ and the church. 33 Nevertheless, each one of you must also love his own wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.

[5] ‘Compared with unmarried people, married men and women tend to have lower mortality, less risky behavior, more monitoring of health, more compliance with medical regimens, higher sexual frequency, more satisfaction with their sexual lives, more savings, and higher wages (1–3). The differences between married and unmarried people may reflect a causal effect of marriage or a selection effect. Healthier people may be more likely than others to find mates and marry. Research has suggested that the benefits of marriage may be partially due to a selection effect and partially due to true benefits to be gained from being married as opposed to being unmarried (3,4). A lower mortality risk among the married has been shown to persist even after health in early adulthood was controlled, suggesting that at least part of the benefit of being married is not the result of selection (4).’, National Center for Health Statistics/Center for Disease Control, ‘Public Affairs, Cohabitation, Marriage, Divorce, and Remarriage in the United States’, Series Report 23, Number 22, p. 3 (2002).

[6] ‘The weight of evidence indicates that the traditional family based upon a married father and mother is still the best environment for raising children, and it forms the soundest basis for the wider society.’, O’Neill, ‘Experiments in Living: The Fatherless Family’, p. 14 (2002).

[7] ‘Marriage is associated with a variety of positive outcomes, and dissolution of marriage is associated with negative outcomesfor men, women, and their children’, National Center for Health Statistics/Center for Disease Control, ‘Public Affairs, Cohabitation, Marriage, Divorce, and Remarriage in the United States’, Series Report 23, Number 22, p. 3 (2002).

[8]The paper shows that divorce has a longlasting, negative impact on wellbeing and the effects appear to persist into later life for both men and women. However, the negative effects of divorce on wellbeing are largely confined to those who do not re-partner and remain single. An important difference between men and women is that for women who are divorced and single, negative effects of divorce are found for general health, vitality and mental health, while for men, there appear to be no effects of divorce on these health measures.’, Gray et al., ‘Divorce and the wellbeing of older Australians’, Australian Institute of Family Studies, Research paper No. 46, p. ix (2010).

[9] ‘When satisfaction with different aspects of life (home, financial situation, feeling of safety, etc.) are examined, divorced single men reported being less satisfied than married and never divorced men in relation to the home in which they live, their financial situation, feeling part of their local community, and the neighbourhood in which they live., ibid., p. 11.

[10] ‘An implication of the results of this report is that older Australians who have been divorced and are single in older age will have lower incomes and fewer assets than they would have had if they had remained married. Older divorced single Australians are much more likely to experience material hardships and report having a lower level of prosperity than the married and never-divorced.’, de Vaus, et al., ‘The consequences of divorce for financial living standards in later life’, Australian Institute of Family Studies, Research paper No. 38, p. 21 (2007).

[11]Compared to married individuals, divorced persons exhibit lower levels of psychological well-being, more health problems, greater risk of mortality, more social isolation, less satisfying sex lives, more negative life events, greater levels of depression and alcohol use, and lower levels of happiness and self-acceptance (5).’, NCHS/CDC Public Affairs, Cohabitation, Marriage, Divorce, and Remarriage in the United States’, Series Report 23, Number 22, pp. 3-4 (2002).

[12] ‘The negative effects of divorce on wellbeing are likely to have negative economic consequences for society as a whole, particularly in relation to the health consequences for women, which are likely to increase the demand for publicly funded or subsidised health services. It is clear that the costs to government of divorce last for two or more decades.’, Gray et al., ‘Divorce and the wellbeing of older Australians’, Australian Institute of Family Studies, Research paper No. 46, p. ix (2010).

[13] ‘However, many scholars and policy makers who study crime have identified family breakdown as one among a cluster of disadvantages which are associated with criminal activity and with chronic reoffending.’, O’Neill, ‘Experiments in Living: The Fatherless Family’, p.11 (2002).

[14] ‘Adverse outcomes accrue to children of divorce and children raised in single-parent families.’, NCHS/CDC Public Affairs, Cohabitation, Marriage, Divorce, and Remarriage in the United States’, Series Report 23, Number 22, p. 4 (2002).

[15] ‘Single-parent families have lower levels of parental involvement in school activities and lower student achievement, compared to two-parent families (10). Children raised in single-parent families are more likely to drop out of high school, have lower grades and attendance while in school, and are less likely to attend and graduate from college than children raised in two-parent families (11). They are more likely to be out of school and unemployed and are also more likely to become single parents themselves, than children raised in two-parent families (11).’, ibid, p. 4.

[16] ‘Even when the mother does remarry, studies suggest that children in stepfamilies have similar risks of adverse outcomes as children in single-parent families: both groups of children do worse than children living with two biological parents in terms of academic achievement, depression, and behavior problems such as drug and alcohol abuse, premarital sexual intercourse, and being arrested (9).’, ibid., p. 4.

[17] ‘It has long been recognised that children growing up in lone-mother households are more likely to have emotional, academic, and financial problems and are more likely to engage in behaviour associated with social exclusion, such as offending, teenage pregnancy, alcohol and drug abuse or worklessness.’, O’Neill, ‘Experiments in Living: The Fatherless Family’, p. 6 (2002).

[18] ‘Analysis of 35 cases of fatal abuse which were the subject of public inquiries between 1968 and 1987 showed a risk for children living with their mother and an unrelated man which was over 70 times higher than it would have been for a child with two married biological parents.’, ibid., p. 8.

[19] ‘In focus group discussions, young people in prisons spoke frequently about disruption in their family lives and about their fathers’ absence.’, ibid., p. 8.

[20] ‘Studies have found that, compared to children in two-parent families, children of divorce score lower on measures of self-concept, social competence, conduct, psychological adjustment and long-term health (5).’, ibid., p. 4.

[21] ‘A major longitudinal study of 1,400 American families found that 20%–25% of children of divorce showed lasting signs of depression, impulsivity (risk-taking), irresponsibility, or antisocial behaviour compared with 10% of children in intact two-parent families.’, O’Neill, ‘Experiments in Living: The Fatherless Family’, p. 7 (2002).

[22] ‘The popular belief that cohabitation is an effective strategy in a high-divorce society rests on the common-sense notion that getting to know one another before marrying should improve the quality and stability of marriage.’, Hall & Zhao, ‘Cohabitaiton and Divorce in Canada: Testing the Selectivity Hypothesis’, Journal of Marriage and the Family (57.421), 1995.

[23] ‘However, in this instance, it is looking more and more as if common sense is a poor guide. Major empirical studies have failed to discover a positive link between premarital cohabitation and marital quality or stability.’, ibid., pp. 421-422.

[24] ‘Bentler and Newcomb (1978) found no difference in marital satisfaction between cohabitors and noncohabitors, and more recent studies have suggested that living common-law is actually related to lower quality marriages (Booth & Johnson, 1988; DeMaris & Leslie, 1984). Perhaps most compelling are the findings from several recent articles that document a strong negative association between cohabiting and marital stability. These studies indicating that living together before marriage substantially increases the chances of divorce for a couple (Balakrishnan, Rao, Lapierrre-Adamcyk, & Krotki, 1987; Bennett, Blanc, & Bloom, 1988; DeMaris & Rao, 1992; Teachman & Polonko, 1990).’, ibid., p. 422.

[25] ‘Among the findings in the report: unmarried cohabitations overall are less stable than marriages.’, National Center for Health Statistics, ‘New Report Sheds Light on Trends and Patterns in Marriage, Divorce, and Cohabitation’, July 24, 2002.