One argument that is made in favor of religion is that it is the only reason that people are moral.  According to that argument without religion no one would be moral and people would just do what they want.   One friend of mine who made this argument said that she was dating a man seriously, and had committed to him to just date him and then started dating someone else.  She experienced a lot of men who were not nearly as nice as the man she had and came back to him, he forgave her and they got married.  She says that when she made her marriage vow she made it in front of God and that's why she'll keep it. 

    Do we have to believe the way she does to be moral?  If we don't believe that we will suffer eternal damnation if we break our marriage commitments will we break them the moment we have a better opportunity or the moment the honeymoon is over? 

   If that were true secular people would break their marriage commitments more than religious people, yet the following table from the web page Atheism Statistics shows that secular people have the least number of divorces.

 

Divorce rates by religion (U.S.)

Religion

% have been divorced

Jews

30%

Born-again Christians

27%

Other Christians

24%

Atheists, Agnostics

21%

Source: U.S. Divorce Rates: For Various Faith Groups, Age Groups and Geographical Areas

    Clearly something other than religion is keeping Athiest marriages together.  Perhaps it's love and perhaps it's also a sense of moral obligation and perhaps it's openmindedness and flexibility of thinking. 

   Morality is a worthwhile goal with or without religion and many secular people are more moral than religious ones.  The woman who said that people should be religious so that they will be moral realizes that morality is important in and of itself, not just because of religion.  She recognizes the importance of morality and I think many secular people realize it as well. 

    Is marriage a moral choice?  Religion tells us that marriage is sacred but if we don't believe in religion then why should we get married at all?.  Maybe it's better to have a free marketplace in the mating world as there is in the financial world.  The moment people get married many of them stop trying to be attractive and stop being on their best behavior.  If they knew their spouse could leave at any time they might make a lot more of an effort to be on their best behavior.  If someone better came along and pulled away one's spouse that might be for the best.  The richer better looking healthier man would win and spread his genes among more women.  Nature has made women attracted to power, maybe this is a good thing and women should be allowed to gravitate to the powerful and bear their children.  On the other hand if couples split up just to get someone better or more attractive, their children who are attached to both parents are likely to suffer.  In addition the loving spouse who is abandoned for someone else is likely to suffer as well.  

    It has been my experience that a romantic relationship either grows or it dies.  Part of that growth involves deepening commitment.  I have heard of many stories where one partner was unwilling to commit and the relationship fell apart.  I think relationships can raise us to a higher level but to get there commitment and trust and ultimately marriage is the only way.

   Do most Americans feel this way?  President Clinton, inspite of his infidelity and his affair with Monica Lewinsky had a higher popularity rating after his affair became known than before.  John F Kennedy was a very popular president and he cheated often on Jackie. 

    Cheating on spouses, and divorcing has largely become acceptable in the United States.  One of the few  things that are still not considered acceptable in sexual relations is sex with children. Although it is not acceptable for adults to have sex with teenagers,  it has become acceptable for teenagers to have sex with each other.  Often accusations of child abuse of dubious validity (based on forced children's testimony) result in innocent people going to jail. 

    Another behavior widely frowned upon is trying to contact someone who has broken off a relationship (stalking).  A husband who tries to contact his wife after she runs off with another man can find himself in jail. 

 

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