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The day book. (Chicago, Ill.) 1911-1917, December 30, 1916, LAST EDITION, Image 12

Image and text provided by University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Library, Urbana, IL

Persistent link: http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn83045487/1916-12-30/ed-1/seq-12/

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DOES OUR INCREASING DIVORCE RATE MEAN
DECREASING MORALITY?
BY THE REV. CHAS. STELZLE
Next to Japan, we grant more
divorces than any other civilized
country in the world. We grant one
divorce for every ten marriages.
This is twice as many divorces as
are granted in Switzerland, three
times as many as France, five times
as many as Germany, and probably
40 times as many as England.
And the number of divorces grant
cdln this country is rapidly increas
ingmore rapidly than ANYWHERE
else. It is estimated that the number
of divorces granted is increasing over
seven times as fast as the population!
This situation is causing great
alarm among the leaders in sociol
ogical and religious thought. They
wonder what we're drifting to.
Is the family the unit of society
being broken up?
Will the nation go to smash be
cause our homes are disintegrating?
What is the cause of this apparent
slump in our morality?
For, of course, most of us imagine
that the increase in the number of
divorces granted MUST be due to
immorality.
But is it? -
Let's confess that on the whole
divorces are bad signs. But they are
not always signs of depravity ,or
viciousness or general immoral con
duct. It's worth while to note that di
vorce proceedings are a sign of the
greater freedom and independence of
American women. In England, where
there is only one divorce for every
400 marriages, womfen are almost
helpless in the face of the legal power
of their husbands.
It is extremely difficult for an Eng
lish woman to get a divorce, no mat
ter how outrageously her husband
may treat her. The lower divorce
rate in England is not due to the su
perior morality of its people.
Furthermore,, in this country -di- j
vorces are most frequently granted
to people living in states which are
predominantly American.
In the main, this is due to the fact
that the Americans are high-strung
or temperamental in their make-up.
It is a curious situation that as peo
ple become more sensitive to-the finer
things in life the dangers of incom
patability increase. They find it hard
er to get along with one another.
This does not mean that either per
son is necessarily immoral, for im
morality may have absolutely- noth-'
ing to do with the case.
Efforts have been made to prove
that more divorces are granted in
wet states than in ,dry, or that the
dry states are most , guilty in this re
gard. But there are so many factors
in the situation that it is impossible
to make a clear case for either side.
For example, the divorce laws vary
greatly in the different states, and
the REAL reason for the request for
a divorce is rarely given in the appli
cation to Ihe court
The entrance of women into in
dustry has undoubtedly resulted in
the increase of the number of di
vorces granted. A woman is no
longer dependent upon her husband'
for support she can fight her own
battles as never before. Therefore,
when she feels herself wronged by
her husband she is freer to seek' a
separation from" him. This is par
ticularly true if she has had business
or professional experience before she
was married. It is probably true that
the reason early marriages result in
-fewer divorces is because of the
greater economic dependence of the
wife upon her husband. '
Whatever may be the causes of the
increase of divorce, we may be sure
that they are not primarily due to in
creased immorality. Whatever im
morality there may be has probably
always existed it was simply out of,
sight or it took pn .anothD.forjmt? V,

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