It is not only conservatives who have noticed progressive hypocrisy. For years, European and American governments reflexively chanted the slogan “never again” and declared to the world that they would never let genocide of any sort or anti-Semitism go unchecked. But in the third decade of the 21st century, not even a century after the Final Solution and the mass murder of Jews, Western governments have sat idly by while Xi Jinping and China’s communist government set up what the Human Rights Foundation noted were very literally concentration camps in western China for the purpose of so-called reeducating Uyghurs.
In November, the municipal government of San Francisco, Calif., took to the streets to clean up the filthy mess that the city had become over the last half decade. Homeless men and women were shunted into shelters and syringes and human excrement were removed from the streets, but not for a visit from the president of the United States, or the British monarch, or for another major Western leader, but instead for the Chinese dictator Xi Jinping. This is the man who has spent the better part of a half-decade openly engaging in genocide against Muslim Uyghurs in western China.
A week earlier a Jewish man had been clubbed to death by a pro-Hamas demonstrator in Thousand Oaks, Calif. Far from being isolated and disconnected events, San Francisco’s welcome of Xi Jinping and the death of a Jewish man on the streets of a California city are directly tied together. They are both evidence of the absolute hypocrisy of the Western world.
For years the slogan “never again” has been trotted out by progressives to ensure that the legacy of the Holocaust was remembered and that outright genocide and anti-Semitism would be finally removed from Western society.
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By Lyman Stone — 2 years ago
The religious model of marriage and family appears to boost the odds that young adults can marry before 30 without increasing their risk of landing in divorce court.
The new marriage norm for American men and women is to marry around the age of 30, according to the U.S. Census. Many young adults believe that marrying closer to age 30 reduces their risk of divorce, and, indeed, there is research consistent with that belief. But we also have evidence suggesting that religious Americans are less likely to divorce even as they are more likely to marry younger than 30. This paradoxical pattern raises two questions worth exploring: Is the way religious Americans form their marriages different than the way marriages are formed by their more secular peers? And do religious marriages formed by twenty-somethings face different divorce odds than marriages formed by secular Americans in the same age group?
The answer to that last question is complicated by the role of cohabitation in contemporary family formation. Today, more than 70% of marriages are preceded by cohabitation, as Figure 1 indicates. Increased cohabitation is both cause and consequence of the rise in the age at first marriage. But what most young adults do not know is that cohabiting before marriage, especially with someone besides your future spouse, is also associated with an increased risk of divorce, as a recent Stanford study reports.
So, one reason that religious marriages in America may be more stable is that religion reduces young adults’ odds of cohabiting prior to marriage, even though it increases their likelihood of marrying at a relatively young age. Accordingly, in this Institute for Family Studies research brief, we explore the relationships between religion, cohabitation, age at marriage, and divorce by looking at data from the National Survey of Family Growth (NSFG).
Researching Religion and Family
To address the questions addressed in this research brief, we merge data from the National Survey of Family Growth from 1995 to 2019, using responses from over 53,000 women ages 15 to 49 to recreate their individual-level family histories. (We focus on women because men were not included in the NSFG until recently.)1
The NSFG included two important questions about religion: first, the respondent’s current religious affiliation, and second, what religion they were raised in. Current religious affiliation is not a very informative variable for understanding how religion influences family life because, for example, marriage might motivate people to become more religious (or cohabitation might motivate people to become less religious). But religious upbringing (measured by a woman’s reported religious denomination “in which she was raised” around age 14) occurs before the vast majority of marriages or cohabitations, so is not influenced by them.
Thus, we explore how religious upbringing influences family life. Young adults don’t choose what religion they’re raised in, so this is about as close as we can get to what researchers call “exogenous” treatment, meaning something like experimental conditions. But because religious upbringing could be correlated with many other variables, we also include some important controls: a woman’s educational status in each year of her life (i.e., enrolled in high school, dropped out, enrolled in college, college graduate, etc.), her race or ethnicity, her mother’s highest educational attainment, and whether she grew up in an “intact” family. We also control for survey wave and decade.
Does Religion Influence Marriage and Cohabitation?
In the 1960s, about 5% of newlyweds cohabited before marriage. In the 2010s, it was more than 70%, an enormous increase. After incorporating the effects of control variables, Figure 2 shows2 that in a typical year of life, about 5% of nonreligious women ages 18-49 who have not yet married or cohabited will begin a cohabiting union. That figure is nearer 4% for women with a Christian upbringing, nearer to 3% for women with a non-Christian religious upbringing (i.e., Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses as well as Jews, Muslims, Hindus, and others), and about 4% for religious women on the whole. In other words, after controlling for a variety of background factors, women who grew up religious are about 20% less likely to begin a cohabiting union in any given year than their non-religious peers. As a result, by age 35, about 65% of women with a non-religious upbringing had cohabited at least once, versus under 50% of women with a religious upbringing. Not only does religion reduce the odds that young adults cohabit, it also increases the odds that they marry directly, or without cohabiting first.
Figure 3 illustrates3 the links between religion and what we call direct marriages, that is, marriages that did not include premarital cohabitation. The trends depicted below in Figure 3 show up in similar form for all marriages, but direct marriages are particularly important because they are a closer proxy for the “traditional” relationship pathways promoted by many religions.
For women with a non-religious upbringing who have not yet married or cohabited, about 1% are likely to begin a direct marriage in a given year. For religious people generally, it’s a little more than 1.5%. But for women with Evangelical Protestant or Non-Christian Religious upbringings, the rate of entrance into marriage is over 2%: this is twice the rate of entrance into “direct” marriage. By age 35, about 28% of women with a non-religious upbringing had entered a direct marriage without cohabiting, compared to approximately 43% of women with a religious upbringing. In other words, religiosity is associated with vastly greater likelihood of going directly from singleness to a married union, and generally at younger ages.
Overall, then, religion greatly influences the nature and age of relationship formation. Young women raised in a religious home cohabit less, but they marry more, and especially earlier: in this sample tracking marriage patterns over the last 40 years, women with non-religious upbringings wed around age 25, religious women wed generally around age 24, and women with Evangelical Protestant upbringings wed around 23.5.
Does Religion Influence Breakup and Divorce?
Earlier marriage is a known risk factor for divorce. Premarital cohabitation is too. Since religiosity tends to motivate earlier marriage but less cohabitation, the effects on divorce are not easy to guess. What we really want to know is: conditional on getting married, do religious people get divorced less?
The answer appears to be yes. Without controls for age at marriage or an indicator for premarital cohabitation, women with a religious upbringing do have slightly lower likelihoods of divorce. As shown4 in Figure 4, the annual divorce rate among married women with a nonreligious upbringing is around 5%. For religious women, it’s around 4.5%. The effect is clearest for Catholic and Mainline Protestant women, and less clear for Evangelical Protestant women. Overall, if we control for basic socioeconomic background and a woman’s educational career trajectory, the typical marriage of a woman with a religious upbringing is about 10% less likely to end in divorce within the first 15 years of marriage than the typical marriage of a woman with a non-religious upbringing.
By Mark Ward — 7 months ago
Good Bible translations will demonstrate that they have paid attention to the way God’s gift of language actually works. They won’t propose impossible linguistic ideas or promise special insight into “what God really meant” in the originals, insight no other translations provide. They won’t baptize one language as specially divine.
If you find an English Bible translation on your Christian bookstore shelf, it’s almost certainly good. Buy it. Read it. Trust it.
But there are some “bad Bibles” out there, Bibles you won’t find careful evangelical biblical scholars recommending. In my last article I discussed Bible translations that give in to sectarian impulses. In this article, I discuss the second major category of bad Bibles: crackpot translations.
I’ll drastically qualify that word “bad” for some of these; and “crackpot” is about as nice a thing to say as “sectarian,” I’m afraid. Perhaps I should say instead, “idiosyncratic.” Some Bibles are indeed just odd; they rely on ideas about Scripture that are just weird—the kinds of ideas that make you purse your lips and glance from side to side, looking for a way out of this conversation ASAP, the kinds of ideas that get weeded out when translators must have accredited degrees and work in a group with checks and balances.
I have a soft spot in my heart for idiosyncratic evangelical Bible translations. I think they are, from one perspective, a great problem to have. The Bible is such an absorbing interest of American evangelicals that we produce extraneous Bible study resources. (I don’t see Roman Catholics and Eastern Orthodox doing this, though I admit I may simply be ignorant here.) And I assume these idiosyncratic projects usually don’t do much harm. But if they’re not “bad” in the consequentialist sense, they’re not good either. And they merit our attention here. I will give, again, four examples.
1. The Amplified Bible
I hope I don’t offend anyone, but the Amplified Bible is a good example of what I’m talking about. When I first encountered this Bible edition as an 18-year-old, I was intrigued to have provided for me in such a convenient format the “fuller meaning” of the Hebrew and Greek I hadn’t yet studied at the time. It was as a young college student that I bought the Comparative Study Bible, a four-version parallel Bible including the KJV, the NIV, the NASB, and the Amplified. But I didn’t end up using that last one much; it came to feel like the editors were just piling on English synonyms in all those many brackets that fill (and clutter) the Amplified Bible. Who possibly is helped by adding that parenthetical to the following sentence?
We ourselves (you and I) are Jews by birth. (Gal. 2:15a AMP)
And how many readers will understand that systematic theology, and not “the true meaning of the Greek,” has been inserted in a bracket into this statement?
If, in our desire and endeavor to be justified in Christ [to be declared righteous and put in right standing with God wholly and solely through Christ] … (Gal. 2:17 AMP)
(I chose the first two examples my eyes fell upon when I opened the Amplified at random.)
What I came to like about the Amplified was actually that, because its interpolations made it so much longer than the other Bible translations, it opened up margin space at the bottom of pages for me to take notes in. My purposes would have been better served, however, if the column taken up by the Amplified had simply been left blank.
After I learned Hebrew and Greek, I came to feel that the Amplified was mostly harmless but that it raised false expectations among readers—readers who thought they were getting deeper insight than they really were. This isn’t entirely its fault, but the Amplified Bible inserts interpretation into the text in a way that, I discovered, misleads lay readers into thinking that they’re being told something from the Hebrew or Greek that traditional English translations obscure.
2. את Cepher
Cepher is an English Bible translation far weirder than the Amplified. The progenitor of Cepher—whose name I don’t care to give but who, I note, claims to have a doctorate but provides no details regarding it that I could find—is fascinated with the alleged power and depth of the Hebrew language in a way that echoes the Tree of Life Version (discussed here). But he takes his fascination to a level I can only call, well, idiosyncratic—and he places his most eccentric idea on the very cover of his Bible edition. We’ll get there; first, some other oddities in Cepher.
In the introduction to Cepher, we are given examples of the many Hebrew words that are transliterated rather than translated in this volume.
Another wonderful [Hebrew] word we have elected to use in the text is the word yachiyd (יחיד) which in its use declares tremendous meaning. In its first use, we find it in Bere’shiyth (Genesis) with the instruction to Avraham, saying: … “Take now your son, your yachiyd Yitschaq, whom you love.”
But yachid just means “only.” It does not have tremendous meaning. It should not be transliterated in an English Bible at all; it should be translated. But Cepher gets weirder as it traces this “wonderful word” throughout the Hebrew Bible and into the New Testament. At the end of its discussion of the Hebrew word for “only,” Cepher’s introduction says,
It is with these considerations that we have made the following change: “For Elohiym so loved the world, that he gave his yachiyd, that whosoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
So a Hebrew transliteration into Roman characters is inserted into an English translation of a Greek sentence. From the middle of this language mélange, two key ideas are dropped out: where is the word “Son”? And where is the “begottenness” that forms such an important part of the doctrine of the eternal generation of that divine Son? I’m not saying the editors in charge of Cepher undercut Trinitarianism on purpose; I doubt that, honestly. My guess is that they are so fascinated with the nifty possibilities provided by faux insights into Hebrew that they got carried away.
Cepher does this with other Hebrew words that, it alleges, “carry … additional meaning” beyond what English is capable of communicating. This is why we get Hebrew transliterations elsewhere in the Cepher New Testament. In John 17, for example, Cepher has Jesus praying that his disciples “all may be yachad,” the Hebrew word for “one.” Exactly whom or how this helps is to me very much unclear.
Cepher also “restores” many Hebrew names by making more tortuous transliterations of them than we already possess in the English Bible tradition (is Avraham really more deep or accurate or even Jewish than Abraham?). Moses is Mosheh in Cepher; Joshua is Husha; Jesus is Yahushua. And Jesus’ name gets a fanciful etymology that contradicts what the angel Gabriel told Mary. Instead of “Yahweh saves,” Cepher says that Yahushua means “Yah is He who makes equal.”
The Cepher intro also finds impossible phonemic connections between Hebrew and English, connections that aren’t really there—like seeing the English word “hell” in the Hebrew word the KJV translates as “Lucifer.” This is a game a clever person could play all day long in every language of the world. It is crackpottery.
My last complaint about Cepher (though I could go on, I assure you) regards a Hebrew word on its cover. It’s just two characters long; you could pronounce it “et.” But it’s actually not a word, per se; it’s a grammatical marker indicating that what follows is a direct object. It’s kind of like the practice in German of capitalizing nouns. It’s rare that this is truly needed; it’s just something biblical Hebrew does.
By Kevin DeYoung — 2 years ago
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