Lost faith and marital infidelity
Today at the FAIR Blog, there is a post addressing the recent Mormon Stories podcast featuring Richard Packham. John’s framing of the interview, I think, was to show how the church needlessly creates enemies in areas that it doesn’t have to. Richard Packham’s experiences were supposed to be instructive as to how the church and its members ought not to treat ex-members.
One part of this multi-part podcast is devoted to how the church needlessly breaks up families…but is it really the church’s fault if a member/ex-member couple separates or divorces?
Allen at FAIR looks to the wikipedia definition of infidelity to shift culpability:
Infidelity is a violation of the mutually agreed-upon rules or boundaries of an intimate relationship, which constitutes a significant to extreme breach, or outright default, on the implicit good faith contract of a relationship, or a betrayal of core shared values with which the integrity and nature of the relationship is defined.
This doesn’t seem like an unreasonable definition of infidelity to me. But the application of this definition has grave and terrible consequences for marriage.
For example, what specifically are the “mutually agreed-upon rules” that two Mormons might establish, either implicitly or explicitly? Considering that when they get married, both are well within the Gospel (and neither can anticipate ever falling out, of course!) What kind of violation counts as a “significant to extreme breach”?
If two members marry under the idea that they both want a worthy (in the Mormon sense) partner, then if one of those partners loses his or her faith, then intellectual infidelity, as Allen puts it, is bound to happen. The very loss of faith is the infidelity!
I didn’t really listen to the Packham podcasts, so I don’t know all of what he did (after losing faith), but it seems to me that his actions muddy the playing field. For example, we can’t establish that intellectual infidelity — a violation of ideas, of beliefs, of values — was the final straw if instead it was concrete actions (e.g., no longer practicing the Word of Wisdom, etc.)
But it’s just scary to think that someone can be considered unfaithful to their spouse as a result of changing beliefs and changing worldviews.
Marriage becomes a liability in such a view. How much of the status quo do you expect to remain constant? What level of change is required to reason that someone is not playing according to the rules?