“Collateral Damage” or “Targets of Opportunity”? Children of Divorce in the War of the Sexes

No-fault divorce is a cultural artefact.  In other words, this “progressive” reform of family law is a product of human artifice.  Inevitably, any such cultural innovation will produce what economists soothingly describe as “negative externalities.”  The most toxic by-product of divorce law reform has been the concomitant breakdown of families with children.  This epidemic of dysfunctional families is not the unintended consequence of legal changes introduced for the best of reasons.  Did not conservatives predict that no-fault divorce would undermine the foundations of family life?  Did not churches remind secular reformers that the road to hell is paved with good intentions?

The fact is that some, perhaps all, of those who promoted the putative “democratization” of divorce intended to subvert the traditional institutions of marriage and family (particularly as practiced among white Anglo-Saxon Protestants).  Reform was marketed as a compassionate response to the personal plight of people “trapped” in loveless marriages.  Decades later, Andrew Root concedes that the ideal of love-based marriage did not create divorce, but insists that “it was the love-based union that democratized it.”[1]  But is marriage really about “love” in any recognizably Christian sense when the law enables any married person to sacrifice on the secular altar of personal happiness the health of society, perhaps even the future of Anglo-European civilization?  Neither legal prohibitions nor religious taboos, much less social shaming, constrain the selfishly unilateral repudiation of solemn matrimonial oaths.  Not surprisingly, the end of matrimony as a binding, irreversible covenant between husband and wife inaugurated an age of cascading, ever-more socially corrosive cultural revolutions. 

Practical Theology

For Christians engaged in youth ministry, the social costs of no-fault divorce pose a pressing problem of practical theology.  Unfortunately, mainstream churches tend to accommodate themselves to no-fault divorce as an accomplished, irreversible feature of our secular age, even as they confront the presumptively unintended consequences for children and young people affected by family breakdown.  Their pastoral focus is on helping individuals to cope with the existential trauma caused by divorce.  For Christian humanists, such as Andrew Root, all children of divorce are equal.  They are received into the church as generic human beings suffering from the slings and arrows of outrageous personal fortune.  Following Karl Barth, Root believes that the existential core of a child’s being cannot be grasped in terms of contingent categories such as race or nationality.  Rather, it is the categorical distinction between male and female which literally brings all human children into being.  The biological fusion of male and female engenders the primal micro-community which endows every child with an identity, however fragile.[2]  Thereafter, an impersonal process of social evolution eventually empowered self-seeking parents to break-up the family unit.  No one is to blame.  The children of divorce are simply collateral damage on the home front in the never-ending but forever mutating war of the sexes.

Root draws upon the work of Charles Taylor and James K.A. Smith, portraying “modernity” as an existential condition or “immanent frame” within which we come to see and be seen, to speak and to act as human beings in this, the latest stage of social evolution.[3]  In our secular age, “all traditions of authority” have been rendered “open to doubt.”  Modernity frees individuals from all past constraints, opening a cultural space for the ideal of love-based marriage: “couples are free to choose a love partner outside of the desire, need, or expectations of a community of generations.”[4]  But when marriage partners fall out of love, what happens to the children—the indivisible products, according to Root, of their parents’ earlier love for one another?

Divorce is then revealed as the “tragic underbelly of the liberation of marriage and family from being centred on land or labour to being centred on love.”  Root reminds us that while a divorce decree handed down as of right may have come as a “great gift” of liberation “to one or both parents, it was a silent nightmare to a child.”[5]  The task of the church, he believes, is to bind up the existential wounds inflicted upon the children of divorce.  Root refuses to assign blame for the damage done to children by parents, politicians, judges, or the many other interests dependent upon the “divorce industry.”  From his humanist perspective, the church is not a combatant in contemporary cultural wars; rather, it sits on the sidelines, offering aid and comfort to all those directly affected by family breakdown—parents, children, and grandparents alike.

Young people bear the primary costs of divorce law reform.  One wonders: who then, apart from ostensibly “liberated” parents, benefits from these recent revolutionary changes in family law?  As far back as 1977, Christopher Lasch identified feminists and others engaged in the search for “alternate life-styles” as the core constituency facilitating the rise of the divorce industry.  Then, as now, both friends and enemies of marriage invoke “the ideology of nonbinding commitments.”  Both “uphold divorce as a ‘creative act’—the friends of marriage because it provides a necessary safety valve, and its enemies because it can be seen as a step toward some new kind of family structure.”[6]  Thus far, the enemies of Christian patriarchy appear to have won the psycho-cultural war on the allegedly oppressive, heteronormative, patriarchal model of the nuclear family.  

The Political Dimension of Practical Theology

Judging by Root’s work, there is scant resistance within mainstream Christianity to the femocratic regime that currently dictates public policy on marriage and the family.  He and fellow Christian humanists might benefit from exposure to the insights into political theology which the German jurist Carl Schmitt (1888-1985) derived from his experience of cultural revolution in the Weimar Republic.  Schmitt grounded the concept of politics in the concrete, existential reality of the distinction between “friend” and “enemy.”[7]

Even Christian humanists have enemies.  Applying this concept of politics to the realm of practical theology can supply youth workers with realistic insights into the nature and identity of their enemies (i.e., those hostile and inimical to faith, family, and folk).  Christian youth workers, whether they know it or not, are combatants in a long-running cultural war.  Their enemies count every psychically-scarred child of divorce as another token of victory.  Children of once-stable, white Christian monogamous marriages are not just the collateral damage of family breakdown.  In the last half century, the ontological security earlier enjoyed by white children of stable monogamous marriages became a legitimate target of opportunity for secularist social justice warriors raging against white privilege and Christian patriarchy.

Root’s account of the profound ontological insecurity found among the children of divorce is often moving.  But his prescriptions presuppose a resolutely apolitical practical theology.  He treats the existential brokenness of these young people as a generically human condition built into the social structures of late modernity.    The pain experienced by children following the collapse of their familial micro-community penetrates to the very core of personal identity.  Forced to wonder who they really are, they find themselves suspended between being and nothingness.  But, for Root, no identifiable enemy can be held responsible for such psycho-social wounds; rather, the existential crisis inflicted upon the children of divorce is the unintended by-product of hyper-individualistic, modernist culture.  Root’s humanist analysis transcends boundaries of race, religion, or nationality.  Nor is Root interested in a movement to outlaw divorce.[8]  He never entertains the thought that “normal, well-adjusted” young, white Anglo-American children (and their parents) have real political enemies, safely ensconced within the divorce industry.  Nor is he concerned to organize Christian resistance to the powerful globalist elites in politics, media, academia, law, and even the church who have done so much to subvert traditional models of matrimony.

The fact is, however, that for much of the twentieth century, two groups worked assiduously to destroy stable, monogamous families headed by patriarchal father-figures and mandated by Christian churches.  Significantly, these two groups head the list of those all-but-immune to criticism within contemporary mainline churches; namely, feminists and Jews.  Despite the cover provided by that rigorously-enforced code of silence, it is ridiculously easy to demonstrate that feminists and Jews (the categories overlap to a remarkable degree) led a multi-pronged campaign to subvert traditional, white Anglo-Saxon Protestant marriages and families.  Feminists enlisted the power of churches, corporations, and the state in their campaign to create a sexual utopia in which female sexual desire was to be liberated from patriarchal oppression.  At the same time, many Jewish intellectuals looked to the polymorphous perversity of the sexual revolution as an avenue of escape from their worst nightmare—the authoritarian personality supposedly fostered by stable monogamous Christian families.[9] 

Sexual Utopia in Power

Alongside Andrew Root’s Children of Divorce, F. Roger Devlin’s Sexual Utopia in Power should be required reading for Christian youth workers.  The latter book is about the decline of virtue in women produced by the feminist revolt against civilization.  Devlin, an independent scholar associated with the Alt Right demonstrates that the ideal of love-based union was always more likely to appeal to women than to men.  The feminist narrative of the lonely suburban housewife trapped in a loveless marriage helps to explain why three-quarters of divorces are initiated by the female spouse (often the husband acts once he realizes that his wife wants out).[10]  Root pays no attention to such statistics.  Instead, he apparently assumes that husbands “fall out of love” at roughly the same rate as wives.  That may be a dangerous assumption.

Devlin contends that monogamy was established to constrain female sexual desire.  He argues that—absent legally-enforced matrimonial covenants—women are no more monogamous than men.  Indeed, “women are more likely than men to confuse sexual attraction with love.”  In agrarian societies, married women on farms or in small towns had fewer opportunities to indulge such attractions.  In the modern urban environment, especially when married women work outside the home, such constraints no longer apply.  Women often say they want “commitment” from a man but just as often they fall for emotionally inaccessible men who make them feel insecure.  Left to themselves, women will look for handsome, socially dominant or wealthy men.  In short, “women are attracted to men whom other women find attractive.[11]  This phenomenon is known as “hypergamy,” the well-known tendency for women to marry upwards.  Among northern European peoples, monogamy subjected female sexual desire to other interests, allowing poorer, less attractive men the opportunity to find a wife to bear and raise his children.

In principle, the abolition of stable, binding monogamous marriages leaves women’s choices free from restriction.  Guided only by their heart’s desire, “all women choose the same few men.”  Devlin points out that Casanova had 132 lovers only “because 132 different women chose him.”  Unfortunately for those devoted to the ideal of love-based unions, “it is obviously impossible for every woman to have exclusive possession of the most attractive man.”[12]  Removal of restraints on female sexual desire inevitably means that more women will want “access to men who have had multiple mates—without facing social disapproval.”  Devlin does disapprove, declaring flatly that women who have fallen out of love with their husbands “have no more ‘right’ to live out such fantasies than men do theirs.”[13]

Disabusing women of their self-serving belief in the possibility of unlimited choice will be no easy matter.  Nevertheless, it is probably the most urgent task of a practical theology ready, willing, and able to roll back the divorce industry.  Root is far too willing to give feminists (and women generally) a free pass, relieving them of primary responsibility for the ontological insecurity, not to mention the massive loss of social capital, inflicted upon the children of divorce.  By contrast, Devlin insists that feminists who support and women who initiate no-fault divorces are sapping the spiritual foundations of Anglo-European civilization.  “Civilization is very largely a matter of high-investment parenting, and that requires heavy and continuing paternal involvement.”  Unlike women, most men do not enter a marriage because they have fallen in love with their mates.  Even in a loveless marriage, “men will gladly work, fight, and sacrifice for children provided they feel sure of their own paternity.”   The most important thing that marriage offers to men is not love but the experience of leadership in a family spanning generations.[14]

Unlike Root, Devlin does not believe in gender equality.[15]  He freely acknowledges that “heterosexual monogamy is incompatible with equality between the sexes.”  Indeed, hypergamy itself requires that men exercise leadership in family life.  “Women want a man they can look up to; they leave or fall out of love with men they do not respect.”  In other words, husbands are supposed to exercise authority over their wives.[16]  The ontological insecurity suffered by the children of divorce is a direct and foreseeable consequence of the movement to strip husbands of patriarchal authority.

Devlin emphasizes the brute economic reality of marriage and family: “women and children consume resources that men are called upon to supply.”  It makes sense for men to accept such an arrangement only when marriage is a legally binding covenant, creating a life-long partnership established for the purpose of bearing and raising children.  Marriage and family are more important to both men and women than romantic courtship.  Overall, most women, Devlin believes, will be happier “by marrying an ordinary man and having children than by seeking sexual thrills, ascending the corporate heights or grinding out turgid tracts on gender theory.”[17]

Root seems altogether oblivious to the ways in which heterosexual monogamy was adapted to evolved psycho-biological differences between European men and women.  Such differences have both theological and political significance.  So, too, do the real and intractable differences between races and ethnic groups.  Stable binding monogamous marriages make sense only to peoples and nations whose culture fosters high-investment parenting.  Anthropologists and evolutionary psychologists have observed that various races and ethnic groups pursue very different reproductive strategies.  They distinguish, for example, between so-called r- and K-strategies.  Among animal species and humans alike, some populations, r-strategists, combine low-investment parenting with larger numbers of offspring.  Other species or groups—the K-strategists—have fewer offspring while investing more parental resources in each, thereby ensuring a higher survival rate.  In the United States, WASPs are K-strategists while Negroes tend to pursue the r-strategy favoured by their sub-Saharan African ancestors.  Accordingly, stable, life-long monogamous marriages characterized WASP families.  By contrast, once American Negroes were freed from legal and social pressure to conform to white cultural norms, their family structure came to resemble a polyandrous matriarchy subsidized by public welfare benefits.[18]  


Root’s existential theology is grounded implicitly in the white Anglo-Saxon Protestant culture of middle America for which high-investment parenting was the norm and divorce was a rare and shameful event.  Judged in accordance with historic WASP cultural standards, low-investing parenting was a sign of family dysfunction.  But just such a family structure is now typical for the vast number of black children in America raised by single mothers.  It seems unlikely that the children of unmarried black “baby mamas” suffer the same existential angst that Root finds among white children of divorce.  If that is so, one cannot help but wonder whether the proponents of divorce law reform knew or cared that white Anglo-Saxon Protestant children had more to lose from the dissolution of their families.  In other words, was the reform movement influenced by the well-known animus directed by generations of Jews towards American WASPs?[19]

Christian youth workers need to factor the reality of such ethno-political rivalries into their understanding of the existential plight into which WASP children of divorce have been plunged.  Leave aside two thousand years of church history.  Simply examine the influence exercised, directly and indirectly, by Jewish intellectuals on the divorce law reform movement in the post-war era.  That story begins with the famous studies on prejudice pioneered by Jewish scholars such as Theodor Adorno (1903–1969) and Max Horkheimer (1895–1973).[20]  These German-Jewish intellectuals-in-exile worried that Anglo-American middle-class child-rearing practices were reproducing the authoritarian personality types who flocked to follow fascist leaders such as Hitler and Mussolini.

They set out to study “a society in which variation in families can be seen as ranging from families that essentially replicate current social structure to families that produce rebellion and change in social structure.”  They strongly disapproved of “the relatively strong sense of ingroup thinking” associated with cohesive Anglo-American families.[21]  Children reared in such circumstances tend to display ethnocentric and negative attitudes towards outsiders.  Many of the Jewish scholars involved in this massive research project believed “that ethnocentrism is a sign of psychiatric disorder and that identification with humanity is the epitome of mental health.”[22]  Accordingly, they advocated permissive child-rearing practices in an open, tolerant, and ethnically-diverse society.

Stable and cohesive gentile families were diagnosed “as pathological, despite the fact that this is exactly the type of family necessary for the continuation of a strong sense of Jewish identity.”[23]  In the intellectual climate producing such studies, it was not difficult to enlist social science in the campaign to subvert the matrimonial foundations of Christian patriarchy.  It was axiomatic for Adorno that “allegiance to ingroups indicates psychopathology in gentiles.”  The “epitome of psychological health” became “the individualist who is completely detached from all ingroups, including his or her family.”  Such persons were not just prime customers for the divorce industry; they were also thought to be “less prone to anti-Semitism.”[24]

Feminists and Jews won a resounding victory in the culture wars when no-fault divorce was introduced.  A youth ministry reaching out to the children of divorce must learn and teach that history lesson.  Parents and children, alike, in broken families need to know that they were the targets in a psychological warfare campaign waged by feminists and Jews against their faith, family, and folk.  Only then will God give them the spiritual strength to fight back against their declared enemies.

*Andrew Fraser is a retired law professor who has just completed a theology degree at Charles Sturt University in Australia. He is the author of The WASP Question (London: Arktos, 2011) and Dissident Dispatches from Divinity School (London: Arktos, 2017).

[1] Andrew Root, The Children of Divorce: The Loss of Family as the Loss of Being (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2010), 20.

[2] Ibid., 109.

[3] Charles Taylor, A Secular Age (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Belknap Press, 2007; James K.A. Smith, How (Not) to Be Secular: Reading Charles Taylor (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans, 2014).

[4] Root, Children of Divorce, 28-29.

[5] Ibid., 4, ix.

[6] Christopher Lasch, Haven in a Heartless World: The Family Besieged (New York: Basic Books, 1977), 134-140.

[7] Carl Schmitt, The Concept of the Political tr. George Schwab (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1976), 26–27. See also, Carl Schmitt, Political Theology: Four Chapters on the Concept of Sovereignty (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1985).

[8] Root, Children of Divorce, 122.

[9] See, especially, Theodor Adorno, E. Frenkel-Brunswik, D. J. Levinson, R. N. & Sanford, The Authoritarian Personality, Publication No. III of the American Jewish Committee Social Studies Series (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1950). But, not to be ignored is the New Left classic by Herbert Marcuse, Eros and Civilization: A Philosophical Inquiry into Freud (New York: Vintage 1961).

[10] F. Roger Devlin, Sexual Utopia in Power: The Feminist Revolt Against Civilization (San Francisco: Counter-Currents, 2015), 26–27.

[11] Ibid., 43, 38, 8.

[12] Ibid., 19–20.

[13] Ibid., 8.

[14] Ibid., 111.

[15] Root, Children of Divorce, 101.

[16] Devlin, Sexual Utopia in Power, 39–40.

[17] Ibid., 38-39.

[18] J. Philippe Rushton, Race, Evolution, and Behavior: A Life History Perspective, third editon (Port Huron, MI: Charles Darwin Research Institute, 2000), 199–216.

[19] Note that Jewish hostility towards European Christianity more broadly is a matter of historical record.  See E. Michael Jones, The Jewish Revolutionary Spirit and its Impact on World History (South Bend, IN: Fidelity Press, 2008).

[20] Theodor Adorno, E. Frenkel-Brunswik, D. J. Levinson, R. N. & Sanford, The Authoritarian Personality, Publication No. III of the American Jewish Committee Social Studies Series (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1950).

[21] Kevin MacDonald, The Culture of Critique: An Evolutionary Analysis of Jewish Involvement in Twentieth-Century Intellectual and Political Movements (Westport, CN: Praeger, 1998; Bloomington, IN: AuthorHouse, 2002), 178.

[22] Ibid., 173.

[23] Ibid., 178.

[24] Ibid., 188.

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