Saturday, May 21, 2011

Ain't no Rapture like the VelociRapture

This my favorite of today's rapture jokes.

(Thanks to Jay Garmon)

Friday, May 20, 2011

Proportion of Marriages Making it to the Tenth Anniversary Is Rising

Traditionally there has been a spike in divorces from the "seven-year itch." If couples make it to their tenth anniversary, their odds of going all the way step up significantly.

The proportion of married couples making it to their tenth anniversary is rising.

75% of couples married in the early '90s made it to their tenth anniversary.

This is 3% higher than the success rate of couples married in the early '80s.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Costs of Married Parents?

I asked my "Introduction to Family Life" class to consider the costs and benefits of the most common type of family - a married couple and their children - and the several major variants that we studied. They did a good job considering the costs and benefits of the variants. On the most common type, though, several of them came to this considered judgment (I am quoting from one exam):

There are not real costs to marriage and a two parent household, there are only benefits.

I was taken aback by this. Not really because I disagree, but because I am used to thinking that all arrangements have costs as well as benefits.

I would be interested in your thoughts on this question and answer.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Presbyterian Church Votes to Tolerate Gay Ordination

The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) has just changed ordination standards to, in effect, allow practicing homosexuals to be ordained.   The exact language of the church's constitution that was dropped and replaced is written below.

Some have read this as a move by the church toward liberalism.  I do not think that is quite right.  Rather, I believe the loyalist middle of the church changed what it thinks can be tolerated.  It did not change its traditional view that the Bible calls homosexual practice a sin.  Instead, the loyalist center changed its traditional view that the sin of homosexual practice cannot be tolerated.

In other words, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) used to say that homosexual practice was a sin like child sacrifice - absolutely forbidden.  Now the church says homosexual practice is a sin like divorce - bad, but tolerable.

STRIKING: “Those who are called to office in the church are to lead a life in obedience to Scripture and in conformity to the historic confessional standards of the church. Among these standards is the requirement to live either in fidelity within the covenant of marriage between a man and a woman (W-4.9001), or chastity in singleness. Persons refusing to repent of any self-acknowledged practice which the confessions call sin shall not be ordained and/or installed as deacons, elders, or ministers of the Word and Sacrament.

AND INSERTING: Standards for ordained service reflect the church’s desire to submit joyfully to the Lordship of Jesus Christ in all aspects of life (G-1.0000). The governing body responsible for ordination and/or installation (G.14.0240; G-14.0450) shall examine each candidate’s calling, gifts, preparation, and suitability for the responsibilities of office. The examination shall include, but not be limited to, a determination of the candidate’s ability and commitment to fulfill all requirements as expressed in the constitutional questions for ordination and installation (W-4.4003). Governing bodies shall be guided by Scripture and the confessions in applying standards to individual candidates.”

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Still No Rush to Gay Marriage, Even Among the Tolerant Dutch

In the ten years since the Netherlands legalized homosexual marriage, only 15,000 couples have actually married.  The Dutch national statistics agency estimates that that is only 20% of homosexual couples in the Netherlands, compared to a marriage rate of about 80% for heterosexual couples.

This confirms what I had estimated based on Eskridge and Spedale's pioneering study of gay marriage rates in Denmark, the first country to legalize homosexual marriage.

There is not a large demand for marriage among homosexuals.  There is a large demand for the right of homosexuals to marry among liberals.

As a practical matter, passing gay marriage laws does not change much in how very many people live. This says to me that those who are worried that gay marriage laws will lead to big changes in American life can rest easier.

Monday, May 16, 2011

A Fifth of American Women Never Have Kids

Almost a fifth of American women in their early 40s have not had a child.  Barring something very unusual, they will never have any.

The rule of thumb for all societies is that 90% of people marry, and 90% of them have children.  This yields an average of 87% of the people in most populations have children.

Immigrants to the U.S. reproduce at exactly that rate: 87%.  But the native population is down to 80%.  Were it not for immigration our population would be declining.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Religion-Income Link is Not Just From Education

A new Pew study of religion and class shows an almost direct line between education and income.  The denominations with the highest average income - Reform Jews, Hindus, and Conservative Jews - also have the highest level of education.  Two-thirds of Reform Jewish households make more than $75,000 per year.  The median income of a household of four is $50,000.

David Leonhardt, in the New York Times article on this study,  rightly notes the education/income link.  He wonders why the secularists and Unitarians, who have high levels of education, do not have household incomes to match. 

I have a hypothesis: secularists and Unitarians have a high unmarried rate.  Secularists tend to be younger than other religious groups, and less likely to have married yet.  Unitarians have a high fraction who changed religions, often after a divorce.  Both of these conditions reduce household income compared to other religious groups, which are more married.