I've come across this sentence in Hitchen's God Is Not Great (which I've been reading and working on for several months, and hence all the questions). That's a real simple one. But I seem to get stuck in the word record every time I read it.

"In the evening to debate with Marvin Olasky at the LBJ Library. Olasky is the man who coined the term “compassionate conservatism” and helped evolve Bush’s “faith-based initiative.” He’s a convert from both Musevilik and Communism. He tells the audience that his record as a married man improved after he became a Christian. I’m ready to believe it. He also mentions many nice people who do good things because of their faith. I reply that I am ready to believe that, too, as long as it’s admitted that many people behave worse because of their religion. My challenge: Name an ethical statement or action, made or performed by a person of faith, that could not have been made or performed by a nonbeliever. I have since asked this question at every stop and haven’t had a reply yet."

I've looked it up in Oxford Dictionaries and Merriam-Webster only to get confused a little further.

I've considered the possibility of it being slang and searched on Urban Dictionary as well. The closest thing I could find is a track record which, according to Urban Dictionary, means "A person's history of intense relationships (such as boyfriend /girlfriend or one night stand) with (usually) the opposite sex. Usually used to gauge whether it's worth it to go after someone."

To sum it up, I can come up with the following options:

  • All the things done from the start of the marriage.

  • All the accomplishments made in the marriage.

  • Sexual performance as a partner in the marriage.

I would greatly appreciate any insightful remarks.

Thank you very much.

  • 1
    More context would help. Could you please add some? Commented Jul 14, 2015 at 15:12
  • Sure. I'll add the whole passage.
    – A.K.
    Commented Jul 14, 2015 at 15:22
  • 1
    As an aside, "record" in this sense often refers to a criminal record. So if somebody "has a record", that means they have been convicted of something. That, of course, is not the meaning in this context - but it stems from the same definition. Commented Jul 14, 2015 at 16:04
  • Within the context, he seems to be saying that he has had problems with faithfulness in the past (ie - affairs), but has done better since converting to Christianity.
    – Omegacron
    Commented Jul 14, 2015 at 19:59

1 Answer 1


In the absence of further context, I believe the definition of 'record' you are looking for is this one:

The sum of the past achievements or performance of a person, organization, or thing.

I believe that Hitchens is saying that Marvin Olasky is claiming that he has become a better husband since becoming a Christian. It is likely, as they are discussing religion (thus morality/ethics) in context to being a 'better husband', that he is refering to improved devotion/understanding/supportiveness/ faithfullness to his partner etc. So the sentence could be reworded as:

"He’s a convert from both Judaism and Communism. He tells the audience that since becoming a Christian he has become a better husband. I’m ready to believe it."

  • I think you've made a good point. Now it makes more sense to me. Thank you very much.
    – A.K.
    Commented Jul 14, 2015 at 15:38
  • You're welcome, glad it was helpful :)
    – amblina
    Commented Jul 14, 2015 at 19:44
  • 2
    @A.K. One nuance in the word "record:" it usually implies the sum of observations which could be seen by another individual, identified, and written down. So one would not say "His record improved - he no longer felt the need to be with other women," because his "feeling" is not directly observable by others. Saying "His record improved - he no longer slept with other women" would be valid because one could presumably observe whether he slept with other woman (if you followed him closely enough and documented his actions)
    – Cort Ammon
    Commented Jul 14, 2015 at 20:35
  • 1
    In this case, his "record" is a self-claimed record. He still could not count his "feelings" in general because it is too hard to write them down and score them. However, some specific feeling-related things could be scored. He could count the number of times he looked at another woman and registered the feeling of "lust." Nobody else's record of his actions could include this (because they could not see his list), but his personal record could include it.
    – Cort Ammon
    Commented Jul 14, 2015 at 20:37

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .