Divorce seems to go against the teachings of many religions. For people of faith struggling with their marriage that can create a significant moral dilemma: how do reconcile divorce with your faith.
That’s an issue my current guest, Missy had to confront. Here’s Missy:
You cannot separate who I am from my faith in God. And when I say God, I’m speaking of God of the Bible that a Christian would follow. It’s such an integral part of who I am that I cannot separate those two identities. I can’t compartmentalize that.
My father’s a minister and I was raised in a very conservative home. Divorce was not something I was real familiar with, because in the church where I grew up at the time and this was the 80’s, it was just not as common a thing. Our circle of people didn’t go through divorce and I had some very strong, very false ideas about what God probably thought about it.
I think I had been judgmental about others and I feared that same judgment towards myself. When I went through the situation, I felt I was going to be judged or looked upon lowly for initiating the divorce. But I came to understand that God as I know Him, which is the God of the Bible, He does hate divorce but it’s not because it’s any worse than anything else that the human experience creates in our lives.
He hates adultery.
He hates murder.
He hates abuse.
He hates all of those things.
Divorce seems to affect a larger number of people and so, yes, if it can be avoided, I think it should be. I don’t think marriages should be disposable or easily untangled. But there are times when it’s necessary and God makes perfect allowance for that.
I’ve heard situations where you can only divorce in case of adultery and things like that, which is specifically spoken to in the New Testament of the Bible. But in the Old Testament where God relates his relationship with the nation of Israel to a marriage, He says He divorced them because they didn’t keep His covenant. He uses that terminology and so for us to blanket things and say, “Divorce should never happen,” well, a lot of things should never happen, but we live in a fallen world, in a fallen culture and we’re all living with the consequences of being imperfect people. That’s why we need God in the first place, in my opinion.
While my parents are no way judgmental—in fact they’re quite open and caring people, I just wasn’t exposed to a lot of different types of lifestyles and so a divorced family to me was very much a failure. I felt like to initiate a divorce especially would basically be writing off God’s ability to bless me to the fullest extent. That’s the only way I know how to describe it. It was if I was giving up on the best for my life.
I really struggled against that for a long time and didn’t even consider divorce because of that. As I broadened my perceptions of reality, and even the study of scripture to realize that God is not as black and white as some people may think, that there’s a lot of freedom within His plan for each of us, it allowed me to explore other options besides what I thought was the only prescribed way for my life.
The Divorce Coach Says
Following Missy’s lead, I would encourage you not to let your faith stop you from confronting the issues in your marriage. Instead of accepting them as “it is what is,” find the courage to talk to your spouse about the issue. Keep an open mind about where those talks will lead. By raising the issue, you at least create the opportunity for change.
Talk to the spiritual leaders in your faith community for their guidance with your situation. If they don’t seem supportive, don’t abandon your faith. Look for a different faith community or a spiritual counselor who’s not affiliated with your community. Ultimately it comes down to you deciding what your God would want for you.
Missy blogs at Far From Flawless where she writes about leading a Christian life with a blended family hoping that sharing her journey will empower others to shun the mask of imperfection and open themselves to authentic living.