SanctiFusion

Life, the Universe, and Everything, from the Outside In

A Divorcé’s Request

with 4 comments

divorce def
My friend,

Please accept this letter in response to your questions. Although I’m sure they were meant well, many people do not realise that divorce is rated as possibly the one most painful event a human being is apt to endure. The death of a loved one is hard; the death of a spouse can be much harder than most; divorce, to at least half of the people who go through it, mixes the sense of loss experienced in bereavement with the combined sense of betrayal and moral failure even in those who did nothing to cause the divorce, who were possibly blindsided by a sudden revelation that their life mate had developed “other interests” and had launched a vicious attack on their “dearly beloved” to provide a smoke screen for their sin. All kinds of such scenarios happen every day, so to ask someone for details about his or her divorce circumstances, though possibly motivated by a sense of religious obligation, is no less callous than presuming to rip someone’s heart scars open to “better understand” the nature of their injury. In fact, the religious angle tends to make the pain all the worse, because the victim feels some obligation “for fellowship’s sake” to submit to such probing at least long enough to allow a good grip on the scar in question. I honestly think that to probe in such a way is much more painful even than to ask a woman, with no warning, to describe to all present all the details surrounding a past abortion.

On the religious part of the question, there is a long-accepted belief that it is a sin to divorce. Nowhere does the Bible support this. Malachi describes a man who is abusing and neglecting his wife, while still married to her, and calls his behavior, or attitude, “putting away,” which God does hate. In Exodus we read that divorce is authorised (even) in the case of a slave woman who is not treated with the full entitlements of a wife, so we can easily expect that a wife had such rights if they were spelled out as applying to the slave as well. Before the Exodus there was no such thing as divorce. Men had the right of property over their wives, even to beat, neglect, or starve them. Today, too often, men are the property of their wives in much the same way. Jesus said, “for the hardness of your hearts it was given.” God, not Moses, gave the ordinance as a relief against the hardheartedness of an abusive, neglectful, or adulterous spouse. The point of the divorce was not to “authorise” a lifelong separation, but so there could be remarriage, as it is spelled out in the Law, both in Exodus and Deuteronomy, so to impose a rule against that in the church is to go against what God’s mercy has provided. Readings of Jesus’ words which seem to be to the contrary overlook the historical / cultural context in which He was speaking, and the fact that, if He had said what many believe, He would have been going back on His promise not to change “one jot or one tittle” of the Law.

If you have any more questions, I will be glad to email you a paper I did on a pastoral approach to the problem. I would prefer not to be interrogated on this matter: not that I have anything to “hide” but, at the same time, I would prefer not to be dealing with a combination of the divorce trauma and that of being categorised and “lovingly” interrogated as someone somehow unworthy of the grace of God at the drop of a hat.

Thank you for your kind consideration.

In Jesus,

Robert

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Written by Robert Easter

Sunday, 6 September, 2009 at 19:25

Posted in Uncategorized

4 Responses

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  1. Hi Robert,
    I found your blog from your thoughtful comment on sexliesandreligion.com and I’m so glad I did.

    Thank you for writing this letter. Thank you for posting it.

    Divorce is like a death. It’s like being a grieving widow while your spouse who is dead to you is out living it up with other people. It’s awful.

    Then there are the “church” issues. As if your personal horror and grief were not enough.

    Thank you for articulating a well thought out way to share a boundary with someone asking intrusive questions.

    May great joy and healing be yours,
    Shula

    Shula

    Sunday, 22 November, 2009 at 7:31

    • Hi, Shula!

      From your tag I assume you’ve found a better arrangement now- Congratulations!

      It’s curious that people with “good” marriages so easily minimise the pain one can experience from that loss. Almost as if they’re not considering even their own experience. How would they feel if the one they so deeply trusted suddenly became their worst imaginable enemy, or revealed that their own part in the covenant had been a sham from the first?

      Blessings on you!

      Robert

      Robert Easter

      Monday, 23 November, 2009 at 10:14

  2. Hi Robert,
    For some reason, I didn’t know until today that you had commented back. WordPress glitch? Anyway, I appreciate your congratulations. I was SensuousWife before he cheated, and I chose to keep my online identity and my ministry of helping women lay hold of freedom and sexual health and healing. I now have a wonderful man in my life and look forward to remarrying. SensuousWife will be a wife again!
    The therapist I worked with during my grief process told me that many married people find their friend’s divorce threatening, thinking ‘Oh God if it could happen to them it could happen to me’ and so they pull away from the divorcee. This idea comforted me when I was sad that couples we had been friends with for years didn’t return my calls during and after the divorce.
    What are some of the married person priviledges you miss? What are some of the single person priviledges you enjoy?
    Blessings,
    Shula

    Shula

    Thursday, 31 December, 2009 at 13:17

  3. Hi, Shula!

    Good news is indeed refreshing! Good that you replied, that you are doing well, and that you have better prospects on the horizon (and good, too, that this lady is not writing with some kind of “I’m so lonely. How about you??” line!) :^D

    What I’ve seen of the pulling away is in two areas: One, that the wives of friends fear their “hubbies” will envy my new-gained “freedom,” and second is church friends who feel I have violated the greatest commandment by allowing the unfaithful to depart (1 Cor. 7). What do I miss? Just being in a family, somebody who (I think) loves me to hold close, altogether, just tokens of acceptance. Without the Lord in my life, and particularly the Church, I’d be a goner. So now, like a teenager looks forward all week to a Friday date night, I look forward to mid-week suppers and Sunday Eucharist. Household involvement? Studies, car repair, etc. It’s all good!

    Thanks for the note & the good news. A wonderful new year to you all!

    Robert

    Robert

    Thursday, 31 December, 2009 at 13:47


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