The Shock and Shame of Divorce in the Church

Unfortunately, many family structures have been plagued by the grueling process of divorce. Divorce not only hurts the spouses involved, but it also strains parental relationships, family relationships, and long-term friendships. About half of all marriages end in divorce. It’s a very frightening statistic, and shockingly, it is not much lower in Christian marriages that are actively participating in the faith. Having a Christian marriage, with two individuals who are actively participating in the faith, is not a safeguard against divorce. Oftentimes, there is a fallacy in the church that makes individual believers believe that if you marry another believer, then your marriage is divorce-proof. I believe that this fallacy is perpetuated by the unwavering pressure for couples to get married quickly, without proper preparation, in order to avoid fornication.

I believe that God’s ultimate plan for our lives regarding marriage and purity is perfect. Unfortunately, many families are not grooming their children for purity nor the true meaning and sacrifice that is required for a committed marriage. With that, we are finding many couples who have finally become dedicated to the faith and the principles of faith, missing key components needed for marriage, and are unduly rushing into marriage. Later they find themselves incompatible or broken in the relationship without the personal tools and understanding to make the marriage last.

Failure teaches us many things. I have been divorced twice. In the failure of both of those marriages, I have had a real opportunity to reflect and recognize many of the internal aspects of marriage. I am a Christian who is active in the faith. Unfortunately, divorce is looked upon as a disgrace in many church environments, and divorcées are ridiculed, labeled as damaged goods, and left to feel shameful and full of guilt.

I was twenty-two years old when I married my first husband. During the second year of my first marriage, I rededicated my life to Christ and began to really take hold of the Christian lifestyle. My husband at the time was seeking for inclusion in the faith and rededicated his life shortly after I did. We had very different agendas for life, and differences in our inner beliefs and moral compasses. We quickly grew apart. There was infidelity, there was forgiveness, then there was infidelity again and the relationship quickly went downhill with a toddler in tow. My first husband literally walked out of the marriage and never returned. In over twenty years, I’ve yet to see him or hear his voice.

However, I never thought that I’d ever divorce my second husband. We met in our church, shared the very same faith, beliefs and ideologies, but somewhere along the journey, our individual brokenness’ resurrected and jeopardized our marriage on so many levels. I can truly admit that I was broken with a lot of unresolved issues when I married the second time. Unfortunately, when I really recognized my issues, there was a lot of damage that had already been done in the relationship, along with a plethora of other issues.

Marriages require faith and belief, but they also require selflessness, an understanding of the opposite sex, tangible skills and a host of other variables. There are varying seasons of life, children, job losses, teenagers, aging parents and illnesses that can affect relationships. It is important that churches and believers are adequately preparing women and men for the various seasons of a marriage.

If our desire is to detour divorce as believers, then it is important that as believers we assist in the focus of proper marriage preparation. In addition, we must show love, and empathy for those who have been divorced. It is not our place as believers to place shame and guilt on those who have endured such a painful journey of divorce. Life is a long journey, we never know what we will be faced with in the future. It is vital that we give the compassion and love that we would desire to receive if we are faced with a similar life situation or a divorce.