My ex-husband and I had different spiritual outlooks on life. I don’t necessarily attribute that to the breakdown of our marriage, but it probably didn’t help things, either. I had a Protestant Christian upbringing that emphasized community, serving others, inclusion, and, dare I say, religious pluralism. He had some Catholic roots but little instruction or affiliation to speak of, though I’m certain that he considered himself a spiritual person. And he was, to be sure.
At the time of our divorce, I was regularly attending church at a Presbyterian church that prided itself in being a “More Light” congregation (one that welcomes GLBT people of faith). It’s hard not to think about the intersection of religion and marriage when you’re sitting next to couples who can’t legally marry. And when I started to realize how badly I wanted out of my marriage, it was in the pews of that church that I silently sobbed, wondering what it all meant that I might not be able to keep my vows. I never talked to anyone about the specifics of my marital problems, but I remember someone sitting and holding my hand after church one day while I cried.
What do our religious traditions (let us not forget that there are many in this country) say about divorce? As with any hot issue, viewpoints vary widely, but in the Christian and Jewish faiths, there are some Biblical passages that suggest that divorce should rarely be allowed. Yet people from these faiths continue to divorce as much as, if not more often than, people of other faith traditions, including Agnostics and Atheists. So how are people supposed to reconcile their real-life experiences with divorce with what is written in the Bible? As many denominations begin to empathize more with people who suffer in unhealthy marriages and look on divorce with slightly less contempt, they open the door for deeper conversations about what marriage really means today.
I’d love to hear from you on this! I’m no expert on religion. What’s your take?
- Have you felt judged by others about your divorce because of their religious beliefs?
- If you generally believe in the Bible, how do you reconcile the Old Testament statements against divorce? Or, do you believe that the Bible shouldn’t be read so literally in today’s society?
- Do you feel more or less religiously inclined since your divorce?
- What advice would you give to religious leaders about how best to support members of their faith communities through divorce?