Why Is the Pulpit Strangely Quiet About Divorce?
Since the 1970s, millions of children have been caught in the middle of the divorce wars. After the then Governor Ronald Reagan signed the No Fault Divorce decree divorce in 1969 divorce has been rampant. Most recently the divorce rate has slowed down but that might be because the co-habitation rate is up.
Adult children of divorce, you know those kids whose parents divorced back in the 70s and 80s, will tell you they don’t trust marriage so they choose to cohabitate. The problem with cohabitation is the children still suffer because most cohabitation situations eventually break up. And to the child it is still the death of the once intact relationship of their parents. Makes no difference to a child if it is called divorce or break up – it still hurts.
It is no wonder in Malachi 2:16 that God says He hates divorce. The heavenly Father knew what divorce would do to people.
- He knew that the act of divorce could be passed down through generations. Adult children of divorce are more likely to divorce than adult children from two-parent families.
- He knew that divorce is the death of a once intact family and that there would be grieving that accompanies this death. Children grieve, parents grieve, grandparents grieve, friends grieve and God grieves.
- God knew the children would hurt and they would hurt for a lifetime.
- Malachi 2:15 tells us that God “made them one” and that He did this because “he was seeking godly off spring.” Most divorcing families drop out of church after the divorce. The children are not given a chance to become “godly offspring”.
Recently I wrote about the Murdered Single Mom. It happened in my community and we are all wondering what went wrong. What happened to cause such a tragedy? In that article I write,
“Children and youth ministers need to be the first line of defense for kids whose parents are separating and divorcing. We should be the ones leading the way so that schoolteachers, coaches, community leaders and extended family know how to help individual children and teens. This means we must become knowledgeable about what divorce does to some children.”
This also means that those standing in the pulpit need to have a deep understanding of what happens when there is a divorce in their congregation. Divorce is wrong but that doesn’t mean God doesn’t love the divorced people because He does. He loves them deeply because He knows how much it hurts.
Divorce is the tearing apart of a relationship. It hurts so much because man cannot just pull apart what God joined together. I once heard it described as having two pieces of paper glued together for years. When one tries to pull the two pieces of paper apart there is a tearing of the paper. Some of the paper and residue is left on each side. You cannot pull apart two pieces of paper that have been glued together for years without some damage occurring on each piece of paper. Two people who have been married cannot pull apart without some damage occurring on each person.
I realize that ministers and church leaders don’t want to get caught trying to choose sides. If as a minister, you were close to the couple, you will be grieving the loss of this marriage too. You may wonder what you could have done to intervene and help the couple. Or you may wonder why you didn’t see it coming. You may need to find someone to talk to yourself as you sort through your feelings.
You will also need to hold your congregation together. I have only seen one minister hold a congregation together when there was a divorce in their midst. In this situation two married couples were close and did a lot of things together. Their children were the same age and that brought the four adults into a close relationship. The problem was that one of the father’s fell in love with the mother in the other family. These two people decided to leave their mates and their children and move in together.
Of course the two people who were left were devastated. As rumors began to fly and people began to take sides the church leadership was called into action. One Sunday morning at the end of the service the minister explained that there had been a recent separation in the church and that two couples were divorcing. He went onto explain that he and his staff had followed the mandate in the book of Matthew.
Matthew 18: 15-17 “If your brother or sister sins,go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector.”
He had followed the scripture and had visited the offending parties. He then took deacons with him to talk to each person. They refused to repent, were living together and were choosing not to restore their marriages. The pastor then asked that the church not to gossip about the situation but to pray fervently for all involved. He said he would not give out the names of the couples but that the Lord knew who they were. He then asked that those in the congregation who wished to come to the front to the prayer alter to come forward and pray for the adults and for the children in these two families.
Ministers and church leaders can educate themselves by reading blog such as this one on Hope 4 Hurting Kids and The Kids & Divorce blog. You can find basic information such as How Divorce Affects Children all the way through the ages to how divorce affects the adult children.
Why is the pulpit strangely quiet about divorce? I have thought and thought about this question. I don’t know the answer. Is it because divorce is too messy? Is it because ministers are worried it will appear they are condemning the divorce in their congregations? Are ministers worried they will make the divorced angry and they won’t return?
With millions of kids in our world today living in single parent homes isn’t it time we amped up the war on divorce within the church but we that keep loving the divorced person? Do we really want to lose another generation of children to the world, to divorce to the co-habitation?
In DC4K, DivorceCare for Kids, we tell the children that God doesn’t like divorce. We explain that people make mistakes but God still loves them. We want the kids to understand that divorce hurts and God doesn’t like it when people divorce but He still loves their divorced parents. Isn’t it about time we tell the world that God hates divorce and why He hates it?For more resources and information on divorce, family disruption and modern families please visit our Hope 4 Hurting Kids Divorce and Modern Family Help Center.
This article is updated and adapted from an article originally published on Divorce Ministry 4 Kids on January 17, 2014.