For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” But if you bite and devour one another, beware lest you be consumed by one another!
– Galatians 5:14-15, NKJV
Lamenting divorce rates among Christians
Likely, it is meant well.
Good intentions are there, I am sure.
Pastors are disconcerted to see families broken apart. They grieve over the divorces in their midst. And they want to see such painful trends end.
They lament from the pulpit or pen about how sad the increase of divorce is. Some might even name clergy as part of this “sad” trend as well. I know because I have read it. And I know as I was part of the problem before my own painful experiences taught me otherwise.
This is an imprecise lament.
The imprecision creates an environment of shame for the divorced in the church, which includes the godly so.
While possibly unintentionally, the pastor who laments about divorce rates increasing is lumping all divorcees into the same category. They are treating victims and perpetrators alike.
Such a lament says all divorced parties are part of the problem. This message is actually ungodly and cruel.
Scripture teaches us that sin is the problem.
Divorce is not always sin.
A wise minister recognizes these Biblical truths and applies it pastorally. He does not lament about the rise of divorce–per se.
The pastor laments about the rise of sin that is destroying marriages and harming innocents.
He teaches about our “throw-away” society and how such views are incompatible with God’s teachings on marriage.
He teaches about the evil of adultery warning all of its dire spiritual consequences.
He teaches about–the usually–unnamed victims of divorce following infidelity or abandonment:
- The spouse who uncovered the secret life of his partner who was committing adultery for months, if not years, of their marriage.
- The wife who came home to an empty house and a cruel note laying out the pending divorce.
- The children abandoned by a selfish, adulterous parent just wanting “to feel alive” again.
- The parents whose lives are shattered by a child’s rebellious adultery and divorce that brings into question if they will ever see their grandchildren again.
When a pastor laments about divorce, he implies all these people are to blame. They all bear the mark of divorce–in one way or another. And divorce is a shame, ain’t it?! Thereby, the pastor treats the victims like the perpetrators.
That is not just.
Divorce is traumatic. And it is sad.
Like a war, much suffering is always involved. But also like war, sometimes it is necessary. And sometimes–like a war–one is engaged in divorce whether or not one likes it.
Ultimately, divorce is not the problem.
*A version of this post ran previously.