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Sunday, October 30, 2005 

D-I-V-O-R-C-E

The Mormon Church recognizes divorce.

“In the gospel view, all marriages should be eternal, and divorce should never enter the picture. But since all men—as a result of apostasy and iniquity—are not living (and in their present states cannot live) the full and perfect gospel law, the Lord permits divorce and allows the dissolution of the marriage union.” B.R. McConkie

I guess if we were all perfect, there would be no need for divorce. As long as we remain imperfect, we need divorce.

The divorce rate peaked in the late 70’s (according to a recent “Radio West” show on NPR…). The divorce rate has declined slowly since then, although it is still a prevalent and prominent family issue nationally. There is an erroneous statistic out there that half of all marriages end in divorce. (You can look that one up, because, again, I heard that myth busted on the Diane Rheim show.)

When I was really little, I didn’t know many people at church who got divorces. Little kids don’t often know what goes on in the adult world. Even when divorce was at its peak, there was still a stigma attached socially (not only in our Mormon culture). These days, while we still may hold certain prejudices against our least favorite member of the couple in question, there is less of a social stigma.

I don’t have much personal experience with divorce. My parents have been happily and successfully married for almost 35 years. I have been blessed with a marriage that is ridiculously easy and thoroughly enjoyable (almost to the point of guilt and sometimes embarrassment).

I think that divorce is sad, but sometimes, it’s necessary. Anyone who might have an experience being ostracized or excluded due to their own marital status or the status of their parents is a victim of personal prejudice and not official church policy, and that, too, is sad.

People change. Some people do complete 180’s. You never think it can happen to you, but it happens. You can never MAKE a person live the commandments or love you, but you can make sure that there are certain elements present in your marriage that would up your chances of staying together. If I weren’t so flu-ish I’d list them, but I’m no expert. I’m just lucky.

Maybe I'm lucky, but when I got divorced (almost a year ago), I got nothing but support from most Mormon friends and family (except, notably from my parents).

However, even with that support, it really made me think about my level of activity in the church, because it just seemed that so many activities, programs, etc., were so family oriented.

I guess, what I'm saying, is that even with support, divorce is hard on a person, so if you know anyone getting one or having recently gotten one, be nice to them. I really appreciated the people who were willing to help and listen.

I have been divorced for 9 years after being married in the temple for under a year. I have heard every type of reaction from members of the Church regarding my marital status. For several years I defined myself by my divorce and felt my view-point was unalterably influenced by that single factor. Then I stopped telling people and felt like it was a hidden secret only to be displayed for shock value or imparting sage advice. Almost without fail when I tell people I am divorced the first question is "were you married in the temple" because they cannot believe or understand how I could be divorced if the marriage started there. Every individual is entitled to their agency - even in marriage. I made choices, he made choices. I can explain I was the victim in the marriage because he made overt "bad" choices involving drugs, alcohol, possibly other women all initiated only 2-3 months after the temple wedding. But I shouldn't have to justify a difficult time in my life to others. If I could change anything about Mormon culture it would be to have less judgment and more understanding. One does not have to agree with other's choices to be supportive of them through difficulties. Divorce is not contagious. Most divorced members of the church would like nothing more than to find someone with whom they can have an eternal marriage. There are many, many stigmas attached to divorce in the church and whether the person is currently embroiled in it or years away from it, the keys should be love, support and understanding no matter the circumstance.

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This Week's Topic:

  • The Sabbath Day

Various Authors

  • Monday:
    Kaycee opted out of Mormondom 4 years ago. She calls herself agnostic.
  • Tuesday:
    Sarah is not your average Gospel Doctrine Teacher.
  • Wednesday:
    Carrie Ann comes from pioneer stock, and lives in Provo, but is open minded and fair.
  • Thursday:
    Ned Flanders hasn't been to church in a while, but maintains an interest in all things Mormon.
  • Friday:
    John C. is an academic with a sense of humor and a testimony.
  • Saturday:
    JP's not going to church and feeling okay about it.

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