DIVORCE FROM THE INSIDE
by Rebbeca Jay
The frosting on our anniversary cake was still fresh when I
discovered my husband's gay Web site. So much for twenty-five
years of marriage - more like twenty-five years of betrayal.
After I picked my heart up off the floor, I called my pastor. He
listened and set up a meeting with the other church leaders.
I told my story, and the leaders encouraged me to follow the
biblical pattern for confrontation:
1. Go to my husband and tell him I knew his secret.
2. If he wanted to change, they would help him be accountable and
3. If he didn't want to change, they would go as a group and
4. Pray and hope for the best.
Unfortunately, my husband refused to follow the leaders'
advice or a counselor's suggestions. Two years later, after a
trial separation and hours of therapy, I stood before a judge and
listened to her end my marriage.
Church members were the perfect support group for my son and
me. One of the deaconesses took me to lunch and let me vent.
Another woman, also divorced, visited us and gave practical
advice. People in my cell group sent cards, and many church
members gave us hugs and promised to pray. A youth leader took my
son for a ride on his Harley - a boost for a thirteen-year-old
In so many ways, members of my church family reached out to
us, helping us through the initial shock. But in other ways, they
How the church helped
Practical living and survival were the first necessities. My
pastor advised me to take everything out of the joint savings
account and set up my own checking account. He helped me realize
I had to put aside my bruised feelings and learn to survive. I
did what he said, then I prayed that God would somehow make my
tiny checking account grow.
For the holidays that year, my landlady brought us a huge
box of canned goods and some gift cards. We ate these freebies
for over a month. Another friend set me up with an interview that
resulted in a great job. One of the men from church offered to
check over my truck and made sure it was in running order. He
showed me how to check the fluids.
Sometimes envelopes came in the mail with twenty dollar
bills - no name attached. Coupons appeared for "Buy one get one
free" meals. People from church called to check on us. "How are
you doing today?" "Do you need anything?" "I've got an extra loaf
of bread. May I bring it over?"
One friend went to garage sales and found things she thought
we could use. She often came at night and dropped these treasures
on our porch. One time, she brought a magazine rack that matched
my decor. Another time, a silk scarf appeared to help me feel
beautiful again. Usually her gifts included some chocolate - the
best comfort food.
A counselor in the church gave free therapy so I could sit
on her couch and unload. Her practical advice helped me see areas
where I could have been a better wife, but also kept me from
wallowing in self-pity.
Another woman who had struggled through divorce gave me the
Web site of "Divorce Care" (www.divorcecare.org/.) There I found
resources and a daily meditation that helped me stay away from
One friend who had been through financial struggles showed
me how to save on utilities. A medical clinic for the uninsured
helped take care of our health needs. Another person gave us
vitamins at a discount.
Maybe my status inside the church helped multiply the
kindness given to us. I'd like to think my church would help
every single mom. But I also know some churches need to learn a
few things about helping the divorced.
How the church hurt
When I moved to another church, I found a colder approach to
the subject. Suddenly my label of "single mom" was preceded by
"divorced." Some people separated us into two demographics:
single moms whose husbands had died, and divorced single moms
whose marriages had failed. The first group had more advantages.
Sermons at this church focused only on happily married people
with perfect families. After awhile, the prejudice sickened me. I
knew some of the folks in those pews, and I knew they were faking
their smiles. With the rise of pornography, I felt certain
some of those pretending devotion were hiding a secret life. Yet
because they still wore wedding rings, they were accepted into
leadership. I was not.
Except for the youth program, many classes at that church
centered around couples. Single people often did not fit in.
Tables at church dinners were set with an even number of chairs,
as if singles were not welcome unless they had a date. No one
offered to sit beside me in the pew, so I sat alone until a nice
couple sat with me. Each of them had been through divorce, so
they understood the loneliness. If I hadn't been so stubborn, I
would have left that church.
When I researched the subject, I found that many churches do
not want to appear as if they support divorce, so they tend to
ignore the singles demographic. Churches are, after all,
sanctuaries for families, and they want their members to have
Although I am divorced, I believe in the sanctity of
marriage. It has always been the cornerstone of family, and
church leaders should promote strong marriages. They should also
work to ensure accountability and counsel for marriages in
trouble. Providing the resources that help keep families together
is one solid way the church can help.
But church leaders should also understand the reality that
some marriages will fail even in the best of families. The Bible
teaches that God hates divorce,
(Actually this is one of the Scriptures [Malachi 2:16] VERY
MISUNDERSTOOD by most theologians and hence the lay people. They
often give emphasis to the verse in Malachi, but sure will not
give any emphasis to a Scripture where God COMMANDED divorce! You
need to study my study called "Divorce and Re-marriage" on this
Website - Keith Hunt)
but it does not state that God rejects divorced people. As the
group of people that follow God's laws, the church should be the
one place where hurting people can find help and hope.
I finally left that church for another. By this time, my son
was grown, and more time had passed in the halls of churches.
Divorced people were hanging from some of the best family trees,
and the leaders had to deal with it. The pastor in my new church
still preached about the importance of strong marriages, but he
also urged the leadership to consider helping single moms.
Becoming a church that helps instead of hurts requires swallowing
a few nuggets of truth:
* Women and children must be protected from abuse.
* Adultery should not be tolerated or enabled.
* God cares for shattered people and helps them heal.
* The church can help the victims of divorce forgive and move
My status as a divorced woman taught me about reality. My
position inside the church taught me how to help. My relationship
with Christ teaches me how to forgive.
Rebecca Jay is a pseudonym.
From "The Bible Advocate" - June 2009 - a publication of the
Church of God, Seventh Day - Denver, CO. USA