4 Myths about Divorce that Can Hurt Your Church – Part 2 of 4 in the Series
When a person is facing divorce, it is so easy to tell them to turn to prayer. And we should. There’s no better time for ceaseless prayer than during times of trouble.
But, the simple directive that, “You just need to pray more and God will save your marriage,” falls short. Plus, what if you pray, and pray, and pray and God doesn’t save your marriage? What then?
Now, don’t get me wrong, I am a huge believer in the power of prayer. Prayer builds our relationship with God, acknowledges His power, and helps us align our wills with His. Prayer is integral to the Christian life. But, simply saying, “You just need to pray more,” or “pray and God will save your marriage” has at least three problems.
- It can lead to the belief that if the marriage ends in divorce, then God is to blame.
- It feels like a brush off to those who have already prayed and prayed.
- We fail to help hurting people see how God’s word gives them support and direction.
Let’s take these one at a time.
1. If the Marriage Ends in Divorce, then God Must be to Blame
It stands to reason that if God is supposed to save a marriage if you ask Him to and He doesn’t, then God is to blame. Okay, you and I may know that isn’t true but if you’re fighting for your marriage and pleading for God to save it and He doesn’t, that’s an understandable conclusion. The huge problem with this is that it often leads people to blame God for their divorces. When we blame God we deprive ourselves of his healing power. We also place responsibility in the wrong place.
2. It feels like a brush off.
When a person has been praying and doing everything possible to save his or her marriage, saying, “pray more,” is well, redundant. If we leave it at “pray more” we are missing the opportunity to connect with the person and help him or her set a positive, prayerful course of action. Is only saying “pray more” going to help the woman whose husband is “experimenting” with other women? Honestly, when spoken by Christians she respects, it is more than likely going to leave her feeling guilty that somehow her prayers haven’t been enough to save her marriage.
3. We Fail to Help them See How God’s Word Gives them Direction
Maybe it doesn’t come naturally to some to associate the Word of God with coping with and healing from divorce. I can understand that. But, the Bible is filled with many relevant scriptures ranging from the comforting words of Psalm to the daily insights of Proverbs to the promises of the Gospels. Guiding people who are hurting from divorce through a cohesive journey of relevant Scriptures can be extremely helpful.
Going beyond “Just Pray”
We can do so much more to help people who are hurting from divorce. We can listen. We can pray with them. If appropriate, we can encourage them into marriage counseling and recommend Christian marriage reconciliation resources. And, if the marriage is at an end, we can help divorced and soon-to-be-divorced people see how God’s Word offers them healing and direction for life after divorce.
As I said, I definitely believe in prayer. In fact, each reading in the participant book for the Peace after Divorce Workshop group study addresses issues faced by those who are hurting from divorce, and ends with a call to talk with God that reads like this:
“Talk with God – Ponder this reading and share your thoughts with God. Listen so that the Holy Spirit might fill you with wisdom and peace. What concrete actions do you need to take based on what God is saying to you?”
I think we miss many of the components of this process of healing prayer when we just say, “Pray enough,” or “You just need to pray.”
As the hands and feet of God, we as the church need do so much more.
Other Topics in this Series:
4 Myths about Divorce that Can Hurt Your Church
There’s a good chance someone in your church has at least one belief that hinders your church’s ability to effectively minister to the divorced and divorcing. You may say, well not me! But, are you sure?
Divorce can be a hard topic for church leaders. We know that God hates divorce and that marriage is sacred. We also know that in His grace, God is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.
Over the years since I founded After Divorce Ministries and created the Peace after Divorce Workshop, I’ve heard a lot of stories from divorced and divorcing people. It’s fairly common for people to share that their church leaders simply don’t know what to say, or how to help them, when it comes to divorce. And as hard as it is to believe, some have even included tales of how their church leadership or members made them feel rejected, unwelcomed, and like second-rate Christians.
In writing this series I want to help dispel some of the thoughts that are causing well-intended church people problems when it comes to ministering to those who are hurting from divorce. I believe that by becoming more aware we can significantly improve our ability to reach out to these hurting people with compassion and grace. We can offer them support instead of a sense of isolation, and we can help them find peace in a redeeming relationship with Christ.