An Exclusive Interview with God on the Topic of Divorce!
Lots of people struggle with the idea of getting a divorce. For many, a big part of the dilemma is whether God approves or disapproves of changing your mind about something that you promised to stick with for the rest of your life.
Luckily for everyone, I've been discussing divorce with God for almost as long as I can remember. These discussions began when, as a child, I would routinely include in my semi-nightly prayers a special request for my parents to get divorced already so that our home life would be less tumultuous. (My parents were a mismatch from the beginning; and, funny thing, having five kids in the first five years of marriage did not improve the situation. Who knew?) God finally did answer my prayer, but it wasn't until I had already left home for good. As they say, He works in mysterious ways.
These conversations continued into my adulthood when I had my own marital misfortunes. And even though I have been happily divorced for almost nine years now, thanks to my job, I check in with God on the topic of divorce much more regularly than I ever would have imagined. (I've even developed a divorce prayer. It goes something like this: "Please, God, protect precious children everywhere from the toxic fallout of their parents' divorce. Please grant both parties the insight, maturity, selflessness and restraint to always view their actions through the lens of the impact that they will have on their children and their children's relationships with both of their parents--now and for the rest of their lives. Amen.")
Luckily for me, God has been pretty forthright with me about his feelings on divorce. And because I'm a giver, I have taken the time to distill all of God's wisdom on the topic into this blog post. I'm pretty sure that makes this the third most important writing of all time. The list goes like this: 1. The Holy Bible, by God. 2. The Art of the Deal, by Donald J. Trump. 3. This blog post, by yours truly. And not to brag or anything, but out of those three, I'm the only one who didn't need the help of a ghostwriter.
Before I get started, I want to clarify that the following Words of Wisdom are what my God has shared with me over the years. Your God might have something totally different to tell you--and I am in no way qualified to say whose God is right. So, read on, knowing that you are totally free to take or leave my Father's advice. Neither He nor I will be offended.
Staying together for the kids: selfless act or slothenly sin? It all depends. God is a big fan of putting others first--especially those who are vulnerable. So, staying together because it's better for your children is something that God generally approves of.
The problem, however, is a lot of people tell themselves that they are staying together for the children when what they're really doing is putting off doing something hard until the kids are grown, at which point they will only have to worry about getting themselves out, which is a far easier task. If that is really what is going on, and your marriage really is a mess, postponing your divorce until your kids are gone is tantamount to sacrificing the quality of your kids' childhood for the sake of your own convenience. God's not cool with that.
So, take an honest look at your marriage from your kids' perspective. Is one parent a raging alcoholic? Do you and your spouse have knockdown, drag-out fights, toxic arguments, or cold wars that would make the Kremlin shiver? Has one parent had an affair or otherwise betrayed the other's trust in a significant way, thereby permanently compromising the integrity of the marriage? Are you strong enough to provide a healthy post-divorce home for your children when they are with you? If so, then God does not want you to use Him as an excuse to delay your divorce.
But here's something else God wants you to keep in mind: Timing matters. If your spouse had 17 affairs over the last 19 years, and then, during your kid's senior year in high school, you find out about affair #18 and you suddenly decide enough is enough, God thinks you should hold your horses. Since you waited this long, you can wait a little longer. Once your kid gets through his senior year, then you can pull the plug on your sham of a marriage with God's full blessing.
Getting a divorce because you are not happy: legit reason or selfish action? Again, it depends. God knows how much you hate that answer. He realizes that modern mortals prefer hard-and-fast rules that require little to no thinking. He wants to remind you, though, that He didn't give you higher reasoning capabilities and a conscience for nothing--and He really hates to see you squander the gifts that He generously bestowed upon you. You know, waste not, want not, and all.
When it comes to leaving for the sake of your own happiness, the two big factors to consider are, (1) whether you have young kids or not, and (2) why you're unhappy. If you don't have kids still living at home, God has far less of a problem with the idea of getting a divorce for the sake of your own happiness.
But, again, timing matters. For example, if your spouse has just gotten diagnosed with cancer, you can't suddenly decide that your happiness comes first. If you do, God wants you to understand that when you die, you will get sent to the special place in Hell that God has reserved for you and your type. And if the thought of having to spend eternity with Newt Gingrich doesn't scare you straight, you are already a lost soul, and your spouse would probably be better off without you, cancer notwithstanding.
If you have kids who are still under your roof, God wants you to do some honest soul searching to examine why you're not happy. If it's because you have suddenly realized that you were always meant to live in Paris, France rather than Paris, Texas, God calls bullshit on that. You have to finish the job of raising your kids first, then you can chase whatever dream you want (provided your spouse does not have cancer, of course).
And if you need to postpone your divorce until you finish the job of raising your children, God doesn't want you to phone it in by taking a passive approach to the time you have left with them. You can't simply wait for the clock to run out; you have to actually try to give your children a good home life.
Which does God hate more: cheating or divorce? God hates this question because it's misleading--but He'll go ahead and answer it, anyway. God hates cheating, but He does not necessarily hate divorce--and that's because God is not so much obsessed with divorce as He is concerned about how people treat one another--including, of course, people who are married to one another. God realizes that His answer is a little on the deep side, but He wants you to bear with Him. He is doing His best to dumb this down for you.
God thinks people who choose to get married should be "all in," so to speak. That means being truthful and honest with your spouse and putting the relationship first. Clearly, cheating on your spouse violates all of those things. So, if you're married and you want to get sexually, romantically or emotionally involved with someone else, God thinks you should have the maturity, decency and impulse control to get a divorce first. (Confidential to Anthony Weiner: Don't think you're off the hook. God has postponed deciding how to punish you for now. He is still doing damage control on the fallout from his rash decision to punish Republicans by saddling them with Donald Trump as their party nominee. He is trying to learn from that colossal mistake and has pledged to avoid meting out punishments when He is angry.)
For the record, though, God generally has no patience for the bullshit ways people try to justify their philandering. God thinks the correct response to a broken marriage is to work on repairing it, and the correct response to a dead marriage is to formally end it. He doesn't think lazing around and then having an affair is justified in either case.
You've already decided to get a divorce. How can you stay in God's good graces? God loves this question! Now that He has clarified his positions on the "why" and the "when" of divorce, He welcomes the chance to discuss the "how" of it. If you are getting a divorce, God wants you to adhere to a New Testament approach. In other words, it's "Do unto others," not "An eye for an eye."
He realizes this is much harder to do when your ex is being a complete A-hole. And even though you are a mere mortal and mortals are mistake-prone, He wants you to know that He believes in your capacity to grow and improve. When you do make the occasional mistake, He promises to forgive you as long as you promise to do your best to learn from it.
God also wants to remind you that He is not just watching over you, he is actually watching you--and more importantly, so are your kids. So, model good behavior. Live in a way that makes plain what a functioning moral compass looks like, but do this more with actions than words. Your children deserve to have their childhood and their relationship with both parents protected from the corrosive effects of your divorce, and that is your most important job right now. So, resist the urge to confide in them or over-explain things.
That's all the time that God has for this topic today. College football season has started, and that's one of the busiest times of year for Him, communication-wise. He has to put in extra long hours monitoring all the incoming prayers, culling out ones asking for Him to, say, heal sick children, from those asking Him to throw football games. You know, work, work, work.
If you have any more questions for Him on divorce, though, He said you should feel free to reach out to Him directly. Or, if you prefer, you can always email me your question and I'll run it by Him and let you if I get an answer. Until next time, God says to go in peace.