Religion is a powerful force that aims to project a system of beliefs, to instill faith and community. Often, in any religion you will find traditions and events to mark a ‘coming of age’ or a celebration of accomplishment in that faith. Similarly, wedding ceremonies are conducted in our faith of choice and become one of those celebrations.
I’m generalizing here but overall, most religions have an aim to exert beliefs and interject hope into people’s lives—and for the most part, this is meant in the most positive way.
But what happens to those people who have broken a religious vow? Is there forgiveness for them?
Religion doesn’t easily tolerate broken vows;
If the church is involved with the wedding, should they also be involved with the divorce? I vote ‘no’, however this is exactly what seems to happen for some divorcing congregants.
In fact, a devoted congregant may suddenly be cast out, no matter what they have contributed to their church in the past. They are no longer of use or value to their religious community, simply because of their divorce.
Therefore, a broken marital vow is looked upon as a failure in the religion itself. I can think of a few religions right off the top of my head, that today still shun their congregants who are in the process of divorce. They may even go so far as to ex-communicate them from the church. This is doubly heartbreaking because now you must not only deal with the loss of your spouse, marriage, and all that entailed, but the loss of people you considered family.
I have even heard stories where the divorcee’s family stops speaking to them, in the name of religious beliefs.
It seems rather hypocritical to me. Where do the lines of religious devotion and personal life separate? Furthermore, during difficult times, isn’t that when our faith needs to be strongest? Isn’t that when Jesus is supposed to carry us and there’s only one set of footprints? It’s certainly not a time to ‘lose your religion’.
Never mind my commentary on this very bizarre aspect of religious culture; let’s get down to how to cope with this very problem.
How to Cope With Religious Isolation After Divorce
Temporarily stop attending mass or services-until you can get stronger and no longer are bothered by strange looks and gossip.
Find one or two fellow congregants you have been close to and continue communicating with them outside the church.
Take care of yourself and your children first-focusing on your personal family issues and duties will distract you from thoughts and worries of acceptance at church.
Turn to close friends outside the church. Often a safe bet. If you have some close friend outside church, then you’ll be sure to keep your personal situation confidential.
Continue your faith in your own surroundings-can you continue your worship at home in a sacred space that you create?
Give your love and devotion to other charities outside your church-you will likely miss the activities and events that you contributed to in your church but that doesn’t mean you have to stop contributing elsewhere.
Remain steadfast in your stance on your own divorce, in spite of the opposition.
It’s not unusual for church views and personal views to collide at times. Ultimately, you must do what is right for you and your family whether that means skipping services while navigating your divorce, or finding a new method of worship.
I can’t help but think of Scientology as I write this. I realize that it’s an extreme example of a religion exerting force, power and control over their congregants however, it is a strong example of a religion that shuns and isolates, even exiles the people who are not conforming to all of their rituals. But is it truly that much different than more traditional religions that cast out their members for ending their marriages?
Please share your thoughts and/or experiences in the comments.