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Anon 11:32

Not quite as black and white as you make out, I’m afraid. As to divorce, according to Christianity’s founder, in the patriarchal context of the time--

‘It has been said, “Anyone who divorces his wife must give her a certificate of divorce.” But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, makes her the victim of adultery, and anyone who marries a divorced woman commits adultery.’ (Matthew 5:31-32) and “Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning. I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery.” (Matthew 19:8-9).

So, lifelong loving commitment in marriage is the ideal. But our flawed human natures can get in the way. Then what do we do? Divorce may well be far from ideal (as those who go through the process with some insight will generally recognise) but our systems may need to provide for it in practice as a safety valve against what could turn out to be worse outcomes, where people are forced to remain shackled to each other in relationships that have effectively died or turned to bitterness.

And our response to those who find themselves embroiled in the process, particularly if they are unwilling participants, should be compassion rather than condemnation (for those of a religious outlook, witness the episode of the woman caught in adultery – John 8:2-11 and the woman at the well – John 4:4-28). So, it seems a not unreasonable approach to manage the divorce process, between those who can genuinely say that their marriages have irretrievably broken down, in a way that does not force the parties to publicly characterise their erstwhile spouse’s behaviour as morally reprehensible (viz: adultery, unreasonable behaviour, abandonment). It will not remove the hurt for people who feel they have been treated in such ways, but adding fuel to the flames of resentment in such cases, by requiring these issues to be highlighted in the proceedings, seems unhelpful, to say the least, as well as unnecessary.

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