The Morality of Divorce
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It is estimated that nearly one in three marriages in Britain end in
divorce. There are many mixed views on divorce throughout the world
but British society has been dominated in its attitude towards divorce
by Christian teachings based on the New Testament. According to
Christianity, a marriage should be loving, permanent, life long and
committed. Such messages are found in the Bible:
'a wife must not leave her husbandâ€¦and a husband must not divorce his
wife' (1 Corin, 7:10-12)
Jesus taught that divorce was wrong and the Christian Church agreed.
However, Jesus also taught to show forgiveness to others and the
Church recognises that a marriage cannot always be ideal and can work
out differently to how a couple intended it to be. This is why views
on divorce in society are so mixed in different Christian dominations.
Christian Church Beliefs on Divorce
The Christian Churches recognise that we don't live in a perfect world
and they have developed ways of trying to help people that are faced
with a broken marriage. Couples can separate and remain married using
any agency, either of the Church, or another, to try and bring about
reconciliation. Ultimately, a couple may decide that they must divorce
and put an end to their legal status as a married couple. This is done
through the legal system but not recognised by many Churches who
believe that marriage is a sacrament, it is binding for life and that
a couple cannot be un-married.
'What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder'
Attitudes Towards Re-marriage in Different Christian Denominations
Attitudes towards divorce affect what people think about re-marriage.
The Methodist Church teaches that if a divorced person wants to marry
again in church, they must be interviewed by the Church minister, who
must be willing to marry them.
However, the Church of England sees things slightly differently. They
believe that divorce is a matter for law courts.
The Church allows
communion for those who are divorced and teach that individual Bishops
should decide whether or not people are allowed to remarry in church
or just to give the new union a blessing.
The Catholic Church does understand that in certain circumstances the
marriage bond did not exist from the beginning. In these exceptional
circumstances, it can grant an annulment. Like a divorce, an annulment
is a court procedure that ends a marriage. But, unlike a divorce, an
annulment treats the marriage as though it never happened.
The reasons that some people regard remarriage in church as
inappropriate are as follows:
Â· There are difficulties in every marriage. The church teaches that
Christians should be caring, forgiving and tolerant, so they should be
able to sort these difficulties out.
Â· Couples marry in front of God, 'for better for worse'. Christians
should not get divorced just because things are not the way they want
Â· Jesus said, 'What God has joined together let no man separate'. When
married, couples become 'one flesh' and if they decide to separate,
they are going against the Christian teachings and cannot be supported
by the Church in their decision.
Â· The divorce rate is so high because it is too easy to obtain a
divorce in court. Divorce brings so much pain and misery to lives, and
shame society, that it should be discouraged and made difficult to
Â· A priest who is asked to marry a person who has already gone against
the Christian teachings and failed in one marriage has no reason to
believe that they will take their vows more seriously in the second
There are also many arguments in favour of allowing people to remarry
Â· Many first marriages are between fairly young couples. If with
greater maturity, they find that their relationship has changed
completely and that they are no longer compatible or in love, how can
the Church not give these couples a second chance with marriage?
Â· If people want a church wedding the second time around, it obviously
seems important to them to remarry in a church or they would avoid all
of the fuss. If it means this much to them to take their vows before
God, the Church shouldn't stand in their way.
Â· Jesus taught love and forgiveness and never told anyone not to give
people a second chance - the Church should do the same.
Â· If the Church of England can offer a blessing service for second
marriages and say at the same time that being divorced and marrying
again is wrong, how can they
bless the marriage? If the Church will give the marriage a blessing
they might as well allow a proper marriage.
Â· British society has changed so much since Jesus' time that we should
not expect to apply his teachings to all situations nowadays.
Â· In Jesus' time, a woman was dependant on her husband for support and
if he divorced her, she would be left with nothing. This is no longer
the case, and women do not need the same protection. In many cases
they have their own independence.
Hindu Teachings on Divorce
However, these Christian teachings are very different to the Hindu
teachings on divorce; for a Hindu man, marriage is a sacrament (a
sacred or holy duty). It is the only of the holy rituals which members
of the lowest caste, the shudra, is allowed to perform. In the past,
divorce would have not been allowed among the higher castes but as
performed by the lower castes. Since the Hindu marriage act of 1955,
marriages can be ended by divorce but more traditional Hindus will not
accept divorce. Divorce is not common in Hindu society and can mean
divorcees are excluded socially in traditional areas. Marriages are
often arranged and to end the marriage can be seen to be failing the
contract agreed between the families and so bring shame and disgrace
to the families involved. Also vows of loyalty and faithfulness are
given at the marriage and these are sacred vows that should not be
broken. Therefore re-marriage is also very difficult for Hindus, as it
is not accepted in their religious teachings.
Modern Views on Divorce
Nowadays in Christianity, Western society has accepted divorce as a
normal thing and therefore does not treat divorced people as outsiders
anymore. This in turn seems to make it 'ok' to get divorced. The
influence of the Church, which overall still sees divorce as a last
resort, has diminished more and more over the last few decades and
therefore has to open up more and more to modern ways of thinking if
it wants to be seen as tolerant and modern.
The Queen of Great Britain is head of the Church of England and three
of her four children are divorced. This too encourages people to be
divorced as they look up to the royal family. Nowadays, people see
divorce as more acceptable than they would have done about thirty
My Opinion on Divorce
In my opinion there is no right or wrong answer to divorce. It is a
very personal decision to make. I believe that at the moment, divorce
tends to be taken too lightly by too many people. People who are
religious are less likely to get a divorce than those who don't really
have a connection with a religion because they don't feel bound by the
religious values and ethics of marriage.
I believe that more help should be made available to those
experiencing difficulties because divorce can be a very devastating
experience for those going through it and the support could help
couples work through their problems. Divorce seems to be an easy way
out of a marriage, it should only be a last resort.