Faith and Religion
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Most world religions have an opposing view on the matter of divorce.  However, most marriages have at least one or both spouses who identify with some religion or faith.  It helps to know the statistics regarding Americans affected by divorce and religion and what is expected by the most common religions and faiths to establish acceptance for divorce or annulment.

After the wedding...the marriage

Obvious challenges affect couples in a world where divorce is common. Many realize the difficult choice to divorce is best despite religious reasons to stay together.

Divorce happens every 36 seconds in America. According to a demographic study of 230 countries and territories directed by Pew Research Center's Forum on Religion and Public Life, reported in the Washington Times, 84% of people throughout the world are affiliated with some form of religious organization. Over 2 billion Christians, 1.6 billion Muslims, 1 billion Hindus, 500 million Buddhists, 400 million various folk or other traditional religions-

American divorce and religion collide

In an update on Americans and Religion reported in a 2017 article in Gallup News, 67% of Americans are moderately or highly religious and 78.7% have some religious identification. For every 10 new marriages per year in America, 4 marriages end in divorce. Considering 6 of every 10 Americans are at least moderately religious it can be assumed that of the marriages that end in divorce, more than half the spouses (nearly 3 of 4 spouses) are moderately or highly religious. We can further assume that 3 of those marriages consist of spouses that have some religious identity. That amounts to almost 5 of every 6 spouses divorced in America identify themselves with some form of faith.

The Gallup article went on to identify American religious identification by popularity as of 2017

Religion % of Americans
Protestant/Other Christian 48.5
Catholic 22.7
Mormon 1.8
Jewish 2.1
Muslim 0.8
Other non-Christian Religion 2.9
no religious identity 21.3

Religious conflict with divorce

Based on popular religions American's identified themselves with, we listed their response to divorce according to information obtained from Wikipedia. Your individual church may have some variables not listed. This list is meant to provide a general idea of each church's position on divorce.

Church or religion Response
Eastern Orthodox Permits divorce and permits remarriage in some circumstances (highly restrictive)
Catholic Prohibits divorce, supports annulment
Protestant Discourages divorce unless last resort
Oriental Orthodox Intermediate position on divorce between Rome and Constantinople, allowed only in cases of adultery
Reformed/Presbyterian Allows divorce under certain circumstances, adultery and abandonment
Baptist/Conservative Evangelical Strongly opposes, viewing as sin
Anabaptist/Bruderhof Forbids divorce
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Officially discourages divorce (strong social stigma) yet allows annulment and divorce in situations of infidelity and other serious cases
Halakha (Jewish Law) Allows for divorce (termed a get), inclusive of a ceremony with a get document; Orthodox does not recognize civil divorce as sufficient
Reform Jews Does not typically issue Jewish divorces (civil in place of a Jewish ceremony)
Muslim (Based on Quran) Supports ending a marriage when marital harmony is lost and is unattainable/though considered very serious and includes community intervention
Unitarian Universalism Affirms "right of conscience", allows divorce as a decision of the individual, seen as a life choice
Hinduism Allows divorce when with mutual enmity, certain circumstances dictate forfeiture or claim to property, remarriage is allowed
Wicca Traditionally Wiccans refer to high priest or high priestess for assistance before the divorce is granted; sometimes this is not needed when the marriage peacefully ends

Why does my church take this position?

Most religions take a strong stance against divorce.  However, much of their stance is not only based on the ending of a marriage; rather in an effort to acknowledge the seriousness of marriage to couples before it takes place.  In a society where nearly half as many marriages end every year as couples marry, what other governing body takes such a moral stand upon the vows and commitments expected from each spouse?

Religion is an obvious high ground that should be regarded before choosing to be united and by ceremony of any church.  Religion provides a foundation as a faith bound template for each marriage beyond that of a civil commitment.  The two (civil and religious law) may share some common expectations for which one could legally end a marriage, but may not be considered grounds for approval based on religious law. 

Religion is the first line of defense to maintain a marriage

When divorcing, many may find challenges in their church's acceptance of their divorce.  This can be very discouraging and can leave many frustrated with their current religious identification.  While many religions share a discouraging response on divorce, it would be helpful for each spouse to realize their church's intent is to act as a primary advocate, maintaining the marriage first.  Then, provide options, in some cases, to end it while maintaining the churches' overall opinion on the institution of marriage.  

Some may grant acceptance of the divorce or provide reasons to establish an annulment when the marriage has specific circumstances occur. Others feel marriage in their church is forever and as such, a civil dissolution is the only option.  Each church has specific guidelines, rules and expectations to establish approval that should be found by contacting a church representative for details. 

Making difficult decisions to end a marriage despite religious conflicts should be based on either spouse's reasons, regard for each spouse's faith in comparison to the seriousness of problems in his/her marriage and quest for individual happiness.  Help making this decision can be found in the 2019 DMK article, "Courage to Choose Divorce Against Your Religion"


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