I am very pleased to introduce you to Linda M. Kurth who will share her mission of advocating for more grace in the Church for those undergoing divorce. Linda and I met online and I’m happy to help her spread the word about her upcoming memoir, God, the Devil, and Divorce: A Love Story.
Christian Divorce: Grace versus Judgement
I’m a sucker for defenseless animals, and I advocate for trees. Show me an Internet petition I haven’t signed on their behalf! But now I find myself advocating for change in the Christian church. It’s a leap for sure. I’m no intellectual or Bible scholar. Just a long-time church-going Christian who is painfully aware of the propensity for some churches to focus on the letter of what they believe to be God’s laws instead of extending Jesus’ mercy. I see their actions as Pharisaical, and I believe they are giving the God they profess to serve a bad rap.
I became painfully aware of this sector of the Church when I made the oh-so-difficult decision to divorce my Christian husband of twenty-five years. I’d dragged us into counseling several times for the final ten years of our marriage because of his emotional abuse, although at the time, I had no name for what was going on. I simply knew our marriage dynamic was not what it should be, and I was suffering because of it. “Fix him!” I begged God. “Fix me! Fix us!” but our relationship only grew worse.
I consulted with two different pastors, and each assured me my concerns were valid. One of them gave my husband a label. “Crazymaker” she called him. It was then I gave him an ultimatum — our marriage had to improve or I would leave. He agreed to one more attempt at counseling.
After several sessions, with his difficult behavior escalating, our counselor told me she believed Satan was at work in his life. But when I finally raised the subject of divorce, she refused to talk about it. All she would say was, “If you divorce, Satan wins and you will no longer be under the covering of your husband.” She quoted Matthew 19:9. “I tell you, that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, and marries another woman commits adultery.”
Although I thought I understood Jesus’ words, this passage struck me as wrong on so many levels. Did God want us to endure physical and emotional abuse? That was not the merciful God I knew. I prayed and asked God for release from my marriage. That night I discerned his permission.
Single Again… and judged..
Living on my own at age fifty-seven was difficult, but when I learned my husband had secretly remarried within a month of the divorce, I fell apart. That did not keep certain conservative Christians from piling on the pain. My pastor pointed out Biblical scripture that told me to forgive. Deciding to investigate a different church, I was told by that pastor, that since I had been the one to choose divorce, I could never be a full-member. One of my husband’s Promise Keeper Friends sent me a damning letter telling me I deserved all the hurt I was experiencing because I had sinned in choosing to divorce.
Fortunately, grace prevailed. I found a Christian singles group that became my life-line. Another Christian resource was a divorce recovery group that proved to be therapeutic. It was then that I began to hear stories similar to my own — churches hurting already hurting Christians going through divorce. Now that my memoir, God, the Devil, and Divorce: A Love Story is waiting publication, I’ve begun sharing my story again and hearing more stories in return. For too many, the pain endures long after their church’s rejection. Some have left the church, never to return. Some have gone further, turning their backs on God.
Thankfully, certain scholars are revisiting the issue of divorce in the Bible and coming to new, less-restrictive understanding, particularly the Matthew 19:9 verse. I hope to add to that discussion by inviting divorced Christians to share their stories on my blog. I want to raise awareness among the churches, urging them to examine themselves and to choose to extend grace and love rather than judgment to hurting souls who have been forced to make one of the most difficult decisions of their lives. I’m advocating for the healing of divorced people within the church to be a broadly accepted practice.
Thank you, Linda for sharing your noble mission of healing for people who face divorce by calling upon The Church to offer grace not judgement. I know from my own experience how devastating divorce can be and how my faith was tested. Being able to turn to my faith and receive compassionate guidance in times of need helped me to move forward. May your call for grace change hearts and help people to heal.
Linda M. Kurth is the author of God, the Devil, and Divorce: A Love Story, a yet-to-be published memoir. She is also author of a clean romance, Home of the Heart. The mission of Linda’s blog is to shine a light on Christian churches that condemn their own parishioners who chose divorce because of spousal abuse. If you have such a story to tell, or want to learn from others, please visit www.god-devil-divorce-blog.com.
She writes fiction, non-fiction, and fantasy for children.
HOME OF THE HEART, a clean romance novel, has just been updated and made available as an eBook. It’s based on my years as an interior designer. I’ve also been writing for a little series I call, “Lessons I Learned.”
KEIKO’S STORY:A Killer Whale Goes Home, a school and library book, is the true story of the whale star of the Free Willy movie. Although written for children, adults have found it interesting too. I love writing about the natural world. I learn so much when I’m researching a topic!
She lives with her husband in beautiful Mount Vernon, Washington. When she’s not at her computer writing, she can usually be found working in the yard and garden. You can read more about her and her children’s books at www.LindaMooreKurth.com. You can read about her adult books at www.LindaMKurth.com.
How about you? Have you found yourself judged when undergoing a life challenge, such as divorce? If faith is important to you, have you found support and grace within your faith community during times of trouble?
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