New book, In Defense of Divorce, defends divorce from traditional religious ideas, extenuating the guilt and reserving emotional energy for solving practical issues going forward.
The book explores such questions as:
- Is divorce a sin or a solution?
- Has religion over influenced public opinion on marriage, divorce and remarriage?
- Did the Old Testament allow divorce?
- How did Jesus’ teachings influence our understanding of adultery, Matthew 5?
- Did Jesus oppose no-fault divorce, Matthew 19?
- Does God really hate divorce, Malachi 1?
- How did Paul judge divorce matters, 1 Corinthians 7?
- What makes a marriage good?
Ennis Pepper, the author, experienced divorce first as a teenager when his parents broke up and later through other family members and friends. As a minister he has witnessed the haranguing troubled couples experience when considering divorce and the rejection should they get one. And with a Bachelor’s degree in Biblical Studies and more than 25 years ministry experience he is able to address this topic confidently with both a biblical and practical perspective.
Most people think of divorce as something to shun, not defend, so Ennis’ book title raises questions at the start. And since the divorce rate is reaching all time highs there is no indication that the general population lacks the courage to initiate a divorce so why bother defending the issue?
Those getting divorced, however, are dealing with two kinds of pain:
- The pain of a failed marriage.
- And the pain of negative public opinion.
The first type of pain is understandable but the second is not. Failure in many areas of life is allowed for, even encouraged, but not when it comes to marriage.
If you fail in business, no worries, pick yourself up, learn from the mistake and apply the lessons going forward. Bankruptcy laws even soften the financial after effects.
If you fail in school you are still given a do-over to get it right the next year and applauded if you do well.
We know that people learn from their mistakes. They are wiser afterward so we encourage this recovery process except when it comes to marriage. Failure in marriage is not allowed and in some circles punished severely.
In Defense of Divorce gives reasons for that perspective to change. Rather than tattoo the divorced with a big red “D” and treat them like criminals we need to see them as human beings learning from a bad experience. If we are attentive rather than dismissive we can gain insight from their experience.
Though Ennis defends divorce he is not encouraging anyone to rush into one. That isn’t the point. And he doesn’t offer counsel for solving marriage problems nor discusses the legal issues. Many other books address those topics well.
He simply argues that divorce, though difficult, is not a sin so he challenges traditional ideas – encouraged mostly by religion – about marriage, divorce and remarriage. His view is marriage isn’t always an antidote and divorce isn’t always a poison.
He also doesn’t glamorize divorce, disparage marriage or encourage anyone to be casual about intimate relationships. He does, however, argue that marriage is the protective canopy for family and the foundation of human society only when it works reasonably well. When it fails badly, divorce is one part of the solution and shouldn’t be disdained, disallowed or penalized afterward.
The book points out that:
- Good marriages happen with or without the blessing of the church.
- “Never say die” vows are nice but unrealistic.
- Divorce can be abused but was intended to be a solution not a sin.
- Jesus is the Savior not marriage.
This book won’t tell you how to initiate a divorce or avoid one but it will help you live with one. It won’t help you manage all the practical and financial adjustments that follow but it will help you deal with the cultural blow-back.
In Defense of Divorce offers hope to those who have experienced failed marriages and a reason to rethink the issue to those arm-locked by tradition.