I discovered author Gretchen Baskerville on Twitter and found her to be a very vocal advocate supporting Christian divorce in cases of adultery, abuse or abandonment and attempts to remove the stigma of divorce that keeps people in dangerous and destructive marriages.
In fact, her new book, The Life-Saving Divorce, explains not only why divorce should not be always discouraged in the church community, and Baskerville provides ample statistics and scripture supporting why in many instances divorce is necessary, and often, as the title suggests, life-saving decision.
I received a free advance reader copy of The Life-Saving Divorce and would like to share my takeaways from the book.
1. Most people don’t divorce because of selfishness and boredom, but because of serious issues
Divorce is not fun. There is a reason God hates divorce (Malachi 2:16). It is destructive and disruptive, and the average person isn’t putting themselves and their family through it without good cause. Nearly half of all divorces are for serious problems, as opposed to the false narrative that church spreads about the causes being someone’s laziness or selfishness. It’s important to note that 1 in 3 marriages involving churchgoers—and 1 in 4 of conservative Christians—end in divorce, and The Life-Saving Divorce gives numerous examples of Christians who despite their commitment to marriage and forgiving countless times, finally made the decision to leave adulterous, abusive, and sexually immoral marriages.
2. Prayers and loving Jesus don’t guarantee that a marriage will be reconciled
Some of the reasons Baskerville identifies for a life-saving divorce are infidelity, abandonment, abuse (physical, emotional, verbal, financial), addiction, sexual immorality/ deviation such as child porn and abuse. The book highlights that common turning points for those considering divorce include fear, protecting their children and God told them they could go.
“God does not promise to heal every marriage. God does not magically fix every marriage. Your righteous prayers do not guarantee that God will change your spouse. You can love Jesus and get out.”
This quote really resonated with me because I remember the implicit judgment laced within the comments to “fight for your marriage” or “show him grace”, or from those who supported the film “War Room” suggesting that if I had only prayed my marriage would have been saved.
I prayed. I begged both God and my ex-husband. And God answered my prayer…by opening the door and ushering me out of a marriage with a man who was a serial adulterer and emotionally abusive.
3. The kids are alright
Staying together for the kids can be a mistake, especially in high conflict or abusive marriages. In The Life-Saving Divorce experts acknowledge that “If your marriage has serious problems that cause agitation, fear, and stress in your home, your children are being affected.”
And while there’s no doubt the stress of the divorce process can affect children, especially if it’s contentious, Baskerville notes “kids are probably better off if there’s a life-saving divorce. In fact, on average, children are happier after a life-saving divorce than they were during the marriage.”
4. Not all churches
There are undoubtedly many churches that re-abuse victims by shaming them into staying in destructive marriages. However, there are also plenty of churches that get it right and embody the true meaning of the word sanctuary – a sacred and safe place. Baskerville dedicated a chapter to these safe and sacred places and the traits these churches possess in an effort to help victims identify them.
5. Moving on after divorce
You’ve survived now thrive. Baskerville focuses on finding happiness after divorce and offers this advice: “The first all-important goal in moving on is getting safe: putting some distance between you and your ex, and even between you and all those who have conflicted, unhelpful feelings about your divorce. That might include your ex-spouse’s family, your friends, and perhaps even certain people at your church.“
I initially held onto ex’s family and his friends that become my friends, but after a couple of years, I purged them from social media and my life and felt a lightness and peace.
Therapy for yourself and kids is also recommended. For those who don’t have access to therapy a divorce recovery group, online support groups and journaling are other options to consider.
Baskerville’s reminder that “rebuilding your life…doesn’t happen automatically. You need to work at it” echoes a sentiment that I shared in this blog post
With its mix of practical advice and personal testimonies, The Life-Saving Divorce is a wonderful book that supports and reaffirms the idea that sometimes divorce is the best option for Christians. If you’re going through a divorce, this is a great resource. Get your copy here.