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Divorce (Mormon point of view)

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The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints permits divorce, but the Church's focus on happy, sound, and even eternal families elevates marriage to a sacred covenant not to be lightly dissolved.

Of divorce, LDS Prophet Gordon B. Hinckley said, “There is now and again a legitimate cause for divorce. I am not one to say that it is never justified. But I say without hesitation that this plague among us, which seems to be growing everywhere, is not of God, but rather is the work of the adversary of righteousness and peace and truth.”

The emphasis that the Mormon Church places on happy family life and marital loyalty yields a low divorce rate in marriages where both spouses value the sacred nature of the marriage covenant:

"A 1993 study published in Demography [magazine] showed that Mormons marrying within their church are least likely of all Americans to become divorced. Only 13 percent of LDS couples have divorced after five years of marriage, compared with 20 percent for religiously homogamist unions among Catholics and Protestants and 27 percent among Jews. However, when a Mormon marries outside his or her denomination, the divorce rate soars to 40 percent -- second only to mixed-faith marriages involving a Jewish spouse (42 percent)." [1]

A Los Angeles Times article reported the following:

For those headed to the altar this summer, the 1999 marital statistics for Orange County are sobering: 19,758 marriages, 12,156 divorces.
And if you're a religious person, things don't get better. In fact, for born-again Christians, the divorce rate is higher (27% of all adults) than it is for non-Christians (24%), according to a recent survey by the Barna Research Group.
The picture isn't rosier for other Christians or Jews. The survey showed their divorce rates about the same as the national average.
There is a ray of marital hope, however. And that comes from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints--specifically, from those Mormons who marry in a temple. While other Mormons divorce at the usual rate, only 6% of those who undergo the demanding temple marriage break up, according to Brigham Young University professor Daniel K. Judd.
It's not just a question of where the marriage takes place. The low divorce rate, many Mormons say, stems both from church requirements for such marriages and from the character of people who are motivated to meet them. [2]

Gospel Topics [1] has this to say regarding divorce:

When men and women marry, they make solemn covenants with each other and with God. Every effort should be made to keep these covenants and preserve marriage. When divorce occurs, individuals have the obligation to forgive rather than to condemn, to lift and to help.
The sanctity of marriage and families is taught repeatedly in the scriptures. It has been reaffirmed by modern prophets and apostles. Despite the truths taught about the sanctity of marriage, divorce has become commonplace in the world. Because the family is central to Heavenly Father’s plan for His children, Satan seeks to destroy marriages and families. Because of the poor choices and selfishness of one or both marriage partners, marriages sometimes end in contention, separation, and divorce.
If, instead of resorting to divorce, each individual will seek the comfort and well-being of his or her spouse, couples will grow in love and unity. The gospel of Jesus Christ—including repentance, forgiveness, integrity, and love—provides the remedy for conflict in marriage.
Those who have caused a divorce through their own poor choices can repent and be forgiven. Those whose marriages have failed because of what others have done can receive strength and comfort from the Lord, who promised: ”Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. . . . For my yoke is easy, and my burden light” (Matthew 11:28, 30).

Great attention is given by Mormon Church leadership to the nurturing of marriages within the Church. Bishops are available to give counsel. Counseling is available for partners in a troubled marriage. Sermons ("talks") are given repeatedly in General Conference reiterating the sacred nature of the family and marriage bond. Said Gordon B. Hinckley:

It is a scene of great beauty when a young man and a young woman join hands at the [temple] altar in a covenant before God that they will honor and love one another. Then how dismal the picture when a few months later, or a few years later, there are offensive remarks, mean and cutting words, raised voices, bitter accusations.
It need not be, my dear brothers and sisters. We can rise above these mean and beggarly elements in our lives (see Galatians 4:9). We can look for and recognize the divine nature in one another, which comes to us as children of our Father in Heaven. We can live together in the God-given pattern of marriage in accomplishing that of which we are capable if we will exercise discipline of self and refrain from trying to discipline our companion. [3]

Said Apostle Dallin H. Oaks:

Modern prophets have warned that looking upon marriage “as a mere contract that may be entered into at pleasure … and severed at the first difficulty … is an evil meriting severe condemnation,” especially where children are made to suffer.
The kind of marriage required for exaltation—eternal in duration and godlike in quality—does not contemplate divorce. In the temples of the Lord, couples are married for all eternity. But some marriages do not progress toward that ideal. Because “of the hardness of [our] hearts,” the Lord does not currently enforce the consequences of the celestial standard. He permits divorced persons to marry again without the stain of immorality specified in the higher law. Unless a divorced member has committed serious transgressions, he or she can become eligible for a temple recommend under the same worthiness standards that apply to other members.
I strongly urge you and those who advise you to face up to the reality that for most marriage problems, the remedy is not divorce but repentance. Often the cause is not incompatibility but selfishness. The first step is not separation but reformation. Divorce is not an all-purpose solution, and it often creates long-term heartache. A broad-based international study of the levels of happiness before and after “major life events” found that, on average, persons are far more successful in recovering their level of happiness after the death of a spouse than after a divorce. Spouses who hope that divorce will resolve conflicts often find that it aggravates them, since the complexities that follow divorce—especially where there are children—generate new conflicts.[4]

President Spencer W. Kimball taught:

Two individuals approaching the marriage altar must realize that to attain the happy marriage which they hope for they must know that marriage … means sacrifice, sharing, and even a reduction of some personal liberties. It means long, hard economizing. It means children who bring with them financial burdens, service burdens, care and worry burdens; but also it means the deepest and sweetest emotions of all. [5]

References

  1. Salt Lake Tribune, Bob Mims, "Mormons: high conservativism, low divorce, big growth," 1999-MAR-6.
  2. "Holy Matrimony:In Era of Divorce, Mormon Temple Weddings Are Built to Last," by William Lobdell, Los Angeles Times, 8 April 2000.
  3. Gordon B. Hinckley, “The Women in Our Lives,” Liahona, Nov 2004, 82–85.
  4. Dallin H. Oaks, “Divorce,” Ensign, May 2007, 70–73.
  5. Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Spencer W. Kimball (2006), 194.

External Links

pt:Divorcio

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