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Divorce And Church Leadership


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Hi all,

I have posted long ago about some of the difficulties I have had adjusting to being a divorced (now remarried) LDS man. I have become very aware of how odd it is and how many times I just feel like an outsider or less worthy - even though I know I am not.

My questions about this are:

1. Are there any recent, monogamous GAs who have been divorced (I know if happened to poly marriages long ago, but that is a different animal).

2. If not, why not? And are they officially excluded from being called if they have been divorced?

3. If they have been excluded, is this policy or unspoken culture?

4. I ask the same questions about local authorities. Out of Utah it may be different, but I have never seen a divorced bishop in all my Utah days.

This unspoken trend on non-divorced leaders only made it hard to even feel worthy when I was called as YM president because I felt blighted.

Don't get me wrong... I don't aspire to these callings YM pres is hard enough! :-) I just feel marked because I was unfortunate enough to have a spouse who abandoned me and my children - I have custody, and have married an amazing woman in temple, and I am grateful - But does the church need to work on it's sensitivity to an increasingly growing number of previously married members and blended families, or do those of us in that category just need to grow a thicker skin?

Thoughts?

Maestro

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I dont live in Utah but I had a Bishop who was divorced and my current Stake President was divorced. Divorce is a legal procedure and I can't imagine that preventing you from serving in the Church

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Hi all,

I have posted long ago about some of the difficulties I have had adjusting to being a divorced (now remarried) LDS man. I have become very aware of how odd it is and how many times I just feel like an outsider or less worthy - even though I know I am not.

My questions about this are:

1. Are there any recent, monogamous GAs who have been divorced (I know if happened to poly marriages long ago, but that is a different animal).

2. If not, why not? And are they officially excluded from being called if they have been divorced?

3. If they have been excluded, is this policy or unspoken culture?

4. I ask the same questions about local authorities. Out of Utah it may be different, but I have never seen a divorced bishop in all my Utah days.

This unspoken trend on non-divorced leaders only made it hard to even feel worthy when I was called as YM president because I felt blighted.

Don't get me wrong... I don't aspire to these callings YM pres is hard enough! :-) I just feel marked because I was unfortunate enough to have a spouse who abandoned me and my children - I have custody, and have married an amazing woman in temple, and I am grateful - But does the church need to work on it's sensitivity to an increasingly growing number of previously married members and blended families, or do those of us in that category just need to grow a thicker skin?

Thoughts?

Maestro

It is odd that you have not come in contact with a divorced person who holds a responsible position in your ward or stake. I know of several, both men and women. Just off the top of my head a good friend of years ago was called as a bishop and a woman as a Relief Society President. Those are just two and if I had the time I could probably come up with several more. My guess is that you may already know someone but they just don't talk about it.

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I dont live in Utah but I had a Bishop who was divorced and my current Stake President was divorced. Divorce is a legal procedure and I can't imagine that preventing you from serving in the Church. I recently heard in todays day of age if you aren't gay or divorced then you aren't normal! haha!

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Hi all,

I have posted long ago about some of the difficulties I have had adjusting to being a divorced (now remarried) LDS man. I have become very aware of how odd it is and how many times I just feel like an outsider or less worthy - even though I know I am not.

My questions about this are:

1. Are there any recent, monogamous GAs who have been divorced (I know if happened to poly marriages long ago, but that is a different animal).

2. If not, why not? And are they officially excluded from being called if they have been divorced?

3. If they have been excluded, is this policy or unspoken culture?

4. I ask the same questions about local authorities. Out of Utah it may be different, but I have never seen a divorced bishop in all my Utah days.

This unspoken trend on non-divorced leaders only made it hard to even feel worthy when I was called as YM president because I felt blighted.

Don't get me wrong... I don't aspire to these callings YM pres is hard enough! :-) I just feel marked because I was unfortunate enough to have a spouse who abandoned me and my children - I have custody, and have married an amazing woman in temple, and I am grateful - But does the church need to work on it's sensitivity to an increasingly growing number of previously married members and blended families, or do those of us in that category just need to grow a thicker skin?

Thoughts?

Maestro

It is both.

As long as you can answer the Temple Recommend question honestly and correctly. There is no problem.

You need to develop a thicker skin to deal with the knuckleheads that think there is.

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I have heard it said from more than a few sources that divorced men have a more difficult time than divorced women in the Church. That is only hearsay and I don't know if it is true; however, I have a feeling that it is a correct assumption. Divorced men cannot serve in the temple unless it has been more than five years since the divorce. I am not aware of any directives for local leaders of the Church. I don't run in circles that would be privy to what a GA's requirements are and I praise God that such is the case. Divorce is a difficult thing in the Church regardless of the reason. We have not quite developed a cohesive response to how to deal with divorced people. Each individual deals differently with divorce and some are easy to serve than others. Frankly, I think your personal life is personal and should not be discussed unless you feel the need or are asked a direct question by someone that deserves a response.

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I had a stake president who divorced early in his life, and have known a few bishops. I believe there is a stake president currently serving who's wive had a divorce but I might be mistaken. A general authority is a whole different matter. It is much more than just an administrative calling. They are held out as model latter day saints to the entire world. Any sort of blemish would distract from their calling be it divorce, bankruptcy, juvenile delinquency ect. Nevertheless, I have no idea of any of their past mistakes and nor do I care.

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I have heard it said from more than a few sources that divorced men have a more difficult time than divorced women in the Church. That is only hearsay and I don't know if it is true; however, I have a feeling that it is a correct assumption. Divorced men cannot serve in the temple unless it has been more than five years since the divorce. I am not aware of any directives for local leaders of the Church. I don't run in circles that would be privy to what a GA's requirements are and I praise God that such is the case. Divorce is a difficult thing in the Church regardless of the reason. We have not quite developed a cohesive response to how to deal with divorced people. Each individual deals differently with divorce and some are easy to serve than others. Frankly, I think your personal life is personal and should not be discussed unless you feel the need or are asked a direct question by someone that deserves a response.

I went through a divorce and my therapist from LDS social services told me "you need to tell who needs to know"

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I wonder if the reason that some think that there are restrictions on divorced members is the TR question which asks if you are divorced. It is my understanding that the reason that question is asked is if the responder answers yes, a followup question about meeting financial obligations to the former spouse is asked.

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A general authority is a whole different matter. It is much more than just an administrative calling. They are held out as model latter day saints to the entire world. Any sort of blemish would distract from their calling be it divorce, bankruptcy, juvenile delinquency ect. Nevertheless, I have no idea of any of their past mistakes and nor do I care.

Freedom, I think your quote here illustrates what I mean about our (my) perceptions regarding divorce. You called it a "blemish". Is someone who is raped blemished? How about someone who was abused? I think no... so why do we think of people who are divorced that way? Is it because so many divorces may be frivolous or more two sided? In my case, I can truly say I was blindsided by an spouse who announced infidelities and intention to no longer keep covenants or stay in our marriage.

As far as people knowing... when you have 6 kids and 3 have different names, there is not much hiding it.

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Hello Maestrophil...

It sounds to me like you are overly concerned about something that you don't need to be... sounds like you have a wonderful wife and are greatly blessed.

My "dad" was my step-father... a divorced man who converted to the Church a couple years after he married my mom... A year after he converted we as a family were sealed in the SLC temple. He subsequently held numerous callings at the local and stake level, and for several years before his death served with my mom as ordinance workers in the Los Ang temple.

I know he wasn't a GA or anything, but being divorced didn't seem to hamper him at all. Why are you even concerned about this... and if for some reason you think you're blighted... stop it!! You're not, nor does your Heavenly Father think so as long as you are living your covenants... and the fact that you have custody of your children and have not ceased to be a good father speaks volumes.

I hope that you will put these concerns behind you and enjoy the life you have and find joy in the gospel.

from the beach on a lovely day... GG

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Freedom, I think your quote here illustrates what I mean about our (my) perceptions regarding divorce. You called it a "blemish". Is someone who is raped blemished? How about someone who was abused? I think no... so why do we think of people who are divorced that way? Is it because so many divorces may be frivolous or more two sided? In my case, I can truly say I was blindsided by an spouse who announced infidelities and intention to no longer keep covenants or stay in our marriage.

As far as people knowing... when you have 6 kids and 3 have different names, there is not much hiding it.

Double post

Edited by Garden Girl
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I wonder if the reason that some think that there are restrictions on divorced members is the TR question which asks if you are divorced. It is my understanding that the reason that question is asked is if the responder answers yes, a followup question about meeting financial obligations to the former spouse is asked.

The TR questions do not ask if you are divorced. The question you are thinking of simply asks "do you have any financial or other obligations to a former spouse or children?" If the answer is "yes," then a follow-up question asks if you are current in those obligations. The purpose of the question is to ensure you are honest in your family obligations, not to see if you have been divorced.

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Thanks all for your replies.

GG. Thanks for the kind words. I am not overly concerned really, and I do feel very blessed. I just wonder why and if divorce seems to disqualify people from certain positions in the church... and if because of that, there is an unnecessary view of divorced people (possibly even in their own minds only) as not being as spiritually or socially "clean" as non-divorced saints. For instance, if I saw a previously divorced apostle be called, I would feel a little lighter in the soul... silly I know to look for such validation, but nonetheless speaks to the culture I am living in.

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If I have a 'former' spouse, then I am either divorced or a widower/widow. It is unlikely that I have financial obligations to my widow, but wills and lawyers can change that. So, for 90%+ the question is asking if you are divorced.

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There are not many visible minorities as GAs. It is coming. There are yet to be divorced GAs. That will change too ,I think.

True... I still get a tickle every time I hear Pres Uchdorf's accent and think of his position. I would love more of that. :-)

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If I have a 'former' spouse, then I am either divorced or a widower/widow. It is unlikely that I have financial obligations to my widow, but wills and lawyers can change that. So, for 90%+ the question is asking if you are divorced.

Incorrect.

The question asks "do you have any financial obligations to a former spouse or children?" It does not ask "do you have a former spouse or children"? If you are divorced and have no financial obligations, you honestly answer "no". Thus, as situations change, a person may answer "yes" in the interview one year, but two years later, if the financial obligations have ended, they honestly and correctly answer "no".

I do not know the actual percentage of divorcees who do not have financial obligations to former spouses or children, but I know the number is far from trivial. I have a number of good friends who married young, divorced quickly, had no kids, and never have had a spousal support obligation. These friends answer "no" to the question and no one in their ward knows of their divorce unless they choose to reveal it.

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Incorrect.

The question asks "do you have any financial obligations to a former spouse or children?" It does not ask "do you have a former spouse or children"? If you are divorced and have no financial obligations, you honestly answer "no". Thus, as situations change, a person may answer "yes" in the interview one year, but two years later, if the financial obligations have ended, they honestly and correctly answer "no".

I do not know the actual percentage of divorcees who do not have financial obligations to former spouses or children, but I know the number is far from trivial. I have a number of good friends who married young, divorced quickly, had no kids, and never have had a spousal support obligation. These friends answer "no" to the question and no one in their ward knows of their divorce unless they choose to reveal it.

True,

I am keenly aware of that question as I am always happy to answer "No" One of my bishops even asked me "wow, how did you manage that?" Not used to seeing dads with custody I guess.

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There is or at least there used to be a ten year rule during which they will not approve someone to be called as a Bishop. I know because the Stake President who was searching for a candidate to replace me as Bishop submitted a name and had it bounce because the candidate had been divorced within ten years. It's one of many arcane rules that they don't train the bishops or stake presidents about that frequently sideline people

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Freedom, I think your quote here illustrates what I mean about our (my) perceptions regarding divorce. You called it a "blemish". Is someone who is raped blemished? How about someone who was abused? I think no... so why do we think of people who are divorced that way? Is it because so many divorces may be frivolous or more two sided? In my case, I can truly say I was blindsided by an spouse who announced infidelities and intention to no longer keep covenants or stay in our marriage.

As far as people knowing... when you have 6 kids and 3 have different names, there is not much hiding it.

Not all blemishes are the result of sin. Divorce is a blemish even if it is not your fault. It is financially and emotionally devastating, and the church has to hold up a model for the world to follow. The general authorities have a special role beyond simply leadership. It is a unique calling. I have never been divorced, but I have many blemishes that are either my own or not my own fault that would prevent me from qualifying to serve in that capacity.

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Not all blemishes are the result of sin. Divorce is a blemish even if it is not your fault. It is financially and emotionally devastating, and the church has to hold up a model for the world to follow. The general authorities have a special role beyond simply leadership. It is a unique calling. I have never been divorced, but I have many blemishes that are either my own or not my own fault that would prevent me from qualifying to serve in that capacity.

I think for some people especially those who have been caught up in a disciplinary proceeding, it might be more humane to just tell them hey, stay active in the Church but as far as callings are concerned, especially if you are male you are going to be treated as a second class member so if you really feel the desire to develop your leadership abilities find something to do out in the community and go to work there.

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There is or at least there used to be a ten year rule during which they will not approve someone to be called as a Bishop. I know because the Stake President who was searching for a candidate to replace me as Bishop submitted a name and had it bounce because the candidate had been divorced within ten years. It's one of many arcane rules that they don't train the bishops or stake presidents about that frequently sideline people

if the Church is looking for perfect brethren then they'll be looking forever. I see Bishops as nothing more then a management role. I would NEVER go to any of them for any kind of counsel or advice. I only go to them for a recommend or to confess anything that effects my standing in the Church, otherwise it's nunyabizness!

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