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Divorce - changing viewpoints


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I know there are many members on this board who have probably experienced divorce.  My parents divorced, I hope I never have to face that.  Many of the leaders of the Church have also had spouses leave and issued divorces including most of the early prophets.
But another thread just got me thinking about our ongoing attitude change in the Church.

I would like some opinions on the following quotes.  I AM NOT LOOKING TO DEBATE WHETHER DIVORCED PEOPLE ARE SINNERS.  And I will stay out of any such breakdown in argument.
I am looking at the doctrinal teachings available on the principle and how the view of divorce has changed among members over the years.

Some of our older beliefs might be:

1. The obvious one:
Matthew 5:32 But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery.

2. Brigham Young June 28, 1874
I tell a man he has to give me ten dollars if he wants a divorce. For what? My services? No, for his foolishness. If you want a bill of divorce give me ten dollars, so that I can put it down in the book that such a man and such a woman have dissolved partnership. Do you think you have done so when you have obtained a bill of divorce? No, nor ever can if you are faithful to the covenants you have made. It takes a higher power than a bill of divorce to take a woman from a man who is a good man and honors his Priesthood—it must be a man who possesses a higher power in the Priesthood, or else the woman is bound to her husband, and will be forever and ever. You might as well ask me for a piece of blank paper for a divorce, as to have a little writing on it, saying—“We mutually agree to dissolve partnership and keep ourselves apart from each other,” &c. It is all nonsense and folly; there is no such thing in the ordinances of the house of God; you cannot find any such law. It is true Jesus told the people that a man could put away his wife for fornication, but for nothing short of this. There is a law for you to be obedient, and humble and faithful.

3. Brigham Young January 20, 1861
A great many of these Elders of Israel, soon after courting these young ladies, and old ladies, and middle-aged ladies, and having them sealed to them, want to have a bill of divorce. I have told them, from the beginning, that sealing men and women for time and all eternity is one of the ordinances of the house of God, and that I never wanted a farthing for sealing them, nor for officiating in any of the ordinances of God's house; but when you ask for a bill of divorce, I intend that you shall pay for it. That keeps me in spending money, besides enabling me to give hundreds of dollars to the poor, and buy butter, eggs, and little notions for women and children, and otherwise use it where it does good.
You may think this is a singular feature in the Gospel, but I cannot exactly say that it is in the Gospel. Hear it, O ye Elders of Israel; and ye sisters, hear it: There is no ecclesiastical law that you know anything about, to free a wife from a man to whom she has been sealed, if he honors his Priesthood. I do not want you to run after bills of divorce. I would rather be without the money you pay for them. 

Important to note that Brigham himself had several divorces in his lifetime.  Given these statements he may well have considered those divorce documents invalid.

4. The Gospel Topics page on Divorce
Those who have caused a divorce through their own poor choices can repent and be forgiven.

5. Apostle Paul
I Corinthians 7:10 And unto the married I command, yet not I, but the Lord, Let not the wife depart from her husband:
11 But and if she depart, let her remain unmarried, or be reconciled to her husband: and let not the husband put away his wife.


So again, to reiterate the topic isn't "is divorce sinful" but "has the Church membership or the Church itself changed its view of divorce, and how do we justify that in the gospel and does that matter in the eyes of God"?

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28 minutes ago, JLHPROF said:

I know there are many members on this board who have probably experienced divorce.  My parents divorced, I hope I never have to face that.  Many of the leaders of the Church have also had spouses leave and issued divorces including most of the early prophets.
But another thread just got me thinking about our ongoing attitude change in the Church.

I would like some opinions on the following quotes.  I AM NOT LOOKING TO DEBATE WHETHER DIVORCED PEOPLE ARE SINNERS.  And I will stay out of any such breakdown in argument.
I am looking at the doctrinal teachings available on the principle and how the view of divorce has changed among members over the years.

Some of our older beliefs might be:

1. The obvious one:
Matthew 5:32 But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery.

2. Brigham Young June 28, 1874
I tell a man he has to give me ten dollars if he wants a divorce. For what? My services? No, for his foolishness. If you want a bill of divorce give me ten dollars, so that I can put it down in the book that such a man and such a woman have dissolved partnership. Do you think you have done so when you have obtained a bill of divorce? No, nor ever can if you are faithful to the covenants you have made. It takes a higher power than a bill of divorce to take a woman from a man who is a good man and honors his Priesthood—it must be a man who possesses a higher power in the Priesthood, or else the woman is bound to her husband, and will be forever and ever. You might as well ask me for a piece of blank paper for a divorce, as to have a little writing on it, saying—“We mutually agree to dissolve partnership and keep ourselves apart from each other,” &c. It is all nonsense and folly; there is no such thing in the ordinances of the house of God; you cannot find any such law. It is true Jesus told the people that a man could put away his wife for fornication, but for nothing short of this. There is a law for you to be obedient, and humble and faithful.

3. Brigham Young January 20, 1861
A great many of these Elders of Israel, soon after courting these young ladies, and old ladies, and middle-aged ladies, and having them sealed to them, want to have a bill of divorce. I have told them, from the beginning, that sealing men and women for time and all eternity is one of the ordinances of the house of God, and that I never wanted a farthing for sealing them, nor for officiating in any of the ordinances of God's house; but when you ask for a bill of divorce, I intend that you shall pay for it. That keeps me in spending money, besides enabling me to give hundreds of dollars to the poor, and buy butter, eggs, and little notions for women and children, and otherwise use it where it does good.
You may think this is a singular feature in the Gospel, but I cannot exactly say that it is in the Gospel. Hear it, O ye Elders of Israel; and ye sisters, hear it: There is no ecclesiastical law that you know anything about, to free a wife from a man to whom she has been sealed, if he honors his Priesthood. I do not want you to run after bills of divorce. I would rather be without the money you pay for them. 

Important to note that Brigham himself had several divorces in his lifetime.  Given these statements he may well have considered those divorce documents invalid.

4. The Gospel Topics page on Divorce
Those who have caused a divorce through their own poor choices can repent and be forgiven.

5. Apostle Paul
I Corinthians 7:10 And unto the married I command, yet not I, but the Lord, Let not the wife depart from her husband:
11 But and if she depart, let her remain unmarried, or be reconciled to her husband: and let not the husband put away his wife.


So again, to reiterate the topic isn't "is divorce sinful" but "has the Church membership or the Church itself changed its view of divorce, and how do we justify that in the gospel and does that matter in the eyes of God"?

There was that talk from Pres. Oaks years ago and he talked about it. Sometimes it needs to happen, how is it better to stay in a totally broken relationship and yet be somehow justified before God than it is to be divorced and getting the healing you need? happy and divorced vs. miserable yet married

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4 minutes ago, Duncan said:

There was that talk from Pres. Oaks years ago and he talked about it. Sometimes it needs to happen, how is it better to stay in a totally broken relationship and yet be somehow justified before God than it is to be divorced and getting the healing you need? happy and divorced vs. miserable yet married

Yes, that would be a changing viewpoint.  I can see how divorce would be preferable to a lot of marriage situations.
But can we provide any gospel or doctrinal support for it?  Is there anything in scripture or revelation to back that up?

 

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The scriptures seem to justify divorce in the case of adultery.  But I think that since divorce is almost always a one-sided affair -- one spouse makes the decision, it is hard to say what implications that has for the eternities.  I certainly can speak from experience.

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2 minutes ago, JLHPROF said:

Yes, that would be a changing viewpoint.  I can see how divorce would be preferable to a lot of marriage situations.
But can we provide any gospel or doctrinal support for it?  Is there anything in scripture or revelation to back that up?

 

what comes to mind is when the Lord presented to President Wilford Woodruff the situation of losing out on temples and temple work or continuing polygamy, do you want to continue to have this marriage system that the US government is fighting against OR do you want to dump it and keep the temples and continue on that path? God said these are your options, choose what you will- I am divorced myself

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I know that when I relocated from California to a ward in Utah, my Elders Quorum President (the modern version of such) was a fellow my age, a retired UPS driver, who was single and divorced.  It made a huge difference to me in the perception of divorce in the church, as it should have.

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I'd love to have something useful to say on the subject, but, just as one must "monog" before one may "polyg," one must marry or be sealed before one may divorce. :huh::unsure::unknw:

Frankly, as much as I may, on occasion, lament my single state, given some of the unwarranted, unwanted attention I have received from women of late, if someone were to tie me to an ant hill, smother my ears with jam, and force me to give him an answer, I would admit that I much prefer being ignored by women, thankyouverymuch! :rolleyes:

;):D

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2 hours ago, Bob Crockett said:

The scriptures seem to justify divorce in the case of adultery.  But I think that since divorce is almost always a one-sided affair -- one spouse makes the decision, it is hard to say what implications that has for the eternities.  I certainly can speak from experience.

Based on the Brigham quotes above (and the instructions from the Savior) if no covenant was broken then divorces might not be valid in the next life. I don't believe God would force anyone to be together, but if numerous temple sealings are intact after divorce the implications would be mind blowing.

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8 minutes ago, JLHPROF said:

Based on the Brigham quotes above (and the instructions from the Savior) if no covenant was broken then divorces might not be valid in the next life. I don't believe God would force anyone to be together, but if numerous temple sealings are intact after divorce the implications would be mind blowing.

I'm not certain it is really fair that a man cannot request a sealing cancellation but a female can.  I understand the doctrine behind it but still . . . .

Edited by Bob Crockett
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I heard of a couple who obtained a civil divorce but did not get their sealing cancelled.  Someone asked the wife why she didn't get the sealing cancelled as well as getting a divorce, and she said it is only this life in which she couldn't live with him. ;):D

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Posted (edited)
30 minutes ago, Kenngo1969 said:

I heard of a couple who obtained a civil divorce but did not get their sealing cancelled.  Someone asked the wife why she didn't get the sealing cancelled as well as getting a divorce, and she said it is only this life in which she couldn't live with him. ;):D

Brigham had several things to say about that too, but it was decidedly one-sided.

Edited by JLHPROF
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3 hours ago, JLHPROF said:

Important to note that Brigham himself had several divorces in his lifetime.  Given these statements he may well have considered those divorce documents invalid.

I recalled that one of the women he married was an actress.  Was she a frivolous kind of person?  Hard to please?  Did the first wife need to give consent to all BY's subsequent marriages?  Was BY commanded to marry all the women that he had?  Was this the Lord's way for testing BY's mettle?  So many questions - - -

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I'm sure that women's rights and increased equity (we have a long way to go still) contributes to divorce being more acceptable socially within the church. IMO, no facts to back that up.

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3 minutes ago, MustardSeed said:

I'm sure that women's rights and increased equity (we have a long way to go still) contributes to divorce being more acceptable socially within the church. IMO, no facts to back that up.

I'm sure you're right.  But I've been reading about marriage in the early Utah period and there were plenty of divorces then.  So many Brigham threatened to quit sealing.  If anything women had more divorce rights in the Church at that time.  The question is how do we justify our increased comfort with it from a gospel perspective?

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1 hour ago, Kenngo1969 said:

I heard of a couple who obtained a civil divorce but did not get their sealing cancelled.  Someone asked the wife why she didn't get the sealing cancelled as well as getting a divorce, and she said it is only this life in which she couldn't live with him. ;):D

I knew a couple where the reverse was true. She felt she could handle it for mortality, but no way did she want him as her eternal partner.  I got the impression he was rather demanding. 

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Perhaps when we no longer see through the glass darkly such earthly problems that brought on the specter of divorce may seem less significant and more forgivable. Perhaps animosity, jealousy, vindictiveness, and anger will be resolvable once we see each other with greater compassion and understanding. 

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20 minutes ago, Hamba Tuhan said:

'Man is that he might have joy'?

I see this but it's not often that God changes one of his rules just to make us feel happier.

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39 minutes ago, Bernard Gui said:

Perhaps when we no longer see through the glass darkly such earthly problems that brought on the specter of divorce may seem less significant and more forgivable. Perhaps animosity, jealousy, vindictiveness, and anger will be resolvable once we see each other with greater compassion and understanding. 

I don't doubt that what you say is true.  That said, here's hoping that that kind of thing can happen more frequently here without having to wait for the hereafter. :) ("Easy for you to say, Ken!  You're an Eternal Bachelor ..."  Yeah, I know, I know! :rolleyes:)

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Oh , Brigham ! Love him or hate him , one must admire his ability to turn a phrase and express his opinion. 

I understand that there is a growing trend to not marry , part of which is attributed to the perceived unfairness of the courts when it come to divorce. The 2 parent family is becoming more scarce all the time. 

I don't see any scripture allowing divorce with the ease that it is currently ( no fault etc. ) 

Which group is it in history that allows a divorce by the man putting the shoes outside the tent door? We are not there yet ! 

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I doubt God would even allow a couple who didn't get along here to perpetuate that in the eternities, even if both are righteous. I had a YSA Bishop, terrible marriage but I hope that doesn't go on forever. There is a lady in our ward who got divorced years ago, he later died and she somehow got sealed to him. I am not in a position to judge but what if he doesn't want her eternally? Somebody pulled the plug on that relationship but I wonder what would change that you turn a 180 on the relationship? In my sister's ward there was this couple that didn't get along whatsoever, apparently they were more like roommates. One son moved in with his girlfriend and then that didn't work out and he did himself a mischief because he didn't want to move back with his folks. So the couple split up. Marriages take work and where you were married doesn't translate into how the marriage will turn out, especially if someone's heart isn't into it

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17 hours ago, JLHPROF said:

I know there are many members on this board who have probably experienced divorce.  My parents divorced, I hope I never have to face that.  Many of the leaders of the Church have also had spouses leave and issued divorces including most of the early prophets.
But another thread just got me thinking about our ongoing attitude change in the Church.

I would like some opinions on the following quotes.  I AM NOT LOOKING TO DEBATE WHETHER DIVORCED PEOPLE ARE SINNERS.  And I will stay out of any such breakdown in argument.
I am looking at the doctrinal teachings available on the principle and how the view of divorce has changed among members over the years.

Some of our older beliefs might be:

1. The obvious one:
Matthew 5:32 But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery.

2. Brigham Young June 28, 1874
I tell a man he has to give me ten dollars if he wants a divorce. For what? My services? No, for his foolishness. If you want a bill of divorce give me ten dollars, so that I can put it down in the book that such a man and such a woman have dissolved partnership. Do you think you have done so when you have obtained a bill of divorce? No, nor ever can if you are faithful to the covenants you have made. It takes a higher power than a bill of divorce to take a woman from a man who is a good man and honors his Priesthood—it must be a man who possesses a higher power in the Priesthood, or else the woman is bound to her husband, and will be forever and ever. You might as well ask me for a piece of blank paper for a divorce, as to have a little writing on it, saying—“We mutually agree to dissolve partnership and keep ourselves apart from each other,” &c. It is all nonsense and folly; there is no such thing in the ordinances of the house of God; you cannot find any such law. It is true Jesus told the people that a man could put away his wife for fornication, but for nothing short of this. There is a law for you to be obedient, and humble and faithful.

3. Brigham Young January 20, 1861
A great many of these Elders of Israel, soon after courting these young ladies, and old ladies, and middle-aged ladies, and having them sealed to them, want to have a bill of divorce. I have told them, from the beginning, that sealing men and women for time and all eternity is one of the ordinances of the house of God, and that I never wanted a farthing for sealing them, nor for officiating in any of the ordinances of God's house; but when you ask for a bill of divorce, I intend that you shall pay for it. That keeps me in spending money, besides enabling me to give hundreds of dollars to the poor, and buy butter, eggs, and little notions for women and children, and otherwise use it where it does good.
You may think this is a singular feature in the Gospel, but I cannot exactly say that it is in the Gospel. Hear it, O ye Elders of Israel; and ye sisters, hear it: There is no ecclesiastical law that you know anything about, to free a wife from a man to whom she has been sealed, if he honors his Priesthood. I do not want you to run after bills of divorce. I would rather be without the money you pay for them. 

Important to note that Brigham himself had several divorces in his lifetime.  Given these statements he may well have considered those divorce documents invalid.

4. The Gospel Topics page on Divorce
Those who have caused a divorce through their own poor choices can repent and be forgiven.

5. Apostle Paul
I Corinthians 7:10 And unto the married I command, yet not I, but the Lord, Let not the wife depart from her husband:
11 But and if she depart, let her remain unmarried, or be reconciled to her husband: and let not the husband put away his wife.


So again, to reiterate the topic isn't "is divorce sinful" but "has the Church membership or the Church itself changed its view of divorce, and how do we justify that in the gospel and does that matter in the eyes of God"?

I see a common theme in all of your quotes on divorce and that is that a man and woman who remain faithful to the covenants they make with God and each other when they are sealed are still considered to be sealed to each other even if or when they separate from each other. 

I think that is because the idea of divorce is a worldly concept, based on the laws of men which are not the laws of God or of heaven, and the laws of God always trump the inferior and finite laws of men which are contrary to God's laws.

It's basically just some men who say a marriage has ended, or a marriage has been formed, when those men are not authorized to speak or act for God.  But men can't separate or annul what God has or those with God's authority have joined together.

 

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25 minutes ago, Ahab said:

I see a common theme in all of your quotes on divorce and that is that a man and woman who remain faithful to the covenants they make with God and each other when they are sealed are still considered to be sealed to each other even if or when they separate from each other. 

I think that is because the idea of divorce is a worldly concept, based on the laws of men which are not the laws of God or of heaven, and the laws of God always trump the inferior and finite laws of men which are contrary to God's laws.

It's basically just some men who say a marriage has ended, or a marriage has been formed, when those men are not authorized to speak or act for God.  But men can't separate or annul what God has or those with God's authority have joined together.

 

Yes, that is exactly my point.  What you have stated appears to be how these things are viewed from a gospel standpoint.
But the point of this thread is that this is no longer how divorce seems to be viewed in the Church, so I am curious about how we have reconciled the ideas and based on what gospel principles do we think God would allow a divorce to mean an eternal sealing is no longer in place.
Are divorces valid in the eternities (in those situations where no covenants were broken or sealings cancelled?)  Or will many divorced members find themselves still married to their ex when they cross through the veil?

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11 hours ago, Hamba Tuhan said:

It has been my experience that God changes many things to make His children happier (and more capable of doing good).

One of my best mates will officially become a single man tomorrow. This was not a quick decision. He has been married long enough to have two adult children (and others who are younger). In addition, I live in a nation that doesn't allow for quick divorce. A couple must be legally separated, for example, for more than one year before either of them can even apply. The government then charges nearly US$1,000 as a court fee. And once this is all done, the settlement of property and establishment of parenting arrangements are completely separate court processes. Yuck.

But at no point during their marriage has his wife liked him. She told him as much during their first year together, and despite that he tried to be loyal to her. Things got so bad a few years back that he started self-harming, badly enough that he will carry visible scars for the rest of mortality. He has also been physically harmed by others in his home on more than one occasion.

He's not a perfect man by any stretch, but he was the best bishop I've ever enjoyed in my Church life. He clearly made a mistake in choosing a spouse. The God I know doesn't make rules designed to make people needlessly suffer.

When I was studying in the American Midwest, one of my best mates there had been married for nearly a decade, but his wife ran off after three months with him and showed interest in neither returning nor filing for divorce. Committed to what he understood from the scriptures, this kind and gentle man had clung to the possibility that he could 'rescue' his marriage if he was just faithful long enough. Eventually, his bishop called him in and told him that he was speaking based on clear revelation: 'God wants you to know that He's accepted your sacrifices, and now it's time to move on'.

This man ended up marrying one of the new converts in my ward, and one whom I knew and loved well (I was her lift to church each week, and we'd dated a bit at one point). I thrilled seeing them together. They've been endlessly happy as a couple and have raised up four children rock-solid in the faith. I believe with all my heart that his bishop was acting under divine authority when he counselled him to move on. Why wouldn't God authorise such an outcome?

None of this is to suggest that I am 'increasingly comfortable' with divorce. Even in these cases, it was dreadful for the men involved. I've gone through some of this with my mate here, and it's been agony. I've lost track of how many priesthood blessings I've given him. But for the truly faithful, there are often rams in thickets, as the scriptures plainly teach.

You and I don't often see eye to eye but I love what you wrote here.
I know God doesn't make rule to make people suffer, although he does often make rules that will try our faith to the core.
In both your examples I think it seems that covenants were actually broken.  Not all divorces are as clear.

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