The Problem with Churches Asking Couples to Commit to “No Divorce”


I’ve heard of churches offering prayers for no divorce.

Pastors, marriage leaders or elders ask couples to go forward or stand up during a church service to receive prayers for their marriages, including “no divorce” declarations.

And I have a big problem with that.

prayers for no divorce

The Problem With Churches Offering Prayers for No Divorce

Instead of denouncing divorce or asking couples to pray away divorce, why aren’t churches condemning the wickedness that LEADS to divorce?

Like abuse? Unrepentant sin and harmful addictions? Chronic porn-use? Infidelity? Hard-core neglect of a spouse? Criminal behavior that puts lives at risk? Unrepentant entitlement?

Rather than ask couples to commit to a no-divorce policy or offer prayers for no divorce, why don’t churches ask couples to commit to zero abuse, zero adultery, zero neglect, zero abandonment, zero harm?

Instead of asking couples to never divorce or remove the word divorce from their vocabulary (a preposterous thought if you think about it because divorce IS part of the vocabulary of Scripture!), why don’t we ask them to treat each other with empathy, mutuality, honor, and respect?

And while we have them up there, why don’t we discuss the repercussions of unrepentant hard-heartedness?

That if you neglect, abuse, or in any way wreck your spouse with no genuine repentance, you will most definitely lose them, and the church will be 1000percent behind the wounded suffering mate?

Rather than “let’s remove divorce from our vocabulary,” or “let’s offer prayers for no divorce,” how about we normalize “this is how we build a fabulous healthy marriage” + “this is what you get if you harm your spouse without repentance” conversations?

Prayers for marriage

What is God Saying About Divorce? Healthy Marriages

I get it.

Some of us talking about removing divorce from a couple’s vocabulary are actually encouraging regular married folk with their regular married folk problems—not addressing abusive, dysfunctional, entitled, power-driven, toxic marriages.

But here’s the thing: these distinctions are rarely presented.

When those “altar calls” are made for married folk to recommit their marriages, nobody says, “Don’t think about the D-word UNLESS your spouse is trying to murder your soul and body – thanks to Sarah McDugal for that clarification of what abuse does – in which case our arms and hearts are wide open to support your wholeness and safety. Please see so and so…”

People in healthy marriages need help understanding why this distinction matters. We really need to know why it does.

There’s a considerable portion of God’s children largely unseen and unrepresented. When we say our language and approach don’t need to change, when we dismiss the cries of the hurting with “I wasn’t addressing your circumstances,” we are the furthest thing from Jesus.

Jesus saw. Jesus stopped. Jesus loved. As God, Jesus never needed to repent. As His followers, we have plenty to repent of if we’re to represent His heart and character fully.

So let’s normalize putting the cart AFTER the horse. It’s a much better way to inspire health in marriage, actually.

Because then, people who ought to stay married stay healthily married, and those who need to get out of a toxic, abusive marriage know they are loved and supported, whatever path they choose.

SHERO: Your WILD Guide to Warrior After Abuse by Sarah McDugal

SHERO is a self-paced online course for those ready to move from survivor to warrior, and you feel drawn to reach back into the vortex to make a difference. It’s for those who love someone who has suffered trauma or abuse, and their pain has sparked your desire to become an advocate. It’s for those who serve in a professional role such as clergy, counselor, attorney, or law enforcement, and you want to be more trauma-informed. Click here to sign up.

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