Saturday, April 21, 2007

April 2007 General Conference : Divorce

Elder Dallin Oaks delivered the only comprehensive overview of this subject that I have ever heard from church authorities. To me, this is an indication that divorce as an issue has now reached a level of general concern among the brethren. Divorce is no longer a personal or private matter, over whether we each choose to maintain our marriages and families. As Elder Oaks asserts, it touches most all of us in some way.

The wide incidence of divorce is evidence of failure of the option of an essential "escape hatch" from marriage. It touches most families in the church

The very concept of marriage is in peril, because divorce is so commonplace.

In our culture, one popular idea is that marriage is only a private relationship between consenting adults, terminable by either. It seems easier to sever a marriage relationship with an unwanted spouse than a job with an unwanted employee.

Today some young people shun marriage. Some withhold full commitment.

Modern prophets warn that looking at marriage as a mere contract is an evil meriting severe condemnation.

Under the Law of Moses, remarriage for the divorced was considered adultery. Because of the hardness of our hearts, the Lord does not currently enforce the consequences of this Celestial standard.

Many of those divorced are innocent victims, with firsthand experience of circumstances worse than marriage. Victims of desertion otherwise may have no way of looking forward and getting on with their lives.

The remedy for this problem is not divorce, but repentance. Often the cause is not incompatibility but selfishness. Divorce is not an all-purpose solution. It creates long-term heartache.

We do not give up on a marriage. If there is any hope of recovery, we seek help, again and again.

There are times when one spouse falls short, and the other is wounded. We must balance current disappointments against the good of the past, and the brighter prospects of the future. Don't treasure up past wrongs, reprocessing them again and again. Festering is destructive, forgiving is divine. Forgive wrongs.

Consider these observations of a wise bishop with extensive experience in counselling. Every couple recognized that divorce was not a good thing, but they all insisted that their situation was different. Worried about the children, but said it's worse for them to have us stay together and fighting.

We should be aware that there are three parties to our marriage -- the two spouses, and the Lord. If two of us could hang in there...

Love the Lord, keep his commandments, and just do the best you can.

He shall consecrate thine afflictions for thy gain.

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