Book Excerpt: Broken Vows Shattered Lives

religion and divorce bookBy Dr. Steve Mentzer

Excerpted with permission from Broken Vows Shattered Lives

Read the Q&A with editor Matt Allen and the author about dealing with divorce.

No one can deny the fact that the family has changed in the last forty years.  We have faced during the last half of the twentieth century an all out assault upon the family.  When nearly one out of two marriages fail, the destruction of society’s values diminish. However, upon the Christian family, the destruction of the family strikes directly at the heart of God’s first established institution.  It was not the church, but the family God started in the Garden of Eden.


Marriage has become an easy way to have one’s needs met and in the same vein get plenty of gifts, money and one swell party.  People jump out of planes to say their vows.  Is this an indication of the frailty of marriage—silken bonds standing between death and a safe landing?  Many people do not fully understand the indications God has given us for marriage and his goal of godly offspring.

In this book, we will look at marriage as God intended—an example to the world of his love.  God said it was not good that man should be alone.  He created a helpmate for Adam and the two of them worked together and fellowshipped with God.  However, sin entered into the Garden and into marriage.  We struggle against one another instead of working beside each other.  We strive to fulfill our needs at the sake of the other person.

In marriage, we find ourselves stressed because families go in opposite directions. Jobs, activities, and hobbies create such a demand upon our lives the restaurant industry has exploded to handle the families having to eat on their way to another activity—perhaps in two different directions.  This stress also adds to the busyness of the family, and this stress of having “just one more thing to do” does not create harmony.  Children are in their rooms with all kinds of electronic gadgets and only come out to get a drink or a snack.  Mom and Dad are trying to unwind, pay bills, and discuss the family’s calendar for the next day so no one forgets appointments, deadlines, or game times.

Hence, the families today, growing up in a fast paced, disposable world take the ideal of God’ s plan for marriage and lay it in the waste basket of our busy lives.  If I cannot get my agenda with this person, I will move on until I get all my needs met.  However, it is not always greener in another pasture.  The same stuff that lies on the ground in one pastureland is in the other as well.  We just do not see it for all the lush greenery on the other side of the fence.  Therefore, we hop the fence and step right into another mess.

When I was a child, I went to my cousin’s farm in South Carolina with a pair of new Ked’s High Tops.  They were the shoe that made you run faster and jump higher.  After wearing them while herding the cows for the evening milking, the shoes were no longer new.  This same picture relates to divorce.  William Galston, a former domestic-policy advisor to President Clinton, observed, “We have had a great social experiment for the last 40 years, shifting in the direction of autonomy, choice, personal happiness and fulfillment, and away from personal responsibility and sacrifice.  We are now asking ourselves whether the experiment was a success or failure.”  It can be said the way of the family is the way of society.

We will look at the effects of divorce upon the one flesh of God’s creation—one man and one woman.  The destruction of this Biblical foundation leads to grief, loneliness, heartache and distance from God and others.  Divorced people are more prone to leave the church for a variety of reasons—their own hurts and pains and the church’s failure to know, recognize and minister to this new type of family.

Grief, the process by which a human being deals with loss is different for divorced people than the widow or widower.  Death of a spouse may end the marriage, but the state of divorce will last for many years because of children, alimony, and other factors.  When the lid on the casket is closed, there is not a face to see except in the memories and pictures.  However, every weekend or holiday, a face appears at our door, which can leave one either cold or filled with anger as someone comes to pick up the children or leave a support or alimony check.  The check is another reminder one no longer want to be dependent upon this person.  In addition, the payer caring for the children as they should, may feel continually chained to the former spouse until the children reach maturity.

During the grief process that could last up to two years, blame, shame, and guilt may become a constant companion because of the way you grew up.  These thoughts and feelings compound the grief process and inhibit your recovery if you allow them the take over your life.  In this book, we speak about how to deal with them biblically.

The act of forgiveness will help you to both grow emotionally, as well as, spiritually.  God commands us to forgive and while at times, we may not want to think of releasing the other spouse; if we wish our sins forgiven, then we too must forgive as Jesus forgives us.  Hatred and unforgiveness will come out in years to come if you do not leave them also at the foot of the cross and will poison any future relationships you might enjoy—either within a new marriage or even with other friends and family.  It is a pain never going away unless you deal with it.

Lastly, we deal with the non-combatants in the marriage-divorce wars and they are the children.  They are the real casualties of war.  Their once intact home is divided and without stability or lacking the ability to reason, they find themselves like corks on the ocean.  Without directions from the adults, who are hurting as well, they seek to define their own roles and responsibilities.  This becomes another border clash if the divorced parent remarries.  We also give you some thoughts concerning the children and your possible remarriage.

Ultimately, it would be a great thing if this book never needed to be written.  One man and one woman would live their entire married life, raising children, and then bouncing their grandchildren upon their knees in the latter part of their life.  However, now the children must shuttle their children between their parents and their new spouses.  It is no longer just Grandma or Grandpa, but another name is created to identify for the children their grandparents are divorced and the new spouse….  Ad nausea!

Do not believe you cannot have a happy second marriage.  This book is to help you understand the problems you will find in the future and to avoid the pitfalls I found as I searched for healing from the pain of divorce.

If you are reading this as divorced person or as one in the process of divorce, then I hope you may use my failings to your benefit.  I thank my God who took the leftovers of my life and gave me the desire and passion for a ministry to help those like you to struggle less and recover sooner than I did.

If you are thinking about divorce, perhaps you should turn to the back of the book and start with the problems your divorce will bring to you, your children, and their children and their children’s children if you are not willing to walk each step God sets for marriage decisively and prayerfully.


For more information and to purchase the book, visit the Broken Vows Shattered Lives website. You may also e-mail the author your questions and comments.

Read the Q&A with editor Matt Allen and the author about dealing with divorce.

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