Divorce & Piety

Before I begin ranting, I would like to take a few sentences to thank every single person that has reached out to me in love after yesterday’s bombshell. I hold you all near and dear to my heart, and appreciate you more than you’ll ever know. My most appreciative thanks to every woman that recognized herself in my words and took a moment to tell me that what I wrote mattered to her … I can’t even express my love and compassion for you right now.

Now. To those that would condemn me for this. I have something to say to y’all.

One of the hardest things for me to face when deciding whether or not to leave my husband was the censure from other Christians that I knew I’d be exposed to. In the secular culture, divorce is sad and all, but more or less accepted. In my world, it just isn’t an option. Especially when it’s between two believers that haven’t had affairs.

I used to be full of righteous judgment for Christians whose marriages fell apart. I believed they weren’t faithful enough to God, had lousy communication skills, and/or generally put their own selfish desires above God’s commands. As little as a year and a half ago, a dear friend told me he and his wife were splitting, and my response was an immediate, “You can’t DO that!”

To this friend, and to every other person I have judged without knowledge of what lay in their hearts or where they stood with God — I’m sorry.

I’m sorry I assumed you were giving up … now I know you were moving on.

I’m sorry I thought you should try harder … now I know you tried everything but selling your soul.

I’m sorry I thought you were putting yourself ahead of your kids … now I know that your children were never, ever an afterthought in your decision.

I’m sorry I thought you were stumbling in your walk with God … you might have been, but that wasn’t for me to judge.

I’m sorry I thought I was better than you … I am the same as you.

To every person that has insinuated or even flat-out accused me of sinning by separating from my husband after years of prayer, reflection, denial, realizations, more prayer, begging, and even more prayer — please un-bunch your pious panties and go read Matthew chapter 7. There’s something in there about a log and speck you might find particularly interesting.

I needed a time-out for my marriage — possibly a permanent one. But every person that tells me I’m going against God’s will by separating from my husband drives me further away from wanting to reconcile with him.

Details aren’t needed. Leif is the father of my amazing children, and I want nothing more than to be his friend again someday, regardless of what happens in our marriage. But things have been very broken between us for a very long time, and it took every ounce of courage I had to take the step that went against everything my religious culture told me but somehow I knew God was telling me was right.

To be told that this beautiful, wonderful thing I have learned exists in my soul, this thing that gives me the strength to flip my life over when nothing else has worked, this thing that has made me braver than I thought possible, and made me rely on God more than I ever have in my entire life … to be told that this is a perversion of His plan for me? Well, it would suck, but things have been so full of suckage the past few years that all I can really do is roll my eyes.

Now I understand all the eye rolls I once got. I hope that you never do.


  1. I Thank you for writing this,but probably not for the reason you would think. After 14 years of marriage, 4 beautiful children, and my husbands 3 affairs and 2 separations, I could not take it any more. I was exhausted trying to hold everything together for the kids. I needed to read your apologies not because I felt people judged me,but because I was judging me, constantly second guessing myself. Your apologies was like me finally understanding myself. Does that make sense? Anyway, thank you for sharing. It helped me tonight. I was having a bad night. One more thing,one thing I have learned, and it was a huge revelation to me,is that it’s better for children to come From a broken home than be IN a broken home. My oldest son 14,has been my biggest supporter,after seeing what I’ve gone through. I think he would stop talking to me if I didn’t go through with the divorce.

  2. Tiffiny says:

    Divorce is a tough road to haul. I had a supportive family to help me through. I pray you do too.

  3. Jennifer Waite says:

    “But every person that tells me I’m going against God’s will by separating from my husband drives me further away from wanting to reconcile with him.”

    Bingo. You have my support, and I wish the best for all four you.

    • Why should anyone else’s view drive you away from the right choice? Why would you be so perverse as to consider an opinion from someone else determinative of how you act? I don’t know your situation and I do not have any opinion on it at all. But I have an opinion on that. It sounds like deep immaturity and childish rebellion to react according to whatever fatuous notions other people might have about God’s Will. They could be right, they could be wrong. What they say has nothing to do with it in EITHER direction.

      • Jennifer Waite says:

        Yikes, you read a lot into that. You sound deeply judgemental and know-it-all-y.

        That quote simply rang true in relation to a similar experience I went through. and I happen to still be married. Not that I care what you think about how I think about my marriage or what anyone else thinks about it.

        When I went through a period of contemplating divorce well-meaning people with that attitude and those statements, urged me to save my marriage to the point that it was a huge distraction. I knew it was out of love, but it wasn’t helpful.

        However, I don’t care what people think in general, but the opinions of people and deeply love and/or respect do matter, especially if they would be personally impacted by a decision. I don’t answer to them, but I do value and respect their input.

  4. Jason Craft says:

    I only saw three comments on your post about getting a divorce, and they were all supportive.
    I’m not going to comment about your divorce; I don’t know you well enough to make it worth our while.
    But your use of Matthew 7:1 as a proof-text against Christians telling other Christians when they are sinning is not correct.
    In 1 Corinthians 5, Paul states very clearly that Christians are supposed to judge the actions of other Christians. He gives two reasons: so the outsiders won’t think that the Church thinks sin is okay, and so that the sin won’t spread like yeast through a lump of dough.
    Either you are sinning, or you aren’t. If you are, it is the duty of the members of your church to call you on it. If you aren’t, then you need to cite Scripture that shows you aren’t.
    But Matthew 7:1 doesn’t apply in this case.

  5. John Doe says:

    Oh, you are such a strong, brave independent woman to leave your husband. Wow, such courage to walk away and quit when the going gets tough. NOT! Please dear God don’t continue to claim to be a Christian. Just admit that your personal haaaaaappiness is more important to you than doing what God commands. Admit it, you are weak, pathetic and selfish. Confession is good for the soul. Repeat after me: “I am too pathetic and weak to do the right thing. I care more about myself than I do about my husband, my children, and my vow made before God to remain married through sickness and in health, for richer or poorer til death do us part.” Yes, unfortunately, God will forgive you. But he sure won’t accept your pathetic rationalization that it is fine to divorce just because you are “unhaaaaappy.” [Next step, she starts claiming some sort of abuse or other lie to justify her pathetic actions. Look out husband, bend over 'cuz here it comes...]

    • Teri Peters says:

      Oh you are such a strong, brave independent man to post such garbage John Doe. Wow. Such courage to talk like this under a pseudonym. NOT. Please Dear God don’t claim your REAL name is John Doe. Admit it. You are weak, pathetic and a coward. Repeat after me: “I am too pathetic and weak to post such hideous comments under my real name.” Additionally, you are no christian. Jenny did not have to go public with this. She’s asked for us not to take sides and I’m not. She is in my prayers though. As are her children and her husband. Get a life.

    • greymagistrate says:

      John Doe, that reverse-psychology trolling would’ve been less obvious if you hadn’t ended your post with an obscenity. Hafta work on those troll skillz!

  6. One of the sadder aspects of divorce (imho) is that it sometimes seems to bring out the vileness of human nature. “John Doe” is in full flower with a demonstration of same. What a guy.

  7. Ty Martin says:

    Re: John Doe. You are acting so Christian. NOT. I am actually a little ashamed to be classified in the same gene pool as you, not to mention the same denomination. You can’t criticize a person until you walk a mile in their shoes; also maybe you should read and pray about John 8:7. You need to keep your mouth shut and open your heart. You are attacking a person who is hurting and you are coming across as a genuine, non-Christian, zealot. I’m not writing this to start some sort of a battle on this blog. I know Jenny a little and I really like, admire, and appreciate her. I also am working on my degree in Psychology and family studies and I am Christian. Do you really think that raising kids in a home that is filled with tension is better than raising kids in a home with “false love”? Get real and step out of your bubble. It truly hurts my heart when people stay together “for the kids”, especially after working with so many therapists and learning so much about families and the psychology of the individual. More damage has been done to the salvation of our worlds children through homes without love than divorce will ever do. It’s not an easy concept to wrap your head around, but then again, with the types of things that you have already posted I don’t expect you to be able to understand. Last thing, that fact that you would start to throw abuse and other crap in the conversation doesn’t make her look bad, it makes you look like ignorant scum. A true Christian would pray for Jenny and her family instead of slamming her and acting like an ignorant ass. It is not up to us to judge another person John.

  8. Laurie Gates says:

    Dear Jenny,
    I know you are hurting, and I have shed tears this week for you and your family. This response comes not in angry condemnation, but in sorrow and love. It is not your religious culture that told you divorce was wrong; it is the Bible and the Holy Spirit. God does not tell us one thing in His Word and then contradict it by telling us something different to our hearts. Rather, the Bible says that the heart is deceitful above all things, and I am afraid that you are being deceived. I will continue to pray for you and your family. This is a great post about choosing character (holiness) over comfort, and I hope you will consider it: http://www.ruthless-love.blogspot.com/2013/05/his-character-our-comfort.html

  9. Praying for your whole family. We Love you! Run to the Father!

    Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession.
    For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.
    Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. Hebrews 4:14-16

    If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. James 1:5

  10. Teri Peters says:

    Every time I look at these comments I want to scream. You soulless people that call yourselves Christians. I’ve not met a perfect person yet. Additionally, it is 2013, not the dark ages. Divorce happens! She’s in pain, her kids and her husband are in pain. For once in your lives just shut your traps and pray for them (as she asked you to). It’s people like you that drive me away from organized religion. The internet makes it so easy for such heartless comments. I have a feeling I am going to be one of Jenny’s fiercest advocates.

    • Laurie Gates says:

      Teri, I do understand what you are saying. No one is perfect, and divorce does happen, that’s true.

      I think of it this way: since Jenny and I both call God our Father, we are like sisters. If my sister was doing something dangerous, like playing in the road, when our dad told us not to, and asked me not to judge her, I would have to say something to her out of love and concern. I wouldn’t tell her I admire her bravery, but rather would say, “I love you! This is not what is best for you; dad said not to do this and it will not be good for you!” (even something that is said, admittedly not in a nice way, like “You idiot! Get out of the road!” would hopefully have the goal not of making her feel bad, but of turning her towards obedience and safety). I sin in many ways, yet I still wish what is best for my sister.

  11. Margo McCann says:

    Being Christian, I had the hardest time deciding what to do when my ex-husband and I were no longer getting along. It did not feel right to stay in this terrible relationship so I went through with the divorce. Luckily through my divorce I had a great support system including my lawyer, Marshall Davis Brown Jr. who was always available to help answer my questions through the process!

  12. If one must point to Matthew 7, one must for starters remember that Matthew 5, in which Christ condemns divorce, is part of the same sermon. Can’t cite one without implying the other, really, and so we have to understand how we are to understand that the measure we use will be used against us in the context of the rest of what Christ is saying.

    Especially noteworthy is Christ’s warning not to throw pearls before swine–and this must refer to people, not pigs, as for obvious reasons Jesus’ Jewish audience must not have included many swineherds, and moreover not too many of them had any pearls to throw. They were dirt poor people, really. So in the same passage where Christ warns of the danger of judging, he requires the hearer to do some judging.

    Which is a long way of saying that no, Matthew 7:1-5 (and let’s look at verse 6, too) does not prohibit warning about the dangers of divorce.

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