As I stated in my previous blog in our “Mormons and Divorce” series, the goal is to do whatever it takes to keep our marriages strong and healthy so we can be together eternally. However, this is not always possible. While every situation is different and I can’t speak for your leaders or pretend to know more about your circumstances than I do, here are some examples of times when your Church leaders might be inclined to support your decision to divorce.
Adultery. The Church has a firm stance on adultery and members who commit this sin will most generally lose their membership. However, many members remain married while working through the repentance process and later, become rebaptized and have their former blessings restored to them. In cases where the adulterer is unrepentant and has no intention of trying to make things right, the spouse may be encouraged to seek a divorce.
Homosexuality. There are many members of the Church who struggle with same-sex attraction who are married and have families, all while keeping their inclinations at bay. If this is the case, they can have successful, loving marriages. But if they choose to live the homosexual lifestyle and leave behind their spouses and children, then Church leaders will encourage a divorce.
Pornography. Pornography is a rampant blight upon the face of the earth, and its influence is being felt more and more often amongst the LDS people. Many of those caught in its web know that it’s wrong and are doing their best to overcome the temptation. However, there are some who see no problem with it and refuse to repent. In cases like this, Church leaders may encourage a divorce.
Abuse. Spousal abuse is absolutely frowned upon and any spouse who finds themselves the victim of emotional, physical or sexual abuse should seek help wherever possible. If your abusive spouse will not change their ways and refuses to go through a repentance process, divorce is a very viable alternative.
Apostacy. Depending on the situation, apostacy may be grounds for divorce. Many have chosen to leave the Church peaceably and still have healthy, happy marriages, in some cases returning to the Church later. If your spouse has left the Church, is associating with anti-Mormon groups and seeking to lead others in your family away also, this could be a reason for your leadership to encourage you to divorce.
If you are facing one of these difficult challenges, your leaders will urge you to get counseling and to meet with them often so they can determine what should be done. As each of these situations is linked to an unrepented sin, some Church disciplinary action will likely be taken as well, although I do remind you that each circumstance is handled on a case-by-case basis and I can’t speak for the whole.
I would also like to point out that the choice to divorce is always yours. If your Church leader feels you have a chance at reconciliation, and you don’t feel the same way, you can carry forth with the divorce proceedings anyway. You do not need the permission of your leader to divorce. However, the counsel you receive as you meet with him and seek his advice could be very valuable and even marriage-saving, and will be well worth your time to seek out.
We will continue our series tomorrow with a look at grounds for divorce that are not connected to sin.