Divorce And Christians

Beyond Divorce, by Brenda Hunter (Revell, 160 pp., $6.95), The Long Way Back, by Arliss R. Benham (Master’s Press, 55 pp., $1.50pb), Living With Divorce, by Kathleen Sheridan (Thomas More, 130 pp., $6.95 hb and $3.45 pb), An Answer to Divorce, by Norman Wright (Harvest House, 62 pp., $.95 pb), How to Avoid Divorce, by Luciano L’Abate and Bess L’Abate (John Knox, 141 pp., $4.95 pb), Divorce: Prevention or Survival, by William V. Arnold, et al. (Westminster, 128 pp., $4.95 pb), Alone Again, by Richard Krebs (Augsburg, 125 pp., $6.95 hb and $3.50 pb), and Daddy, Come Home, by Irene Aiken (Victor, 100 pp., $1.75 pb), are reviewed by Helen Hosier, editor, Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, Tennessee.

Approaching the topic of divorce is an extremely risky thing to do. As Kathleen Sheridan says, “Such an issue is hardly neutral in most people’s minds. Divorce is one of those disturbing, controversial subjects that we tend to link with abortion, marijuana, sexuality, and murder—whether it belongs there or not Divorce is an issue about which many of us have long-standing, well-ingrained opinions.” Hard on the heels of this and other revelatory statements, Sheridan says most of these positions she regards as prejudiced, narrow, presumptuous, and irrational. Instead, this clinical psychologist has come to believe that divorce may be a good choice, a viable decision, an essential alternative. This is, of course, a controversial conclusion.

There was a time, not too many years ago, when a person going through divorce could find few if any books that spoke to his or her need written from a largely Christian perspective. Such is no longer the case. Booksellers may well be saying now, “Not another one!” as they view the plethora of such books already available and announced as forthcoming.

Beyond Divorce, with the subtitle “A Personal Journey,” offers broad perspectives on the possibilities open to the divorced individual and much encouragement and hope. Brenda Hunter states: “Among the divorced, there are essentially two categories of people: those who leave marriages and those who are left. Those who leave marriages may have their guilt, but those who are left definitely have their rejection.” She asks the question: “Who recovers first?”

Because the author was one who was left, she struggled with the feelings of rejection. She went through the full gamut of emotions: anger, bitterness, sadness, grief. Confronted with the harsh realities of creating a new life for herself and two children, she proved to herself and others that with God’s help she could rebuild an existence for herself that was meaningful and, at the same time, provide what her children needed. In the process, however, she discovered new strengths in herself—a discovery other divorced individuals frequently make and which contributes to the recovery process and makes it possible to live with one’s self and the inevitable feelings of rejection. One wishes all divorced individuals possessed Brenda Hunter’s resourcefulness.

In rehearsing the saga of her struggle, Hunter has not cast aspersions upon her former husband, nor made herself look like a saint. If you are looking for help on how the church regards divorce and remarriage, or what the Bible specifically has to say, you will not find it in this book. Apparently the author was not confronted with the alienation many others experience. What she has experienced, however, and shares in abundant measure, is the grace of God as she chose to allow divorce to move her along the path of growth, drawing always on the fact of God’s nearness.

No less a struggle was faced by Arliss R. Benham who, too, was the woman who was left. She describes the “sheer terror of being 54 years old with no home, no money, no job, and stripped of a deep love relationship that had survived 35 years.” In The Long Way Back we get an almost too intimate glimpse of how one woman learned to live with divorce. One wishes Benham could have read Sheridan’s volume before writing her own book.

Sheridan stresses that there are rarely victims and villains in marriages. “People rarely have operations unless there are problems with the bodily systems.… Operations are necessary, valuable, and often life-saving. So should be divorces.” Sheridan’s book does not offer spiritual guidance; it is factual and forthright, calling for the divorced person to grow, develop, and become the best kind of person he or she can be under the circumstances.

In Alone Again, Dr. Krebs combines sound psychological knowledge with clear Christian faith and gives brief histories of those who came to terms with their new, single life. Written for either the divorced or widowed, the book will provide guidelines.

How to Avoid Divorce, subtitled “Help for Troubled Marriages,” was written by a husband-wife professional team and gives extensive information—counselors, organizations, and addresses—on where one can go for specialized help. An excellent book that pulls no punches; it really tells the couple what to do to mend the marriage and make it work. There are no quasi-magic solutions here; no emotional band-aids; no miracle cures. What is offered, however, is the fact that energy must be expended to avoid divorce. Get off the fence of indecision, doubt, and postponement and start practicing the authors’ seven points toward marriage enhancement.

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An Answer to Divorce is a small but practical book that answers the pressing questions facing the family threatened by divorce today. The author is a licensed marriage and family counselor and draws from his extensive experience to offer help.

Divorce: Prevention or Survival was written by three divorced women authors and Dr. William Arnold, their counselor. It is refreshing to see books that are written in an effort to help save marriages. This book offers many practical ways the church can join in marriage-saving efforts, and in support groups for those who do divorce.

Daddy, Come Home spans four days in the life of a 12-year-old girl faced with the possibility that her daddy might not come home to live again. Irene Aiken has handled the sensitive subject of divorce as it affects a child, with a realistic approach. This is not a story with the usual happy-ever-after ending; but neither is it as sad as one might suppose. A child whose parents are divorced would easily identify and, I believe, could be encouraged to trust God.

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