Keep best interests of kids at heart
David Berkowitz, past president of the Lawrence Jewish Community Congregation, 917 Highland Drive, and practicing attorney:
Even though there are some differences on the topic between them, all branches of Judaism allow for divorce. Some also require a Rabbinical Court divorce as well as a civil one. The first advice I would have for a person of faith is to check with their spiritual leader to see what, if any, requirements their religion maintains in divorce situations.
The Talmud states that when a divorce occurs “even the altar stones weep.” Divorce is akin to a funeral. The second thing I would advise a person of religion would be to seek comfort within their denomination.
The biggest problem that occurs over religious belief within the context of the actual divorce action occurs when the parties practice two different religions. Certainly, the children should be taught to respect the religious beliefs of both of their parents. However, bringing children up in two religions with the idea that when old enough, they can choose, often causes confusion and may be seen as making them decide which parent they care about the most. The best advice would be to do what the parties have been doing up to the time that the marriage began to break up. If, in fact, the children have been brought up in both religions, it would probably be better to continue that. If the children had been brought up primarily in one religion, they should continue to be raised in that religion. I would urge people in this situation to make every effort to come to an agreement, which is mutually satisfactory to both parties and is in the best interest of the children. In the few cases where they can’t, that is why we have courts.
In conclusion, religious beliefs can and do play a role in divorce actions. I would advise people of faith to consult with their religious leaders, look to their faith for comfort, and if there are children, always remember to keep their best interests at heart.
— Send email to David Berkowitz at email@example.com.
The promise of love always remains
The Rev. Mitch Todd, associate pastor, First United Methodist Church, 946 Vermont St.:
You know what God likes? Covenants. A covenant is like a promise or a relationship. God makes covenants with people all throughout the Bible, saying “I will be your God, and you will be my people.” It’s kind of sweet how much God wants to be in a relationship with us.
The problems in the Bible come when a covenant is broken. God never breaks promises, but humans do a lot. People turn away from God, or ignore God, or disobey God. Why do we do this? I’m not sure, but it seems to be part of our human nature. We aren’t always good at keeping our covenants. Have you noticed?
That’s what divorce is. It’s a broken covenant. When people get married, they make a promise and say “I do” and “forever and ever” in the presence of God, but things happen. Sometimes people just drift apart. Sometimes they do hurtful or even hateful things. Sometimes it’s just too hard to describe. Almost always, it’s painful.
Divorce isn’t easy. Things are going to change. And it may feel like life will never be good again. But it will. Because God is still in love with you — with everyone involved. Jesus is called the “New Covenant” because God sent him to show just how much God loved us.
God is a covenant builder, and since we were made in God’s image, we’re created to make covenant’s too. Even when some of them don’t work out, there is always the promise of love in our lives. That’s what God likes most of all.
— Send email to Mitch Todd at firstname.lastname@example.org.