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Listening Ear

Divorce - Is It Such A Bad Thing?


Divorce. A word that evokes so many emotions in these parts. These Parts being Ghana. The shuddering and the cringing of loved ones at the word, when it is spoken by people going through their darkest moments of abuse, disillusionment and general state of anomie, sometimes makes it feel like someone will die because divorce was mentioned. The feeling is akin to brandishing an offensive weapon, even if it is for the defence of one’s right to a safe and healthy life, emotionally, mentally, physically and every nuanced patch in between.


Better stay and die than to throw that word around. Many have been coaxed into living in their hell on Earth. Like an offensive weapon, you are told to hide it; you might hurt someone. Someone being the children, your reputation, your Christian identity, your family name, heck, even your social standing. Hide it and don’t you dare repeat that word. That is how Tiffany got badly hurt.

Well, ...to be honest...Tiffany would have died of depression or knife stab wounds by her man, anyway. Oh, and do not blame the divorce for her addiction which led her to OD. It was the terrible situation she was in that pushed her into finding solace in what started as pain medication for the rapid relief of the pains she was subjected to while mimicking a punching bag. That is what started the addiction, not the divorce.


But you wouldn’t know about that. You wouldn’t know about any of that because staying in the hell hole to play the part was more important to everyone she ran to than giving her a chance to live the life she was raised with hard cash and opportunity cost.


So why the discomfort when the subject of divorce comes up? I am not sure, but when a culture makes marriage and staying married a do or die affair, a lot more norms, values and religious texts, no matter how scanty, inconclusive and wildly misinterpreted, are projected to keep divorce on the Taboo Shelf. I honestly don’t know why, but this one thing I know for a fact; divorce, for many is the beginning of the best days of their lives. Let me tell you why.


Is The Bible Being Fairly Applied Here?

I choose to start from the most controversial place, the Christian Position on divorce. I find the double standards quite nauseating as I find a lot of Christian positions to be. Do not get me wrong; I am Bible-believing tongue-speaking Christian.


First, why do we insist that people should stay married even if lives are at stake, but most of us will turn a blind eye when other aspects of the Bible stare us hard in the face? From all kinds of sins, intentional misrepresentation of key doctrines for our selfish needs, our position on the sabbath, the kind of food we can eat, to everything in between, we cherry-pick what we want and what we don’t want. Oh, we live under grace and not by law; we are New Testament people says the pastor who remembers the Bible has a portion of it called the Old Testament which has a lot of texts on money and vain wealth, so he can live like David and Solomon and not John the Baptist, Paul the Apostle or even Jesus Himself.


Now the question is, why are we not applying every aspect of scriptures to our lives today? Practically impossible. We can’t go about stoning witches to death. We can’t build private armies to go after kings for sacking and pillaging cities as Abraham did in the Lot debacle, or as David and his band of brigands nearly did when Nabal refused to feed them. There are local and international laws against that. We can’t send farm produce as tithes from Timbuktu to Accra.


Societies have so advanced, we can’t send our servants to go to our hometown to look for spouses for our children. They will shut that nonsense down before the servants get the chance to start the journey.


There are sways of experiences set in biblical times that are not even contemplated in this age, not because some forces of this age are fighting it; it is because they are inconsistent with our present-day values, and the tenets of our civilization. So why is Divorce still seen with the same eyes that it has been seen through the dawn of time?


I guess when we see marriage as key to social progress, and the family, the basic unit of society, then it will make sense to drive it sustenance and perpetuity. But at what cost?


Why can’t we see the marriage contract as a free will contract people enter of their volition without any duress, people of sound mind? If we can see it to be so, why can’t we also allow them, when they have LEGITIMATE REASONS for wanting out, to do so without vilification, stigmatization, and social harassment, overt or covert? Why can’t we handle marriage (or divorce) the same way we have handled many other Biblical experiences and allowed them to metamorphose into experiences that are consistent with our age?




When It Glitters But Is Not Gold.

We need to understand that the marriages of old were pretty much simple. They were arranged in most part by families that may have settled in the same community or are related. The world was small to most people, their realities and impressions shaped by the 20-acre piece of space they called their town. People in those days respected boundaries and family arrangements stood regardless of the desires of the children involved. They understood social and family altruism. Even that, things could go south leading to divorce nonetheless.


In this age, however, we are independent; children at an early age have choices and options. This is further fueled by this age’s drive for independent thought and opinion. So, people make choices and decisions that are theirs and not their parents. Which means the choice of a life partner is squarely theirs. Children have gone to war with their parents over the choice of a life partner.


Each independent view is fueled by perception, and how these young people are seeing the world. That perception shapes their expectation. So, people marry and hope to have a certain kind of marriage; a husband or wife who acts or responds to their environment in a particular way, a socio-economic status that speaks to certain desires and lifestyle, offspring that fit their dream of perfect progeny etc.


If at any point in time, there seem to be some level of REASONABLE and VALID disillusionment, why should it be a difficult thing for that contract to be undone? But it is a covenant. It has been said…. Yada yada yada. The same way being washed by the blood of Jesus when we become Born again and staying washed is a covenant….And many other forms of Bible-based covenants we so break in our private and public lives.


I believe God looks at the heart and the intent of men, and He will appreciate a person who lets go of their marriage so they do not live a life of resentment, bitterness, anger and all the toxic emotions one can have for the person they do not want to live their lives with but are bonded by social constraints.


Regina Samaria (my name for her), the Samaritan woman who arguably is one of the biggest evangelists of all time (I mean she single-handedly won the city over) was with the 5th man, who was not her Hubby when she chance-met Christ. I am not sure the bible was explicit as to why the first four marriages failed, and why the 5th perch, and whether it made her any less of a vessel to be used by God or not. She had her reason for her choices and if God who looks at the heart found her worthy of usage, then I guess, it is more of a conversation between you and God, not some hypocritical social authorities who have so appointed themselves to hold people to standards that stream from sources only they know, but clearly not firmly rooted in Scriptures.





Water And Oil

I am no scientist, but I know that water and oil will not on their own, in their natural state, mix. Does that make water any bad a substance than the oil or the reverse? No. In their natural state, they are incompatible, and that is fine. There are other liquids that mix fine with each of them. So let what mixes with water find water and let what mixes with oil find oil. But let’s not force water and oil to mix up. It becomes a rigorous unsustainable exercise of constant shaking.


A lot of things shape our individuality. Our nature and our socialization eventually shape us into the unique beings that we are. That unique being has its tastes and preferences, opinions, and perspectives. They have a way they interact with and explain the world around them. All of these make them unique and naturally irreplicable individuals.


If they end up with someone whose identity is fundamentally at variant with who they are, should they not find it easy to step out so they can look for someone who shares their world with them in a way that makes it easy to find common grounds? Should they spend eternity trying to mix in an exercise that in the final analysis may prove futile?


Why did they not do their due diligence before marriage, so they do not end up with people they do not share world views with, you ask. Well, if you can say you know yourself to the point where every single decision you have ever made is optimal, and that you do not make mistakes, no matter how trivial, then I guess you can make the above argument. But if we, even as individuals, end up with choices that shock us, you should understand that someone is also bound to make choices that will shock them and everyone else. We are free-willed free-thinking humans; we are highly unpredictable and do not lend ourselves amenable to scientific study.


People basically make mistakes. Mistakes are some of the products of our state of being at a particular point in time. From stress through a financial situation to hyperexcitation, our state of being can make us misjudge a situation leading to a series of choices that may ultimately lead to a mistake. So yes, we all make mistakes. When people do, let’s allow a place for remedy.


Then there are those who did not make any mistake but were defrauded. They thought what they saw and the contract they entered into showed everything that was material to it. Then they woke up and found out that not everything that was material to the contract was revealed to them. Utmost Good Faith is breached, and, like insurance, at their discretion, they can choose to avoid the contract.





What If Lives Are At Stake?

This is a philosophical question. The lives at stake here are not just that of the couple, but the children as well. Again, it is not about these few people caught in this vicious cycle; it extends to everyone who will now and in the future interact with these people.


The damage that terrible marriages do to people is on different layers. There is the immediate and physical layer; think of physical abuse and death, be it homicide or suicide. There is the emotional and psychological layer; think of depression, loss of confidence and self-esteem. There is the social layer; think of what a person who has endured a terrible marriage as a spouse or a child, and what their long term outlook on the family, love and authority will be like.


There are counselors who are counseling people not with any proper training but with their own marital experience; experience of blood, sweat and tears. Imagine the picture they plant in the heads of those who go to them There are young people who have been damaged through diverse kinds of abuse because they grew up seeing it at home. It has now become their default impression of what a family should look like and what a man or woman does to get by under different circumstances.


There are people who are bleeding on those who did not cut them; always suspecting their partners, always aggressive and offensive, ready to pack up and run, and timid in every aspect of their social endeavours. People have been conditioned to see the world, and more importantly, the family as a war zone; kill or be killed.


So why not just save everyone by setting them free, before these potential outcomes become a reality for them?





Is 'The Children' Argument A Good One To Make For One To Stay In A Terrible Marriage?

That is the most ridiculous thing anyone could come up with as a reason to continue to stay in a terrible marriage…honestly. But then I will not laugh out loud if someone used that as a reason to stay. I used to see things through that lens until, over a period of time, people shared how life got better for them because of their stepparents.


Boom.