The Bible comes down hard against divorce. “I hate divorce, says the Lord God of Israel," states Malachi 2:16. In Matthew 5:32, the Bible clearly lays down the line: "But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, causes her to become an adulteress, and anyone who marries the divorced woman commits adultery." Yet, despite these strong edicts, in 1533, Henry VIII demanded that the Catholic Church give him a divorce from his first wife, Catherine of Aragon so he could marry his new (and hopefully fertile) squeeze, Anne Boleyn.
Until then, Henry VIII had been a devout Catholic. But Catherine hadn't given him a son, and in politically tense England Henry needed an heir to fend off power hungry royals. Plus, Anne Boleyn, was hot. Henry fought the Church for a divorce in a move that eventually ripped apart the Catholic Church and began a reformation of religion in England. This reformation redefined the rules of how people interacted with God and approached the Bible.
Today, in America, many American's are still caught in the Henry VIII conundrum. The United States is the most Christian nation in the world, yet has the highest divorce rates among all the developed nations. In a 2004 study done by the Barna Research Group, only 24% of Christians believed that divorce was a sin. The same study also showed that Christians are divorcing at the same rate as unbelievers.
And many Christians are dealing with the conflict between religion and divorce in the same way Henry VIII did, by redefining how they interact approach their faith. "When I sat down and thought about my divorce and my faith," says Dr. Linda Seger, who holds her doctorate in theology from The Graduate Theological Union, "I thought, if it's true that a divorced person can't get remarried, and find happiness after the misery of a marriage, then a bad marriage is the only unforgivable sin. I could murder someone, serve my time, be forgiven, and start life again and, possibly, find happiness. But this would mean that I couldn't marry someone, divorce him, and then find happiness through love and marriage."
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