Letter: Church attitudes towards remarriage and divorce

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The Independent Online
Sir: Some years ago I presented a report on marriage and divorce to the United Reformed Church, which also upholds the lifelong nature of the marriage commitment but prefers to take a pastoral rather than a legalistic approach when there is breakdown in marriage. There is provision for remarriage if the minister of the church deems it right in the circumstances.

I also submitted an experimental Order of Service entitled 'Prayer for Release from Vows'. As there was some objection in General Assembly, this was later changed to 'Prayer for Forgiveness and Recognition of the Ending of a Marriage'. The service in various forms has been used in a number of churches and found helpful by many people. The motivation is that the church which is involved in marrying people must also accept some responsibility for recognising the ending of a marriage before proceeding with another.

As you suggest, it is not part of the Gospel to force people to stay within a loveless and sometimes violent relationship. It is preferable to help the persons concerned to draw a line behind the past, offering and seeking forgiveness for any hurt given and to enable a new relationship that recognises the sacred nature of and mutual responsibility in marriage.

Yours faithfully,

JOHN JOHANSEN-BERG

Community for Reconciliation

Chadwich, Worcestershire

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