Life-Saving Divorce: Book Review
Updated: Mar 5
This book is much more comprehensive than I expected.
The Life-Saving Divorce by Gretchen Baskerville is written mostly for Christians dealing with a discrepancy between church teachings on this topic and their experience. Much of the material coming from the church warns about how difficult divorce is on children, and how much Christians should keep trying to fix their toxic marriages. Some Christian counselors and pastors do not see divorce as an option and are unwilling to help a person leave an unhealthy environment.
Baskerville has done her research to show the traditional message over the pulpit can lead to broken people. She does not shy away from what she terms “high-distress marriages with undercover problems where there is no violence, screaming, or visible conflict” (xviii). This describes many Christian marriages which look fine on the surface.
At first, I questioned the title since “life-saving” sounds so serious as to be physically life threatening. But Baskerville clarifies for the reader in the first chapter by referring to more than physical danger. She also doesn’t limit divorce, as many in the church do, to marital infidelity. She includes the following and supports this through a comprehensive examination of three different views on divorce, based on various verses throughout the Bible:
-Abandonment/neglect of duty
-Physical or sexual abuse
-Chronic emotional and verbal abuse
-Serious drug or alcohol addictions
-Sexual immorality and deviations, such as child molesting or child porn
She states, “A life-saving divorce happens when every stone has been turned and every effort has been expended. The tipping point is when some incident, great or small, makes you realize there is no rational reason to believe your spouse will ever change” (p.8). She mentions that premarital counseling in churches often doesn’t address issues of abuse or destructive behaviors as if they don’t exist. Counselors may tell spouses to change their own behaviors to make it easier for the offender to change. Those who dare divorce hear Christians say they are taking the easy way out instead of recognizing just how difficult divorce is, especially for Christians taught that God hates divorce.
Chapter 6 “What Does the Bible Say?” is an eye-opening chapter that clarifies context needed to understand both the Old Testament and New Testament verses about divorce. Baskerville continues in chapter 7 to challenge the common Christian teaching that divorce is negative for children by clarifying that it depends on the level of distress within the marriage.
If you are a Christian and you are facing severe marital problems, this book is well worth your time. This is also an excellent book for pastors and Christian counselors.