Freethinking for Dummies

Skepticism, secular humanism, social issues

My Faith-based Divorce Support Group Experience

I wrote back in my post about secular mental health options that all of the divorce support groups that exist in the entire Omaha metro area are faith-based.  I was very hesitant to attend any of them,  but was encouraged by several friends to at least go to one to check it out.  At the best, they said, I might get something positive out of it.  At the worse, I’d have something to write about on my blog.  Since I’m writing about this here, you can probably guess how things went.

Before I begin my review of the meeting, I must say something about the people who ran the meeting.  These people are truly trying to do some real good for people in need of help.  They are sincere, caring, and supportive, and some of the information they had to offer is good, practical advice.

They gave me a workbook titled Divorce Care.  The book had a lot of different sections such as Facing my Anger, Facing my Depression, New Relationship, and Kid Care.

We started out the meeting with a video titled Financial Survival.  It contained a lot of good advice about how to manage a budget and how to prioritize your expenses. It discussed the importance of accepting the life stye chances that inevitably come with divorce, especially about doing what you have to do to meet your and your children’s basic needs first.  They explained that this requires making a lot of sacrifices.  You may have to sell your house, car, unneeded belongings like T.V.s, stereos, computers; get rid of the cable and internet, possibly even the phone if absolutely necessary.   All of this makes sense because these are choices that very well may have to be made to keep a roof over your head, clothes on your back, and food in your stomach.  They mentioned how there are state services that can help you out if you need it.  They also mentioned help from the church, family and friends.  Never be afraid to tell people you are in need, we were told.  Good advice.  I just did that very thing by borrowing money from family to buy a car I needed.

Up to this point I was feeling pretty good about things.  Sure, there were plenty mentions of praying for help as a way to help you cope, but I felt i could overlook this since I was getting what seemed like good, practical advice.  And then came the the last part of this section.  Tithing.

They said, “Tithe on top of your budget and God will take care of you.”. WTF!? You just told us that we’d have to give up all these “unnecessary” things, even a phone (employers always love it when they have no way to get in touch with you).  Now you tell us that we absolutely must continue to tithe to the church even though we may be facing foreclosure, eviction, lawsuits, and having to go on welfare?!

I almost walked out at this point, but I decided not to be rude.  That and I realize at that this was great blog fodder and I was sure there was more to come.  I wasn’t disappointed.

Most of the rest of the video was just giving out information which was mostly practical.  Then came the last section, God wants to help.  Yes, we were told, you are not alone.  The magic sky man is always watching over you.  No mention of why, if he was always watching over me, I was in this position to begin with, except to say that it was part of the continuing creation. Huh?

Now came an avalanche of testimonials one after the other until we had a veritable Grand Canyon with walls filled with strata after strata of confirmation biases.

“All I had was Christ.  You cling to it!”

“I prayed and I saw the results as things got better”

And this strange quote, “God is the father and the husband in this family.”  Well, hell, what about may family?  Is god going to be the mother and the wife?  I’m pretty sure that almost all Christians agree that god is 100% male and he sure as hell isn’t gay.

Then came time to wrap it all up.

“Look beyond people to God”

“You can’t get through a divorce without Jesus Christ”.

Fucking hell!  This was exactly what I feared would happen.  In the end, it would be all about putting your faith in god and damn the consequences, because with god, there would be none!

The final take away item that different people in the video repeated again and again:

“God (or Jesus, take your pick) is faithful”.

I don’t think I’ll be going back.  Although, I am tempted to go for the section, Single Sexuality. That one ought to be a hoot!

March 22, 2011 - Posted by | Atheism, Religion, Skeptical, Skepticism | , , , , , , ,

17 Comments »

  1. Funny thing about tithing. Those faithful folks don’t really understand what the significance of tithing actually is, since it’s become staple fodder for the church.

    Tithing is about 10% of *everything*, not just funds. It’s 10% of every single thing in a person’s life. *mutter* One way of interpreting tithing (from an atheistic standpoint) is that the practical side has long been left out – and my dad explained this to me years and years ago. The only thing he used to put in the church was a voluntary offering…a couple of bucks. His tithe went into his savings account. Ten percent of everything my dad has ever earned, he paid to himself first in the form of savings. He still does that. It’s a way he has viewed practical finance that, in the event of some financial catastrophe, he doesn’t have to borrow from anyone (even, and maybe especially, the church).

    It’s a different way of looking at that particular biblical mandate. I used to do that, too, and not because the bible says so, but because it’s a good way to build savings.

    As for having tithing (and all the rest described here) at a divorce support group…one word: UGH!

    Comment by prosey | March 23, 2011 | Reply

    • It is very similar in Islam, but the amount is between 2.5% and 5%.

      I like your father’s solution, but I am pretty sure that this isn’t what most churches have in mind. :)

      Comment by Jay Walker | March 23, 2011 | Reply

  2. *nod* Yes, many religions make suggestions about practical savings. And I agree…Dad’s approach is not what the churches try to push. ;)

    Comment by prosey | March 23, 2011 | Reply

  3. So … even though you are skeptical, what if they are right?

    If you are continuing to struggle with the aftermath of your divorce, does it eat at you a bit that you can’t overcome it on your own?

    Comment by Steve | March 23, 2011 | Reply

    • Pascal’s Wager…? Really?!

      In this place, you’ll probably have to come up with a better premise for discussion than “god as an insurance policy”…because you’re not talking to amateurs here. :)

      Comment by prosey | March 23, 2011 | Reply

      • Not a wager. I’m talking about a wound you can’t heal yourself.

        Comment by Steve | March 23, 2011

  4. Steve, are you even familiar with what I was referring to? The moment you ask the question, “What if they are right?”, you’re invoking Pascal’s Wager. It’s a load of hooey and was debunked ages ago: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pascal's_Wager#Criticism

    Having been through a bitter-nasty-emotionally evocative divorce, I can easily attest to the simple fact that people do not “need god/Jesus” to get through the healing process.

    Comment by prosey | March 23, 2011 | Reply

  5. Very familiar.

    I’m coming from a different direction. Are you healed from your divorce? If not, why not?

    Comment by Steve | March 23, 2011 | Reply

    • My first divorce was 5 years ago. That marriage lasted almost 18 years and produced two children who live with me. I just got the process started for the second divorce. We were together for over 4 years and married 2. I got into that relationship before I ever had a chance to heal from the first. So now I’m trying to heal from two divorces at the same time. Ugh!

      Comment by Jay Walker | March 23, 2011 | Reply

      • Like Jay, I have two divorces under my belt…and the first took me many years to get past – though interestingly, my first ex and I have found peace between each other, and while we’re not “friends”, we are friendly (genuinely) toward each other. The second ex, I don’t see that type of bridge ever being built. Not because I don’t want it, but because he is a very angry person and sincerely despises me. *shrug* I wish him no ill…in fact, I wish him all the happiness…just far the hell away from me.

        One of the biggest healing decisions is to let go of the anger and hurt … and move on. :)

        Comment by prosey | March 23, 2011

      • Ouch! Recovering one was brutal for me. That’s a big load.

        Comment by Steve | March 23, 2011

      • Jay,

        I’d give DivorceCare a little more time. I didn’t realize you had full-time parenting duties as well. You are coping with more than one person can reasonably carry alone.

        Even though you don’t agree with everything in the program, as you point out, there is still plenty of practical information, with the added benefit of being around people who understand what you are going through and who want to support and encourage you.

        Comment by Steve | March 23, 2011

    • Healed? *laughing* I have scars, of course…but there is nothing left to “heal” from. It was a long-standing abusive relationship that made trust difficult for me. It wasn’t some bit of trifling religious b.s. that ‘healed’ me…it was a bit of therapy to work through issues, and genuine love of another human being that helped me to overcome the hurt and anger. I don’t require “just in case” insurance from some sky wizard to move forward in my life. :)

      Comment by prosey | March 23, 2011 | Reply

      • Nicely put! My first ex and I have just recently arrived at that point you and your first ex are at, friendly toward each other, which helps a lot since we are actually co-parenting finally. It is really helping the kids, which is the most important thing.

        Comment by Jay Walker | March 23, 2011

  6. Steve, recovery is difficult in the best of times. *nod* And I’m really not *trying* to be snarky in my replies to you…I just have found through the years that with the help and love of family and friends (of all religious persuasions, mind), I felt more liberated by the freedom and will to do it honestly, without a false dependence on an imaginary friend. :)

    Comment by prosey | March 23, 2011 | Reply

  7. I am sorry,

    Comment by Kerry | March 23, 2011 | Reply

  8. Fribnit just passed this post along after he read my recent post, Support Groups and Chocolate Wine, where I described how I called every divorce support group in town months ago and was (at least honestly if not blatantly) told that I would not benefit from their program if I was not a Christian. Now at least I am thankful I was warned ahead of time and didn’t waste a few hours. I would have left the meeting you described with high blood pressure and fulfilling the “angry atheist” stereotype. :-)

    Comment by Kasha | May 14, 2011 | Reply


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