Divorce and Spiritual Growth: A Guide to Understanding and Living Beyond Marriage Breakdown
A.J. Pell is editor of the Canadian Evangelical Review and an instructor
of Liturgy, Anglican Studies Program, Regent College, Vancouver.
Gladysann Bryce is a high school guidance counsellor in Toronto and the director of the “Spiritual Growth Through Divorce” courses which have been offered by the Anglican Diocese of Toronto since 1976. This book arises from the course, following the same five steps. Both the course and the book arise from her own experience of marriage breakdown, separation, and divorce.
The book flows from the past, through the present, to the future. The first two chapters concentrate upon the now-broken marriage, beginning with a discussion of accepting separation and divorce as a reality in one’s life and then dealing with the painful mourning for a host relationship and a shattered hope. The middle chapter examines marriage, divorce, and remarriage from the perspective of Christian faith. Here Ms. Bryce does not overlook “difficult” biblical passages which speak harshly of divorce. Rather, she combines them with those passages which are more accepting of divorce so that both the Christian ideal of a life-long union and the reality of a host marriage are seen in a dynamic balance. The final two chapters lead the reader forward toward a renewed, positive self-image and the establishing of realistic goals for the future.
Divorce and Spiritual Growth is not a volume for professionals. It is for the average Christian. Couples looking ahead to marriage could profitably read and discuss it together as part of their preparation for the possible pitfalls ahead. The families and friends of those going through the upheaval of separation and divorce will gain valuable insight into the hurts and needs of the victims. But most of all, this is a book for those caught in the breakdown of their marriage. It can be read and re-read for guidance and assurance, and it can help such people discover how “normal” so many of the wounds and doubts really are. When a second edition is issued, we can hope that its size will be reduced so that it fits into pocket or purse for frequent reference.