Date of Award
Master of Arts (Theology) MA(Theol)
Arts & Theology
Ministry and Theology
Eion B. Giller
Problem: Formerly married people are a growing population in the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Whether their status arises from death or divorce the impact of suddenly becoming single again is traumatic. The church will only be able to provide an effective ministry to this group when it has an accurate understanding of the crisis through which the formerly-married pass. It was the purpose of this study to ascertain the major personal adjustment factors faced by formerly married persons who look to the church for nurture during the post-married period.
Method: Scripture was studied in order to develop a Biblical perspective on the position of formerly married people in the church community. This was done in order to provide a perspective free from present western cultural values. The problem of the formerly married in society was next studied through biographies, social studies, and professional sources. A research instrument was designed from the broad parameters these sources provided. Data was gathered from nineteen subjects who had passed through the crisis stages and remained in the church. The data was analysed and the major findings presented in graph form, covering the period from six months before the marriage terminated until two years after.
Results: The results for males and females were different in many areas. Both groups, however, frequently reported being isolated and rejected by married peers within the church. Women were found to suffer extended loneliness and felt inhibited in endeavouring to mix in their activities of the church's coupled majority. Men were not found to suffer to the same degree because of an accepted high degree of social mobility. Men were severely affected by problems associated with domestic management and appeared to remarry sooner than women. Both men and women felt they were under considerable pressure to remarry before they could regain acceptance as a person by the church. This pressure diminished with time and also as the individual gained a viable identity as a contented, contributing single person.
Conclusions: The response of the church to the formerly marrieds surveyed was inadequate. For the church to implement a redemptive ministry for single again people it must put aside judgemental attitudes and see them as unique individuals. These people have experienced loss and rejection. They need the reassurance of God's love. This is best actualised through caring Christians who respond according to need, not status.
McKenzie, G. N. (1983). The broken home and the church (Master's project). Andrews University, Avondale Campus, Australia: Andrews University.