Church is funny thing. I recognize its importance in my ideal society, in my upbringing, my married life, and also its hypocrisy. Your church and its members/family are supposed to be there for you when things go bad or you need help. This help often comes in form of emotional support through the word of God. Bible verses and stories are to be used to help you push through the battle that is divorce and child custody, right? Your Pastor should be there to offer guidance and support. How realistic are these expectations and should you rely on your church family, professed Christians, to help you?
Sadly the answer is no.
Because the Church has its own problems and its members, including the Pastor, are too often weak people. They can make the Church and its activities seems so important and its environment a great place to be as long as the money is flowing and there are no significant tragedies in its membership. Individual problems are pushed aside when the parishoners are aware of the world and how religion shapes their life. Cookie cutter prayers, sermons, and interaction are the norm unfortunately. Church leadership is simply not capable of providing anything beyond superficial advice and support and no matter how many prayers you say, whether it be one on one with a Pastor or in a group prayer meeting. If you look at all the churches in your community, especially the ones who preach the loudest or have the biggest membership, you can bet atleast one, in addition to not being able to offer genuine support to its members when bad things happen, probably has a problem with its youth leadership including likely one or more instances of pastors molesting or sexually grooming youths right now, today, in 2020. The people who they help the most are those who believe that praying and talking about things in a church or religious setting solves everything or is all they need. Sadly this isn't the 1850's on a Wagon Trail in Utah or a screaming church in the South telling you that if you don't behave or fix your marital issues, the wrath of God is in your future.
My opinion about staying away from the Church during your divorce is based on my religious upbringing, watching a pastor handle my family during a tragedy, interaction in my own church during my divorce, and cynicism that comes with life and dealing with people who claim to be Christians yet act like the devil when it comes to putting their own interests first. I was raised from a young age in the Lutheran Church, went to Sunday School, watch my mom teach Sunday School, and my father volunteer. They put a check in the offering plate every week despite money being a problem for them. I went to confirmation class and was confirmed. I was in a Boy Scout Troop sponsored by the Mormon Church my best friend and his family were Mormon. I had the best time in Scouts under this Mormon umbrella even if I was still learning the difference between Latter Day Saints and Lutherans. The Mormon Church will always be part of my life and its people are great. Maybe how they handle the problems of their members are different then my Lutheran experience has been but who knows. I don't know if I would want to be in a Mormon Church and get divorced but that is for another post. I even went to a college based in religion. I was not the guy who joined Fellowship of Christian Athletes or brought up God with everything I did however. I wasn't Tim Tebow even if I am a fan of what he does in today's world. My religion was private and important and to this day I am still a believer and a Christian even if I don't participate in my church or attend services like I did as a younger man. Reality and experience has always taken precedence in how and who I get help or advice especially during times of turmoil. My character and religious beliefs have little meaning in trying to understand why others do what they do to destroy or take from you when just recently they were your friend or professed love for you. There are things God cannot answer.
Life experience has told me that the Church is not the place for the solutions of real problems of individuals but instead for group think where if we attend a group church service or prayer meeting, we can get answers from God. God does many wonderful things but he allows us to live our lives and learn from our mistakes giving us guidance with his words to help us understand and improve our choices in some instances but not all. God does not have individual plans for people or pick favorites from his community of believers. The pain of having to fight an ex over custody of kids is tough. Its very hard to explain in a Christian sense, or any sense, why a woman who sat next to you in church, prayed with you, stood next to you while your kid was baptized, sees you as a good Christian man and father, says you are not worthy of equal time with your kids. This is also harder to swallow when you walk into a court room and a Judge tells you how he or she is a Christian or even a pastor in their church, that you as a good Christian man should not have equal custody of your kids while berating you for speaking out against the injustice of what your ex wife is trying to do to you and your kids. People can call themselves Christians but its their behavior that determines what they actually are as people. You can say you have taken God as your savior, attend church every week, and feel good that you will now end up in heaven while still behaving deceptively as the devil wants you to on a day to day basis. Add a position of power or a black robe to the equation and you wonder why any man would think he could call his pastor and expect help in a divorce or child custody situation.
Churches do not want conflict. They know people will get sick and die. They know people will fall on hard financial times. These things can all be prayed about and solved mentally with a good bible verse to justify a persons current situation. There are even members in a church who the pastor calls on to stroke a check for church needs. Lets hope these deep pocket individuals dont need help. These people probably know to look elsewhere when they do. Most church members are not woke to the real world. They live in their bubble and their pastor is just a reflection of them providing a prayer or brief meeting when things happen in life that they cannot cope with. This does not mean they are bad people or your pastor does not care. I value the role they play and if you are a Christian you should as well. I have a pastor who I listen to online for 2 hours every week. My favorite podcasts are christian based. I know what is inside my soul. However I would never give anyone advice to rely on your pastor for help when it comes to a divorce and child custody issue. You likely aren't lucky to have such a man as a Pastor. With rare exception they cannot help you and will push you out the door if you try to talk to them. There are good ones that will give you time and real world perspective. These top level pastors are rare and very valuable. I'm still trying to find this type of church that makes me want to go on Sundays to interact with him and the people that are members of his church. Like a woman who can be a good wife and mother through the good times and bad, these pastors and your church community can be a god send to a positive life with an understanding of how religion matters for you and your kids. Finding the wife and the pastor who are what you would hope they appear to be are rare.
When you split up with your spouse, trying to get support from your pastor or a religious explanation will only cause you more despair. This is a time to put religion aside but still pray for strength. Your pastor wont know what to do. Too many will give a vibe telling you to get away from them and come back when you settle everything but don't forget to keep the offering coming in. This can push you away from the church. The two times I saw real tragedy in my life was with my divorce and the death of my sister., I saw what my Pastor did and how they handled me and my parents. Its get away, I cant help you, and get over it. When my sister was killed at age 16 in a car accident and I saw how my parents were shunned by our church and told to get over it, my perspective on church and its meaning changed drastically. Why would I tell my Pastor that my spouse was an addict and wrote thousands of pages of sexual fan fiction with characters named after Harry Potter characters and other characters named after my own daughters while ignoring me while I provided for my family with my hard work? He does not want to help becuase he cant. He is a good man just not an experienced one who knows how to think outside his religious training. He does not want to talk about why my sister had to die at age 16. Its lets say a prayer, put some cash in the plate, and see you next week. That is church for most people and people go to church because that is how they were raised. They don't ask for anything else other than a place to go worship with friendly, even if too often fake Christians. When there are no tragedies or difficulties, for the average person it is a great and important place. Real world issues are rarely addressed other than by individuals you know who have lived life outside the church walls or who rely on more than their church to get answers.
If you are a christian or religious based individual, as you go through these issues, take yourself away from your church. You need to surround yourself with more worldly people who have experienced life. This might be a friend who goes to your church, but its rarely your pastor. Don't go near your church for awhile. Don't get cynical about your christian beliefs however because if they matter, they should still matter after divorce. You need men, strong men, who have been through the process and can give you real world answers.
Something to think about as you pick up the phone to call your pastor because your christian wife wants all your money and wants you to see your children 2 days a month despite you being a good husband and father. While the answers to many things come from God, things such as divorce and child custody do not so proceed accordingly.
The Red Devil