Ministering to the Divorced

By Tom Jones. “I am an invisible man. No, I am not a spook like those who haunted Edgar Alien Poe; nor am I one of your Hollywood movie ectoplasms. I am a man of substance, of flesh and bone, fiber and liquids and I might even be said to possess a mind. I am invisible, understand, simply because people refuse to see me.” Ralph Ellison, Invisible Man.

So began Ralph Ellison’s remarkable novel about being black in America. So also might begin the personal story of countless men and women who have found themselves divorced in the church. They, like Ellison’s invisible man, have felt themselves to be unseen, unknown, untouched. In most cases the church is not guilty of deliberate or even conscious blindness toward the divorced, but the blindness has been real nonetheless. More than anything else this special blindness has come in the form of benign neglect. But benign or not, neglect feels painful to the neglected.

My own divorce is now sixteen years behind me; yet I can still feel the pain of the church’s neglect. Because the church did not reach out to me with meaningful ministry, my personal loneli

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