Robert Kirby: Divorcing strictly over religion violates my articles of faith

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) Robert Kirby

People divorce for a lot of reasons. Most are probably valid — abuse, infidelity, finances, insanity, extraterrestrial-ism, whatever.

Having a partner cheat on you is bad enough. But discovering your spouse is a night-roaming cephalopod would strain just about any relationship.

There are also stupid reasons to divorce. I won’t go into all of them, just what I consider the most idiotic.


Keep in mind that I mean relatively benign religions. If your spouse insists on converting to a faith that believes in a sacrament of chewing the heads off rats, or appeasing some malevolent god by tossing virgins into a volcano, grab the kids and run.

But let’s say your spouse converts from evangelical Christianity to Catholicism or Mormonism. Everything may still be the same in this life; you just no longer share a belief in how to handle whatever comes afterward.

I’m not saying this wouldn’t be problematic, but giving a spouse the boot simply for not agreeing on theology seems more than just a bit ironic.

Scream and holler all you want about whatever comes next. The fact is that you don’t really know. Hey, didn’t you also know that you loved the person you married?

Things change. That’s no surprise. But having an otherwise healthy relationship come apart just because neither of you can agree on a description of something you’ve never actually seen before is perverse.

And let’s not kid ourselves that such is not the case among the differing religions. People love to say they know this or that about their faith, but lots of them later get surprised and find out they didn’t know as much as they thought they did. Change is inevitable in both people and institutions.

But there’s your spouse (or even some other loved one) who hasn’t necessarily become unlovable so much as you’ve become intractable. To maintain your belief, you bumped the supernatural ahead of that spouse in line.

This also works at church as well. I’m Mormon. There are varying degrees of being Mormon, just as there are different degrees of Catholics, Jews, Muslims, cannibals and New England Patriot fans. All of them, according to others, are going to hell.

People love to generalize when it comes to labels because it spares them the effort of actual thought, so you’ll have to trust me here when I say that I’m not your run-of-the-mill Mormon.

If you’re not Mormon, there are probably things upon which we don’t agree, but almost certainly more upon which we do. We’ll never understand one another by staring into mirrors.

There are things about my church that work for me and plenty of things that don’t. There are even elements of it that, whenever brought up in class or worship meetings, cause me to whisper “bullsh--” to myself.

Note: I said it too loud once. The bishop asked me to be more careful in the future.

But the good far outweighs the bad, and I don’t have to be right in order to find my own place among a bunch of people who think they can’t be wrong.

I love my people, including the really dense and inflexible ones. I love them because I understand them. I’m not about to leave just because some doctrine or gospel Nazi claims something I don’t believe or like. I hang on for the good stuff, and let the bad roll off.

It’s the way I think a marriage should work. But, then, I’m not your run-of-the-mill husband, either.

Robert Kirby is The Salt Lake Tribune’s humor columnist. Follow Kirby on Facebook.