Chapter 22 » 22.76

Ending of relationships

If a couple have failed, and broken away, and suffered; and if there comes into their lives a new hope of building a home, and they approach it responsibly, gravely; then it is surely right … to stand by them in love and sympathy and hold them up before the Lord. If this is not so, then ‘sins-in-marriage’ become a special sort of unforgivable sin, beyond the reach of the grace of God. But as any married couple know, ‘sins-in-marriage’ are easy to commit and hard to avoid. Other sins, like robbing a bank, are easier to avoid, yet are open to forgiveness…

The Quaker view is that this forgiveness is part of God’s intention, and that the business of the Church is not to judge but to inspire and sustain: not to say to a quarrelling couple, ‘We shall not bless you if you drift apart’, but ‘We will try to help you now in your quarrel. And if you fail we will still try to help you to find God’s will for you then.’ It is thus that the sanctity of marriage is asserted, rather than in the denial of a new start.

Harold Loukes, 1962

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