Skip to comments.Can I Be a Christian and a Divorce Lawyer?
Posted on 10/27/2012 10:53:35 AM PDT by SeekAndFind
Dear Dr. Moore,
I've heard you say before that a pastor's calling is to shape the consciences of God's people toward conformity to Christ through the faithful preaching of the Word, and that this informs their callings in the everyday world. I agree. But here's my problem.
I have a church member, a devoted Christian, who is an attorney specializing in divorce cases. Our church believes that divorce is (in almost every case) sin. If so, isn't he empowering sin? Should I counsel him to follow Christ by walking away from this job and to do something else? If he won't, should we discipline him?
Divorce Lawyer's Pastor
Zacchaeus was a wee little man, you know. If you have a song bubbling up in your head right now, you probably grew up in an evangelical Sunday School somewhere. Even if not, you know the story, and I think it's applicable here.
There is not much commendable about Zacchaeus' occupation. He was a shill for the Roman occupation, in a role that was virtually always corrupt, defrauding oppressed people of money with the implicit threat of Caesar's sword hanging over their heads.
When he came to know Christ, the Bible does not tell us that Jesus required that he abandon his occupation. Rather, the Spirit radically altered the nature of that occupation. He walked away from fraud and abuse, and made restitution to those he had sinned against (Lk. 19:1-11).
There are some jobs, of course, that no Christian can hold. One cannot be a Christian temple prostitute in Corinth or a Christian porn star in Los Angeles. Jesus died for temple prostitutes and porn stars, and invites them into his life, but following him will mean walking away from jobs that are inherently sinful.
That's not necessarily the case here.
In a fallen world, do we need divorce lawyers? I would argue, yes. Our divorce laws, as they currently stand, are often unjust, but think of the lack of justice if we had no divorce laws at all. Men would still leave their wives (and vice-versa), take up with other people, and leave wreckage behind. Just divorce laws seek to minimize harm to the innocent.
Divorce proceedings then decide child custody and financial arrangements. A divorce lawyer working to see that an innocent woman is not left destitute by her abandoning husband is working for justice. A divorce lawyer who is working to prevent a sexually abusive spouse from gaining custody of a child can be working for justice.
I would look at precisely what kind of divorce lawyer this Christian is. If he is an "ABC easy divorce for $125″ advertisement sort of lawyer, who is seeking to entice people into divorcing for his financial gain, then, yes, that's unjust and outside of what it means to follow Christ. But I wouldn't assume that's the case. It could be that this attorney has been given a ministry to wrecked families. In some cases, he can use his influence to try to keep families together, and to work toward some sort of mediation that could lead to reconciliation. In others, he could be a voice that seeks to shield innocent parties from being financially destroyed by predatory spouses and parents. And, after making sure that everything is done in accordance with the law and the principles of justice, he could try to help people see the hope of a new life on the other side.
God hates divorce. Divorce is always the result of someone's sin and rebellion. But often, as the Scripture itself tells us, there are those who experience divorce as victims, not as perpetrators. These people have a divorce foisted upon them, and they need protection. That's love of neighbor.
This takes a strong Christian, with a sensitive conscience. If he starts to see divorce as a commodity through which he can make money, he should walk away. If he uses the law to deprive justice for the weak and vulnerable, he should repent. But if he can see himself as standing for justice in a fallen world, and lives accordingly, there is no reason for him to abandon his sphere of influence to the conscienceless.
And, of course, he is waiting, like Zacchaeus and all of us, for a new creation in which our vocations really take off. There will be no divorce law practices in the New Jerusalem, but, then again, there won't be any need for ethics Q&A columns either.
I made this very decision in my law practice. I prayed about it a lot. The money I was leaving on the table would have helped my bottom line greatly. But I made a commitment to God that I would not facilitate the destruction of marriages. God has blessed me. It isn’t easy to pass on so much money but I can face myself in the mirror every morning. And it is God’s money anyway.
But, sad as it is, divorce is also from God because of the hardness of our hearts of course, but what could be worse than to be trapped in a ghastly ungodly marriage with no hope of relief.
I choose not to bring these often nightmare cases home on my weary shoulders. Too many times the spouses are slamming each other, using their children as their best weapon.
Send them to a Marriage Encounter weekend.
If that doesn’t work — then send them to a Retrovaille weekend.
If a divorce does finally happen — then send them to a Beginning Experience weekend to recover from the grief.
All these ministries have websites.
**divorce is also from God**
granted by God in the Old Testament.
But neither Christ nor St. Paul grant a divorce in the New Testament. The fulfillment of the Old Testament.
You might want to check your New Testament on this!
God bless you!
I’ve been a divorce lawyer for over 30 years. I’ve prayed about it a lot. I now consider what I do to be a ministry. This post was helpful but not necessary for me to feel good about what I do. I am there when people are in crisis. I do care deeply about the kids in the cases. I encourage my client to empathize with the other spouse and that often leads to settlement. Less often does it lead to reconciliation. I don’t do many easy cases. I usually do high conflict cases that some other lawyer has totally messed up. I get in and try to get it done in a month or two.
I don’t know how you could be a serious Catholic and make much money in that profession.
If you are an orthodox Catholic,believing that most people work out their eternal destiny by staying faithful to their first spouse no matter what,I don't know how you could safely spend a career making money helping to destroy unions created before God.
Of course there are extenuating circumstances, but it seems so dangerous for your soul.
Can a Christian be a criminal defense lawyer?
So while I agree with you that it is disconcerting to help facilitate a legal divorce, IMHO, the attorney is not facilitating a sinful act.
Criminal defense attorneys go askew when they shift their focus to getting their client off at all cost, suborn perjury, unfairly attack the State's evidence/witnesses, etc.
I agree but I also know that I walk with Jesus and this is my calling. I’ve made a move or two to get out of the business but I go into the office knowing that someone is going to call and need my skills as a problem solver. I do a lot of pro bono work.
Theatrical theology jugglery, when the average American goes through 8 sexual partners in life, and pre-marital sex is the dominant norm.
My son’s wife divorced him during an upcycle in her bipolar illness.
She had deceitfully emptied the house and withdrew over 70% of their savings. She sued for half the inheritance from his grandfather. The estate was distributed just days before she left. My son, in agony, turned to a Christian divorce attorney. Thank God for that man.
The first effort was to save the marriage, which proved impossible. Aside from the monetary matters that were resolved in my son’s favor, the attorney listened to my son’s anguish, prayed with him, and helped him move on as a strengthened, rather than devastated man.
Believe me, I applaud those who can get out of the “family law” business (aside from adoptions). Not fun, very stressful, and getting worse all the time. Good for you.
Short and sweet: born again Christians ARE NOT UNDER THE LAW BUT UNCER GRACE!!!