We received this poignant question from Kristen. This is a question that others have approached us with as well, so we are grateful for the opportunity to respond to it. I’ve copied part of the question here (the full comment is on our Ask a Question page).
“Is there a place for my children and I in the Mormon church? I know that the Mormon church has wonderful family values and a strong faith. I would like to be a part of that again. However, I am afraid we will not be accepted because I am a divorced single mother.”
Kristen, we are so glad you reached out. Please know with a resounding YES that there is a place for you (link is from a talk entitled “Come, Join with Us”) and your dear children. This is the Savior’s Church, and He desires to gather all to Him. I hope you can imagine Him wrapping His arms around you and your children. As you have clearly felt in your personal life, They love you.
I am so sorry for what you have gone through. A thought from Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles comes to mind. Speaking to those who are divorced in the Church, he said, “We know that many of you are innocent victims—members whose former spouses persistently betrayed [marriage vows] or abandoned or refused to perform marriage responsibilities for an extended period. [People] who have experienced such abuse have firsthand knowledge of circumstances worse than divorce.” It always breaks my heart to hear of those who have experienced those things that make divorce the best option. Again, my heart goes out to you. Know you are not alone.
I have a couple of thoughts that I want to share and then I will include a link to a post from several years ago, written by a woman who is divorced [at the time of the writing she was separated]. Several other commenters also shared their experiences on that post of being either divorced or single in our family-oriented faith.
I first want to say that if you were to enter basically any Mormon congregation, you would find a variety of life experiences and situations. There are those who are married, those who are divorced, those who have never married, those who do have children, and those who don’t. (In the post linked below you will see some of that variety in life experience in the comments.)
But the heart of what I want to say is this: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is a family-oriented Church, to be sure, but it is first and foremost the Church of Jesus Christ. Ordinances and covenants of the gospel have Him and His Atonement and grace at the center. When we invite people to learn about the Church and consider baptism, the invitation an invitation to come to Christ. My hope is that as you consider whether or not to join the Church, you will keep Him and your loving Heavenly Father first and foremost at the center of your decision. Yes, you would be joining a Church family (and like any family, things sometimes are imperfect and messy) but the primary purpose of these ordinances is to enjoy the blessings of being connected to God and the power of the Atonement through priesthood covenants. I find this doctrine powerful and comforting, clarifying and unifying — because it’s simply true for all of us. Regardless of what our lives look like at the moment on the outside, we all are learning how to come to Him in recognition of our absolute, utter need of His grace — the enabling and saving power available only through Jesus Christ.
His grace is also what makes all eternal blessings, including those related to marriage and family life — possible for all who enter into covenants with Him, regardless of what present circumstances may be.
I pray you will feel the guidance of your Father in Heaven as you consider this important decision in your life. Also, as Karen says in the post below, we would be happy to reach out to people in your area whom you could meet, if desired, before you go to church meetings so you could start from the get-go not feeling alone.
I also echo what she says, that we hope you can know and feel that there are already people who care about you. We created this site specifically with people like you in mind. You are already loved. And you are definitely not alone in your difficult struggles. Many in the Church have faced similar trials. Feel free to email me at mormonwomen @ gmail if you would like to be connected with Mormon women who are divorced and finding hope and healing — and their place in the Church family — with God’s grace, the support of others, and the power of their faith.
Note: The post was written in 2009, and contains a few links to articles in years previous on lds.org about being single/divorced in the Church. There are many, many other articles and talks on lds.org on these topics. For example, I liked this simple statement that reflects what was in my heart as I wrote today: “The gospel of Jesus Christ was given by God to bless all His children, without exception, regardless of the family situations in which they find themselves.” (From an entry on lds.org about single-parent families.)
God bless you, Kristen, and many others who find themselves asking similar questions.