In Romans Chapter 1, Paul rails, “against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men,” including “covenant breakers” (Romans 1:18, 31). One of the most common complaints I have heard by Latter-day Saint mid-singles is, “My ex broke his (or her) covenants.” During much of my mid-single life, I used expressions much like that to justify my divorce. It is an exceedingly convenient excuse for being divorced. It is also an exceedingly self-serving way of elevating myself above my former spouse. Calling your former spouse a covenant breaker is often an effective way to get sympathy within the church; but it is fundamentally defensive. Coming from the perspective that you owe people an explanation regarding the shameful situation you feel you are in presumes that you are required to explain yourself. But you don’t owe people an explanation, and it would be better not to give one if it requires you to speak ill of another person.

Paul followed up these comments about covenant breaking a few verses later with this statement: “Therefore thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art that judgest: for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself; for thou that judgest doest the same things” (Romans 2:1). So if we judge, we are covenant breakers too. This theme is repeated over and over in the scriptures, including in The Sermon on the Mount and the Lord’s Prayer. It amounts to the principle that we are to receive the mercy we extend to others–or the condemnation we extend to others. How does this principle apply to our rejoicing in our perceptions of another person’s failings and faults?

Consider the story of Sarah and David. After years of marriage, their communication was breaking down, they became frustrated over meaningless annoying habits, and resentment was building up. When David’s long hours at work began to further strain their relationship, Sarah felt increasingly neglected and unappreciated. Eventually, they reached a breaking point, and Sarah filed for divorce, citing David’s neglect and emotional distance as grounds. In the aftermath of their separation, Sarah found herself consumed by bitterness and anger towards David. She often spoke ill of him to friends and family, painting him as the sole culprit for their failed marriage and a “covenant-breaker.”

But as time passed and she embarked on her journey of healing, Sarah came to realize that holding on to her resentment was only poisoning her own spirit. Through therapy and introspection, she began to understand her own role in the breakdown of their marriage and found the courage to forgive David. By letting go of her anger and extending compassion toward him, Sarah experienced a profound sense of peace and liberation, restoring her Shalom.

Some mistakenly view “shalom” simply as a word for peace, interpreting it as the absence of conflict or turmoil. But “shalom” encompasses far more than mere peace. It signifies a state of wholeness, completeness, and harmony in every aspect of life—physical, emotional, relational, and spiritual. Shalom involves restoration, reconciliation, and the flourishing of all that is good. Shalom is not just the absence of conflict but the presence of well-being, prosperity, and divine favor. We can never achieve it while focusing on the faults of others.

Another example is that of Michael and Emily. Their marriage ended in a messy divorce marked by bitter disputes over custody and finances. In the aftermath, Michael found himself consumed by a desire for revenge, vowing to make Emily pay for what he perceived as her betrayal. He pursued legal action relentlessly, viewing each court victory as a vindication of his righteousness and a blow to Emily’s reputation.

But as the legal battles dragged on and the emotional toll mounted, Michael began to question the true cost of his quest for vengeance. Through therapy and spiritual reflection, he came to realize that his fixation on punishing Emily was only prolonging his own suffering and hindering his ability to move forward with his life. With great effort, Michael chose to let go of his desire for revenge and instead focus on rebuilding his own sense of peace and well-being. In doing so, he discovered a newfound freedom and inner strength that transcended the bitterness of the past.

These stories illustrate how the principles of forgiveness and letting go of judgment can play out in the context of divorce. By embracing forgiveness and extending compassion towards their former spouses, individuals can find healing, restoration, and ultimately, a sense of Shalom in their lives.

In the end, holding up a former spouse’s sins for others to see is a hollow victory and it leaves you hollow. It doesn’t change anything about the situation in which you find yourself. We misuse the Gospel when we employ it to judge and condemn another person.

The further I have gotten down life’s path, the more wisdom I see in forgiveness. As an attorney in private practice, I had people come into my office filled with rage toward another person and wanting revenge. They would always couch it in language like, “I don’t care how much it costs. I’m doing it for the principle.” The principle was generally code for revenge. I used to explain to such clients that they don’t have enough money to right all the wrongs in the world by suing people. There are legitimate reasons to sue. There are things a lawsuit was designed to do for you. That would include restoring lost property resulting from another person’s fraud or wrongdoing. But it has to be a smart business decision. I don’t encourage people to sue over “the principle” when there is little chance of gaining anything but revenge–even if they can pay me to do it. I wouldn’t serve them well by doing so. The ugliest lawsuits of all are between former spouses who used to cherish each other above all. That is the area where I see the most vindictiveness and thirst for revenge.

I realize that many of you have been terribly hurt and betrayed. Feelings of resentment and bitterness are natural in those cases. But, “the natural man is an enemy to God” (Mosiah 3:19.)

Bitterness and resentment harm your spirit and your mental health. Dwelling on your former spouse’s broken covenants does not restore your Shalom, nor provide you the room for self-reflection and personal improvement. It focuses blame outside yourself, where you have absolutely no control.

Forgiveness is a process of letting go of malice and guile. Part of this process is truly understanding that the feelings you are holding on to do not serve you or anyone else. Forgiveness is making a conscious decision to withhold condemnation and extend mercy as Christ extends it to you. When you do this, your Shalom will be restored.

Near the end of His earthly life, Jesus showed the ultimate act of forgiveness even in the midst of His ultimate suffering. As He hung on the cross, enduring unimaginable pain and cruelty, Jesus prayed, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34, KJV). This profound act of forgiveness, even in the face of immense injustice, exemplifies Jesus’ boundless compassion and mercy towards others.


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About the Author

Jeff Teichert, and his wife Cathy Butler Teichert, are the founders of “Love in Later Years,” which ministers to Latter-day Saint single adults seeking peace, healing, and more joyful relationships. They are co-authors of the Amazon bestseller Intentional Courtship: A Mid-Singles Guide to Peace, Progress and Pairing Up in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Jeff and Cathy each spent nearly a decade in the mid-singles community and they use that experience to provide counsel and hope to mid-singles and later married couples through written articles, podcasts, and videos. Jeff and Cathy are both Advanced Certified Life Coaches and have university degrees in Family & Human Development. They are the parents of a blended family that includes four handsome sons, one lovely daughter-in-law, and two sweet little granddaughters.

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