Imagine that you’re a pastor in a church when you hear the terrible news that a young mother from your congregation drowned her newborn while suffering a psychotic episode brought on by intense postpartum depression. All agree that the child’s death is a tragedy and, given the circumstances, the mother is not criminally responsible for her actions.
While her husband bravely attempts to stand by his wife and help her on her long journey through the valley of death, several months later he comes to you, distraught, and pleading for permission to proceed with a divorce: “Rev,” he says, “I can’t live with the woman that killed my son anymore. I tried but I just can’t do it. I know she’s not responsible, but I can’t stay married. If I do, I’ll go crazy. Please say it is okay for me to seek a divorce.”
How would you advise this anguished congregant?