The Hsinchu District Court on Thursday approved a man’s request for divorce on the grounds that his wife had become so absorbed in her religion that she had abandoned her duties to her family.
The man, surnamed Liu (劉), said he had been married to his wife, surnamed Tsai (蔡), for 21 years and had two children.
After Tsai was baptized in 1999, her life gradually became centered on religion, not her family, which led her to taking classes that lasted into the early hours of the morning, Liu told the court.
After Tsai joined the “New Jerusalem Church” in New Taipei City’s (新北市) Sindian District (新店) in 2008, she became even more fanatical about religion, he said.
Tsai sold the family apartment in Taichung for NT$3 million (US$103,500) — when it had been valued at NT$5 million — and gave the proceeds to the church, along with money set aside for living expenses, Liu said.
When summoned to testify in court, she wrote 20 pages praising God and answered the judge’s questions with “The Lord wills it.”
She also told the court that the dispute with her husband was the work of Satan. She said her husband’s complaints were Satan’s tricks to destroy their family and she would never agree to a divorce, because divorce was an affront to God.
“All our arguments stem from Satan trying to tear this family apart. If I follow what God likes, he will set my family free, which is held hostage by Satan,” Tsai was quoted as telling the court, adding that she had sold the house to save her family.
Liu said it was not that he didn’t love Tsai, but they could not possibly be together when she was so out of touch with reality.
The court felt Tsai was solely focused on her religion and efforts to live in accordance with her religious beliefs. While belief in religious giving and sharing was a good thing, such action must also make the family of the giver feel happy as well, the court said.
Tsai completely ignored her husband’s feelings, had caused discord within the family and had not been truthful and sincere, the court said, granting Liu’s divorce request because the marriage would be difficult to maintain.
No one at the New Jerusalem Church was available for comment on the case.
However, National Cheng Kung University associate professor Chao Mei-ru (趙梅如) said most married couples can hold differing values and beliefs and remain happy.
When it comes to religion, Chao said couples who have differing viewpoints should try to accept and respect the difference of values between them and try to understand each other.
Sometimes people who are not happy in their marriage turn to religion, which can sometimes cause them to overlook the root of their problem and lead to greater differences, Chao said.
Huang Tien-jen (黃天人), a Christian minister, said Christians do have a tradition of sacrifice and giving, but it is usually in the form of tithes, or one-tenth of their income to help the church meet its expenses or provide for charity.
Legitimate churches would never ask followers to donate all of their property, Huang said.
Translated by Jake Chung, staff writer