12 May, 2006

Divorce: What Does God Allow?

This post is not a part of the leadership series, but I can hardly talk about preventing divorce without talking about surviving it. I arguably know diddly about the former, and am so far still doing the latter.

There are several things to talk about, and I will do two of them in this one post. The first is my position on the scriptural, legal rules around divorce. The second is how to live through it. The third is how the church should react to divorce.

Update: I have over 2000 words on the scriptural argument around divorce alone, so it looks like this post will only cover the first point.

Is Divorce Legal Before God?

Divorce is not a sin. It just isn't.

Of the divorces I personally witnessed, in every case one person was sinning by causing the divorce, and by not deciding to mortify his/her disdain for the spouse. I have seen cases where both spouses were equally wrong, and cases in which one spouse truly was almost innocent. I have seen cases where the disdaining spouse filed, and cases where the disdained spouse filed.

I always default to respect for the disdained spouse who files. We are such chameleons that it is hard to know who is right and who is lying, but for an abused spouse to file can be the hardest, and the rightest decision they will make in their whole lives.

I know of marriages where staying would have been an affront to God. In those cases, filing might even be a qualification for leadership, not a disqualification.

Once sin has broken the marriage, there is no sin in legally leaving it. There's room for debate about what makes a marriage broken or merely damaged, but Jesus declared that there are times when the marriage is broken.

I have personally known very few Christian remarriages, so my opinions on remarriage are weaker. Jesus made room for remarriage, and I believe that He did so because it is a good thing. The old testament says that remarrying the spouse you divorced after that spouse has been with another mate is an abomination. As such, I tend to believe that remarrying the spouse who divorced you is usually a bad, bad idea.

I am against reconciliation after either spouse has moved on, and will actively counsel against it for 3 reasons. In reverse order of priority: 1) The departing spouse needs to know that there is no road back while they are making their decision. It may give them pause. 2) The scripture says so. 3) The abandoned spouse needs to be able to close that door, paint it over, and know that they are safe. They will never again have to wrestle in that particular pit of alligators. That man or woman is gone, and will never be allowed to get close enough to hurt them that way again. Never.

I will also note that I cannot think of a divorce that I witnessed in which one or both of the spouses did not leave the Lord. That is a hugely significant fact in my mind.

OK. That's my opinion, and I know it's a minority view. For the record, my views on this subject have not substantially changed in over 20 years. My divorce has refined them a little, but not reversed them on any point. Let me lay out the scriptures that took me here.

Matt 5
31 "It has been said, 'Anyone who divorces his wife must give her a certificate of divorce.' 32 But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, causes her to become an adulteress, and anyone who marries the divorced woman commits adultery.

Obviously, this is the biggie.

Before we can look at what these two verses mean, though, I think it is important to pull in some of the context quotes that surround it.

28 But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.
29 If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away.
30 And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away.
34 But I tell you, do not swear an oath at all:


Estimate the number of times you have heard someone quote the sermon on the mount with regard to divorce, and proclaim with certainty that no one should ever divorce, and even more certainly never remarry. Now, count the number of times you have heard someone recommend gouging out an eye or whacking off a hand. Is there any correspondence?

What can we learn from this?

Someone is slanting this message for some reason.

The verse plainly says that divorce in the case of adultery is legal, and that remarriage is as well. Jesus was tightening the screws on the Pharisees because they thought marriage was a trap from which they needed occasional release. I call a Pharisee to the stand:

Matt 19
1 When Jesus had finished saying these things, he left Galilee and went into the region of Judea to the other side of the Jordan. 2 Large crowds followed him, and he healed them there.
3 Some Pharisees came to him to test him. They asked, "Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any and every reason?"
4 "Haven't you read," he replied, "that at the beginning the Creator 'made them male and female,' [
a] 5 and said, 'For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh' [b]? 6 So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate."
7 "Why then," they asked, "did Moses command that a man give his wife a certificate of divorce and send her away?"
8 Jesus replied, "Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning. 9 I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery."
10 The disciples said to him, "If this is the situation between a husband and wife, it is better not to marry."
11 Jesus replied, "Not everyone can accept this word, but only those to whom it has been given. 12 For some are eunuchs because they were born that way; others have been made eunuchs; and others have renounced marriage [
c] because of the kingdom of heaven. The one who can accept this should accept it."

What God has put together let no man separate, but when it is separated it is not justice, mercy, or wisdom to require a victimized spouse to continue to be victimized. Nor is it just, merciful or wise to require a divorced victim to spend their remaining years alone. God does not treat His children like this.

Sexual immorality tears asunder that which God has joined. I grow frustrated with blatherings about not divorcing for "a one-night stand." I have never seen a divorce over a one-night stand. Divorce is always about disdain, and disdain either flaunts its conquests outside of marriage or protests its disappointments within the marriage. No happy couple could be torn apart by a one-night stand, so why torture the victim of a divorce by questioning whether or not they have been hurt enough to warrant giving up on the marriage? Why do that? They are having a hard enough time wrapping their mind around the fact their life is about to be shredded and used to line a kitty-litter box. Accept that this is not happening because they got bored.

Notice verse 10. The Pharisees were driving this discussion, but when the question gets really touchy, it's Jesus' own disciples who are asking it!

The disciples are appalled that Jesus might ask them to go through their whole lives with just one woman. They would rather be lonely all their lives than risk dying trapped in a marriage to a woman grown inconvenient. This custom of the Pharisees had taken over even the decent men of the day.

So Jesus stands against this type and custom of divorce. He speaks the simple truth. Divorce, excepting for adultery, is a cause of adultery. Divorce in the case of adultery is completely permitted, as is remarriage. The parallel passage in Mark does not mention the exception for adultery. There are those who put great stock in this ommision, but for the life of me I cannot understand why. Whatever. The single sentence quote in Luke from this whole discussion also omits the exception, but Luke omitted 9 other verses of this discussion too. Again, this ommision does not daunt me.

I enjoy the answer of Jesus to His disciples in verse 11. They suggest that they would be happier to live single if they cannot divorce for trivialities. He accepts their magnanimous/sulking offer, and proceeds to tell them how to fulfill their lofty goals. That is good for a healthy chuckle!

1 Cor 7
10 To the married I give this command (not I, but the Lord): A wife must not separate from her husband. 11 But if she does, she must remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband. And a husband must not divorce his wife.

This verse also omits the statement allowing divorce in the case of adultery. Now I begin to sound like a broken record if I say that I don't care whether he forgot it. So, I will look at the verses that Paul references. Remember that he says he is quoting the Lord with this command.

Duet 24
1 If a man marries a woman who becomes displeasing to him because he finds something indecent about her, and he writes her a certificate of divorce, gives it to her and sends her from his house, 2 and if after she leaves his house she becomes the wife of another man, 3 and her second husband dislikes her and writes her a certificate of divorce, gives it to her and sends her from his house, or if he dies, 4 then her first husband, who divorced her, is not allowed to marry her again after she has been defiled. That would be detestable in the eyes of the LORD. Do not bring sin upon the land the LORD your God is giving you as an inheritance.

First, and most obvious, God allows divorce. Paul is quoting God's law, but it must be understood in the context of God's law. What God has put together, don't tear asunder, but if it must be torn there is a legal way to do so.

Second, the divorced woman is allowed to marry again, even though she was divorced for a trivial cause (not adultery.) You will note that she is described as, "defiled." It is the fact that she married again without the cause of adultery that makes her defiled, not simply the act of remarrying. Jesus explained this in Matt.

Finally,

Jer 3
8 I gave faithless Israel her certificate of divorce and sent her away because of all her adulteries.

God gave divorce to us, because He knew that sometimes it's the only answer. He divorces Israel. It was not His preference, but when she tore asunder that which God had joined, He did not sulk forever. God closed the door, and moved on. He divorced her, and opened the way to marry another, a spotless, bride.

The context of Jer 3 is God calling Israel back to reconcile their shattered marriage. That chapter and the passage from 1 Cor 7 both seem to say that I am wrong to resist marital reconciliation. Like I said, I am not as strongly convinced on this subject as I am on divorce, but my opinion is entirely one way.

I offer 2 answers to that objection.
To Jer 3) This is really no argument. God's call to reconcile with Israel failed. Israel would not return to Him, so I take Jer. 3 as proof that I am right. Reconciliation does not work.
To 1 Cor 7) In almost every case of divorce I have ever seen, the departing spouse left the Lord. I heartily believe this is because they never knew Him. Therefore to reconcile with such a spouse is remarrying Christ to Belial. It is better to live alone than to go through that, and better to have bamboo shoots under your nails than to go through it a second time. So, again I am convinced that trying to reconcile after either party has "moved on" is not a good idea.

In the case that a departing spouse were to return whole-heartedly to Christ, I could possibly entertain the thought of not totally opposing the reconciliation. That spouse would have an uphill struggle winning my recommendation, though. I would set my face against him and test him over and again. Forgive him? Sure. Trust him? Let him earn my trust, and it won't be easy. The first clue that he is merely hoping to return to a safe bed, rather than to the Lord, and he's gone.

I probably need to balance some of my pro-divorce rhetoric now. I really am not in favor of it.

Malachi 2
10 Do we not all have one Father [
b]? Did not one God create us? Why do we profane the covenant of our ancestors by being unfaithful to one another? ... 14 You ask, "Why?" It is because the LORD is the witness between you and the wife of your youth. You have been unfaithful to her, though she is your partner, the wife of your marriage covenant.
15 Has not the LORD made the two of you one? You belong to him in body and spirit. And why has he made you one? Because he was seeking godly offspring. [
d] So be on your guard, and do not be unfaithful to the wife of your youth.
16 "I hate divorce," says the LORD God of Israel, "and I hate it when people clothe themselves with injustice," says the LORD Almighty. So be on your guard, and do not be unfaithful.


It is a sin to the wife or husband who is unfaithful. It is God Who is watching, and God Who hates divorce. Such unfaithfulness will not go unpunished.

But must we punish the victims? When we tell them they should live the rest of their years alone, do we do the kind of justice God will commend?

I don't think so.

So, I allow divorce, favor remarriage, and discourage reconciliation after either party has lived with another mate.

May the Lord cover me if I am wrong.

The next post will be a little more personal, and will try to describe the confusion that is a real divorce.

22 comments:

Ellen said...

For what it's worth, the ESV offers a better translation of Mal 2:16 "For the man who hates and divorces, says the LORD, the God of Israel, covers[j] his garment with violence, says the LORD of hosts. So guard yourselves in your spirit, and do not be faithless."

And there was a time when divorce was actually commanded by God: Ezra 10:2 "Then Shecaniah son of Jehiel, one of the descendants of Elam, said to Ezra, "We have been unfaithful to our God by marrying foreign women from the peoples around us. But in spite of this, there is still hope for Israel. 3 Now let us make a covenant before our God to send away all these women and their children, in accordance with the counsel of my lord and of those who fear the commands of our God. Let it be done according to the Law. 4 Rise up; this matter is in your hands. We will support you, so take courage and do it."

I suggest that read (if you haven't), "Marriage, Divorce and Remarriage in the Bible" by Jay E. Adams. It is one of the best that I have read of the subject and is a book that is inexpensive enough that I've bought and given away several copies.

;-)

DugALug said...

Codepoke,

I am going to have to respectfully stand against you on this. I think that to initiate a divorce on any grounds, outside of adultery, is without question sin.

I am sorry to be so immovable on this, but I think that it is clear throughout the scriptures.

As far as reconciliation / restoration, I truly disagree with you on that too. If you believe that God can be a role-model, look at one of his prophets: Josiah. Josiah was directed on numerous occasion to take his wife back from her life harlotry.

God himself refers to himself as a husband of fidelity to a unfaithful bride.

Jeremiah 3:1

1 “They say, ‘If a man divorces his wife, And she goes from him And becomes another man’s, May he return to her again?’ Would not that land be greatly polluted?
But you have played the harlot with many lovers; Yet return to Me,” says the LORD.


I have personally watched God resurect my own parent's marriage from the dead and my wife can give a similar story about hers as well. I have counselled quite a few men to restore their marriage: Only one marriage did that turn out badly.

God is bigger than divorce, and restoration with Him is more important than with our ex-spouse. None the less, He has called us to leave that door open too.

I have no problem with people who have been divorced (including in places of leadership). We all have past transgressions that we must atone for, but to say that it is not a sin would be in error.

I must lovingly tell you this brother, and I haven't changed this veiw in the past 25 years either.

God Bless,
-Doug

codepoke said...

Thank you, Ellen for the verses and the recommendation. Your opinion carries weight with me, and I appreciate it.

The ESV is much more direct in its translation of the Malachi. That's impressive. And I had never noticed the Ezra verse before. If I had, I might even have passed over it. Thank you for pointing it out.

I will add the Adam's book to my list.

codepoke said...

Thanks, DugALug. I respect your honest disagreement.

I am sorry to be so immovable on this, but I think that it is clear throughout the scriptures.

You will have to be a little more specific on this. We both agree that divorce is tragic, but you believe it is sin, while I believe sin leads to divorce. You might attempt to prove that remarriage is always sin, but not that divorce itself is. You have God giving divorce papers to Israel. How can this be sin?

On reconciliation:

If you believe that God can be a role-model, look at one of his prophets: Josiah.

I believe you mean Hosea. I looked up Josiah, and he was a king of Israel, and I don't see any connection with him being asked to take back an adulterous wife. If I am missing something, please point it out to me.

Assuming you mean Hosea, the whole point of the hideous thing Hosea was asked to do was that it was an abomination.

Hosea 1
2 When the LORD began to speak through Hosea, the LORD said to him, "Go, marry a promiscuous woman and have children with her, for like an adulterous wife this land is guilty of unfaithfulness to the LORD." 3 So he married Gomer daughter of Diblaim, and she conceived and bore him a son.


He was told to marry a woman as defiled as Israel herself was to prove that God would condescend even to that level for His people. It seems you are trying to make Hosea an example of how to succeed in Christian marriage. Am I understanding you correctly?

Your Jeremiah quote is of the same flavor. God is declaring that He is willing to defile Himself to take faithless Israel back over unfaithful Judah. He is declaring that He is willing to violate His own laws in the direction of mercy, even at grave expense to Himself.

But, even God will not do this without conditions:
Jer 3
13 Only acknowledge your guilt—
you have rebelled against the LORD your God,
you have scattered your favors to foreign gods
under every spreading tree,
and have not obeyed me,' "
declares the LORD.


I said the same thing in my post. I will accept reconciliation between believers if the departing spouse is truly repentant.

I also said that I am only against reconciliation when one of the spouses has taken another mate. If both spouses have kept themselves during their whole separation, then I think there is a real hope. Of course, if both spouses have kept themselves during their separation, then there probably wasn't a real divorce anyway.

But is it God's actual wish that reconciliation happen after one spouses is married to another and divorced again? Then why did He cause Duet 24:4 to be written?

then her first husband, who divorced her, is not allowed to marry her again after she has been defiled. That would be detestable in the eyes of the LORD. Do not bring sin upon the land the LORD your God is giving you as an inheritance.

Praise the Lord for the marriages you have been able to save, for the restoration of your parents' marriage, and for the victory in your own. I made sure to say, "usually" in my post, as opposed to "always." :-) My blessings upon them all.

Still, when you say, He has called us to leave that door [to restoration] open too. I wonder what you base that on. If it is 1 Cor 7:11, then I agree because that is talking about 2 Christians who have just been commanded to live in celibacy. That meets all of my criteria.

I haven't changed this veiw in the past 25 years either.

Touche!

Of course, 25 years ago I think I still agreed with you, too. ;-)

Thanks again, for your respectful disagreement. I think this is a subject worthy of discussion, and I'm glad you're willing to do it.

DugALug said...

Codepoke,

Josiah... Hosea... my bad. I'd love to blame it on the fact that English is my second language, but it is just that I'm a moron (English is my only language). Hosea is the mark.

Here is what Ezekial says:

Ezekiel 16:8 (NIV)

8 " 'Later I passed by, and when I looked at you and saw that you were old enough for love, I spread the corner of my garment over you and covered your nakedness. I gave you my solemn oath and entered into a covenant with you, declares the Sovereign LORD, and you became mine.


Marriage is a contract: a solemn covenant between the two parties and God.

With that in mind, here is Malachi's comments (from God):

Malachi 2:13-15 (NIV)

13 Another thing you do: You flood the LORD's altar with tears. You weep and wail because he no longer pays attention to your offerings or accepts them with pleasure from your hands. 14 You ask, "Why?" It is because the LORD is acting as the witness between you and the wife of your youth, because you have broken faith with her, though she is your partner, the wife of your marriage covenant.

15 Has not the LORD made them one? In flesh and spirit they are his. And why one? Because he was seeking godly offspring. So guard yourself in your spirit, and do not break faith with the wife of your youth.


In spite of the fact that this was prophetic to Judah, it is also shows clearly that God's view about breaking a 'solemn oath'. I think it is clear that it is sin.

Here is one wrinkle that I must not have made clear. If the oath is already broken, there is nothing left to break. A spouse who has filed for divorce has already broken the oath. Adultery is the immediate go to jail card. Restitution is up to the non-offending spouse. But that spouse is free and clear to walk away. Restoration is left in the hands of the one that hasn't broken the oath.

Again, restoration between God and us is simpler. He has accepted us, knowing that we are unfaithful. We serve a God of restoration, and it is as close as a prayer away.

God Bless
-Doug

Milly said...

This was a good read. Good job sir.

codepoke said...

DugALug,

Marriage is a contract: a solemn covenant between the two parties and God.

Ah! Comes the dawn.

I think we almost agree. You are saying that the divorce is the breaking of the covenant, while I am saying that the divorce is a God given response to the breaking of the covenant.

Questions to define the difference.

* Is the covenant broken when the perpetrator is unfaithful, or when the perpetrator finally divorces the victim?
- I say it is the unfaithfulness that breaks the covenant, and the divorce is then immaterial. I think you said as much too.

* Can the victim sue for divorce after the covenant is broken without sinning against God or man?
- I say yes.

codepoke said...

Milly,

This was a good read. Good job sir.

Pretty high praise for a a post on the doctrine of divorce. :-D

Thanks. That brightened my day.

DugALug said...

Codepoke,

Is the covenant broken when the perpetrator is unfaithful, or when the perpetrator finally divorces the victim?

It has to be the act of unfaithfullness that breaks the covenant. Here is my delimna (and I know that you see this coming).

What if I am walking down the street and a girl cathes my eye? Wouldn't this be an act of adultry according to Jesus? I would have to say that I need to bring this before the Lord, and if it continues before my spouse. I haven't broken my covenant in my heart, but my actions have betrayed me.

I like your thought about disdain, because this clearly comes into play with this. Still, I should keep my mind in check and in so doing honor God, my wife, and our covenant.

Can the victim sue for divorce after the covenant is broken without sinning against God or man?

Yes, there can be no sin if there is nothing left to break. I know of many who refuse to break their side of thier marriage covenant, even after the divorce is inked and final. I wonder if God will honor that.

I also want to say that I don't think you mean what you say that you mean.

Most divorces aren't a God given response to anything: they are the result of selfish, irresponsible individuals puting their own wants and needs ahead of their mates. I know this is a harsh statement, but divorce in our culture is a virus of conveniece. We are told that we don't need to tough it out: that we can walk with impunity. This is diametrically opposed to the Gospel.

Like abortion, I see divorce as an instrument of the enemy that he uses to defile two of the cornerstones of God's earthly heirarchy. Under the guise or convenience or cultural preference, we have been duped into taking the bait hook line and sinker.

God Bless
Doug

codepoke said...

DugALug,

I know of many who refuse to break their side of thier marriage covenant, even after the divorce is inked and final. I wonder if God will honor that.

I respect your questioning attitude, but I will stand firm against this.

I can think of many reasons to remain single after a divorce, several of them good. This is not one of them. This is casting the pearl of a tender heart before the swine of one who will neither profit from it nor preserve it from damage.

I keep coming back to Luke 14
3 Jesus asked the Pharisees and experts in the law, "Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath or not?" 4 But they remained silent. So taking hold of the man, he healed him and sent him on his way.

5 Then he asked them, "If one of you has a child [a] or an ox that falls into a well on the Sabbath day, will you not immediately pull it out?" 6 And they had nothing to say.


The Pharisees built draconian hedge laws around God's sabbath law. Their hedge laws forced, or at least allowed, them to be cruel to God's people in God's Name.

Allowing a saint to remain romantically hopeful toward one who does not deserve that hope is awful. Transfering those feelings to God I can accept. Growing beyond those feelings, and acknowledging that God can be more to them than a mate is better. Praying and waiting for the Lord's providence is best. Condemning oneself to pine wastefully after one who is not worthy of them is a little suicide. It is wrong.

I carried torches in my past, and there was no profit to the young lady, nor to myself. There was no glory to God. There was no healing.

I implore you not to leave that saint in a ditch.

Most divorces aren't a God given response to anything: they are the result of selfish, irresponsible individuals puting their own wants and needs ahead of their mates.

Ummm. Well, no.

In my case, my divorce gave my mate exactly what she wanted, no matter what I might want. I cannot say that I was selfless in it, because I had no choice. I hardly put my wants before my mate's, though. My wants were never a part of the equation in any way.

I was joined to a woman who was dead to me. Was it, or was it not a mercy of God to separate me from that corpse?

DugALug said...

Codepoke,

You mean to tell me that almost half of the marriages here in the United States end in divorce because one of the mates put the other's need ahead of their own?

Wow! I'm gonna go out on a limb here Codepoke and say that you are smoking something on that.

You, compadre, are the exception to the rule, not the standard. I would go on to say there is tremendous honor in your method and it is humbling. I really appreciate you sharing your heart like you have.

I didn't say all divorces are the result of selfish irresponsible people. Common on man, you should see my train of logic better than that by now! Thanks for helping me iron out my views on this subject.

I once again pray that I haven't offended you with my bluntness.

God Bless
-Doug

DugALug said...

Codepoke,

Allowing a saint to remain romantically hopeful toward one who does not deserve that hope is awful. Transfering those feelings to God I can accept.

I know more that one person, who says that they have remained faithful to their ex after they were officially divorced.

They honor their exe's wishes. They remain in their children's life, but they refuse to look elsewhere for another mate. They know that they are technically 'free', but they don't want it.

You ask them, and they say something to the effect that when they made their vowells, I ment them for life.

I kid you not, it baffles me, but I am ever curious how they do it. I wouldn't say that they are rommanticly hopeful, they are people of principal: grounded and fully aware that the relationship is over. Two of them are really 'religious' (ultra-zeallous), which is what drove their spouses away in the first place. Still they remain faithful and it is an enigma to me.

Either way, their lifes glorify God, whether is confuses me or not.

God Bless
-Doug

codepoke said...

DugALug,

Common on man, you should see my train of logic better than that by now!

Ouch. You are right, of course. I accept your correction, and apologize.

Thanks for helping me iron out my views on this subject.

Right back atcha! You are really helping me dig through my views as well. Like I said, this is the first time I have articulated them since the divorce, and maybe ever.

You mean to tell me that almost half of the marriages here in the United States end in divorce because one of the mates put the other's need ahead of their own?


Hmmm. You make a strong point, but I may have to just agree with your rhetorical point - in Christian marriages that I have personally seen fall apart that is. That said, I have to admit that I have run with a pretty atypical crowd.

In every church divorce I know, one person or both walked away from the Lord. The one who walked away from the Lord was also the one who violated the marriage covenant. In about half of those, the abandoned mate was busting his or her butt to try to save the marriage. In the other half, the abandoned mate was too damaged by earlier attempts to save it to try again, and had given up.

Your experience?

I once again pray that I haven't offended you with my bluntness.

You're cool. Drive on! And again, I apologize for my quickness to assume wrongly.

codepoke said...

DugALug,

Still they remain faithful and it is an enigma to me.

May the Lord bless them.

DugALug said...

Codepoke,

Sigh. It sounds like I go to a much larger church than you, and the gammut of divorce is available to us.

I would have to say that in a good chunk of them, the divorces were the result of selfishness and convenience.

Many of the brothers and sisters are searching for answers, and over time, see this and repent before God. Many times they attempt to apologize to their exe's: very mixed results here.

Many, not all, were Christians going into marriage. We even have a couple of these couples that both still go to our church. It is strange, bizzare, and unsettling.

Many are realistic, and seeking God in their life and God is doing awesome things in their lives, but they will be the first to tell you that they were boneheads.

Divorce has hurt so many of them that it will truly take a miracle from God to break this cycle that they are in. It is overwhelming thinking about the pain so many of my friends have gone through.

Forgive me but I need to go hug my wife a bit.

God Bless
Doug

codepoke said...

DugALug,

Forgive me but I need to go hug my wife a bit.

Finally, I wrote a post that made a concrete, positive difference in someone's life! ;-)

A little more seriously,

You, compadre, are the exception to the rule, not the standard.

I have thought about this statement since I first read it. I never know what to do with a compliment like this. Upon sensing one I usually try to back quietly from the room without making provocative eye contact. In this case, though, I don't think I can.

As I picture myself standing in the midst of my brothers and sisters who have gone before me into divorce, I would be profoundly shamed to look at them this way. I did exactly what they did, and no better at all. I kissed the bride with hope and excitement, watched her slowly become my enemy, then dealt with the pain and loneliness of having brought all this down on my head.

Really.

I want to think that I handled things with grace, but what did I do that was not a gift? My ex was/is decent and gracious to me. I received wise counsel on the subject before I ever married, so I was prepared. The Spirit gave grace. And with all those advantages, I still said and did things that I regret.

No, there are divorce stories that curdle my blood. Mine was a velvet-gloved dance by comparison.

I would be ashamed to be silent before such an undeserved compliment. My brothers and sisters and I have all shouldered the same load, for our own sad reasons, and loved the same Lord every step of the way. I think we are all exceptions.

DugALug said...

Codepoke,

According to numerous surveys, the divorce rate in the Christian communities is comparable to those in secular ones. What does this say to you? It might say that we, in the church, are no better prepared than the world for marriage.

I am certain that few go into marriage planning their divorce (except maybe those looking to bilk money from the wealthy). I am also certain that many go into marriage unprepared to avoid divorce.

When things pile up it is hard not to drop into self-preservation mode. Based on your testimony here, your attitude and actions toward your wife were in both of your well being's. I am certain that your wife would say the same thing: this is the exception, not the rule.

I will tell you that there is another message that I got from your testimony. A warning about putting my trust in people instead of God. People fall, but God never faulters. I have gone to the same church for 26 years now. We are on our 4th pastor since I have been there. We had had controversies that have split our church, pastors leave on a week's notice, and other dispointments. People have left their faith because they were so disalusioned by a pastor. When the man came up short, their theology couldn't get past that. As disheartening as it was, I knew that God was in our midst, and we needed to look at Him, not at the circumstances.

While I appreciate your solidarity with your divorced brotherhood, I see no compelling reason to recant my compliment.

God Bless
-doug

codepoke said...

Codepoke drops the brim of his hat, breaking eye-contact with DugALug. He slowly sidles out through the swinging doors and mosies over to the general store to get another hat.

This one is suddenly a little to small.

DugALug said...

Dugalog chuckles.

Weekend Fisher said...

I've wrestled with this one, whether I could ever in good conscience remarry. I don't think I can. Sometimes I'm ok with that, and sometimes I peek ahead to the future and see all the years that I'll be spending in solitary, and it's more than I can bear. But it's worst when I try to carry all the years at once instead of letting tomorrow worry about tomorrow because each day has enough problems of its own.

DugALug said...

Weekend Fisher,

My prayers go out to you.

Whatever you decide, let God be a part of it. If God tells you to walk with Him and Him alone, do that in peace.

If you are seeking Him and God opens the door for you to remarry, walk through and don't look back.

I do belive that if this matter has been brought before God, that He is faithful to forgive us of these things. We don't need to carry this burden alone. God is doing a wonderful work in all of us, and sometimes the mending process take a lot of time.

God Bless
-Doug

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