DIVORCE… The big “D”…and as Mark Chestnut famously sang “I don’t mean Dallas.” That word, “Divorce”, conjures up different emotions in all of us, depending on our unique experiences with it. The reactions to the word are as varied as the many stories that have been touched by divorce.
No matter your experience or your first reaction to the word, as disciples of Christ, it is important that we look to the Word of God for our ultimate opinions and perspective. With that in mind, here are four things we need to know about Divorce, that will help us in our walk as disciples!
1) Understand the Intent of Marriage
For a Disciple, understanding the intent of the marriage relationship is way more important than understanding the “rules” for divorce. From the beginning, when God first made man and woman, his intent was that the marriage relationship be a skin wrapped, walking, talking picture of His love for his church. We see it in Ephesians 5:31-32 as Paul writes:
“Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.
Think about the love of Christ. His love for us is marked by forgiveness, sacrifice, service. He did give ALL of himself to make a way for us to be in relationship with him. Marriage love was meant to be just like that eternal love. Can you imagine if we had to earn daily or re-earn the love of Christ? If salvation depended on our ability to do that, we would be in trouble! The goal for marriage is that a husband love his wife like Christ loves the church, and a wife to love her husband the same way.
2) Concessions were made due to our inability to love as Christ does.
Unfortunately, our sinful nature may be most easily seen in the context of relationships. We mess up on each other…A LOT! When we understand the intent of marriage, we can feel the weight of our inability to live up to the standard of reflecting the Gospel in our relationship.
The good news is, those mess ups, they are the best place for us to look like Jesus!
Forgiveness and reconciliation may be the two things that look most like him. Our goal is always to reconciliation and forgiveness if we want to get it right. But God knew (he knows everything, remember?) that there would be times that one spouse would break the covenant of marriage. The concession of divorce is a provision for those occasions.
I truly believe that the intent of the relationship and logic of the exception are the key to a Godly perspective on divorce.
Sexual immorality and Abandonment of a spouse by an unbeliever are the two primary exceptions that are spelled out in scripture. Both are acts that kill the covenant.
Christ will never break covenant with us, but flawed humans sometimes do. Therefore, he makes a concession allowing for our broken, hard-hearted ways. In situations where the sin of a spouse has severed the covenant of marriage, God would love to redeem it! He can redeem it!
But if their hard-heartedness keeps them in bondage to sin, God loves you enough to provide an “exception clause” so that you won't be in bondage to the other person’s sin! Even in divorce, God is loving you!
3) The Gospel is big enough to redeem even the most broken.
Don’t give up to soon! Some of the best marriages I know have severe brokenness in their history. God can redeem even broken covenants. Think about this. David ( the one in the Bible, the man after God’s own heart, the one who wrote most of the Psalms) had a pornography issue. His issue was more accurately a peeping tom issue. He lusted after Bathsheba and sent for her, and the hook-up led to her pregnancy.
Now, the wife of his good friend, a woman he was never supposed to be with is pregnant! Instead of coming clean with his friend, he arranges for his murder. The lie then follows that they got pregnant on the honeymoon. They lose the baby, then later have a son named Solomon. Solomon has children, and then grandchildren, and generations later from that lineage of brokenness and horrible sin comes a baby named Jesus. He grew up to be the Savior of the World!
The Gospel is big enough to work through your issues, even issues of a broken covenant!
4) See Yourself as God Sees You
Divorced? You need to understand how God sees you! How does God see you? Well, it depends on….(don’t you hate that answer?) It depends on how you got here. Maybe your divorce was outside the biblical guidelines. Have you repented? Have you sought forgiveness? Is reconciliation an option for you? Go to Him, and you will find that he sees you as one that he sent his son to die for. He accepts you and wants to walk with you to healing. He forgives you! Divorce is NOT the modern day “Scarlett Letter”. Yes, God hates ‘divorce’ but he loves and desires a relationship with ‘divorced people’.
Did you know that God understands divorce? In Jeremiah chapter 3, God refers to himself as divorced. Broken over the sins of Israel God states in verse 8, “…I sent her (Israel) away with a decree of divorce…” God would check “divorced” on a survey! He understands because he has felt the hurt of a broken covenant.
His ultimate desire is to reconcile and redeem. He takes us as we are, with scars of divorce, and desires to forgive and reconcile and redeem. God sees two kinds of people, those are are “In Christ” and those who are NOT, and his Gospel is big enough for BOTH!
Want to hear more of what scripture says about divorce/remarriage? Watch Week 4 of our series “Chasing Elephants.”
Divorced/Remarried? Step-Family is hard! Chad blogs...check it out!