By The Mad Preacher, Rod Davis
Divorce is a raging beast that maims people and devours homes. It’s a bloody battleground where everyone involved becomes a casualty of war. No one wins in a divorce. Before you judge others for being divorced keep in mind that the dreaded “D” can happen to the best of us. That’s just life!
Are you being beaten over the head because you’re divorce? I want to offer a note of encouragement for those who have been pushed into a divorce. I intentionally use the word “pushed” because no one in their right mind actually wants a divorce. However, many of us find ourselves with no other option. I have gone through that heart-wrenching experience and have learned a few things that I would like to pass on.
Over the years I’ve discovered that many who call themselves “Christians” are more tolerant of a murderer, prostitute or drug pusher who became a Christian than they are with a Christian who has been divorced. This is especially true if you’re called to the pulpit ministry. However, the divorce rate for Christians is now matching that of the rest of America (50%). Unfortunately, the ranks of those in the church that have experienced divorce are swelling. Fortunately, though, the compassion of many churches for us who are victims of divorce is growing as well. It’s sad to admit that for many, even in Christian homes, marriage has become a combat zone. It doesn’t make it right but that’s just the way it is. Nevertheless, I have good news for those of us who are survivors of the dreaded “D.”
Let me begin with a statement that may startle you. Did you know that God is divorced? It’s true! “I gave faithless Israel her certificate of divorce and sent her away because of all her adulteries.”(Jeremiah 3:8) Yet someone might say, “How can this be? Didn’t God say in Malachi 2:16, ‘I hate divorce.’?” You’re absolutely right. God does hate divorce. I believe that the main reason for his disdain is more personal than theological.
God desires that marriage be a perfect representation of the marriage-like relationship that he wants with professing Christians. The church is even called the bride of Christ. (Revelations 21:9) So, God meant for marriage to be a beautiful earthly representation of a Heavenly covenant. When both parties in a marriage walk in obedience to God’s Word concerning their role as a husband or wife, the relationship that they enjoy will correctly mirror the relationship between God and the believer. So, for that reason divorce goes against the grain for God in the worst possible way.
As I said, God hates divorce more on a personal basis. It’s amazing how many have missed this elemental truth. No one hates divorce more than one who has experienced it. God has been there and done that. He may not have a T-shirt but God certainly has the scars! Like us, our LORD has experienced rejection. In Matthew 23:37 Jesus said, “Jerusalem, Jerusalem! You kill the prophets and stone the messengers God has sent you! How many times I wanted to put my arms around all your people, just as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you would not let me!” (GNT) * He’s acquainted with the grief that divorce brings. God has personally suffered sorrow and heartbreak.
Furthermore, he knows what it’s like to be treated with disrespect and unkindness by someone he loves. Isaiah 53:3 says this about Jesus, “He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with [our] pain. Like one from whom people hide their faces he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.” (NIV)
Yes, God hates divorce!!! In fact, He loathes it!
Finally, I want to hopefully clear up a damaging error that Christians make about adultery. Many have gone through divorce for reasons other than sexual infidelity. Nevertheless, they still lug around much of the same bitterness and pain that the victims of an unfaithful spouse carries. They also experienced the same sensation of personal loss and separation. They’ve had to deal with the same feelings of guilt and abandonment as well as a kaleidoscope of other dark emotions.
Maybe the divorce wasn’t over a spouse committing adultery through a sexual encounter with someone other than their marriage partner. However, one can still be guilty of unfaithfulness even without having sex with someone other than their spouse. There are other ways of dishonoring your marriage vows. Many have suffered physical, mental and emotional damage in their marriage. One can dishonor one’s marriage vows with this kind of cruelty as well. When one abuses their spouse in these ways the marriage covenant is broken. For this is another form of unfaithfulness.
I’ve been there. I know the damage that someone you love can do to your heart and mind. In addition, I’ve found that too often the emotional devastation remains long after the physical scars have faded. When you open your arms to someone you expose your heart. Jesus opened His arms, exposing his heart and what did the people that Jesus loved do? They took his open arms and nailed them to a cross. Then they pierced Jesus’ loving heart with a spear. Indeed, he is “familiar with [our] pain”.
Again, my point is simple. You may have been divorced and as a result you may have been singled out and, at times, faced scorn from others. Perhaps you’ve been rebuked by some well-meaning-but-misinformed church leader or church member because your divorce wasn’t on the grounds of what they considered to be adultery.
This may make the Pharisees and Sadducees mad at me. But bear this in mind, my friend, adultery takes many forms. Again, one cannot only be unfaithful sexually; one can also be unfaithful emotionally, physically and spiritually. One can break one’s marriage vows, or covenant, in ways other than through a sexual betrayal. When that happens that piece of paper so nicely framed and hanging on the wall means nothing.
God sees unfaithfulness differently from what you and I see. The Bible makes it clear that we can sin in our hearts and minds as well as physically. For to God be it in the mind or in the bed it’s all the same. (Matthew 5:28) So, your spouse can be unfaithful to you by abusing the vows you made to one another in the presence of God, the minister and the witnesses. Whether, abused by a spouse mentally, emotionally or physically. In God’s eyes, it’s all the same.
For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it. (James 2:10 NIV)
So, don’t give into condemnation from those who don’t really know what they’re talking about. (Romans 8:1 NIV) It’s easy to be an armchair quarterback. It’s simple to sit in judgment of someone if you’ve never been where they’ve been. If someone does point a finger at you simply say this to them, “If you haven’t walked in my shoes, don’t tell me how to wear them. Furthermore, if you think my shoes are dirty, well consider this. You don’t know how messy the path was on which I was forced to tread. Don’t act so self-righteous, because life is so unpredictable you too may one day find yourself walking that same dirty path.”
Life can be a cowardly dog. When you least expect it can sneak up behind you and take a huge chunk out of you leaving you hurt and scarred. So, in the words of the Apostle Peter, “Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” (1Peter 5:8) Paul also warns, “Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong.” (1Corinthians 16:13 NIV)
Be of good cheer my friend, and don’t give in to the emotional bondage that divorce can bring. Remember these wonderful words of Jesus, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)
A video version of this message is posted on my YouTube page at https://www.youtube.com/user/chaplainrod825
* Good News Translation (GNT) Copyright © 1992 by American Bible Society