Help for Those Suffering from the Dreaded “D”

by The Mad Preacher, Rod Davis

Are you being beaten over the head because of a divorce? I want to offer a note of encouragement for those who have been pressed into a divorce. I intentionally use the divorce-photography-capturing-final-memories-of-the-one-you-hateword “pressed” because no one in his or her right mind 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.

I’ve discovered over the years that many who call themselves “Christians” are more tolerant of a murderer, prostitute or drug pusher, who came to Christ, than they are with a believer 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 tolerance of many churches is growing as well. It’s sad to admit that for many, even in Christian homes, marriage has become a battlefield. 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 3:8a) 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 for divorce is more personal than theological. Let me explain.

God desires that marriage be a perfect picture of the marriage-like relationship that he wants with us. The church is even called the bride of Christ. (Revelations 21:9) So, God meant 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 the rolls of husband and wife, the relationship that they enjoy correctly represents the relationship between God and the believer. So, for that reason divorce goes against God’s grain in the worst possible way.

He [Jesus] was looked down on and passed over, a man who suffered, who knew pain firsthand. One look at him and people turned away. We looked down on him, thought he was scum. (Isaiah 53:3) [1]

However, there is another reason why God hates divorce, and this reason is purely on a personal basis. (Note: It’s amazing how many have missed this elemental truth.) You see, no one hates divorce more than one who has experienced divorce. God has been there, done that. He may not have a T-shirt, but he certainly has the scars! Like us, our LORD has experienced rejection. He said in Matthew 23:37 “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing.” He’s acquainted with the grief divorce brings, for he has personally suffered sorrow and heartbreak. Furthermore, God knows what it’s like to be treated with disrespect and unkindness by someone he gave his love to. (Isaiah 53:3) And friend, God hates it!!! In fact, he loathes divorce!

Finally, I want to hopefully clear up a common error that many Christians make about adultery. Many have gone through divorces for reasons other than marital infidelity. Nevertheless, they have had to lug around much of the same baggage that the victims of an unfaithful spouse have had to carry. They also experienced the same sensation of personal loss and separation. They’ve had to deal with the same feelings of guilt and a sense of displacement as well as a kaleidoscope of other dark emotions.

Maybe the divorce wasn’t over one of the spouses committing adultery through a sexual encounter with someone other than their marriage partner. However, one can still be guilty of unfaithfulness even without a sexual encounter. You see, there are other ways of dishonoring your marriage vows. Many have suffered physical, mental, and emotional abuse in their marriage. One can dishonor one’s marriage vows with emotional and verbal abuse as well and do so to a point that is beyond toleration. 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 damage 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.

My point is simple. You may have been divorced. As a result, you have been singled out and, at times, face ridicule. 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 adultery. But bear this in mind, my friend, adultery takes many forms. One is not only unfaithful sexually; one can also be unfaithful emotionally and spiritually. One can break one’s marriage vows in ways other than through a sexual betrayal.

God sees unfaithfulness differently from you and me. The Bible makes it clear that we can sin in our hearts and mind as well as physically. For to God, be it in the mind or in the bed, it’s all the same. Jesus said in Matthew 5:28, “But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” So, a spouse can be unfaithful to you by abusing the vows you each made before God, the minister, and the witnesses. You can be abused by a spouse mentally or emotionally, as well as physically. In God’s eyes, it’s all the same.

Romans 8:1 says “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,” So, don’t give into condemnation from those who don’t really know what they’re talking about. It’s easy to be an armchair quarterback. It’s simple to sit in judgment of someone and to do so purely on an academic basis. If on occasion 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 that I was forced to tread. What’s more, don’t act so self-righteous because life is such that you too may one day be forced to walk that same path.”

I wouldn’t wish divorce on anyone. It’s a raging beast that maims people and devours homes. Divorce is a bloody battle where everyone involved becomes a casualty of war. No one wins in a divorce. Plus, keep in mind that the dreaded “D” can happen to the best of us. That’s just life!

Life can be a cowardly dog. When you least expect, it can sneak up behind you and take a huge hunk 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 1Corinthians 16:13, “Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be men of courage; be strong.”

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)

[1] Originally published by NavPress in English as THE MESSAGE: The Bible in Contemporary Language copyright 2002 by Eugene Peterson. All rights reserved.

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