Back in February, I posted an article about The Stigma Associated with those who have been Divorced in the Church. Although the article deals with one thing that christian divorce’s face, I would like to go in to further detail about the healing process, and how to move on after a divorce. Hopefully this will help some of you out there who find yourselves in similar situations.
Remarriage in the church: (Concerning Christians who attend church regularly: “First-time marriages: probably 20 to 25 percent have ended in divorce on average,” Feldhahn revealed. “Now, okay, that’s still too high, but it’s a whole lot better than what people think it is.”)
Ideally, divorce would never happen. Marriage, which should be a lifetime covenant relationship, should not break. People should stay dedicated to each other for their entire lives. Although I do not advocate divorce, humans have faults: we are not perfect beings. Sometimes a couple can work together to fix things, and sometimes they cannot. In our current time, whether both partners agree on a divorce or not, one can leave, another cling to the relationship until it is no more. People have affairs, leave their wives or husbands for the mistress or mister; there are those who beat their spouses or children: make death threats even; and there are those who, for seemingly no reason, abandon their spouses never to return. What do we say to the other individual in this relationship then? Do we tell them that they need to be punished for the action of the other?
In Israel, in the days of Ezekiel, there was a proverb “the fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge.” This was saying that the family will suffer or be punished for the sins of one of the members who commits a sin. However, in Ezekiel 18, God addresses this, specifically stating that that proverb shall not be used any longer in Israel. Though the explanation is extensive, and you can read the entire chapter here, it was saying the innocent shall not be punished on behalf of another who sins.
” 20 The soul who sins shall die. The son shall not bear the guilt of the father, nor the father bear the guilt of the son. The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself.” Ezekiel 18:20 NKJV
The world started under the age of the law. This was, the laws given by the Lord to Moses by which all men should be governed. The laws are still important, however, when Jesus died on the cross, the shedding of his innocent blood for the world began the age of grace: the temple curtain to the holy of holies, a symbol of the separation between God and man, tore in two. All men could now come to God with confidence because we are now represented by Jesus Christ. The high priest no longer has to approach the Holy of Holies in perfection to implore God for us: Jesus has become forever a high priest to God for us all.
“14 Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15 For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” Hebrews 4:14-16
Paul spoke of this distinction between grace and the law many times in his letters. James went so far as to say if we are governing ourselves by law, and stumble in one little part, even though we keep the rest of ourselves blameless, we are lawbreakers: guilty of breaking the whole law.
“10 For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all.” James 2:10
Should we then govern ourselves by sin? No! ”
“6 What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? 2 Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?”Romans 6:6
Under the Talmund, Jewish law interpreting the Torah (Pentateuch: first five books of the Bible) Divorce and remarriage are looked on as necessary evils. If a man divorces his wife, both are free to remarry and it is not considered adultury. If a man left his wife simply to be married to another that he was more attracted to, (or vis-a-versa) it would be considered adultury(like if he was already having an affair, it would not correct the situation even if he married the mistress), even if a court had granted him (or her) divorce. If a woman cheated on her husband, divorce would be required, even if the husband wanted to make amends, and they would be free to remarry. In fact, if a woman or man had an unbelieving spouse and that spouse left them, they are also free to remarry without the accusation of adultery.
“15 But if the unbeliever departs, let him depart; a brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases. But God has called us to peace.” 1 Corinthians 7:15
There are problems in relationships, and it is my belief that those problems should be worked on, and marriages not deserted because of them, however, mistakes are made, bad decisions come about. Most marriages that do end break up because of stubbornness and hurt on both sides. It is very rare to find both faultless, but even so, there are circumstances in which one person does their best to keep a relationship going, and despite their best efforts, a stone wall is hit as both in the relationship are needed to keep it working. In these cases, we should not punish the spouse that tried so hard. this would only cause more pain and ostracism.
Since we are living in grace, we should not hold a bad decision over peoples heads their entire lives. We need to be able to reach out lovingly and help them heal. There is much heartache, emotional turmoil, and financial upheaval that stem from divorce. Couples with children go through even more. Lets not add to the heartache by standing in judgement. Let us faithfully be the church to these people as well. Let us understand, and forgive, and help with healing. People need to feel like church is a safe place, not a place where they have to wear their facade.