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Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Can Christians Divorce?

This is a very difficult question. Not because the Bible is not clear but many people reading this have already gotten divorced. Their circumstances are decided. They must go forward. God forgives and even places people back into His full will. So, with this said, let's look at what the Bible says about divorce.

Malachi says that God hates divorce. This divorce was of people trading one spouse for another. This was forgetting the wife of your youth and looking for a younger woman. God hates it. I am probably safe saying that half of the couples who have gotten such a divorce hated it too.

The Bible says that you should allow an unbelieving spouse to leave if they want to. Otherwise, you should remain married to the spouse in hopes that he or she will come to faith in Christ. Abandonment is, therefore, a legitimate reason for divorce.

Unfaithfulness is another reason for divorce. Jesus, Himself, said that a person could get divorced over this issue.

He also said that men's hearts were hard and God allowed divorce for other reasons. So, we must accept that God works with sinners. He takes what has already happened and makes it into something wonderful if the person will give themselves to Him.

Divorce is damaging to both lives even if one is determined to get divorced. Their lives will never be the same. God hates the damage done to those lives. He has a solution to make a marriage work but both people must give up their own selfishness to accept His best for their lives.

God allows divorce but does not ordain it. He doesn't say, "Go get a divorce because I have someone better for you." He wants you to work it out if at all possible.

I ask people if they have done everything reasonable to save their marriages. I do not ask them if they have done everything possible. There is no end to what you could do. I ask them if they can stand before God and say they have done everything reasonable.

Have you gone to counseling? Are you attending church together? Do you have a church home (membership)? Are you actively involved? Do you pray together? Are you considering each other's physical needs? Have you prayed for God's intervention into your marriage? Can you stand before God and say I have done all these things (or wanted to but my spouse didn't want to)?

I still do not recommend divorce. I don't know everything the person has done. I don't want to step in where I don't know all the circumstances. I believe God can work miracles.

However, Christians do get divorced. They do cheat on their spouses. They do abandon their spouses. I hear the pain in those who have been cheated on or abandoned. I don't know what their solution should be. I know that some of them will get divorced.

I also know that God is not a condemning God. He will not turn away those who come to Him. He will receive us into His grace even if we were the cause of the divorce. I know He will make things good again when we turn to Him.

I have also listened to the regrets that Christians have expressed over their divorces. These come when they know they were the reason for the divorces. These regrets will never go away.

Can Christians divorce? This is like listening to a young man say a bad word and replying, "Young man, we don't say these words in our house." He has already said these words. Saying that they aren't said doesn't mean that they aren't said. Divorce is a reality. It is not what God wants. God works with the divorced anyway.

And, in a way, I am glad. He works with me though I have never divorced. (I have thought of murder, though! There were several times my wife should have murdered me.) He works with us as sinners in need of Him. That will not change.

I hope that those who are considering divorce will do everything reasonable to make sure it doesn't happen. If it does, I want them to know that God's grace covers us all when we come to Him.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I feel like your article was written just for me. I am a lifelong Christian, saved at age 6 and brought up by Christian parents who are still married to each other. As a kid I attended church 3x/wk. Sang in Choir, went on mission trips, etc. etc. Married my first husband in college. After 22 ys and 4 children, Brought them up in church. I taught Children's Church, AWANA's, Cleaned our churh, many ministries. In the process of hosting 36 Beth Moore Bible studies, I met another man at my gym and fell madly in love. This led to an adulterous relationship. I asked for a divorce from my first husband. I confessed this to my pastor. He gave me the choice to meet w elders, then confess in front of my entire church, or resign. Of course I resigned. I knew as a Christian adultery is always a sin. However when you are in it, and in love, it's so hard to get out of it. My answer was to leave my current husband and marry the man I truly loved. I know looking back this wasn't God's plan and was a sin. I had tried for years to get my first husband to go to counseling. He is a physician and diagnosed himself with a personality disorder that is only treatable with years of psychotherapy and meds. Yes, he was abusive emotionally, verbally. He was never home. Routinely 3 hrs. late from work. I'd had it. When I met my now husband, I had already asked my doctor to be put on meds for depression. Mind you I'd also asked my bible study group to pray for my family for weeks. I guess I've been overwhelmed with guilt and was searching online for answers to help me reconcile what I've done. I appreciate your words of encouraagement to divorced Christians. We do all sin, even those of us who know better. It kills me I made a conscious choice to divorce my first husband bc I know God can work miracles. I needed to be reminded He also forgives and can use me for His glory. Thank you.