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    From the Mailbag re: Divorce

    March 13, 2008 by Brandy Vencel

    I know there are a lot of people divorcing for the wrong reason but some have a legitimate reason. The Bible says that if an unbeliever wants to leave let him leave for you are not bound to him in that case. Also it says that adultery is a ground. Also what if the person is being beat everyday, the children are in danger, or doing other things that would put you in danger. I believe if you are in danger you should leave. Also you shouldn’t judge people because some people divorce because they were in danger and didn’t know what else to do.

    Both of my parents were divorced before they married each other. My mom was abandoned and my dad was in a bad situation too. Do you think my parents are going to hell?

    The above is an email sent to my inbox this week. The only reason I am choosing to deal with this on the blog is because I think it is appropriate to deal with it here. What I mean is, in the past {2006} I wrote about divorce. Even though, to my regular readers, those posts are ancient history, I get hits occasionally from search engines. Usually, the key words are “DivorceCare criticism” or, simply, “divorce”. I know that a lot of people go through divorces, and there are many divorce lawyers out there (such as someone like this Chicago Divorce Lawyer), but I think you should keep on reading for more information for my opinion on this thing.

    This person cannot possibly be the first to misunderstand me, and so I think a public clarification is in order.

    I will go through the email line-by-line to better articulate my beliefs on this subject. The email I received did not tell which posts exactly it was referring to, but if I have to guess I am thinking it was either Divorce/Remarriage in the Midst {where I discussed the difficulties of Sunday School due to custody battles, as well as criticized the DivorceCare philosophy a bit} or Expanding the Divorce/Remarriage Discussion {which was mainly a follow-up based on one of the comments I had received at that time}, or possibly both.

    If it is a different post, I will have to plead ignorance. I searched my archives for the word “divorce” and those were the most likely posts, I think.

    Okay, so enough of the gritty details. Let me turn my attention to the email itself.

    I know there are a lot of people divorcing for the wrong reason but some have a legitimate reason. The Bible says that if an unbeliever wants to leave let him leave for you are not bound to him in that case. Also it says that adultery is a ground. Also what if the person is being beat everyday, the children are in danger, or doing other things that would put you in danger. I believe if you are in danger you should leave.

    God hates divorce. I wrote about this in my post, and I think that is probably what rubbed this reader wrong. In a world full of divorce, it is hard to swallow. But I think it is important to understand that God really does hate divorce. Because of this, the prevalence of divorce should concern us a great deal.

    The reader is right, though. The Bible really does say that if a person is married to an unbeliever, and that unbeliever wants to discontinue the marriage, this is considered acceptable. The Bible also says that if the unbeliever is willing to stay, the marriage should continue. The Bible is always in favor of marriage.

    The situation with the unbeliever is perhaps the only anomaly in Scripture. In the other circumstance {adultery}, the divorce is a direct result of sin. To say that God hates divorce, that divorce is sinful and horrible, is not a judgment on the victims adulterous spouses.

    Though I will say that it has been my observation that many divorces take two. I think it is a rare occasion {especially in our current culture} that one spouse is completely innocent and virtuous while the other is completely sinful and corrupt. I would be remiss to say that this is never the case. I am sure there are a number of folks who have married someone they thought they knew only to discover a dark side later on. However, the divorces I have observed among my own acquaintances reveal that often adultery is one of many sins that are plaguing the marriage.

    As an aside, I find it pertinent that the Bible does not prescribe divorce for adulterous situations. What I mean is, if a spouse has been unfaithful, the marriage is not commanded to end. The book of Hosea gives us a beautiful picture of God’s love in the form of a man faithfully loving and redeeming his unfaithful wife. If a spouse is able, I am sure that exercising this beauty of redeeming love is an act of faithfulness to the Lord.

    Also what if the person is being beat everyday, the children are in danger, or doing other things that would put you in danger. I believe if you are in danger you should leave.

    I do not think that remaining in a dangerous situation is wise. And, as I look back at my entries over the years, I see no evidence that I ever said otherwise. There is, however, a difference between separating oneself from a dangerous situation and pursuing a divorce. These sorts of things are, I believe, best worked out within the local church community and not on a blog where the writer is wholly unfamiliar with the details of the situation.

    With that said, I know that there really is abuse out there and the abuse, again, really is sinful. Again we get back to the idea that God hates divorce, and that these divorces are a direct result of sin.

    A number of Christian thinkers agree that prosecuting the abusive spouse is an appropriate response to the situation. In this case, the remaining spouse can be loving and supportive {through letter-writing and/or visitation}, but in a situation where they are protected due to the spouse’s imprisonment. It is hoped that, through the extension of Christian spousal love during the time spent in captivity and discipline, as well as Christ’s work in the abusive spouse’sheart, the abusive spouse can be encouraged to repent and be restored to the community in time.

    Also you shouldn’t judge people because some people divorce because they were in danger and didn’t know what else to do.

    I am not aware that I ever did judge people in these sorts of situation. However, I may have forgotten something I once wrote and I am certainly open to correction if someone can send me a link to one of my past posts.

    I am also aware, incidentally, that our behavior changes over time. In my past, there were things that I thought were okay. Over time, I have decided that the Bible actually says that they are not, and that there are better ways to live and behave. I remember once reading something the Bluedorns wrote in regard to homeschooling. They were responding to the idea that they were judging others for not homeschooling. Their answer was along the lines of this: We are all trying to get to New York, and we’re all starting in California. If I used to be in Nevada, but now I’m in Oklahoma, who am I to judge you for being in Nevada right now? The idea was that what they had written was meant for correction, instruction, and encouragement. Their purpose had never been to condemn or judge.

    It is important to understand this contrast. We live in a world where everything that rubs us wrong is instantly declared “judgmental.” And so we dismiss what has been said. But sometimes what was said was far from judging and was actually meant to be helpful. If a person is driving along a road that ends at a cliff and I tell them where they are headed, I’m trying to help, not trying to judge. But if the driver dismisses me as judgmental, then he fails to learn what would have been a very instructive lesson.

    My purpose in blogging is not to judge. And it isn’t really so much to teach, either, as I feel that I am still so much a student. You can look at other blogs in order to find other people’s opinions too, or even speak to a law firm to get expert advice and make your own decisions from their! I look at it, more than anything, as a chance for collaboration, a chance to write what I think I’ve learned, but put it out there so that others might help refine my ideas.

    Both of my parents were divorced before they married each other. My mom was abandoned and my dad was in a bad situation too. Do you think my parents are going to hell?

    This particular part yanked at my very heart, for a number of reasons. Let me deal with the least serious part first. I do not think that past divorces, no matter the grounds, negate current marriages. When I meet a couple and one or both of them is remarried, I want my influence on that couple to be supportive and encouraging. Divorce is bad, yes. Divorce is always, always bad. It is always, always a result of some sort of sin. It is.

    But it would be sinful for me to be disrespectful of the new marriage. Reader, your parents are married. I am in full support of their marriage, and I hope it is long {until death!} and very, very happy. I hope it displays the love of Christ to everyone who witnesses it.

    Do I think your parents are going to hell? This question reveals to me one of two things: either this is sarcasm, to try and make a point, or there is a true misunderstanding of salvation and how it is brought about.

    I am going to assume the latter.

    Reader, we all deserve to go to hell. We all have sinned. Big sins, little sins, we all have them, we are all guilty, and we are all separated from God because of it. My son’s memory verse last week was this: “For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it.” {James 2:10} As far as guilt is concerned, the Bible makes it very clear that we are all guilty.

    In that regard, your parents are no different from you. No different from me.

    The Bible says that salvation comes not through doing good things, but from believing in Christ. The process of coming to Christ involves admitting that we are sinners in need of a savior. Admitting that we want to stop sinning and we need help. Admitting there is a God, that Christ is His Son, worthy of worship, and that it is He with whom we wish to spend both our days on earth as well as our days in eternity.

    Once we believe there is a God and that Christ is His Messiah for us, we embrace Christ, turn our back on our sins {called repentance}. We are baptized. And we serve Him all of our days. Are we instantaneously perfect? Of course not. Being made perfect, the process called sanctification, takes time. But we have a Helper named the Holy Spirit, and we are not alone.

    Reader, if you are new to this, I would highly suggest meeting with someone from a local church and reading a Bible. I wish you were here in my home so that I could explain to you all the riches of following Christ, all the beauties of learning that salvation is truly free, truly a gift of God for which we could never work hard enough, and, thankfully, don’t have to!

    So, are your parents going to hell? Frankly, I do not know your parents. But I know that Jesus is the only way to salvation. And He is capable of saving His own, no matter what they have done. Not even divorce can keep us from His love.

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