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Oh Dang – Jesus talked about Divorce

That is honestly what I thought when I got to this part of Matthew 5. I am trying to work my way through the sermon on the mount, and teach it from my heart. And now this!

And it was said, ‘WHOEVER SENDS HIS WIFE AWAY, LET HIM GIVE HER A CERTIFICATE OF DIVORCE’, but I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except for the cause of unchastity, makes her commit adultery; and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery. (Matt 5:31-32 NASB)

I know from George Barna’s article New Marriage and Divorce Statistics Released 30% of American Adults who have been married, one third have been divorced at least once.

I know from this same study that fully 26% of Evangelical Christians have been divorced at least once.

I know the Church has done more harm that good for decades, in the lives of those who have been impacted by divorce.

I also know that I am unwilling to mitigate the words of Jesus just because they are uncomfortable.

So I have been agonizing over this post for over a week, asking the Lord for light that would be true to the word, and edifying to the body of Christ.

OK- here goes:

The phrase that really strikes me here (at least today) is “everyone who divorces his wife,  makes her commit adultery.” How can an action take by a man (ejecting his wife) put guilt on her?

He is speaking into a society that is very male centric, and in fact demeans women at every turn. A woman as I understand it, would not work outside the home. She would be a daughter until she became a wife. This may be an oversimplification, but in essence once married, she would carry out the household duties prescribed to her.

The only legit grounds for divorce that made sense here would be unchastity – so if a man were to divorce his wife, it is like sewing that big read “A” right on her blouse, even if it was not true. The chatter would be, “What did she do to deserve this? She must be…”

So my thinking here is that what she receives is SHAME without GUILT. The two may feel the same, and often go hand in hand. But in this case – the guilt is not her's but his, and the shame is undeserved, but as real as if she was the one Jesus rescued from the center of the square in John 8. [Tweet This]

Now – speaking of John 8, just for the record, Jesus makes it clear that this is not the unforgivable sin.

So here is the deal. If you (man or woman) act in any relationship in such a way as to imply shame upon others, STOP IT NOW! (really – I mean it!)

If you (woman or man) are carrying shame because of something someone else did, take a deep breath and hear the words of Jesus. “Where are your accusers? Go and sin no more."

Let me just say a couple more things here about divorce. May I? (if you answered no here – you should stop reading and just go to the bottom and click “like” – otherwise read on)

First – hear this – divorce is not the unforgivable sin. (Yes - it bears repeating) If you have been through a divorce, don’t let that become your identity. Repent if necessary, reconcile to whatever level it is possible, and be free of that stigma. God forgives us for our sins when we confess and forsake them. And the Word tells us that he cleanses us from all unrighteousness. That means it is as though you never sinned.

Next - If you are in a marriage, and it is rough, I would say to you, God has the power to heal all those wounds. The ones you have inflicted, and the ones you have borne. Fast and pray and seek the face of God. There is nothing more beneficial to a relationship with another human, than a relationship with God. Work at your marriage. Talk to your spouse. Be honest. Get a good Christian counselor involved.

Finally - Remember this about marriage. God loved us, and reconciled himself to us in that He did not hold our trespasses against us. If we can step into giving that same kind of love to our spouses, we can make this work. The only love that works is agape love, and agape love is always a choice, not a feeling. We must choose to love our mates.

Thanks for reading today. I really appreciate that you take the time.


Ring photo credit: ZeRo`SKiLL via photopin cc

0 thoughts on “Oh Dang – Jesus talked about Divorce

  1. Greisy

    Great post! It's so easy to get sidetracked by our feelings that we forget love is a choice, sometimes a tough one, but in Christ, possible nonetheless. Thanks.

    1. Ben Nelson

      Yes - and i find as long as i am outside the situation, it is easy to love by choice, but as soon as it is my life and my feelings - oh my!
      Thanks for reading Greisy!

  2. Caddo Veil

    I was just going to click "like", and escape--but I read all the way to the end. It's a very long time since I was married, and divorced--I no longer feel the shame/stigma, I know I'm forgiven, I claim I'm healed from the whole abusive mess, but... God bless you, Ben--love, sis Caddo

    1. Ben Nelson

      You are officially my hero. I was hoping someone would at least chuckle at that line, and break the tension of a touchy subject.
      Thank you for loyally reading. it is so encouraging.

      1. Caddo Veil

        Well, now I'm complete--how fun to be an "official hero"! Do I get some kind of badge, or a cape--or what?? I guess the proof of God's healing power is that I don't just read "Divorce" and run, screaming, away. It is a touchy subject, and very painful--I wish it weren't on my resume, and I'm still tempted to justify bailing on my marriage (there was abuse, and he was not going to change/get help--one person can not go to counseling and save the situation alone). The other proof of the healing is that I can interact with men like yourself, brothers on the blogs--and not be so riddled with bitterness and sarcasm that I can't hear what you're sharing. So, maybe I'm in much better shape than I thought, earlier today--hurray, and thanks!!!

  3. meetingintheclouds

    I can't just leave the 'like' clicked because I did read all the way through.

    I have been happily married for 52 years so maybe I shouldn't comment.

    I do note that in Luke 16:18 and Mark 10:11-12 no qualifications are given. Marrying another after divorce is cited as adultery and the same is also stated in Romans 7:3. I know this will not be popular or accepted by most, but I believe that while divorce is sometimes necessary, a second marriage is not sanctioned. However, we have a loving, gracious God and I will NOT criticise those who find themselves in that situation. Many of my close friends have been divorced and re-married and the Lord is using them in fruitful ministry. Since the Lord is blessing them, I CANNOT do other than support them.

    1. Ben Nelson

      I agree with you. When speaking with someone who is in a hard (not abusive) marriage, I would press hard for reconciliation, but If one is divorced - clearly that particular sin was covered by the cross as was my gossip, harsh words, unkind thoughts, etc.

      The greatest thing ever is the fact that God gives us a clean slate.

      By the same token, we can not go into marriage with a casual attitude toward sticking with it.

      I heard Ruth Graham speak back in the 70's and when asked if she ever thought of divorce she said - divorce - never - murder???? LOL

      Anyway - thanks for reading all the way through and taking the time to add your thoughtful and well documented comments. AWESOME.


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