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 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.