A Frank Talk on Divorce
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YOU ARE NOT A DISAPPOINTMENT
If you’re reading this book right now, I assume you are either divorced or are anticipating a divorce. I assume you are hurting right now, that you might even describe what’s going on in your soul as desperate. Ominous waves of guilt and shame, failure and loss seem to pound you every day and you’ve picked up this little book to see if there might be some answer for you, some semblance of hope that what you feel right now is not the final word on your situation. I am also going to assume that fear is your companion, fear that as you read you’ll find the judgement and condemnation you have found so often when anyone related to the church addresses this issue of DIVORCE!
Yes, for you it’s been the role of “second-class citizen” in the local church. You have a stigma, a black cloud that hangs over you, the type you often see in comic strips. However, this is no cartoon and the black cloud is very real. Perhaps you’ve been told you cannot teach Sunday School, or that you can never serve in a leadership role, or even worse that you cannot ever receive the Lord’s table because you are one of those people! YOU ARE DIVORCED! Isn’t that how it’s often presented by those who represent God? And isn’t that presentation a confirmation of the raging guilt and persistent shame that are screaming inside you? Indeed, the church has confirmed the judgement on you that you yourself proclaimed, “I have failed God! I have failed my family! I have failed the church!” And now your conviction is that divorce is indeed, at least practically if not in actuality, the unforgivable sin!
But what if the church, my friend, didn’t get this one right? After all, the church is made up of fallible men who don’t always interpret and apply the Bible correctly! The church in its history sold the forgiveness of God in a system called indulgences. The church burned people alive at the stake for theological differences. The church killed Jewish people in the name of Jesus! We, the church, have a checkered past when it comes to how we’ve interpreted and implemented what Father God has taught us in his Word.
I say this, not to undermine the church or our Bible translations in any way, but to call all of us to be like the noble Bereans of Acts 17. In that chapter, Paul called the Christians in Berea “more noble than any other people” because they did not immediately receive what Paul told them about God. Instead, they went home and searched the Scriptures thoroughly to see if what Paul was saying was true.
Now please hear me, I am not “dissing” the church. You and me, we are the church and it would be foolish to “diss” ourselves. But, as I said earlier, the church is people, and we as people don’t always get it right. And when we’re wrong, we need to be corrected and trained in what is right and true.
That’s the journey I am asking you to go on in this little book. I want you to be a Berean and search the Scriptures with me and see if we might have missed what God intended concerning divorce and remarriage. Let’s you and I see if Jesus really said what we think He said, and if we missed it, let’s admit that we missed it and start presenting the issue the way Jesus Himself presented it. I would remind you as we begin, that the heart behind everything Jesus did and said was to bring freedom from bondage and lies, as He establishes men and women in the truth that sets them free!
Dear Father, this has been a very difficult issue for so many. You intended marriage to be such a blessing for us. But because sin has entered the world, and there is an enemy who seeks to steal, kill, and destroy that source of blessing has instead become a source of such great sorrow and hurt. Father, sometimes that hurt and sorrow are so great, we end up with our hope shattered beyond repair. We see divorce as the only way for us and our children to survive. But now what? Is there forgiveness for us who have broken our marriage vows? Is there the potential for such restoration that we could indeed have a second chance at marriage? Father, is your grace sufficient for such a one to again be a full citizen with full rights in the assembly of the saints to even attain leadership in the church again? These are the questions we need answers for. So Father, as we study your written Word, may your Holy Spirit enlighten our hearts as we seek the truth that brings peace, freedom, and joy to our lives. In Jesus’ name, amen!