Divorce 3 of 6: God’s Viewpoint

I hope by now that you, the reader, are starting to develop a more compassionate view of people who survive a divorce. They need compassion just as all of us need it. Remember Romans 3:23? “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”. The Bible doesn’t say “only the legally divorced”. It says “all”. In the Book of Malachi, God speaks to people that have strayed from the path He had chosen for them. Their hearts had grown cold toward Him (and each other). In Chapter 2, verses 14-16, He says to them:

Scripture References

“Because the LORD has been witness Between you and the wife of your youth, With whom you have dealt treacherously; Yet, she is your companion And your wife by covenant. But did He not make them one, Having a remnant of the Spirit? And why one? He seeks godly offspring. Therefore take heed to your spirit, And let none deal treacherously with the wife of his youth. For the LORD God of Israel says That He hates divorce…”

New King James Version, Malachi 2:14-16

The LORD said also to me in the days of Josiah the king: “Have you seen what backsliding Israel has done? She has gone up on every high mountain and under every green tree, and there played the harlot. And I said, after she had done all these things, ‘Return to Me.’ But she did not return. And her treacherous sister Judah saw it. Then I saw that for all the causes for which backsliding Israel had committed adultery, I had put her away and given her a certificate of divorce;

New King James Version, Jeremiah 3:6-8

They said, “Moses permitted a man to write a certificate of divorce, and to dismiss her.”

The New King James Version Mark 10:4

Notice again, it’s only a “certificate”.

Consequences

All sins have consequences, as does divorce.

Children suffer tremendously from divorce, and if you want to debate that, note how most of your logic focuses on the needs of the adults, not on the needs of the children.

Unfortunately, many believe God hates ‘legal’ divorce, not actual. Even more unfortunate is that some believe that God hates divorced people. THAT’S NOT TRUE! To some people divorce represents failure. They believe that allowing divorced people into their fellowship is to allow failures into their fellowship, making them a failure by association. Even if this is true, I believe Jesus wants us to minister to the down-trodden.

What Did Jesus Do?

Let’s look at what Jesus did. He ministered to the lame, lepers, tax collectors, prostitutes, and other sinners in general. He spent time with the less loved of society. Does that make Jesus a failure? One could continue along this thought process, pointing out that Jesus is a failure. After all, one of His personal disciples betrayed Him. Executed as a common criminal by His own people. A large majority of people that heard of Him chose to ignore or despise Him. His hometown rejected Him. His family was embarrassed by His behavior and wanted Him to come home. He was frequently misunderstood by all around Him. All but one of His closest friends died a violent death, and that one lived in exile!

No. To view Jesus as a failure is to ignore reality. No other leader in world history has as many dedicated followers so many years after His death. Say what you want about Jesus of Nazareth, but then ponder that an uneducated carpenter has over a billion followers across multiple cultures two thousand years after His execution!

Why Confess It?

Addiction counselors will tell you that they are unable to help someone that denies their addiction. Once an addict (drugs, alcohol, tobacco, food, sex, TV, etc) admits to themself their addiction, they can work out of it. That’s one of the reasons God stresses so often that we are sinners. Once we recognize, admit, and face our sin, our addiction can be worked on. Those that hide their divorce from the world, are not ‘confessing their sins’. They hurt themselves because they hide from reality. However, reality does not hide from them, and they have consequences to deal with.

Those of you who have been through both a real divorce and a legal one, I salute your courage in confessing. You’ve been through a lot of pain, and know that Jesus knows exactly how you feel, He was cut off from the One who loved Him most while He was on the cross. He knows heartache. Many lack the strength to do what you have done. God was there when the ‘real’ divorce occurred, pulling for you to handle it in the best way possible. For some of you, He provided a resurrection, for others He did not. Don’t take it personally, just remember that He didn’t heal all lepers, cripples, and blind people, just some. We don’t know why, but we trust His judgment.

Out in the Open!

I agree that ‘real’ divorce, the killing of the commitment made earlier, is a sin. I also agree that a person who has gone through a divorce has not had their marital dreams and wedding vows fulfilled. However, to brand them as a failure is to forget that God loves us all, and forgives us our sins! Mistakes and great pain do not make us failures! They show that we are merely human. Sin doesn’t make us failures! It reminds us of our need for redemption!

Besides, we’re all sinners and failures – we all fall short of God’s moral guidelines. So why pick on people who have been through a divorce? Is it because we feel safe picking on those whose sins are obvious? If we don’t love divorced people, how can we say we love Jesus? How can we claim to love God yet we hate divorcees?

Looking at it this way, a “legal” divorce is nothing more than an open confession of a divorce that has already happened. It is NOT the divorce itself. When did we start believing that the government determines sin?

An Illustration about Dealing With Being Lost

I was an F-14 Tomcat Radar Intercept Officer, and one of my jobs was navigation. We needed to know where we were, and where our field was. That’s not too hard when you fly from an airport that doesn’t move while getting to see land. Doing it from an aircraft carrier, in the middle of the ocean, was a bit tougher. There are no maps that will help, it’s just water!

Imagine that the only place you could land is the field from which you launched. All the terrain outside your window looks the same, with no distinguishing features. Your airport moves at or about 20-35 miles per hour in whatever direction it wants. So, after you’ve used most of your fuel, and have about 25 minutes of it left, tell me, where is it? Oh, this is before the days of GPS! Let’s make it more fun … it’s a dark night!

We were trained, upon realizing that we were ‘lost’, was to

Climb, Confess, and Communicate!

  • CLIMB to a higher altitude, as jet engines are more effecient in the higher air, and your fuel will last longer!
  • CONFESS to yourself and to anyone on the radio that you are lost. Humility can be a lifesaver!
  • COMMUNICATE on the radio so someone could find you and help you with directions. Don’t try to do it alone. There are many fliers on the bottom of the ocean that were never found.

Some thought that the key was never getting lost! Though that would have been preferred, it is unrealistic and impossible. Sooner or later, someone would need help getting home. The professional response was to do whatever one needed to do. To endure the humiliation and embarrassment others would greet you with, so that life could continue! To swallow pride, to accept help (to qualify false offers of it, also), to live on! How do I know this so surely? I got lost, and fortunately, I also knew how to find myself again.

It’s moving too!

I also know because I had the honor and privilege of saving the crew of another airplane when that plane was lost. The pilot did things by the book, and because he was open and honest and trusted me (he knew me already, we were friends) and because I was able to find his plane, we were able to get them going in the right direction, saving both the crew and the airplane.

An interesting sideline is that whenever this occurred during the Cold War near a Soviet ship, they often tried to deceive us. Pretending to be someone aboard our carrier and giving us false directions. Pretending to help us, they were doing their best to have us run out of fuel and crash. That parallels what Satan does to us, whenever sin has gotten a hold. Posing as an angel of light, He tries to tell us what to do. Pretending he’s there for us when he’s out to destroy us. Remember what the demons did to the herd of pigs they entered!

The best navigators were not those that would never get lost, but those that, once lost, could regain their bearings and once again function.

Sound Familiar?

I believe that God wants us to do the same with all of our sins once we are ready to deal with them! God doesn’t expect us to be perfect and error-free, God wants us to recover from our sins! Here’s one way to do just that:

  • CLIMB: Raise our vision from the sin to the higher altitude of our walk with God. See it, and us, from His viewpoint, not other’s. Stop looking at why it is a ‘fun’ sin, or what it appears to offer. Look at if from God’s point of view and see how it makes life worse for you and people around you.
  • CONFESS: End denial. Stop hiding from yourself and your behaviors. Lying to yourself may have short-term benefits, but in the long run, you are going down a dead-end street. Admit the sin to yourself, then to someone else that really is willing, and able, to help you. They may be a friend, they may be a professional.
  • COMMUNICATE: By talking it out, with yourself, with God and with a mature Christian, you can do what’s best to do to continue with life and your walk with God. What really counts is your walk with God, that’s most important. Oh, while you are at it, you need to CO-OPERATE with those that are helping you.

Summary

If ‘real’ divorce is the actual sin of divorce, then is ‘legal’ divorce the public confession of that sin? We are to confess our sins to each other. Once a ‘real’ divorce has occurred (the commitment has died), the next step may well be confessing it to each other, to God, and to the church. After all, it is difficult to cope with what you deny exists! Again, the admission that it happened, and repentance combine to open the door for change. I do not believe that God heals the dead, I believe God heals the wounded. I believe that God resurrects the dead!

That goes for all sin. Some believe they will never sin again because they are now perfect. Note that Paul admitted he never reached perfection on earth. Since we humans are not perfect we are going to sin, and sin again. It is important that we learn how to deal with sin in a constructive manner. God wants us to learn to cope with our sins, past, present, and future. Christ died for all of those sins. Let’s build our lives on the foundation He laid down, which is higher than our sins.

He didn’t commend the “pure in behavior,” He commended the “pure in heart” and the “pure in spirit.”

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