Divorce is not a disease
I promise, I will not spend every blog simply ranting about something. But the reason I started this blog was precisely because of the fact that over the past year, other Christians have treated me, a divorced Christian, as a leper, a pariah, an untouchable.
As I mentioned before, I am a divorced Christian. I know that sounds (add your favorite colorful descriptor here). Being a divorced Christian would be an interesting case study for all those scientific types out there. Especially when looking at social relationships. You see, the worldly-type folks want me to go out, get drunk, have sex, and take some “me” time. I’m not going to talk about the worldly-type folks because that is to be expected.
But this surprised me. Many of the church folk avoid me like I have a disease. There are a few that look at me and judge me that I have done something wrong because I am divorced and they better not get too close because they might get it as well. Now this isn’t every Christian. I have found that there is a whole demographic of divorced Christians out there who I actually bond with very well. I know that many people will say “judge not” and that is simply not true…completely. We are not called to judge from the hip, but we are called to look at Scripture and make sure that what we are doing is acceptable in the eyes of God. We are to test every spirit, 1 John 4:1-6
Every day I hear someone say to me, “why don’t you get back together with your ex.” Or “why don’t you do the lovedare” or “5 love love languages” or “(fill in your favorite get back together quick scheme.)” And my favorite is, “keep praying, you will reconcile.” God is not a heal quick, get rich quick, feel good quick kinda god. My favorite phrase that I heard is that “God is not some cosmic Buddha in which we simply rub his tummy and get what we want.” God wants us to come to Him, learn from Him, and change because of our love for Him. Hebrews 11:6 says that “He is the rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” This is a life journey. We must be diligent in our search, not expect everything to happen positively just because we believe.
So where does this bring how Christians should handle the divorced in their congregations? During the divorce, it is important for Christians to lovingly bring brothers and sisters together for attempts to reconcile. Even during separations. Rebuke the parties in the name of the Lord. How do we rebuke someone? I have heard too many people use that phrase “do not judge” to counter any rebuke that another Christian brings against them. But Luke 17:3 calls us to be honest with other believers. “So watch yourselves. “If your brother or sister sins against you, rebuke them; and if they repent, forgive them.” This clearly tells us that we are to confront our brothers and sisters and rebuke them. And, as in 1 Peter 3:15, we need to approach others with gentleness and respect.
But what about those who have already been through the divorce? Do we just give up on them? Do we write them off as people who didn’t listen to the rebuke and leave them? John 4 gives us a great account of how Jesus dealt with someone who was really hurt. The Samaritan woman had 5 previous husbands and was living in sin with another man. She was an adulterer. But Jesus’ simple conversation with love, gentleness, and respect brought her through her tough time and gave her hope.
He did not avoid her. He did not treat her like she had a disease, even though Samaritans and Jews rarely talked to each other. He did simply meet her, where she was at, in her brokenness and pain, and brought her back home. It was as if Romans 8:1 came to life in her!! “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (and I include my ex-wife in this as well)
So, Christians, do NOT neglect the divorced. They are not out to break up your families. They are not out to cause anarchy and dissent in your congregations. They are not to be kept out of leadership positions simply because they are divorced. They are broken people who need even more love, respect, and understanding. In doing so, we are bringing these brothers and sisters back into the Christian community that we so dearly need. And in return, expect that they will grow inside your community and bring a strong word of God, much like the Samaritan woman at the well. Their testimony could help lead many others, especially those who are divorced and feel ignored.
ps. And for those of you who are wondering, I have not reconciled with my ex-wife and I spend my life trying to focus strictly on God and let Him do my single search for me. He is a better matchmaker than I could ever be anyway. To quote Stephen Crumbacher form the self-titled band in the 80’s “I think I won’t stay unenlightened and carry on my own way, besides I’d rather put my faith in God than in the human mind any day.”