let the prophets speak

Comments on Christian Divorces... 
These are some comments I made in response to a sermon my pastor preached regarding divorce, I pray they will be a blessing to those who have been divorced "in Christ"...

Sometimes the "church system" treats divorced Christians as though they have committed the unpardonable sin, and can never be forgiven, or have a fresh start.  Just as you said, I too have always viewed it like any other sin, [because breaking a vow is a sin…Eccl. 5:4-5], feeling that if one sincerely repents, then it is under the blood, in the sea of forgetfulness, and the person has a clean slate just as with any other sin.  Some Christians have "pet sins" which they personally feel are greater than others, [usually it is the sin that they are not guilty of committing-smile], but the Lord has no "little sin, big sin" mentality.


I do not know about this "God has released me from my marriage" attitude, personally, I got myself into some stuff, and I got myself out.  That may sound cold, even bad, but it is true, and not because I do not respect marriage.   I did try to the best of my ability to keep it together, it is just that "my ability" was so damaged, and so near depletion that I felt I was left with no other way and that submitting would be detrimental to me and/or my children.  No excuses, just the facts. 


I have found that you can do the right thing for the wrong reasons and be cursed and do the wrong thing for the right reason and be blessed…Joshua 2, and Matt. 12: 1-8.  I guess that is what is meant by "love covers a multitude of sins…I Peter 4:8, and why the Lord leaves the judgment of sexual conduct in marriage, and adultery, up to Himself…Hebrews 13:4.  Only He knows what really goes on behind closed doors, and is the Revealer of the hidden things in the heart…I Cor. 4:5, [this is not to say we are to allow anyone to continue in any sin, and we should still lift up a standard, and require obedience to the Word of God]. 


In addition to that, I do not know about these multiple divorcees' who have this "casual" attitude about marriage, and "change mates like they do their underwear", [I believe this is the correct phrase that has been used].  I would really like to meet them, though, because everyone I know who have divorced, [women and men]; feel like failures, [even if their spouse was abusive].  We do have a repentant attitude, and would like to get it right, for once.  We are struggling with guilt, shame, and even confusion within ourselves at times, just like anyone else who has "sinned" repeatedly in the same area.  We are already beating ourselves up, and have felt condemned, so where is our compassion?  I agree that we have to look within ourselves, especially in these cases, to see our flaws, and believe me, most of us do. 


The interesting thing is that the more "visible" the sin, the more condemning the church is toward the participants.  Once, when I was beating myself up over my divorces, and had decided to never minister in that particular area, the Lord comforted me with this.  He said that there were people who were condemning me, who had fornicated with more partners, in their salvation, than I had divorced.  He said at least I tried to do it right!  I often think about Bishop Ullmer, whom I believe has been married three times; he seems to be successful at it now, so I guess there is hope for us "multiples", yet.


Bishop, you preached several Sundays ago that we have made "idols" out of our institutions, and doctrines at the expense of the people in them, [paraphrased].  I think this is true even of the institution of marriage, and let me explain.  We are so busy trying to preserve the "institution of marriage", that we do not care about preserving the people in it.  We seem to care more about the longevity of the marriage than we do about the quality of it, just stay married, people!  However, marriage was created for "humankind", not "humankind" for marriage.  The Jews made the same mistake in their preservation of the Sabbath day, and Jesus had to tell them, "Man was not made for the Sabbath, but Sabbath for man"…Mark 2: 23-27, [also John 5: 6-11].


I always agree with the Word, [although I may not always agree with every "church" interpretation of it], and I agree that God hates divorce according to Malachi 2: 16.  Let us take it a little further though, we also need to look at why He hates it…"it covers one's garment with violence".  When I was looking up the original meaning of this verse, it basically came down to this…He hates divorce because it gives a person a way out without having to deal, or change their ungodly behavior, it glosses, or covers, their sinful behavior instead of correcting it, and bringing forth repentance.  He looks at divorce as a violent way to cloak dysfunctional character.


The divorce is not what actually destroys the marriage; it is the "behavior" that causes divorce to become a consideration that ultimately destroys the marriage, when left untreated.  Even if the people remain in the institution, the "marriage" is still destroyed from within; it is just that no one knows about it.  As I said in my last letter to you, I do not believe it takes two to destroy a marriage, [it takes two to keep it together]; one can "jack" it up pretty well all by his/herself.


Now, I do view that scripture, "what God has joined together, let no man put asunder"…Matthew 19: 6, a little different than you do.  Since the sentence has specifics, [what God has joined], then I take it to mean there are some "joining" that does not apply to this verse.  Ex: If I were to say "What is written is correct", then that would be general, but if I say, "What Bishop has written is correct", then that is specific.  This would cause me to look at all things written, and pull out only what you have said as being correct.  Why didn't the scripture just read, "What has been joined together, let no man put asunder, if it was meant to include all "joinings"?  Hmmm…


Let us look at something else, Jesus told the woman at the well…"You have had five husbands, and the one you now have is not your husband"…John 4: 18.  There has been two teachings on this verse; one-that she was living with a man, [shacking up], and two-that she was in an adulterous relationship, [sharing a man].  I would like to offer a third, since all of this is speculation anyway because the scripture is unclear as to what her situation really was.  Maybe she still had not gotten the "joining" the Lord intended…{{{Perish the thought}}}!  That definitely does not suit our theology does it, and we would point to the commandments, but Jesus had already broken two religious "laws" by even talking to her, she was a woman, and she was a Samaritan.


Due to the woman's lack of revelation, and healing, she had made some wrong choices, and brought some things forth that went wrong, but verse 4 reads that Jesus needed to go to Samaria.  Amazingly, He did not seem "turned off" by, or condemning of her "situations". [Note: Ishmael was brought forth, and was Abraham's son, but Isaac was still the son that was promised and had to come forth in spite of…Genesis 17: 18].   


Bishop, let's look at life today for a minute…there are some very "scary", and dangerous things going on homes today, even Christian homes that I feel the church, especially the "black" church does not want to deal with.  They stick their proverbial "heads in the sand" and pretend that these things are not happening.  Because of this, situations fester; they are passed down to the children in various ways, and eventually become a cycle of generational curses.  The Lord told Ezekiel to look and see what His people do in secret…Ezekiel 8: 6-12.  Healthy homes make healthy churches, and not the other way around, so our churches are "sick" because our homes are "sick" and our homes are "sick" because the people in them are "sick".  What a mess! 


One of my best friends died 2 years ago from AIDS, which her husband gave to her with his infidelity.  She left four children as orphans, because he died before she did, but bless God, they were still married!  A woman, [who is married to a deacon, in one of the biggest churches in this city], is beaten with a belt regularly, and then he locks her in the closet while he goes to work, but they make a cute couple when they come to church, Hallelujah!  As long as everyone stays married we have done our part, or have we?  Jesus said the letter killeth, but the Spirit giveth life…II Cor.3: 6.


What does one do when her husband goes into rages, and in one of those rages pulls a hacket on his own father, after turning on the stove and putting his sister's dog in the oven?  What does one do when her husband growls in his sleep, and then bites her in the face?  What does one do when she discovers that her husband has pedophile tendencies and begins to target her sons?  I could go on…what does one do when in each case, the abusive spouse claims to know the Lord, refuses counseling, refuses to admit there is a problem, refuses to repent, refuses all help, natural and spiritual, and the church is saying, "just stay married at all costs".


Yes, wrong choices were made in the first place.  Yes, the Lord should have been consulted more diligently.  Yes, patience should have been exercised, and "red flags" heeded, but hindsight is always 20/20, what is to be done now?  Should we adapt the attitude of "you made your bed hard, now lay in it", while children are molested, and women are abused?  Where is the "grace" and mercy of God in that, or does grace and mercy only apply to all other sins?  How is it that the person who is healthy enough to flee from intense pain is wrong, but the person who is deliberately inflicting the pain is not?  Please help me to understand this…  No one leaves a happy home, home is suppose to be a place of peace, security, and safety for everyone in the family.  One pastor said, "I shouldn't have to fight in my own corner". 


Maybe you cannot understand how a woman feels, but can you imagine being in the "care" of a person who only means you harm, and having to submit to that behavior daily?  Can you imagine how that would make one feel about herself, and even about her Christ, who the husband is to represent…Ephesians 5: 25?  I remember crying to the Lord that my husband made me feel as though the Lord did not love me at all.  When I went to the MFCC, one of the questions she asked me was how did I think the Lord felt about what had been done to me?  What does the Lord think about all of this?


The Lord knows there are legitimate reasons for divorce…[sexual immorality]…Matthew 5:32, and at times divorce can be the only course of action to get a person back on the correct path of purpose…Ezra 10:1-4, 14-19.  The Lord even "divorced" His covenant people…Jeremiah 3: 6-8, while preserving a remnant for Himself.  [Amazing how we bring some OT scriptures into the New Testament church, while ignoring others].


Bishop, I received Christ when I was 25 years old, I have been saved for 23 years now.  At first, I quietly studied the Word to help myself, while observing the "church", for about 13 years, [later the Lord gave "voice" to the call, I still study the Word, while ministering to others along the way].  I am always trying to make what I experience in church, measure up to what I have read. 


One thing I have noticed that for the most part, any problem in marriage is placed on the woman and submission is the cure.  The total remedy for a bad marriage is not the  "submission" of the woman.  Abigail disobeyed her husband, and lived…I Sam.  25: 10-35, and Sapphiras obeyed her husband and died…Acts 5: 1-10.  Do you know why women are so "challenged" by this word?  It is because of the abusive use of it, submission cannot be forced, and it has to be freely given.  It is not control, but the yielding of one person to another, anything else is slavery. 


We think divorce is the problem we must deal with, and it is not.  The problem starts with the ingredients that go into the marriage in the first place, one being, we, [me included], do many things and then ask the Lord to bless it, [after the fact], instead of consulting the Lord in the first place so He can direct us to what He has already blessed for us.  Why spend the whole relationship praying for the Lord to change a person to suit you, when one can get with the person He has already suited for him/her in the first place, if only we would get His "mind on it"…Leviticus 24:12.


Personally, there are times when I feel, because of my childhood, that I just might be incapable of choosing wisely in this particular area of my life.  This is why I am in no hurry; I really do need to get His mind on some things.  As you once said, I would rather not do it, than get another divorce!  I would rather stay single than to commitment and then have it torn apart again, for any reason.


Just some thoughts... 



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