I was raised in a strict church denomination. Though I sincerely appreciate the majority of my upbringing in the church there were elements of the teaching that I found challenging; even hurtful.
The challenge of marriage and divorce in the church became very real to me as a young adult when a childhood friend of mine came face to face with this conflict. I met her in elementary school; she was a sweet tender girl with a firm faith in God. In High School she began dating a young man from our youth group. Both from Christian homes. They married and began to have children. All the while he engaged in extra-marital affairs. My friend worked hard to forgive and do her part to build a strong marriage but the affairs continued. The relationship ended in divorce.
Years later, she met a wonderful man; a man who loved her, God, and her children. He wanted to marry her~she was told she could not marry in the church OR remain in ministry if she remarried. I experienced extreme turmoil as I watched this precious young woman being treated as an outcast in her own church!
I began a journey to try to find out what God’s heart looked like in this situation. I found a quote from Jack Hayford that resounded with my spirit:
“When we talk about divorce, what we are also dealing with the issue of remarriage. God doesn’t want people to be divorced; it isn’t His will. Yet that doesn’t blackball anyone who’s been divorced or write them out of the possibility of a fulfilling life because of their divorced status. Rather, it puts them onto a learning path of the Lord’s way, so that He might lead them on to the life He has for them.”
Please understand, I believe marriage is God ordained. I believe God does not take divorce lightly, but I am keenly aware that He has made provision when there is infidelity, abuse, and abandonment. I believe His heart breaks when these elements are part of any marriage. His desire, His plan is that marriages would be strong, that they would flourish and represent His relationship with His bride.
Chip Ingram expressed it this way:
“First, we need to get one thing straight. God hates divorce, but He loves the divorced. God loves us as His children, no matter what, Now, here’s the good news. Although there are times when divorce is unavoidable, such as in the case of sexual immorality, abandonment and spousal abuse, it’s always wise to do some research and think it through very carefully before entertaining the thought. The Bible is very clear about what a biblical divorce is and when it is acceptable. But our first steps should always be confession, forgiveness, reconciliation, and restoration. Divorce should only be viewed as a last resort.”
But divorce does happen. Does God hate those who are divorced? Absolutely not! Is God a God of new beginnings and fresh possibilities? YES!! Perhaps you have walked though the pain of divorce and find yourself feeling judged by the church or less than loved by God! Please receive this truth: HE LOVES YOU, HE LOVES YOU, HE LOVES YOU!
You can trust His heart for you! 🙂