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The topic of discussion for this month's Marriage Monday is this: "Is Divorce Ever Right?" I'll invite you right now to go to Chrysalis' site to find much more thought out, well reasoned and articulated posts than this one will be. There are some really amazing women who participate in this monthly meme and I am sure will be much more insightful than I am.
I've been struggling with this post for a couple of weeks. Thoughts and images that have come to my mind include:
*As a product of divorced parents I find myself torn. My parents waited to separate and divorce until the kids left the house, then when we were gone after 23 years of marriage it ended. But the fact was, the marriage had ended long before that and the kids they were "protecting" knew it. So I look at the wasted time and the added hurt they (and we) encountered. There were none of the *big* reasons for divorce there--they were mismatched from the begining with different agendas and different goals. I doubt that they ever achieved the *oneness* of marriage. But does being mismatched allow for divorce? (I say this with trepidation knowing that my step-Mom at least, and maybe my Dad, reads this, so please don't be offended...).
*As a social worker and a counselor I encountered more than one family where there was real danger to remain in the marriage. The physical danger was real and showed in the bruises and broken bones (not to mention broken spirits) of the family members. Staying was not an option until changes took place for safety. But was dissolution of the marriage the only option?
*I remember as a young teen a friend's mom telling me that she knew that there was sin involved in her first marriage but that she believed her sin was in "marrying someone she knew that God was saying run away from, not from getting away from the danger when she finally woke up." The quote stayed with me. It reminded me that marrying the right person was just as important as staying with them. But what should one do when they have married the *wrong* person?
*I have a few friends who had little choice in the matter of an actual divorce--their spouse walked away, refused any steps toward reconciliation, and filed. Whether or not they wanted to be, they found themselves divorced. Where is their responsibility in it all?
We live in a society that makes it easy to justify sin. We justify overindulgence, materialism, greed, selfishness, etc. Justifying divorce is just as easy. I was appalled as a youth worker by the number of kids who felt like "well if it doesn't work we can always divorce" when discussing how they should choose a future mate. *Irreconciliable differences* has made the divorce question seem so easy. But it is not that easy.
Micah 2:15-16 reminds us "Has not the LORD made them one? In flesh and spirit they are his. And why one? Because he was seeking godly offspring. So guard yourself in your spirit, and do not break faith with the wife of your youth. "I hate divorce," says the LORD God of Israel, "and I hate a man's covering himself with violence as well as with his garment," says the LORD
Almighty. So guard yourself in your spirit, and do not break faith. '
Jesus says that the law of Moses "permitted" divorce because their hearts were hard. (Mt 19) It was never considered to be the *best* or what God intended. But it was happening, so rather than women being abandoned without anything, rules of divorce were introduced. When Jesus says "except in the case of marital Unfaithfulness" (Mt. 5:32), he is acknowledging a reason why divorce may seem reasonable. But He never said that it was the best or what should be pursued. I have seen marriages restored from even the worst of circumstances when both person actively pursued God and allowed Him to transform their marriage. I'm not suggesting that it is easy--it is far from it. Our most intimate relationships highlight the worst of the sin that lurks in each of our hearts. We must constantly fight for the purity and the integrity in the relationship.
A final influence goes through my mind. My lovely Christian friend is married to an unbeliever. They have been married thirty years now. He has had numerous affairs during the course of their marriage, which she learned about fifteen years ago. He is unrepentant. She has been advised over and over that this is a *permissable* reason to leave. She has chosen to stay. She said to me once that she could not describe the pain in the decision of staying, but that she was not going to be the one to leave. If he ever filed for divorce, she said she would not contest it, but she would not sin by walking away from her commitment to God to be married to him. She then said, "he never made a commitment to God to stay with me because he did not acknowledge God and that without commitment to God no marriage is safe from infidelity." She has taught me more by staying in this marriage than I could learn from any book or classroom.
Is divorce ever right? I don't believe so. Not because there are never justifiable reasons to not be with a person--but because the commitment to marriage is not just between a man and woman, it is between that man or woman and God. In cases of abusive behavior, separation from the danger is definitely right. Counseling, retraining of actions, anger management and lots of prayer are necessary. But dissolution of a marriage, breaking of a covenant made with and before God, is not right.
But, just as with any other commitment before God that we break, His loving mercy is always there for restoration. He never leaves us in our brokenness if we seek Him. Whether it is the brokenness of a relationship, the brokenness of falling to a temptation yet again, or even willful prideful rebellion--when we repent and seek Him we can always find Him. Praise God for that!
The thoughts expressed in this article are mine brought forth from my own experience and reading of the Scripture. I realize that others may not agree with me. I respect your right to your opinion and ask for that same respect. Blessings on your day!