OVERCOMING DIVORCE

God hates divorce. He created marriage to give us a picture of what union with him is like. Divorce distorts that picture. A good marriage is where two dissimilar beings come together in a union where they work out their differences, and unselfish, unconditional love prevails. (Matthew 22:2 (KJV).)

When humans get into situations where we are hurt or our wishes are thwarted, our natural inclination is to run away. By entering a covenantal, legal, committed relationship before God and man, we have more incentive to hang in there and work things out.

Divorce is a sin. It doesn’t matter how we try to justify it, it still represents a break down of love and commitment, but it is not an unforgivable sin. As we come to God in sorrow and repentance that we were not able to walk in unconditional love, he reaches out and cleanses us. If we seek him, he will give us an understanding of where our failure lies and how to overcome it.

Marriage takes a man and a woman, both of whom are committed to each other and to working out their differences. They both must be willing to give up anything that undermines their unity. One cannot do this alone no matter how hard he tries. If one is not willing to change his thinking and desires, to grow toward the other, and to give up selfishness, the union cannot be maintained.

There is no such thing as “no-fault divorce.” Everyone has faults. These are things which cause irritation, aggravation, anger, pain, and sorrow. Part of our walk as Christians is to overcome our own faults and part is to overcome how we feel about the faults of others. When we have a habit that drives our mate crazy, we should work diligently to overcome it. Some of these things are so ingrained, it takes years of hard work to overcome. During those years the other should work to overcome his irritation, aggravation, etc.

Our habits are based in attitudes that allow us to behave in certain ways. The seed of every sin is in every human heart. It needs certain conditions to grow. When someone says, “Oh, I could never do that!", it only means that the conditions for that seed to grow are not present. Many who would never think of being sexually unfaithful have been so hurt, angry, and vengeful at the unfaithfulness of their mate, they have gone out and done the same thing “to get even.” The conditions changed.

Since sexual union is a picture of our spiritual union with God, sexual unfaithfulness is idolatry. The seed is there, the attitude is present, but we have been given free will. We can make choices. When we choose not to act on the baser impulses of our natures, we take a step closer to overcoming. When we choose to act on these impulses, it is sin.

God loves us! When we come to him in true sorrow and repentance, he forgives us no matter what the sin is. When we ask, he can give us overcoming love and forgiveness for those who sin against us. When we walk in this, it releases us from the bonds of unforgiveness, anger, and bitterness. For this forgiveness to do the recipient any good, the sin must be acknowledged, and the love and forgiveness must be accepted. We cannot do this for another. We are only accountable before God for our own attitudes, actions, choices, etc.

When a Christian marries he should choose a Christian. ("Be ye not unequally yoked…” 2 Corinthians 6:14) When a married person is saved, he should walk in love, and hope that the partner will also accept salvation. (1 Corinthians 7:10) Never enter marriage with the thought that, “If this doesn’t work out, there is always divorce.” Even entertaining the possibility of divorce creates the conditions needed for it to grow. Every marriage is tested. If that option is available, too often it will be chosen.

You have chosen divorce, or it has been forced upon you. What now? Do not lay there and wallow. GET UP! Run to God! Seek his path through this wilderness of pain, anger, sorrow, bitterness, and unforgiveness. The more you yield to him the sooner restoration can begin. Forgive yourself! Yes, you have sinned. We all do. Get over it!!

God loves you! Bring your brokenness and failures to him. He will restore! As you learn to walk in love and forgiveness, the faults and failures of your mate that absolutely drove you crazy can become the very characteristics that are most endearing, that cause love and protectiveness and joy to well up inside and overflow until conditions are created that release him to be delivered.

Even if the divorce is final, and there is no possibility of restoring the marriage, forgiveness is still required if the same mistakes and failures are not to be repeated in new relationships. We cannot run away from ourselves. The only way to escape is to change. God is able, but he has given us free will. We must be willing, or at least be willing to be made willing. God is able to change us into that perfect person he had in mind when he created us, but we have to be willing to give up our selfish, self-defeating ways. We must give up our right to self-determination, and trust him to lead us in a better way.


May 1999