“You have heard that the law of Moses says, ‘A man can divorce his wife by merely giving her a letter of divorce.’ But I say that a man who divorces his wife, unless she has been unfaithful, causes her to commit adultery. And anyone who marries a divorced woman commits adultery.” (Matthew 5:31-32 NLT)
I’ve had to think and pray about what to write regarding these Words of Jesus… Divorce is such a big topic and such a painful one, and I want to be sure that my words line up with His Word, and that I speak the truth in love. The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me and He has sent me to preach the good news to the poor and to heal the brokenhearted… So, I want the words that I speak to bring healing to broken hearts according to His will.
It’s been several days, and I’ve written and deleted, written and deleted about this topic – oh, did I say that I’ve written and deleted? I really couldn’t find the words, and for anyone who knows me, if I have to search for words, it’s because I’m not clearly hearing what the Lord is saying to me.
Then I sat down here a few minutes ago, thinking about the Scripture verse above, and the Lord placed a song on my heart, and suddenly, I knew that He was speaking to me about divorce, and that I needed to get ready to write. This is an old song that my mother used to sing at the top of her lungs when I was a little girl, and every time I heard her sing it, her voice sounded like she was crying. I never really thought about it or even understood it until now…
“For I hate divorce!” says the LORD, the God of Israel. “It is as cruel as putting on a victim’s bloodstained coat,” says the LORD Almighty. “So guard yourself; always remain loyal to your wife.” (Malachi 2:16 NLT) I want you to understand, the words that I am speaking are not words of condemnation to anyone who has been divorced. The fact is that my mother and my birth father divorced when I was still a toddler, and I love them both very much.
Rather than condemnation, these are words of love and truth. I share the Lord’s feelings about divorce, because He loves us and He wants the very best for us. As I listened to the song above, I felt a heaviness in my spirit, because divorce is so painful. And look at the reason the Lord gives for hating divorce. “It is as cruel as putting on a victim’s bloodstained coat,” says the LORD Almighty.
There’s no question about it. Divorce causes nothing but pain… pain to both spouses… pain to their children… pain to their families and friends… If you’ve ever been through a divorce or had a loved one who went through a divorce, you know this is true. God isn’t being harsh or cruel when His word says, Here is another thing you do. You cover the LORD’s altar with tears, weeping and groaning because He pays no attention to your offerings, and He doesn’t accept them with pleasure.
You cry out, “Why has the LORD abandoned us?”
I’ll tell you why! Because the LORD witnessed the vows you and your wife made to each other on your wedding day when you were young. But you have been disloyal to her, though she remained your faithful companion, the wife of your marriage vows. Didn’t the LORD make you one with your wife? In body and spirit you are His. And what does He want? Godly children from your union. So guard yourself; remain loyal to the wife of your youth.
“For I hate divorce!” says the LORD, the God of Israel. “It is as cruel as putting on a victim’s bloodstained coat,” says the LORD Almighty. “So guard yourself; always remain loyal to your wife.” (Malachi 2:13-16 NLT)
For those of you who are in the midst of a divorce, because your spouse has been unfaithful to you or because he/she has filed against you, or if you have ever been divorced, please know this. God sees you. He knows your pain. Psalm 56:8 says that the Lord has seen your sorrow, and that He has collected all of your tears in a bottle and recorded them.
The Lord also warns us not to seek revenge against the spouse or anyone who hurt you. Dear friends, never avenge yourselves. Leave that to God. For it is written, “I will take vengeance; I will repay those who deserve it,” says the Lord. (Romans 12:19 NLT)
I have to tell you, the Lord has so much to say about divorce, that one blog post could never cover it, but let’s just continue a little more… For those who have claimed that Jesus never speaks against homosexuality and same-sex marriage, I submit the following Scripture:
Some Pharisees came and tried to trap Him with this question: “Should a man be allowed to divorce his wife?”
“What did Moses say about divorce?” Jesus asked them.
“Well, he permitted it,” they replied. “He said a man merely has to write his wife an official letter of divorce and send her away.”
But Jesus responded, ”He wrote those instructions only as a concession to your hard-hearted wickedness. But God’s plan was seen from the beginning of creation, for ‘He made them male and female.’ ‘This explains why a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.’ Since they are no longer two but one, let no one separate them, for God has joined them together.”
Later, when He was alone with His disciples in the house, they brought up the subject again. He told them, ”Whoever divorces his wife and marries someone else commits adultery against her. And if a woman divorces her husband and remarries, she commits adultery.” (Mark 10:2-12 NLT)
As you can see, marriage is spelled out very clearly by Jesus – one man and one woman, and when they are married, the two are united into one. And again, Jesus makes it clear that since the two have become one, no one is to separate them, because God has joined them together.
You see, my beloved, a marriage is a lifelong commitment. It’s a covenant, not only between you and your spouse, but also between you and everyone else who witnessed your vows, including the Lord. When we marry, we vow to love, honor and cherish one another for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, for better or worse as long as we both shall live. Jesus was very clear when He spoke to the Pharisees about divorce. The only reason Moses allowed them to divorce was because they were wicked and hard-hearted, but God never sanctioned divorce.
I know that many reading these words are already hurting, and these words may feel like a hammer pulverizing your already broken heart, and beloved, that is not my intention as I write these words. I want to speak the truth to you in love, and Jesus said, “And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” Someone once said, “The truth hurts,” and sometimes it cuts like a knife, but Jesus said if you know the truth, it will set you free.
The apostle, Paul, wrote these words about divorce… Now, for those who are married I have a command that comes not from me, but from the Lord. A wife must not leave her husband. But if she does leave him, let her remain single or else go back to him. And the husband must not leave his wife.
Now, I will speak to the rest of you, though I do not have a direct command from the Lord. If a Christian man has a wife who is an unbeliever and she is willing to continue living with him, he must not leave her. And if a Christian woman has a husband who is an unbeliever, and he is willing to continue living with her, she must not leave him. For the Christian wife brings holiness to her marriage, and the Christian husband brings holiness to his marriage. Otherwise, your children would not have a godly influence, but now they are set apart for Him. (But if the husband or wife who isn’t a Christian insists on leaving, let them go. In such cases the Christian husband or wife is not required to stay with them, for God wants his children to live in peace.) You wives must remember that your husbands might be converted because of you. And you husbands must remember that your wives might be converted because of you. You must accept whatever situation the Lord has put you in, and continue on as you were when God first called you. This is my rule for all the churches. (1 Corinthians 7:10-17 NLT)
I know that some are outraged by what they are reading here, and I’m sure some are saying, “What about a situation where one spouse is abusing the other spouse and their children?” I hear your cries for help. I hear your pain – indeed, as a child brought up in an abusive household, I understand better than you know. Truly, the Lord understands your plight and it grieves Him. Step back for a minute and see what He said, Now, for those who are married I have a command that comes not from me, but from the Lord. A wife must not leave her husband. But if she does leave him, let her remain single or else go back to him. And the husband must not leave his wife.
The Lord knows that because we live in a fallen world, there are situations that require one spouse leaving another, so He has given a provision for that, but because you made a covenant between your spouse, God and man, you must remain single, or if circumstances change, go back to your spouse. I know these words may not sit well with many of you, and it may seem unfair, because after all, don’t we deserve a little happiness?
And I would say to you that it wasn’t fair that Jesus had to go through all that He went through to pay for my sins and yours. And don’t you think that if anyone deserved happiness, it was Him? The walk of a man or woman of God is not any easy one, but it brings life to us. And though we walk through the valley of the shadow of death, He promises to be with us and to comfort us. No matter how lonely and hurt we are, He understands and He tells us to cast our cares on Him, because He cares for us.
No matter how exhausted and alone we feel, Jesus says, “Come to Me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you. Let Me teach you, because I am humble and gentle, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke fits perfectly, and the burden I give you is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30 NLT)
This is a hard word for us, but praise God, we have a gentle Savior who is there to carry our burdens. And His strength is made perfect in our weakness. Beloved, I am praying for every man, woman and child who has ever gone through the heartache and disillusionment of divorce. I pray that the Lord will give you wisdom to know where to go and what to do. I pray that He will give you peace in the midst of your storm. I pray that He will comfort you as you mourn and give you a garment of praise to take the place of the spirit of heaviness. In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.
Cheryl A. Showers