So this blog is the second in a blog series I’ve titled #lovethesinnerexperiment. After being rather embarrassed at the way Christians reacted to a fellow Christian openly expressing love and her genuine openness for the LBGT community, I thought I would try to magnify the vast amount of sin we all have in our lives and how just because the bible says someone’s actions are sin, does not mean we are justified to separate them out or separate them from God’s love. So I am going to do my best to humble all of us and shed light on God’s love for each of us…despite sin. (To see more about this experiment, read the blog titled “An Experiment: Call All Sinners…yes, that means you! posted on April 27, 2016. Then Read “Liar, Liar Pants on Fire” posted on 05/04/16. These blogs are really meant to be read as a series.)
The next sin up applies to approximately 40-50% of Americans. And it also applies to 40-50% of Christians. The sin is the big “D” (and I don’t mean Dallas…sorry, I just couldn't resist. If you don't know the reference, you are missing out on a country music classic.). I’m talking Divorce.
Divorce can be a bit confusing in the bible. Not confusing in the fact that it is not what God intended for us but confusing because there’s reference in the Old Testament to divorce more or less being accepted ('accepted' might be a strong word). I’m going to do my best to simplify the situation for us using New Testament scripture, that references the Old Testament. But again, my ongoing disclaimer is that I am not a bible scholar. I’m just a less than average Christian doing my best to study God’s word and share what God puts on my heart.
Some Pharisees came to him to test him (to test Jesus). They asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any and every reason?” “Haven’t you read,” (this is Jesus speaking now!) “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female’ and said, “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife and the two will become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” “Why then,” they asked “did Moses command that a man give his wife a certificate of divorce and send her away?”. Jesus replied, “Moses permitted you to divorce your wifes because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning. I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, expect for sexual immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery.” (Italics are mine to clarify who is speaking.)
Now, if you are feeling like divorce isn’t a big deal these days or the thought that "divorce is wrong" is outdated, I apologize for being blunt. But it is a sin. I don’t make the rules. It is spelled out in the bible. Divorce is not the way God intended for us. If you don’t believe the bible, that’s an entirely different conversation. There’s quite a bit of evidence proving its contents true.
Much like the LBGT community, in some circumstances is being shut out of society and is the political 'hot topic' right now, there was a time in society, where the 'hot topic' was actually divorce. People going through a divorce were separated out; divorce was only permitted if there was someone “at fault” like if someone had an affair. I can imagine in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s when divorce was being “legalized” that church goers had something to say about it. Maybe at the very least a divorce person was looked down upon. And honestly, before I actually went through a divorce myself, I did always have a “you didn’t try hard enough” or “I don’t believe in divorce” attitude. And if I’m completely transparent, I definitely had a hint of judgement in my heart towards people who were divorced (just being honest!). And then I went through it. And it was horrible and painful and awful. And the ONLY thing that got me through it was my relationship with Christ. I cannot imagine how lost and alone I would have felt if I was separated from God’s love during that time. Or if I had been separated from my church.
For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.
I’m so thankful that my closest friends didn’t leave me in the dark, “divorce” category and separate me from the love and support I so very much needed. You need the light (Jesus) so you can work your way out of the darkness. If we turn our back on people going through darkness, what hope do they have of rescue? What hope do they have of ever knowing Jesus?
And I’m so incredibly grateful God never abandon me in my darkness. That’s the beauty (and mystery!) of our salvation. No matter where you are. No matter your struggle. No matter if you going through a divorce or been happily married for 60 years, we are all on equal playing field. And we are ALL invited to trust and love Jesus. Exactly how we are.
You don’t have to clean up your life to be accepted by Jesus. In fact, it is actually impossible to clean up your life in order to meet God’s standards. In the case of my divorce, it is really impossible because it is not something I can undo! I have asked for forgiveness and am starting over in marriage. And thankfully Jesus still accepts me because He accepts us regardless of our sins (yes, all of your sins) and His loves transforms you. (I'll be blogging about this transformation after this series is over. It is an important part of the story.)
And that saving that Jesus came to do (see John 3:17), it extends so far and wide. When I finally came to terms with the fact I was getting a divorce, a really cool thing happened. I prayed God would use my experience to bless others. And I cannot tell you how many people He has blessed through my experience. My faithfulness and commitment to Him has been a blessing to my life and the lives of others. And looking back, God used the experience to put me in a way better place all around. And for that, I am very thankful.
Don’t misunderstand me. I condemn divorce, even having gone through it. It is wrong and I know I will have to stand accountable for my wrongs before God someday. Thankfully I know Jesus will be standing right there with me. However, I will always show love toward someone going through a divorce, especially a woman going through a divorce. There's just a special place in my heart for a woman going through that pain. And anyhow, we are to love each other, sin and all. Just as Jesus has done for us.
Mark 12: 29-31
Jesus replied, “The most important is this: ‘Listen, O Israel! The LORD our God is the only and only LORD. And you must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength. The second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ No other command is greater than these.”
Divorces, sinners and a Savior,
Just for those interested in the description of what Jesus refereed to regarding hard hearts during Moses's time…I read a little deeper to figure out what was going on in the Old Testament that would permit such a thing as divorce. I found Deuteronomy 24 interesting. I’m not going to get too long winded here, but feel free to check it out.
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Just a few reflections about everything God is teaching me in this life...a journey deeper into His purpose for my life.