One of the deepest and most damaging wounds of life for many is that of divorce. Few things compare to the pain that divorce can bring into ones life as marriage is something that is sacred in a way that stands alone among the ordinances of the Christian faith. Marriage was the first ordinance God gave to mankind and the only ordinance that took place before the fall of man in the garden. This means that marriage, as it is defined in scripture, is perfect, it is entered into however, by two imperfect people and sadly far too often the beauty of the marriage covenant is devastated by divorce.
For the Lord God of Israel says That He hates divorce, For it covers one’s garment with violence, Says the Lord of hosts.Therefore take heed to your spirit, That you do not deal treacherously. Malachi 2:16
The Hebrew word for “garment” here can mean clothing but in this context the word applies to life. In essence the Lord is saying through Malachi that divorce is an act of violence. It applies to the wife here specifically for in Jewish culture a woman could not initiate divorce. God hates divorce because it violently rips apart two who have become one. I heard someone give as an illustration that divorce is like having glued two napkins together and then when the glue dries and you pull them apart, each napkin is torn and little bits of each napkin remains on the other. The Bible says that covenant bond of marriage is so strong only an act of violence can break it, at like all acts of violence, the end result is someone is left wounded. My hope here is not to deal with the causes of divorce or how to avoid it initially or in the future, but how to Dance with the Scar of having had what God described as “the Holy institution that He loves” (Malachi 2:11) suffer the violence of divorce.
First of all it is important to understand that the word divorce means; to break the covenant. This is essential to understand because far too many have taken this to mean that God hates it when two people file for divorce, which is not the meaning at all. What God hates is the failure for each member of a married couple to miss out on the benefits and blessings that are possible for anyone who follows His plans for marriage. The covenant being broken is what causes the divorce. The sad reality today is that some will never choose to to follow God’s plan for marriage and will inflict an act of violence on their spouse and the end result is like ripping two napkins once glued together apart. Both parties have lost a little piece of themselves. Having been served divorce papers myself many years ago, and for good reason, I can testify as to the pain and sorrow of having not followed God’s plan. Had God not intervened and had I not submitted to Him I would have lost my marriage for good. I am grateful every day for the forgiveness my wife extended to me and how the Lord brought us back together and then into a relationship with Him. He was working on both of us while I was a prodigal and she was not yet saved. I say these things for any who may be reading who are still married but feel like things can never change and there is no hope. You could not find a marriage that was more “over” than ours yet here we are 37 years married and counting and we have a wonderful thriving relationship that grows better with time. So there is always hope “IF” two parties are willing to follow Gods plan for each of them.
But what if it’s only one, what if the hope is gone and the marriage is over and all that is left are the wounds of divorce? I was thinking of the story of two female co-workers who were at lunch one day and one said to the other: “I couldn’t help but notice your wearing your wedding ring on the wrong hand” to which the other replied; “That’s because I married the wrong man!” Now we need to be careful about approaching the issue of divorce from the perspective of irreconcilable differences because every marriage has them. Not only are two personalities coming together but so are sexual opposites, one male, one female. Each communicating different than the other, each distinct in their tastes and temperaments from the other and most of these differences don’t need to be reconciled, just recognized. But what if the mate you had chosen was not the wrong person, but became the wrong person? What if honoring God’s plan was not part of their plans and the relationship ended? What if the one allowance for acceptable divorce even among Christians has occurred and a spouse was unfaithful and a breech of trust created irreparable damage, or no reconciliation was sought. What do you do now that you have experienced this great act of violence that God hates and there was nothing you could do to stop it, or it was for your own safety? Can you Dance with the Scars of divorce? Yes!
It has been reported that children recover more easily from the death of a parent than from divorce. With that understanding we would do well to consider that comparison in that the phases of grief are going to be experienced by those whom this act of violence has been forced upon. There are a few things to help get someone to that place where they can get back on the dance floor of life and begin the process of letting the wound scar over. The first is what we mentioned in chapter 3: “Do not allow the actions or words of an unfaithful spouse define your worth.” I have been in the middle of far too many of these scenarios where a spouse has shouldered the blame for the infidelity of their mate. Listen dear friend, as a husband or wife, and especially as a Christian, you have every right to expect the faithfulness of your spouse to you as unto the Lord. There is no justification for adultery, violence, mental or emotional abuse. When these things happen it is the absence of self control in the other person and they are out of the will of God… period! Yes, you could have been a better husband or wife, but that is true every day in every marriage, as long as they both shall live. So do not let the words of those who are in rebellion and sin be the words that define your value before God. God loves you so much He cared enough to put in His book how much He hates what you’re going through. So don’t play the “blame game” especially when the one you’re blaming is yourself. No Christian can ever justify cheating on their spouse, being physically or emotionally abusive or even claiming irreconcilable differences by saying things like; “I just don’t love you anymore.” When God is part of the equation, all things are possible!
Excerpt from “Dancing With the Scars” now available on Amazon.