Divorce is something that we don't want to think about or even contemplate. And it IS the last resort in any marriage. It brings great pain, sorrow, and sadness. Not to mention feelings of failure and guilt. However, it might surprise you to find out that the first divorce was God's.
The first divorce was God's
God hates divorce. Mal. 2:16. " 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 God Almighty. So guard yourself in your spirit and do not break your faith." So obviously God hates violence in marriage. He is horrified when a man hits or abuses a woman. It is grounds for divorce to beat a woman because the man who is doing so is an "unbeliever."
However, did you know that the very first divorce in this world was God's? He divorced Israel for not being faithful to Him. He often times refers to Jerusalem as His Bride, and Jesus as the Bridegroom.
Think of all the pain that Jerusalem inflicted on Jesus. He wept over that city many times. He prayed to God to spare that city, and He promised that He is going to return again to His Bride, the "New Jerusalem."
So the first thing you need to understand about divorce is that even though God hates divorce, He was the first one to go through it! So He understands your pain.
Two reasons that God allows divorce:
There are two reasons in the Bible that God says it is alright to divorce someone. The first is if they commit adultery. Matt.5:31-32. Jesus says no divorce except in the case of adultery. "Anyone who divorces his wife must give her a certificate of divorce. But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, causes her to commit adultery, andanyone who marries a woman so divorced commits adultery." If this is the case, then you are free to divorce them.
The second reason that God allows for divorce is if you are married to an "unbeliever" and the "unbeliever" wants to leave. Then you are to let him or her leave. 1 Cor. 7:15. If the unbelieving spouse wants to depart, he or she may do so. " If the unbeliever leaves, let him do so. A believing man or woman is not bound in such circumstances."
But what constitutes an "unbeliever?" Is that just someone who does not believe in God? Or is is ALSO someone who may say they believe in God but act completely contrary to how God would act?
For example, if you are being battered and mentally, verbally or physically abused by someone, then no matter what they say, they are NOT a "believer." True believers to not abuse people.
Never return home to an abusive spouse because you are told by a minister to be more submissive. You could get killed by doing so.
Do not ever believe any minister or Church that tells you to stay with a spouse who is beating you. God does not expect you to stay in a situation where you are going to get hurt or even killed.
There are some ministers/churches who will tell a woman who is being battered by her husband to go home and "be more submissive" to him. However, the word "submissive" in the original Greek version of the Bible means " to have equal respect for. " It does not mean that if your husband tells you to go jump off a building that you should do it.
Even though the Bible teaches that men are the head of the household, they have to earn the right to be called the "Head of the Household."
It is my firm belief that while husbands are the head of the household, they have to "earn" that right. No woman is going to follow the orders of any man that is abusive, unfair, and sounds and acts like a domineering bully or behaves like a dictator and runs his wife and his family like a military boot camp. And God does not expect a woman to follow that man either.
When a man is acting as Christ did, and loves his wife and family as "Christ loved the Church" which was with respect, equal treatment, and that He would lay down His life for the Church, then a woman has no difficulty with her husband being the head of the household. It is easy to follow his advice and leadership.
Do not stay for the sake of the children
Another wrong thing to do is to stay married for the "sake of the children." It is NOT GOOD for children to grow up in a home where they are seeing violence and hearing verbal and mental abuse from one parent to another. It scars them for life and it does not allow them to see what constitutes a healthy marriage, and what genuine love is all about. It is much better to get a divorce and ease the tension and allow the children to see their parents happy and not fighting anymore but still loving them.
While my goal as a Pastoral Counselor is to save marriages, that can only work when both parties are willing to change and work at their issues and when there is still love between them. But when one of the parties wants to end the marriage and refuses to try to save it, then my goal is to help the other party to accept that.
Remember, God hates divorce but he does allow it in those two examples I gave you above. And when one party is blatantly violating the laws of the marriage by either committing adultery or by abusing their spouse, they have already broken the marriage vows with the first act of infidelity or the first abusive behavior towards someone they say they love. The legal divorce is the final break, but the spiritual divorce happened with the first offense and broke the marital chord with the first blow or the first infidelity.
That is why you hear many people say "They are married in name only."
If you would like some help with divorce whether you are contemplating it, being threatened with it, or going through one, please do not hesitate to email me with your concerns, and together we can walk you through this. Please follow the instructions below:
Patricia Jones, M.A.
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