“Hope deferred makes the heart sick…” Proverbs 13:12
From a very young age, my second-born son, Brett, was positively delightful. He had a contagious smile that could light up a room, bright, dancing eyes and a playful, charming, sensitive disposition. That is the image of Brett I prefer to remember.
But as the years passed, and my marriage began to crumble under the weight of abuse, neglect and drug and alcohol abuse, I saw my happy, fun-loving Brett begin to withdraw. The slow progression over time transformed Brett from his lively, fun-loving self into a young boy who was sullen and introverted. Brett struggled in school, spent long hours alone in his room, comforted himself with junk food, or escaped the tension of our home life by immersing himself in movies and video games. Continue reading Waiting At the Window→
We have looked at two of the three areas where the Scriptures are often misinterpreted and subsequently misused to the detriment of those who suffer in abusive, neglectful and destructive marriages. The case has been made that God does not hate divorce or those who are compelled to divorce with cause, nor was it Jesus’ intent to convey that those who legitimately divorce are categorically hard-hearted.
The third most commonly misappropriated Scripture seemingly finds our Lord identifying adultery as the only biblical cause for divorce. This is perhaps the most common assertion in Christian circles.
It is well past time to acknowledge the measure the harm that has been done as a result of the consistent failure of those in authority to recognize God’s intent as it relates to the application of biblical doctrine on the subject of divorce. In Part I, we examined the well-used “God hates divorce,” decree, a formidable trump card often thrown down by the legalists. Exercising a minimal degree of common sense, it is obvious that the warning Malachi penned at God’s direction was a direct response to the selfish acts of disobedient men and had nothing to do with biblical divorce.
But what about Jesus’ teachings on the subject? On most accounts, what we have been taught is that God commands that no one tear apart the one-flesh union created by marriage, and that those who are compelled to divorce surely suffer from a hardened heart. I accepted those teachings at face value for many, many years. Dear reader, if you are struggling with these same issues, I believe you will find the truth and freedom you seek when you understand the story behind the story and grasp our Lord’s pronouncements in their fullness.
“The Traditional Church Script” is how I have come to refer to the legalists’ dogmatic and unbiblical mantra to oppose biblical divorce and keep abuse victims bound in ungodly marriages. On Christian websites and in countless books authored by well-known authors we often find a virtually identical refrain. The writers lay down the law and contend that the issue has been settled and no further discussion is worth consideration. The legalist dogma essentially declares: God hates divorce; adultery is the only biblical cause for divorce (with abandonment a possible second); divorce for any other purpose is a sin and constitutes adultery; and remarriage constitutes adultery unless the re-marrying partner was divorced from an adulterous spouse.
Having discovered many reputable experts with an opposing and completely defensible perspective, I’ll admit my frustration that so many mainstream Bible teachers are unwilling to reconsider. I also find it surprising that prominent men and women in authority and in the ministry seem to have taken so little time to more thoroughly examine God’s intent on a subject of such profound importance.