It was Easter Sunday 1978, a holy day, a day to celebrate the resurrection of Christ, so why my parents chose that day to announce they were getting a divorce, I’ll never know. I was 16 years old and I was well aware that many of my friends had parents who were divorced. They lived in homes with a single parent, or with a parent and step-parent. It wasn’t that I saw these friends as unhappy but I knew their loyalties were split between two families because of divorce. I was always thankful that my parents were still together. Life changed for my family that day and I promised myself that divorce would never be an option for me.
I broke that promise years later. I remember feeling such a sense of failure after the divorce. Divorce causes feelings of guilt and shame because we feel that we have failed in so many ways. Divorce is a failure to have a successful relationship. It’s a failure to keep promises made to our spouse to love them for better or for worse. If there are children, it’s a failure to provide stability for them. Most of all, we feel that we have failed in the eyes of God because marriage was created by God and we failed to honor the promises we made in front of Him.
Is divorce a sin?
Of course divorce is never part of God’s plan. His Word clearly speaks against divorce (Matthew 5:32; Luke 16:18) but it’s not an unforgiveable sin. When a Christian experiences divorce, they may feel like damaged goods and wonder if they are fit to serve in ministry any longer. The fact is others many times view divorcees the same way and some churches will not allow those who have been through divorce to serve in leadership positions. Why is divorce viewed different from any other sin? Do we think that those who are serving as pastors, teachers, or ministry leaders in our church are free from sin? Of course not, we understand that all have sinned.
Christ teaches that when someone sins that the Body of Christ should help restore them to their place of service in the body.
Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted” (Galatians 6:1).
His Word also states that our sins are forgotten (Hebrews 10:17). How can we hold someone’s past sins against them if God doesn’t?
What therefore God joins together, let not man put asunder” (Matthew 19:6).
There is no doubt that divorce is never part of God’s plan for us but many times, the marriage was not part of God’s plan either. When a marriage ends in divorce, it may be because God did not put you together in the first place. I know that this was true in my case. I married for the same reason that I got involved in any relationship at that time. I needed to feel a sense of belonging. I needed to feel safe and secure. I needed to feel like I was loved. Instead of seeking God to fill these needs, I thought I could satisfy them through relationships. There are consequences for living outside the will of God. If marriage is not part of God’s plan, and the couple continues to live their lives without God’s blessings, their home can be a very unpleasant place to live. These situations often end in divorce.
Why do Christians divorce?
Christian marriages are not immune from divorce. It happens much too often. Marriage is an institution established and ordained by God. The marriage union between man and woman mirrors the relationship between Christ and His bride, which is the Church. (Ephesians 5)
Satan knows that he can never destroy the Church, so he makes every attempt to destroy marriages and families and by doing so, Satan causes damage to the Body of Christ.
Christians are taught that we are to put on the full armor of God (Ephesians 6: 11-17) because we are in a battle. However, if we fail to take measures to secure our homes, our families, and our marriage, we take the risk of allowing the enemy to find a weakness and sneak into our lives. Once the enemy has found a way in, he will attack. Once weakened further by enemy attacks, we give in to temptations and commit sins.
When sin enters into a marriage it can act like a cancer that eventually destroys all the healthy parts of the relationship Just as you would protect yourself from injury by wearing a seatbelt, or fight off infection with an antibiotic, you should guard your marriage and shield it from the attacks of Satan (read this blog about protecting your marriage). God desires that Christians make every effort to protect their marriages and to honor their promise to remain together until death.
What if I’ve already broken my promise of “until death do us part”?
We are all broken but through Christ we can be restored to a place of righteousness. We no longer have to feel like damaged goods.
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).
If you have already suffered the pains of divorce and experienced the bitterness, the guilt and the shame, I want you to know that there is life after divorce and there is Kingdom work for you to do. Allow time for the healing first and then God will help you find your place of service.
My husband and I both experienced divorce before God brought us together. Although we have been married over 9 years, we are still “divorcees”. The sin is washed away but you can’t erase the experience. However, God does use our past experiences to shape us and many times he uses them to minister to others. God has placed my husband and me in ministry together as missionaries serving in Central America.
I pray that God bring healing to those who have been through divorce and I pray also that He help you to find your place of service in the Body of Christ.