Jesus AND Divorce? the thoughts of a once divorced preachers daughter

this entry is long, but I feel that the topic deserves all that I can humbly offer.

an entry from my journal dated January 2009:

Every road must end. Every candle, no matter the amount of wick or wax, will burn out. Every fire dies. Today Seth left. He packed up his truck and is gone. I find it quite ironic that after these years of collecting “things” together he left with what he started with 5 years ago. Today standing in my driveway I examined the contents of his packed truck.. a few pieces of cloths, a guitar, and an amp.

I was so broken at the time the above was written. I was lost. The outcome of stumbling through life in such darkness for so many years was a severely bruised spirit..and, as what the above attests to, a failed marriage. My rebellion and defiance towards God and towards Seth had finally caught up with me. By the reality of my failed marriage, the levee had finally been broken and the waters that crashed down upon me were cold. Everything I had done had failed..everything around me testified to one sad truth : I was a failure.

That day, after I watched Seth’s truck pull out of the driveway and disappear into the road ahead, I stood there, frozen in my driveway for a long time. Our marriage had been a rocky one and we had separated and reconciled a few times before that..but on that day.. I knew that it was over. I was right..the next time that I would see him would be at the courthouse when we signed the divorce papers. With the cold, white January sky hanging above me, I stood there like a statue – it’s hard to explain how I felt..I guess my best attempt would be to say that at that moment, I had never felt so alone. Standing there that day, I had never hated myself more. I remember lifelessly staring at a flower-pot which held the shriveled remains of a house plant that I had forgotten.. what had once been a beautiful plant that had been very much alive had turned into nothing but a lifeless skeleton sitting on my front porch.. I had left it outside – my actions and neglect had killed it.

It’s odd to me how short my entry was from that day. One could assume that an event that brings such painful change would be documented with more feeling.. with a greater attempt to describe the pain of divorce.. with a greater attempt to put into words the depth of the gash which has just ripped apart their heart. I don’t know why I didn’t write about that dead house plant. I don’t understand why I didn’t express the anguish that my soul was overcome by when I wrote that. I failed to paint a picture of who I had been that day – a fool standing alone in her driveway tortured by the realization that the man who she had just pushed out of her life had once been the man with whom she had shared a deep and pure love with..a fool who had killed her marriage. My select words from that day show how truly numb I had become. I didn’t express the emptiness and the panic that I was consumed with because I ran from it.. I hid myself from it because to admit how bitterly painful divorce was would have also been admitting how truly messed up living for myself had gotten me. I needed Jesus so badly then..and as I will soon explain, it was the chain of events that took place after my divorce that caused me to finally find Him again.

Wait a second,  you may say..are you talking about the same Jesus that I’m thinking of..Ive read the bible and divorce is a sin..nothing good can come from divorce. Let me remind you of what Jesus said about divorce..

But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, makes her the victim of adultery, and anyone who marries a divorced woman commits adultery. – Matthew 5:32

Jesus replied, “Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning. I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery.” – Matthew 19:8-9

These are the verses that I have simply dreaded coming to in the past..these verses must have the same effect on others. The divorce rate in america is somewhere around 50 percent..I can’t be the only person reading the bible who is divorced or who is married to someone who has been divorced. Satan has used these verses to make me feel unworthy of God’s love and to make me feel like I don’t deserve to call myself a child of God far too many times.. he has crushed my spirit and made me feel as though I will not be allowed to enter heaven because I am divorced..and I am sick of it. How can satan use the holy word of God to hurt you, some might say. Look at Matthew chapter four.. Satan uses scripture in an attempt to hurt Jesus.. if he can use scripture against Jesus, don’t you think he can and will do the same to you? It was in a moment of doubt and self hate that caused me to call my father today. While reading my bible I came across a verse about divorce that completely crushed me..with tears rolling down my face I picked up my phone and called my daddy.

How my divorce would affect my father and mother is another aspect to this equation that has always caused me great sorrow.  In many circumstances, a preacher would be bought great shame by one of his children getting a divorce. I thank God that when his family is involved, the man who I call daddy is first a loving father and will not let his calling to be a pastor affect that. I thank God for a father who has  proudly walked me down the aisle twice. If my divorce has ever caused my father to be ashamed of me, I can’t say..but after speaking to him today, I do not think that this is the case. The love that brought my earthly father to tears today as he reminded me that, Jesus didn’t die in vain, cannot in any way be compared to the love that my heavenly father feels for me.

I was shocked today after I entered, “Jesus and divorce” into google. Every article that I read would make any divorced person feel unworthy and feel like they are  a useless person in the kingdom of God. One of the articles I read had the title of:

 Divorce is a Merciless Act of Unforgiveness; God Said He Will Likewise Show No Mercy,

this title alone could cause a person struggling with their faith to turn away from a God who seems so unloving. Another article titled What did Jesus Teach on Divorce, had this to say:

How ridiculous that so many people today, even professed Christians, are misquoting the Bible in a selfish attempt to justify the sin of divorce. It cannot be accomplished. Try as they may, sin is still sin, and divorce will always be a horrible sin just like abortion, homosexuality, and adultery. 

Yes abortion, homosexuality, adultery, and divorce are sins.. BUT WHERE IS GRACE?  Yes, sin is still sin.. BUT WHERE IS GRACE? Not one of the articles that I read today mentioned grace. It is this attitude that many in the church today have towards divorce that caused me to call my father today and ask him if my husband and I were sinning everyday that we continued to be married..why has God blessed me with a husband who loves me and who fears the Lord..why has God blessed me with having a beautiful daughter in my life and with the birth of my son..why has the Lord blessed me with anything; why has the Lord redeemed me from a life of solitude and granted me the family that I have longed for all of my life.. the family that I don’t deserve. The question that most confuses me is, why did it take my divorce for me to realize that I was nothing without Jesus.. the blessings that have happened in my life and also in the life of my first husband would not be a reality if we were still married. If God hates divorce so much does he hate me as well? If God hates divorce so much then why has he blessed me regardless of my wrongs?

Mercy – compassion or forgiveness shown toward someone whom it is within one’s power to punish.

Grace – a favor rendered by one who need not do so.

Who redeems your life from destruction, Who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies..He has not dealt with us according to our sins, Nor punished us according to our iniquities. For as the heavens are high above the earth, So great is His mercy toward those who fear Him – Psalm 103 : 4 & 10-11

Now, I am not saying that divorce is ok. Divorce is not ok. Divorce is a horrible and ugly thing..but we must remember that this is why Jesus died a gruesome and monstrous death in excruciating pain..  Sometimes I think that we forget just how ghastly Calvary was. Roman citizens were exempt from crucifixion..only slaves and non-roman criminals died by crucifixion. Cicero, a roman orator, described crucifixion to be, “a most cruel and disgusting punishment” he also suggested that, “the very mention of the cross should be far removed not only from a Roman citizen’s body, but from his mind, his eyes, his ears.” Unlike the paintings that we see of Jesus on the cross..he hung there naked for all to see..our Lord..our innocent Saviour died a humiliating death that even roman murderers and rapists were not condemned to. Before they nailed him to the cross it says in Matthew 27:34 that,

 they offered him wine to drink, mixed with  gall, but when he tasted it, he would not drink it. 

Something that many people do not know is that in an act of mercy a cup of vinegar mixed with gall and myrrh was sometimes given for the purpose of deadening the pangs of the sufferer. Gall was used as a painkiller in those days. Our Lord refused to drink it because he didn’t want anything to numb his pain or ease his suffering. He refused to go to the cross drugged and insensitive, he refused the painkiller because he had to feel the anguish and the pain of sin.. he had to taste every bitter drop of God’s wrath. He had to take the suffering from the whole world and he had to feel it to the uttermost.  He knew that there was no other way.  His death was ugly because sin is ugly.

Divorce is a sin  that causes such great pain and heartache to all who are involved..I believe that one of the reasons that Jesus spoke passionately against divorce so frequently is because he wants to protect us from that hurt..he doesnt want his children to pass through the destructive wasteland that divorce creates. I believe that he speaks against all sin for this reason..the wages of sin is death. If you continue to reject Jesus and to live selfishly in sin.. the outcome will be painful. Without Jesus sin will kill you. But thankyou my saviour! There is NO sin that one who seeks the Lord can do that the blood of Jesus cannot cover ..not adultary..not homosexuality..not abortion..not divorce. Nothing you have done will ever make the Lord unwilling and ready to forgive redeem you.. to give you a brand new start. As my daddy reminded me, Jesus didn’t die in vain. He died for us.

My inability to find an article on divorce that expresses and relays the true message of christianity is a shame and something that every follower of Jesus should be motivated by. I believe that we should stop focusing so much of our energy on pointing out the sins that can keep us from God and instead pour our energy into spreading the message of how to find redemption from sin.. spreading the message of accepting Christ, putting your faith in him, and letting him influence you little by little.. as he, day by day polishes away your impurities. Is this not the message that Jesus taught.. at the root of it all is following Jesus not simple? Our finger pointing and name calling, in some ways, can weaken the importance of the sacrifice that Jesus made on Calvary…  it can turn people away from Jesus before they are ever given a chance to hear about what he did for them on the cross and what it all really means. Divorce, or any sin for that matter, is not going to keep you from entering heaven.. as long as you ask for forgiveness, seek what it is that He wants for your life, and submit to what it is that he reveals to you. Let us never forget that Jesus did not die in vain.

 We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are. For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.Yet God, with undeserved kindness, declares that we are righteous. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins.  For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed his life, shedding his blood.  – Romans 3:22-25

But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions … For it is by grace  you have been saved, through faith — and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God. – Ephesians 4 & 8

But whenever someone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. For the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image. – 2 Corinthians 3:16-18

6 thoughts on “Jesus AND Divorce? the thoughts of a once divorced preachers daughter

  1. Dear Briana, I read this article you wrote and I am so proud to know you as my great niece.
    I love you. Aunt Bernice

  2. Briana, I should not have read this at work! I can’t type through the tears. I have always loved you. Thank God His mercy is fresh every day. We take up our cross daily but His mercy and grace is fresh daily and I am so undeserving but so blessed to be called His. Thank you for your honesty in your writing. Annette

  3. Hi Briana… I have found comment from John Piper to be very helpful, even though he believes that when one gets a divorce they should not remarry until the former spouse dies… Yet he explains his view and how he makes it work in the church he is senior pastor of (Bethlehem Baptist).. here is a quick snippet of what he said:

    The following are the general position papers from John Piper and his former church (he stepped down as senior pastor to pursue other ministry):

    Note: I am a divorced and remarried man, and I can probably completely understand the torture you went through… I am still convinced that divorce is always wrong, and yet am also convinced that God can redeem a broken person. It was extremely difficult working through my feelings and convictions as I was preparing to remarry, almost to the point that I thought I was losing my mind. I honestly look back and believe that I should not have married my first wife, as neither she nor I were spiritually mature enough to love each other the way God calls the husband and wife to. Just contemplating this now brings back alot of painful emotions…

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