Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Divorce - The Unpardonable Sin (1)

Okay, I'm about to drop a bombshell on the blogging world. I'm divorced. Or, maybe I should say, I was divorced at one time. Yep. Now that I've lost a percentage of my readers just on this bit of information alone...

I look back and laugh at it now, but there was a time early on in my Christian life that my pre-conversion divorce was a huge blot on my character. I was a divorcee. Okay, well actually, since the people I hung around with back then claimed that there's no such thing as divorce, that I'm still married to that other woman in God's eyes, now that I'm married again, I now have two wives, and am an adulterer, and probably not a true Christian because of it.

There's a line of thinking in some strains of fundamentalist Christianity, a foul smelling doctrine of marriage, divorce and remarriage that makes anybody who has ever been divorced - even if they were the unwilling innocent (and willing reconciling) party in a marriage that was broken by the other person - an equivalent of the disease leprosy. Toss every imaginable sock of sin into the washing machine with the bleach of Jesus' blood, and out come the socks of murder, lying, theft, abuse, drug addiction, harlotry, whoredom, profanity, all pure white. Yet the socks of divorce and being divorced remain soiled. For many in the church, divorce is treated quite literally as the unpardonable sin and a dead end roadblock to any advance whatsoever in the Christian life. Divorcees, no matter how innocent, have the scarlet letter "D" tattooed branded on them, and are banned from remarriage, fellowship, even simple conversation with members of the opposite gender.

I'll take a few posts in a short series to discuss how bad theology and a misunderstanding of biblical teaching can really screw up people's lives. First hand experience, here.

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  1. I with you on this one Steve.

    I think its horrid the way Christians treat people who have been divorced.

    I am proud to be part of a denomination that will ORDAIN divorced pastors. oooooooo

    Your sock metaphor is on the money.

    Thanks for your transparency.

  2. My wing of the Baptist Church brutalized divorced people. Relegated to second class citizenship, good for only being an usher or nursery attendant.

    We were even more bizarre when it came to remarriage.

    It was a sin to remarry. (reconcile or stay single) What made the remarriage sin? The sexual act. So then no divorced, remarried person is a Christian?

    Wait now.......Doesn't the Bible say no adulterer shall inherit the kingdom of God and every time the divorced/remarried person has sex they are committing adultery? Just taking the doctrine to its logical conclusion.

    It is a wonder any divorced person would willingly go to Church.


  3. You sinned? How shocking. I am not sure if we should allow sinners into the church? :-)

  4. Wasn't polygyny OK in the Bible, in which case you could take as many wives as you pleased without being an adulterer?

  5. I know a few people that were scrutinized by the members of there church and turned to alcohol as a way to cope and ended up at various alcohol rehab centers as a result. It is a shame that divorce is such a thing that people will treat others so differently.

  6. Ok. First, that you are divorced is not a bombshell, merely a 50/50 proposition in today's world, even in the "church".

    It saddens me to hear of your divorce from your wife. (I will add the caveat here however, if you were in an adulterous relationship you, your church, family, and/or state called a "marriage" than I would understand your pain, but would be glad such a relationship had ended... just as I would hope to respond to a repentant homosexual leaving a long-term relationship with someone of the same sex.)

    There is such a thing as "divorce", the question is what is a divorce... Does it end a "One-Flesh Covenant" or is it a separation? Since the late 1960's, 1969 in California and 1971-1973 on a national scale, the term "dissolution" has crept in. In any event the question is not what does the "world" say, but what does the "Word" say...? The world, and probably your state, is close to calling same sex relationships "marriage"...

    You do not have two wives... That is a true statement. The question is... Is the "wife of your youth", that is your first, surviving (for if a spouse dies, whether your first or a later, you are free to marry--yet only in the Lord....), wife is still living, are you free to call ANY other relationship "marriage" or are you in adultery if you stay in such a relationship while your "wife", by covenant, still lives?

    Homosexuality is a "dirty sock" too. But, we dare not say that the person who chooses to live a homosexual life and who chooses to have a "relationship" as a homosexual can say "God forgave my homosexuality, but I will continue to live in a state of homosexual relationship", that this would be acceptable to God. NO, we could not and still say we hold the Word of God to be true...

    Repentance has fruit. Forsaking sin, even though it is perceived as pleasurable (though it be pleasurable for a season, regardless of how long...) is always required.

    REPENTANCE includes confession or agreement that one is in sin or has committed sin AND stopping or forsaking the sin or state of sin, not to continue in it any more.

    "Go and sin no more."

    REPENTANCE="admit it and quit it".

    The "divorce sock" does not remain soiled true, but that is different from saying you are free to enter into a relationship and be "married" to another while your spouse still lives.

    1 COR. 7:10-11:
    "Now to the married I command, yet not I but the Lord: A wife is not to depart from her husband. But even if she does depart, let her remain unmarried or be reconciled to her husband. And a husband is not to divorce his wife."

    1 COR. 7:39:
    "A wife is bound by law as long as her husband lives; but if her husband dies, she is at liberty to be married to whom she wishes, only in the Lord."

    ROM. 7:1-3:
    "Or do you not know, brethren (for I speak to those who know the law), that the law has dominion over a man as long as he lives? For the woman who has a husband is bound by the law to her husband as long as he lives. But if the husband dies, she is released from the law of her husband. So then if, while her husband lives, she marries another man, she will be called an adulteress; but if her husband dies, she is free from that law, so that she is no adulteress, though she has married another man."

    MARK 10:6-12:
    "But from the beginning of the creation God made them male and female. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and cleave to his wife; And they twain shall be one flesh: so then they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder. And in the house his disciples asked him again of the same. And he saith unto them, Whosoever shall put away his wife, and marry another, committeth adultery against her. And if a woman shall put away her husband, and be married to another, she committeth adultery."

    1 COR. 6:9-10:
    “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God.”

    Steve, you should not have been denied fellowship due to being divorced. Relationships with the opposite sex however, always need to be proprietary (without even an air of impropriety). But simple "open-door" honest conversation (you would know your motives...) with women, when you are a man, must always be kept appropriate for she is a sister in Christ, if not another man's wife.

    These things are distinct from whether you can "remarry" another while your wife still lives...

    That is purely a biblical matter.

    God has spoken in this area clearly.

    Check out the following:


    Lastly, My wife left me, went to human courts, received dissolution papers, has our daughter,
    etc. etc. etc.

    And this was six years ago...

    So, I am living what I am saying.
    God is Great...!!!

    I am forgiven in Christ, so I desire to forgive even more.

    God is a God of reconciliation and what we mortals, dust really, do for evil, He can use for good. Note: this can take years, even decades...!!! The Word is replete with examples of this...

    I suggest praying for your living wife, the wife of your youth--by covenant, and that you suffer the mourning of ending the adultery you are in with another woman, this would be true repentence.

    Then, stand in the gap for your "prodigal" wife.

    Be like Hosea, and seek an opportunity to reconcile...
    Then, Keep seeking...
    And, Keep seeking...

    Let God be true and EVERY man a liar...!!!

    May God bless you and grant you repentance.

    In Love,


  7. Please Steve, keep calm. Breathe deeply.

    Ron represents the divorce view many in my fundamentalist past held to.

    They would have you leave Lisa, go back to #1 and be reconciled to her. Sorry to Lisa, the kids, and everyone else.......all that matters is thatyou stay married (because you can't be divorced) to wife #1.

    But Ron tells you this IN LOVE. I am sure Lisa will appreciate the love.

    This is another reason that I have a lot of problems with bible "literalism."

    But I am a liberal, what do I know.


  8. Ron and Bruce,

    Thanks for your comments.

    Ron, It is apparent from your first statement that you missed what I meant. But I am very familiar with the position you outlined (I once held to it). Bruce, in his comment, mentioned having a problem with literalism, but I don't see this as a problem with literalism, since none of your Scripture quotes apply to my situation literally or specifically.

    As for God granting me repentance, He already did... from believing what I believed and turning me from my skewed views of other saints.

    Bruce, breathing deeply and calmly here...

  9. Steve,

    I suspect Ron thinks they apply :)

    I am not too objective on this issue. I have watched people be destroyed by this position, run out of the Church. This position on divorce is on my top five Christian (so called) doctrines I hate.


  10. Bruce,

    This is near the top of my list, too. People who hold this view don't seem to take notice of all the desctuction it does to lives. They utter the pious, "take joy in God" statement.

    Of course, it's amazing all the other Scriptures that Ron left out that shed even more light on things. Life is messy, and is more complicated than the minimalist absolutes that men tend to lay down. Mercy is hard for them to see sometimes, especially when it comes from God.

  11. Try being a guy who separated and divorced his wife - because while disabled through viral encephalitis his wife systematically abused him.

    My pastor laughed at me, telling me he didn't believe it was as bad as I said it was...hits, punches, threatened with a knife, bitten on the wrist to the bone, denied finances and shower chair when home from hospital...so had to sit on shower floor for shower....

    I'm happily remarried now and a full member of the baptist church I fellowship at.

    1. I'm happy for you. Jesus is our high priest not the pastor. You have a deep relationship with our Lord, he love you. Our Lord understands all things and is merciful. Some of the pastors are not. I found out this is Luke 18:9-14 KJV.

  12. Your situation is between you and God. What I say or think does not matter, I am only to love you in christ and keep you in prayer, not to point fingers (remember those 3 pointing back).

    Someone once said a christian can murder their spouse and be free to remarry because they were never divorced.

    That said, I want to share a story of how God used the very thing I was judged by our church for having too many of- and even allowing in the house...a cat ( I think we had 6 at the time but now have 11-QF cathouse?)
    Our church was heading for a split and very legalistic at the time...my husband and I knew something was not right but kept our mouths shut. A lady came to us in love and said there was a woman in church we were friends with and because she was choosing to go to another church without asking permission of the pastor if she should leave or not, that we should not hang around her or go to her house for dinner because we would be falling into her sin or be influenced by it or whatever, I cannot remember the convoluted "spiritual" details as to why we should drop her as a friend. WHAT I do remember is Winifred, our little cat sitting on her lap. Winifred had been rescued from underneath a dumptsert.ersum

  13. And I once (pre-conversion) was the tempter who stole away another man's wife. I have been forgiven, as have you!

  14. The problem stems from RCC traditional teaching trickling down to denominational teaching and also in teaching in the church. Is to 'put away' or 'separate' the same thing as divorce. That is one assumption that muddles the entire picture on the Marriage, Divorce, Remarriage debate. Facebook "Who May Marry"