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Thursday, September 27, 2007

"Hating Divorce, but loving the divorced!"

“ I hate divorce," says the LORD God of Israel”
Malachi 2:16

I've found there are two people who truly hate divorce. God and anybody who's ever been through one! God hates divorce, first, because it violates His design for marriage as the exclusive covenant of love between one man and one woman for life. A covenant that is meant to reflect the heart of Christ's love for his church, and her joy-filled response to Him. (Eph 5:22-33) And second, God hates divorce because it rips families apart. And God loves families (see the rest of Malachi 2)

But anyone who’s ever been through a divorce learns to hate it just as well. As a preacher, I know that anytime I begin to touch on the subject of divorce, it’s like ripping the scab off an old wound for many people. Divorce is a wound! It’s a painful, heart-wrenching, devastating thing that tears right through the middle of a person’s life. Someone has observed that a divorce is more traumatic, emotionally, than even the death of a spouse. Death brings a clean kind of pain. Yes, they left you, but they really didn’t want to! Divorce, by contrast, is a dirty, mangled pain filled with rage and betrayal as it separates those who promised never to part.

And so the question is, how should we as the people of God, respond to divorce and all the pain and harm it brings into the lives of people we know and love? As I've thought about this, I found John Piper's helpful comment that we do so in two distinct ways to be right on target (though I do not quote him exactly here)

1) We respond to divorce with love and care for those who are suffering from it’s pain We stand by them as they grieve. We help them see the need to repent of any sin they have committed as part of the process leading up to and resulting in divorce. And then we urge them to be reconcile to their former spouse where that is possible. And when it's not possible, we lovingly help them rebuild their broken lives by the grace of God that's offered so freely in Jesus. Divorce is a tragedy filled with sin, but it's not the unforgivable sin.

2) We respond to divorce by standing firm and saying clearly that God hates it! We remain clear that every divorce is rooted in sin and therefore violates God’s will and God’s purpose for marriage! It is not something anyone who makes any pretense of having faith in Christ can enter lightly, or treat casually. It is an admission of defeat, and a concession that sin has gotten the upper hand. And so with God we say, we hate it because of all the pain and anguish it brings into people's lives and the harm it brings to families. And then we do everything we can to help prevent divorce by seeking to build up strong and grace-filled marriages, being attentive to the needs of our spouses, holding one another accountable in the fellowship of Christ's church and seeking in all things to walk in the meekness and love of Christ in our relationship with one another.

Standing up to fight with you,
Pastor Scott Lee

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