For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine.Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. – 2 Timothy 4:3, NIV
Another Common Demonic Lie:
“You know that we were already divorced in our hearts.”
This “justification” for adultery is a common one apparently as I read the comments from yesterday’s post. It seems Satan likes this line especially in his pursuit of destroying marriages and deceiving adulterous spouses into thinking their sin isn’t so bad.
Personally, I heard a version of this line both from an awful lay Christian counselor and my former father-in-law who also happened to be a former evangelical missionary pilot. Both individuals ought to have known better. Such thinking only emboldens sin as opposed to encouraging godliness.
In some ways, I believe both that counselor and my former father-in-law were “too smart” for their own good (and my first marriage’s own good as well). The worldly wisdom of looking for the deciding moment or moments in the marriage prior to the actual divorce occurring is alluring.
But to look to those moments is to confuse motivation with actuality.
Things may happen in a marriage that motivate a spouse to seek a divorce–e.g. a wife discovers her husband is having sex with her former best friend (a biblical reason to divorce) or she might feel generally disillusioned with the man she married wanting a different partner (an unbiblical reason to divorce, by the way). That does not mean the divorce has happened at that time. Motivation is not the same thing as actualization. A legal process must ensue to make it official. To attempt to marry someone who is “divorced in their heart” is still attempting to commit the crime of bigamy.
Most evangelicals would understand this distinction when applied to the concept of getting married. A moment or moments may have come to draw a couple into committing to marry each other. That does not mean those moments made them “married.” They may think they are “married in their hearts” but a great distinction before the state and the church exist over whether or not this has officially and properly happened.
Applying this to my former situation, I cannot imagine my former father-in-law accepting the excuse “we were married in our hearts” as a justification for having sex with his daughter prior to our wedding day (which we did not do, by the way). He would have rightly consider such sexual activity as sin under the category called fornication.
Getting officially married matters…
As does getting officially divorced!
Finally, let us understand what this lie does:
It helps minimize sin. The lie suggests adultery is not adultery as the marriage did not exist since “we were already divorced in our hearts.” Furthermore, this rationale invalidates the real pain that the faithful spouse experiences upon discovery of the very real adulterous relationship. One can imagine such an exchange following this lie:
“What’s your problem?! You knew we were already divorced in our hearts a long time ago.” (And the faithful spouse is probably thinking, “Really?! That’s not how I saw it. I actually meant in our marriage vows ‘to death do us part.'”)
Another thing this lie does is obscures the real choice to divorce being made by the initiator. This lie does this by suggesting the divorce had already happened when it had not in reality. Furthermore, the divorce initiator may even use this line to blame the faithful spouse for the divorce saying he/she is simply recognizing the what the faithful spouse already did in his/her heart to the marriage. That just adds insult to injury for a spouse already feeling the burn of abandonment.
This is wicked.
That said, I want to be clear:
Godly and ungodly motivations exist to choose divorce. Adultery is one of those motivations (e.g. Jer. 3:8 and Mt 19:9). A faithful spouse may act in response to his/her spouse’s adulterous sin with no shame according to Scripture. However, faithful spouses are still making a choice in deciding to divorce, and they are not divorced until they are actually divorced.
Finally, I want to point out something important. We do not see into the hearts of each other. Only God does. We cannot render judgment over hearts. Only God can. To say “we were already divorced in our hearts” is to attempt to usurp God’s place. This is arrogant. And it is typical of the demonic world to suggest we have such power and authority, which belongs to God alone.