So they sat down with him on the ground seven days and seven nights, and no one spoke a word to him, for they saw that his grief was very great.
-Job 2:13, NKJV
I remember being asked a form of the question so often asked of faithful spouses. We are asked, “What did you learn from your marriage’s dissolution?” It is a question that has always been off-putting for me. The reason being is a basic truth from a biblically solid theology of divorce:
TRUTH: A biblical divorce is a statement about the character of the spouse whose behavior God accepts as biblical grounds for marriage dissolution.
The divorce is not about the faithful spouse’s behavior. Not at all. To suggest otherwise is to suggest shared blame in the faithful spouse’s victimization. It is highly insensitive.
Rapists deserve jail.
Adulterous spouses deserve divorce (e.g. Mt 1:19).
It really is that simple. That needs to be the starting point.
When it is known that a rapist truly raped or a spouse truly committed soul rape, one crosses a line by questioning the victim of either situation over what they learned from being violated–aka “what did you do to bring this upon yourself?” It is insensitive and–I would even go as far as to say–ungodly.
It is true that we all can and ought to learn from our life’s experiences. However, certain situations dictate special care and sensitivity. Sometimes, it is better to follow Job’s friends’ lead on this matter and keep our mouths shut in the presence of such great grief (see verse quoted atop post).
“What got you through this awful experience?” is a different sort of question. It does not judge or imply shared responsibility for the awful experience. Plus, it treats the faithful spouse with respect, dignity, and humility assuming such individuals have something worth sharing that we may not have ourselves.
That is a far cry from asking questions to judge whether or not we think the faithful spouse is “worthy” of our sympathy. You know, the sort of questions asked to make sure the divorced “has learned their lesson(s) from their ‘failed’ marriage.”
Finally, I do not consider those that asked me the questions about what I learned from my divorce did so with ill will towards me. They were not in the position to understand the assumptions and hurtful judgments that come along with that line of questioning. I do not think anyone ever taught them how to handle such matters.
I just hope pastors or other Christian readers who come to this blog learn from their mistakes.
A biblical divorce obtained by a spouse says nothing about the spouse who obtained the biblical divorce. It is a statement that God considers the behavior on the part of the other (now ex) spouse so heinous or intractable that God is willing to grant a divorce for the victim of such behavior with no shame. Remember: God never permits us to sin, after all.