Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.
-Matthew 1:19, NIV
And I saw, when for all the causes whereby backsliding Israel committed adultery I had put her away, and given her a bill of divorce; yet her treacherous sister Judah feared not, but went and played the harlot also.
-Jeremiah 3:8, KJV
The other day I was reading a post about marriages being restored in a church following adultery discovery. The post talked about how these couple(s) would give a testimony in front of the church about God drawing them back together. It got me thinking about how the church–in general–is quick to have those couples testify but seem to hide away faithful spouses who get divorced.
Where are the Sunday morning invites to testify to God’s mercy and provision for faithful spouses who chose divorce over tolerating adultery?
I love a good miracle story.
That is what a restored marriage following adultery is: a miracle. Dead things–like a marriage ravaged by habitual deceit and contempt-filled adultery–generally stay dead.
And I hope these are genuine miracle stories. They may very well be. I have no way of knowing otherwise.
However, I wonder what that signals to those of us whose marriages ended in divorce following infidelity. What is the church and Christian leaders doing to care for this group of people?
Like the widow whose husband died from cancer, are we creating space in our churches for grief or do only miracle cancer-cured testimonies see the light of day on Sunday mornings?
God cares about that widow.
He cares about the divorced faithful spouse, too.
Are such divorce testimonies forbidden because pastors fear “encouraging divorce” in their churches?
I suspect this is one big barrier. Pastors want to keep marriages together and think talking about divorce in any positive way is antithetical to Biblical teaching.
“God hates divorce!” is the mantra.
But God hates adultery more than divorce and does not condemn the victims of sin. So, why condemn faithful spouses–i.e. adultery victims–who are taking the godly stance of adultery intolerance via divorce?
Silence teaches, too.
“We don’t talk about people actually dying of cancer here. This is a church that believes in God’s healing power. We only share positive stories. Remember when God healed Bob of his stroke?! Just have faith.”
The same sort of messaging is sent to faithful spouses when only “healed” marriage stories are shared. It is shame inducing. Plus, it is alienating as if we did something wrong and that is why God did not heal our marriage. It is suggestive that God is not at work for the good in our situation. And that is the last thing a divorced faithful spouse needs to hear.
Are such divorce testimonies forbidden because we fear grief?
Grief is a healthy response to a loss. A marriage is a real loss to a faithful spouse. We–faithful spouses–usually invest whole-heartedly in our marriages and feel utterly gutted when we discover the adulterous betrayal(s). And that is only the surface level loss…so many more losses go along with a marriage ending. So many.
We need to become a people who better handle loss and grief. Part of that is valuing the people who have walked such a trail of tears in the death of their marriages. They have stories to tell that others need to hear.
I share my story here on Divorce Minister because I know that is the case.
People need to hear that God does not abandon His children on the tear-filled trail marked adultery discovery, divorce, and/or abandonment. They need to hear testimonies of how God walks alongside them in these valleys of death for the demon of despair wants to take their very lives.
I know. Despair tried (and failed) to take mine.
Divorce can be a gift from God. It is a God-given mercy to someone entangled with an adulterous partner literally hell-bent to destroy themselves and anyone tied to him or her in the process.
I think talking about God’s mercy is always God-honoring. Testifying to His provision and care isn’t so bad either.
And I can tell you from my experience of running this blog that plenty of divorced faithful spouses can speak to all those topics from their own very personal, profound experiences.
Pastors, the Church needs to hear those testimonies, too.