Hope for the Divorced

Marriage, by God’s design, takes place when a single (not divorced) man and woman contract holy matrimony until death separates them (Matthew 19:4-6). Within the context of this lifelong commitment, married partners may bring up children in a secure environment we call “home.”

Divorce is the legal arrangement for tearing up the home—for putting “asunder” as Jesus said, what God has joined together. Divorced people often wish that they had known in time what an awful thing they were doing. One counselor suggests that the majority of divorcees fantasize reconciliation with their estranged spouses.

Reconciliation can be more than a fantasy, however. It can be a real hope. Christ came so we could be reconciled to God. When one has been reconciled to God, he finds that the greatest obstacles have been removed from reconciling other broken relationships, such as marriage. Christian conversion, or reconciliation to God, gives power to overcome such attitudes as malice and selfishness. When God takes those poisonous ingredients out of the estranged couple’s relationship they are free to become friends again and to make a success of their home. Even when only one partner is born again by the Spirit, God gives grace to forgive. Grace is the balm Jesus brought to our sin-cursed world. Grace means power to bear any trouble for the highest good.

However, reconciliation being a two-way street, an unconverted partner may keep reconciliation from happening. Thankfully, reconciliation is not the last hope. God has a special place for the single. The Bible says: “Art thou loosed from a wife? Seek not a wife. . . . The time is short: it remaineth, that both they that have wives be as though they had none;. . . He that is unmarried careth for the things that belong to the Lord, how he may please the Lord” (1 Corinthians 7:27-32). Our Lord Himself, having laid down the New Testament law of “no divorce, no remarriage,” spoke kindly of those caught in the “no reconciliation possible” situation. He said in effect: “For there are some eunuchs [celibates], which were so born from their mother’s womb: and there are some eunuchs, which were made eunuchs of men: and there be eunuchs, which have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’s sake. He that is able to receive it, let him recieve it [this is a voluntary matter]” (Matthew 19:12). What did He mean?

Some consider sexual relationships a right. Even a human necessity. Are they? Jesus first spoke of those born without that natural drive, who are yet every wit normal people. He spoke too of those who are willing to deny themselves this indulgence for entirely material, and earthly ends. Is it unreasonable then that God should specify one situation in which one may enter the kingdom only by choosing celibacy and the single life? This is Christ’s requirement for the person married according to the laws of God, but prevented by circumstances from being reconciled to his or her rightful partner.

Don’t be too quick to say, “That’s not for me.” There are at least two things you may want to weigh carefully. Christ promised, “My grace is sufficient” (2 Corinthians 12:9). Then too, consider the awful alternative: “Whoremongers [fornicators] and adulterers God will judge” (Hebrews 13.4). Who is an adulterer? Jesus said, “Whosoever shall put away his wife, and marry another, committeth adultery,” (Mark 10:11). But the one who puts all his life and love into the service of Christ at the expense of the joys of marriage and home, will experience God’s best in this life and the next.

There is hope for the divorced. It is not in remarriage to another. That’s the worst you can do. But there is hope that in reconciliation to God you may be reconciled to your legitimate spouse as well, and rebuild your home. But there is also hope for the divorced even where marriage and home are no longer hopes. There is hope in the kingdom of God.

– by Dallas Witmer

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