This was originally published as the weekly devo on whillschurch.org.
This is part 2 of a 2-part devo. Part 1 is here.
Last week’s devo ended in a pretty uncomfortable place. After reading Jesus’ words in Matthew 19, both the disciples and the Pharisees walked away thinking there was no escape clause in marriage and it is better to remain single than to get married.
That’s good news? Is that the whole story?
I will unpack the ‘rest of the story’ with all it’s messy details this coming Sunday morning with the message “Love Implodes.” But for now let me throw out a couple of not-so-random thoughts that actually are relevant to this discussion.
The Good News (gospel) is only good news to those who REALLY understand the bad news. There are two kinds of extreme people that don’t understand the gospel. Those who don’t see sin as a problem. Sin isn’t really sin and it isn’t going to kill me – physically, emotionally, and/or spiritually. To these kinds of people the gospel is just another attempt by the religious establishment to control behavior.
The other extreme is just as dangerous – the religious right. This person acknowledges that there is sin and that it is a serious problem. So serious that only a complicated, devout series of rituals or actions can fix it. These people (like the Pharisees) see the gospel as a scandalous tolerance of sin.
One side doesn’t understand the reality we live in. The other doesn’t understand grace. Both miss the point completely.
One side needs to understand that sin is evil, it is short of God’s best desire, sin kills everything it touches, we all sin, and we all are going to die – physically, emotionally, and spiritually – because of it. The other needs to understand that no fix will cure it save Jesus. He is the only solution and that is by grace through faith.
This same grid applies in the marriage context. There are people who believe divorce – while horrible – is just a reality for most marriages. It’s like buying a car. You’ve got a 50/50 chance of it being a lemon. Worse case scenario is you trade it in after a few miles. Then there are those who have marriage as their idol. Divorce or anything else that tarnishes marriage is the unforgivable sin and it is time to break out the scarlet letters.
One doesn’t understand the sanctity of marriage and what it is supposed to represent. The other doesn’t understand grace.
So what am I trying to say? Is divorce ever okay?
No. Divorce is never ‘okay.’ Divorce is always going to damage and harm. Always. At the very least, it is an indicator that something is already damaged and harmed inside the marriage.
BUT sometimes divorce is a concession to mitigate the damage. There seems to be three instances in scripture where divorce seems to be allowed: adultery, abuse (Malachi 2:16), and abandonment (1 Corinthians 7:15). If someone finds themselves in any of these situations, there seems to be an allowance to seek divorce.
This Sunday we will look a bit deeper into this subject and God’s redemptive heart and ways concerning marriage. See ya’ there