Is there room for restoration after divorce or separation?
“Do you believe you can get remarried after saying the words in your vows, infront of God and men, until death do us part ? can you say the same vows twice or is that one vow you cant break? “
This is very poignant question given the days that we live in, a lot of Christians are troubled by this Same questions given that the statistics state that 51% of marriages end up in divorce. The question above was asked by a Christian gentleman on a chat. Millions of Christians have the same questions on their hearts… Why?
Because Society is filled with the debris of hurts, fractured dreams, soured hope… traumatised people everywhere, disillusioned youth, dysfunctional society with many broken families and people.
What then is the fate of those who find themselves in a situation where divorce and separation was unavoidable?
We all know the scriptures speak clearly on the topic. Our Lord Jesus, and also Paul his servant were very clear on the permissible grounds of divorce being either unfaithfulness to the covenant through sexual sin or desertion by an unbelieving spouse.
There are however many situations today like Mental, Physical, Spiritual abuse that legitimately precipitate divorce or separation, that were not covered specifically in scripture that are our realities in this time and age. cases where it is genuinely, impossible for the man and wife to be together. Sometimes for the safety and sanity of all concerned.
Pastors and Christians leaders become quite confused in such cases, because we were not prepared for the kind of society we have created and found ourselves in. The typical response is to point to the scriptures that forbids divorce or remarriage, hoping for some magical solution, offering no practical respite to those who find themselves in the brokenness of a failed marriage.
Are we allowed to divorce, separate and remarry at will?
Of course not! God is very particular about the institution, and we all suffer from the far reaching consequences of broken homes: the broken hearts are just the start of it, the broken destinies, the weakened society, and mortgaged future of the nation are the real costs.
However! the Lord himself has still made provision within the same statements he made about marriage and divorce that could provide guidance for those who find themselves in the place where they are considering divorce, separation or remarriage.
If you find yourself in such a situation, or are helping someone through, here are a few considerations to take note of when dealing with the issue of marriage, separation, divorce and remarriage.
God still gets the first and last say!
1. The covenant of marriage is between two people and God with one another, irrespective of whatever reasons they choose to marry, it doesn’t remove the fact that he holds us accountable for every act with and to another human being. Especially in a marriage
So when in the situation, understand that you both still answer to God, whether you are an unbeliever and believer, and you are accountable for all the actions and consequences relating to your marriage and those impacted by it before him.
2. God created marriages to be the fabric of community and society, therefore he embeds it within the life of a community and nation.
“Therefore shall a man leave his father and mother and cleave unto his wife” provides a context of continuity within a culture, where a marriage is a man taking on a woman to create a home where they also become a father and mother, the purpose of the home is to raise sons and daughters for God who will extend his culture.
Because of the two above there is a frame of accountability
– Between the man and woman before God,
– Before the systems of culture that they belong and
– Before one another.
God hates covenant breakers!
Back in the days of Christ, the system was such that the only way a woman could break covenant was with adultery, the man could also do this, but beyond that the man can write a bill of divorce because, for the simple reason that, He married the woman and can file to divorce her.
In those days men because of their lust abused this system and will divorce their woman for any reason so they could marry another woman. Jesus Christ addressed this in Matthew 19
The women didn’t have this as an issue then as they were raised to function as wives and mothers in the homes, (just as the men were raised to function as husbands and fathers) and their society was structured in a way that valued the home and role of men and women in keeping it together.
So what does breaking a covenant and desertion really look like in our day and time? And is there a different application of the same rules? Let me provide a few examples for context
Jesus said if a someone looks on another to lust, such a person has already committed adultery in their hearts, does this count as a ground for divorce? (I dont think so, I am just encouraging us to think through the issues and complexities that we now face in our broken world.)
In our own day and time, its not only the man that can file a divorce, a woman can file for a divorce. So not only are we dealing with men who “put away” their wives, but also women who “put away” their husbands. How does this rule apply to every reason for which a woman chooses to put away her husband? (I know it applies in the same ways as the man, as I said I am just stirring a conversation)
Whatever God has joined together, let no man put asunder, famous declaration at most marriages, the reality is that its not only desertion and infidelity that pulls men and women apart in our times, we have careers, friends, families, hobbies, lust of other things and generally humans behaving badly causing relationships to fail… what rules do we apply in these situations?
So it is important whilst we try to uphold the laws concerning relationships and marriage, that we look at the heart of issues and issues of the heart, this is the only way we can find the right answer in every situation and not by our own selves.Eugene Adebayo Ajayi
So what really is divorce?
In our day and time, we should ask ourselves
1. Is divorce the bill that we get before a lawyer and courts systems when a marriage has broken down irretrievably? Or
2. Is divorce the breaking of covenant in our hearts against our spouses? Many couples struggle with lust internally, meaning they are committing adultery in their hearts daily against their spouses (according to the rules of the new covenant)
3. Is divorce the breaking of trust between a man and woman such that they is total abandonment of the sacred vows that were taken before the Lord? Or
4. Is it all three above?
Which one of the first three above does God hate the most? Which one gives him grief? Many Christians only think of divorce when they go to court to get papers, however many homes have failed in keeping the covenant and honouring the Lord.
So the real answer is complex,
God hates divorce, not divorcees!
I ask these questions to provoke thought, and to be in a place of learning to understand the iniquities of our times, find ways to reduce its impact on Christians and the society and also to be available to support the brothers and sisters who may be caught in the hard place.
I have found many Christians to be utterly insensitive to people going though difficult seasons in their marriage. Those who seem to have it together, (I use the word ”seem” deliberately) should be advised to know that God hates divorce, but he does not hate divorcees, so his love for his sones and daughters doesn’t change because of the situation of their marriage. What we need is a whole load of wisdom to uncover the real issues and help them navigate the seasons successfully.
First we have to understand how God sees divorce before we can tell who is violating Gods commands or not
Second we have to factor in all of the different safety systems that God designed around the families eg the family in Christ, the family of our culture, the law of the land, the law of our conscience all based on the word of God to understand each unique “divorce situation”
Third we have to realise that God cares for individuals and looks deeper at the heart of issues and the issues of the heart in judging the matters of our lives.
So he doesn’t judge like we judge.
It is always better that such issues when a man or woman is going through a divorce or separation are brought before wise eldership who will help all parties concerned evaluate their ways and whys before the Lord… this is actually the only time you can tell whether yourself and your spouse are believers or not!
Most marital conflicts and divorce have their roots in selfishness, which at its root is rebellion agains God. When the couple are presented with Godly wisdom, do they accept or reject it?
I have found in counselling couples that many who claim to be Christians are not indeed Christians, because they are not subject in their hearts and minds to the laws of Christ. So it is important whilst we try to uphold the laws concerning relationships and marriage, that we look at the heart of issues and issues of the heart, this is the only way we can find the right answer in every situation and not by our own selves.
In conclusion, it is possible to enjoy a good marriage, and it is possible to find restoration if you have experienced a broken marriage and home. It’s not in all case that the Lord will damn those who do remarry, it depends on the people, the circumstances and the processes that have been employed. This is a function of wise eldership (both Christian & Cultural) providing guidance in all cases.
I have seen the Lord heal all manner of situations, I have also seen cases where it was impossible to reconcile, mostly because of human issues, like lack of forgiveness, inability to make changes, Incongruity of values, lack of wisdom in handling personality differences. I have seen in cases where the people involved remarried, and cases where they didn’t.
My prayer for all is that we may all find peace in our marital relationships, and indeed in every form of relationship we have in life.
Eugene Bayo Ajayi