3 Misconceptions Christians Have About Divorce

Divorce is increasingly common in our culture. It's time we stopped believing these lies about it.

My senior year of college, divorce became a reality for my family. I had lost my mom to breast cancer when I was 11, but death was something that happened to everyone. I just never believed divorce could happen to Christians, and especially not to a pastor’s family.

As a licensed marriage and family therapist, divorce is often a reality I am immersed in. Working with couples is rewarding as I get to be a co-laborer in helping them in the restoration process of their marriage. But often, marriage counseling is painful as couples are unable to keep the marriage together, and I am witness to the heartbreak of a divorce and the tragic wake of destruction it leaves in their lives and the lives of their families.

Sometimes life falls apart and we live in the reality of a life that we had not imagined. Such is the case for many people I work with who are going through a divorce or are divorced. And as I have the privilege to work with many people trying to “put their life back together” I am struck by how often I, as a Christian, have had misconceptions about divorce.

Here are just a few of the common misconceptions I’ve seen:

True Christians Don’t Get Divorced

I’ve poorly assumed at times that divorce was indicative of a lack of faith or trust in God. That if the couple just believed more or worked harder, their marriage would survive.

I’ve poorly assumed that couples haven’t done everything they can to save their marriage, that if they had done more, their marriage would have been salvaged. And I’ve poorly assumed, at times, that people took the easy route by divorcing.

I love marriage, and I am passionate about helping couples have a thriving relationship that is glorifying to God. I will do all that I can to help restore a marriage. But unfortunately, my hope alone is often not enough.

Marriages are not exempted from the destruction of this world, even if two faithful Christians are a part of it.

Marriages are not exempted from the destruction of this world, even if two faithful Christians are a part of it. People who go through a divorce are not worse or less spiritual than any of us. We have all entered into relationships and decisions that have fallen apart and destroyed the lives of people around us.

In many ways, the falling apart of a marriage is a reminder not of some judgment we need to place on that couple or person, but rather of the brokenness we find in our humanity together and the grace of God to bring new life out of it. I often reflect upon and am moved by the Apostle Paul’s words as I work with people in the midst of divorce. In 2 Corinthians 5:1-4, Paul writes:

“For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands. Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked. For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life.”

Once You’re Considering Divorce, it’s Already Too Late

Even if you’re at the point in your marriage where you are thinking about a divorce, it is not too late to reach out for help. I have had the honor of watching marriages that seemed destined for divorce be transformed. I’ve witnessed couples shredding and burning up their divorce papers, renew their commitment to one another, and then get busy at doing the work of restoration. Reach out to your friends and church community, and find a marriage counselor who cares about your marriage and desires to help you see it restored.

A Destructive Marriage is Better Than Getting a Divorce

Many couples come to my office and say things like “At least we aren’t divorced” as if somehow co-existing in the same space makes a marriage. Just because you are not divorced does not mean that your marriage is glorifying to God. Don’t just co-exist in a poisonous, unhealthy, potentially dangerous marriage for the sake of not divorcing. What God desires is that you thrive in marriage that is glorifying to Him. Take the steps to do that by reaching out for help.

Just because you are not divorced does not mean that your marriage is glorifying to God. Don’t just co-exist in a marriage for the sake of not divorcing.

One day in a seminary class, my favorite professor, Dr. Ray Anderson, spoke about divorce. He talked about the temple and how it was built as a place for God, a place that was sacred and set apart, a place that glorified God. But over time the temple and temple practices were violated. So much so that the temple no longer represented what it was set out to be. Jesus then destroyed that very temple, as it had become an abomination to Him. And in that place, He gave life to something new—not a building, but Himself.

A similar thing often happens in marriage. What was set up as something sacred and glorifying to God becomes destructive. It no longer honors Him and is destroyed. But we have hope in the midst of this destruction. We have the person of Jesus Christ in our lives who is constantly bringing new life out of the old (Ephesians 4:22-24).

If you have been through a divorce, know that God does have a plan for you. God’s plan and hope for our lives is often birthed out of our seasons in the wilderness where we have encountered brokenness, destruction and suffering. If you are in the wilderness suffering from divorce, know that God is at work in your life. Reach out for help by entering into counseling, joining a grief/recovery group and walking alongside compassionate friends.

No matter what stage you are in the divorce process, know we worship a God who has not left us alone, but desires to dwell with you in this season of struggle.

Top Comments

Jeffrey Rickman

3

Jeffrey Rickman commented…

I finished reading this article feeling like the author has read some nice parts of the NT, but has somehow been able to skip over Jesus' words with respect to divorce. I'm not saying the author is wrong, necessarily, but I think that if we want to revise how Christians look upon divorce, we have to at least try to be in dialogue with Jesus. He was against it. He didn't excuse it or bless it. Neither should we.

Luke Worle

10

Luke Worle commented…

Great insightful article. I do believe that the Church has made divorce the untouchable great taboo. In a fallen imperfect world, fallen and imperfect people oftentimes do allow their fallen nature to misguide their relationships, which can be catastrophic. However, God's redemptive hand is equally as important to consider. Some friends have left marriages after years of abuse and infidelity (which God DOES allow as grounds for divorce) and they have been able to have second chances, if you will, at marriage that have yielded Godly blessing. Others have had their marriages restored through intervention and support which is also terrific. I think the key thing is for us as the Church to stop stigmatizing those who have been divorced or who divorce (especially on biblical grounds) as simply failed sheep who have failed to be gracious and to press on. It simply isn't that easy to categorize.

25 Comments

Kim M.

11

Kim M. commented…

Joyce Meyer's former bodyguard, Christopher Coleman, was convicted for killing his wife and kids. This supposedly Christian man was having an affair with one of his wife's alleged friends. He earned a salary of $100,000 a year as Joyce Meyer's bodyguard. He didn't want to get a divorce because he feared that his affair would be exposed, and he would lose his job with Joyce Meyers, and he didn't want to pay child support.
His Christian wife refused to separate and/or divorce him because she believed that a "wife shouldn't depart from her husband." Long story short, this supposedly Christian man killed his wife and kids, so he could marry his mistress and keep his $100,000 a year job. This is only one example of what can happen in a destructive, abusive and supposedly Christian marriage. There are many other examples. This is not an isolated incident.
Considering abusive, destructive marriages like this one and others, it's incredibly sad and misguided when some attempt to equate staying in a destructive, abusive marriage to suffering and the glorification of God. Destructive, abusive marriages like this do not represent or symbolize Christ's relationship with the church. Christ does not abuse, neglect or murder his church. Abusive, destructive marriages like this do not glorify God or edify the body.

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/did-chris-colemans-obsession-lead-to-triple-...

Luke Worle

10

Luke Worle replied to Kim M.'s comment

I completely agree with you. I don't usually engage in debates on forums but when I read Pastor Rickman's comments I absolutely cringed inside at the devastating lack of wisdom and sensitivity. It furthermore was awful advice for those trapped in such violent marriages and an affront to victims of domestic violence. Some people don't get the meaning of ''The letter kills but the Spirit gives life''.

Chris Leonard

1

Chris Leonard commented…

"Jesus destroyed (the) temple" - srsly? He "cleansed" the temple, which I think amounts to disrupting vendor kiosks and busting up some furniture, and he said he would rebuild the temple if it was destroyed, referring to His own body. But the temple wasn't destroyed until 70AD/CE.

Given that this is the central metaphor of your article, I'm not sure how to understand what you are saying. If you are referring to the cleansing of the temple, then I would say you are arguing that Christ may want to cleanse a marriage in a way that is disruptive, and which the couple themselves might not choose. If, on the other hand, you are referring to Jesus' claim that he would rebuild the temple (if it were destroyed) in 3 days' time, then I might think you are arguing that Jesus can rebuild a torn-down marriage.

But because you say that Jesus destroyed the temple, I am left utterly unsure what you are talking about. Jesus died, resurrected, and ascended decades before the temple's destruction.

Can you clarify?

Hot Rod

1

Hot Rod commented…

The lord said husbands submit to your wives and wives submit to your husbands .The lord your god not only tells you that finding a husband or wife is a good thing but he also teaches us in the bible how to maintain our relationship to glorify GOD.When you get married to your spouse its not just a joining of two people but the creation of a covenant between you two and God.so if God wants to bless your wife you receive the blessings as well being her husband.now I want to express the word blessings because sometimes we forget that our walk with Christ is a spiritual journey because we live in a physical world.If we reject gods blessing or get ride of it when we know that God has sent it to us .its something that he wanted us to have .he will curse you in that area or in some othere area of your life because your blessings was to glorify God.the positions we might have at our jobs are for one purpose only. to provide. Our true workplace and dutties lye with God .saving souls for we where lost to and somone saved us.god gives us position.some are pastors,and priests ,prophets and more.A marriage is one of the most blessed and important position God gives us as being a husband or wife besides fathers or mothers and with all of our dutties we have to sacrifice ourselves to glorify God and he will bless you Evan more for it.....GOD Bless!

Kesby Karen J

2

Kesby Karen J commented…

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Henderson Elizabeth

1

Henderson Elizabeth commented…

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