Full moon last night! It nearly coincided with the equinox. Wouldn’t that have been a humdinger!
We’re going to dig a little into the implications of some of all this stuff we have been covering. My guess is that the biggest one would be the issue of divorce. Isn’t divorce prohibited except in rare circumstances? Before we go there, let’s examine the situation for just a bit, again using our example of the drunkard husband. What is the primary goal? Is it to stop the behavior of the sinner or to protect the household? That answer is the latter. It has to be. When that is the case, that doesn’t necessarily mean that divorce is the answer. Separation very well may be the right answer. That way if the husband soon changes his ways, the family can once again be restored. I would think this would fit most of the situations.
There will be times that divorce is the choice to make. I have personally gone through this. I have searched the scriptures and studied them over and over. Grounds for divorce are under adultery and if an unsaved spouse chooses to leave. Because of that, I stayed married. I didn’t want to willingly sin by divorcing. What God eventually led me to understand is that one can leave a marriage (divorce) yet remain in the same household. When one party commits a serious sin against the marriage, s/he, in effect, breaks the covenant. Now, don’t get me wrong. This doesn’t apply for minor irritations or personality flaws. We are commanded to work through differences. I’m talking about sinful behavior that is causing significant harm to the family and if left unchecked could cause permanent damage.
The key to this is whether or not the offender repents. If they indeed repent, who are we to withhold forgiveness? Remember, to repent isn’t simply saying, “Sorry.” It is demonstrated by a new person with a whole new perspective and behavior to boot. In that case, divorce is not an option, so it would seem to me. If there is no genuine repentance, it would seem to me that the marriage covenant has been broken by the offender and the other party is now unmarried and free to go.
That’s what happened to me. I was firmly stuck on the idea that I was stuck in a broken marriage. Only until it had gotten to the point that I could no longer take it did I pray to God to release me from it. It was the very next morning that God took me through the marriage and divorce scriptures and revealed to me that she had long ago “left” me and broken the marriage covenant. I was free to go, and go I did. I knew beyond a doubt that I was not to return; and if I did, I would bear the consequences of my own choice.
I learned a great deal through all that. First, I learned that I could be so focused on the letter of scripture that I missed the intent. I was going to hold on to the idea of marriage at all costs. “What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate,” meant, to me, that I must never divorce. What I was blind to was the fact that someone else might (and did) break that covenant.
Am I promoting a license to divorce? Hardly. Speaking from experience, divorce is terrible. I would think many legitimate Christians divorce before they have truly tried to work things out. While the economic and emotional cost of divorce is high, anyone can find a lawyer more than willing to file the paperwork. I recognize this. No, what I am talking about is the spouse who is living with someone who is destroying the family.
Furthermore, by taking the steps that Jesus required, we can be assured that the situation has been examined thoroughly and that whatever action taken has been carefully thought through. The church must be willing, unhesitantly, to step in and support the person (not the offender) no matter the need or the cost simply because that is what Jesus is requiring it to do. Only then can the church do what it must do. If the church doesn’t want to bear the burden, it will be biased. Right? When the church is prepared to exert the role required of it, it is then in the position to properly execute the final part of Jesus’ command:
Matthew 18:18-20 Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.”
I don’t know about you, but this seems to me very serious business. Should we avoid it? I don’t see how we can. Here’s the thing, if we are willing to obey God in his commands, we are promised blessing beyond imagination. Why would we deny ourselves that? Why would we avoid making tough decisions? To avoid the pain of the here and now? Are we not concerned that our tough actions may actually make the world a better place? Listen, all this is intended as an example for others, just as much as it is for the original family. People today don’t expect the church to mess with their families. Might this straighten people out before they get tangled up in sin? I think it would.
Father, this is tough love. You are the one who gave up a son for the sins of the world. You know all about that. Amen.
Copyright © 2018 Scott Powers