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Tuesday: When a Marriage Ends — 25 Comments

  1. Broken marriages often lead to loneliness in church circles. Typically, a divorce not only breaks up the family but also the circle of friends that the couple had before they separated. I think of the several divorced couples that we were friends with. While we were good friends before the divorce, maintaining that friendship after the divorce became very difficult. Consequently, divorcees often find themselves, not only facing church discipline they lose their circle of friends.

    We could easily fall into the trap of discussing the morality of divorce, but the issue here is not the morality but the loneliness of divorce. As a church we often put condemnation before compassion. I could cite examples of this, but it is hard to tell such stories without someone recognising who is involved. Suffice it to say that discipline is sometimes little more than revenge and sadly it is administered in a way that is not redemptive and the people involved become disenfranchised from the church.

    Most of us are not marriage counsellors but we can provide a listening ear to those in need. My PhD supervisor had a broken marriage followed by a broken relationship. Often, I would arrive at our research meetings only to find that a recent relationship issue was higher on his mind than our research. Not only did he have the marriage breakup to contend with, he had a family of teenage boys who were questioning his authority. He knew that he could unburden himself to me without fear of me condemning him and sometimes our meetings were delayed for over an hour while I just listened and let him know that I felt his pain. Listening is therapeutic, but I would also take the opportunity to change the topic at the appropriate time to ensure that he had happier things to think about.

    We need to ensure that our churches are safe places for people who are hurting because of broken relationships. Paul’s admonition,

    So encourage each other to build each other up, just as you are already doing.1 Thes 5: 11

    …was not just about doctrinal purity, but about binding the broken-hearted, encouraging the fallen and healing those who are wounded. Christians need to be known for their compassion rather than their moral rigidity.

    Amen!(55)
  2. I would be interested to hear what resources for counseling there are in your local church?
    What I would consider the ideal would be if there was a mentoring structure for spiritual and emotional support even pior to break ups.
    I can count the number of times I was visited in my home by the leaders of my local church on one hand. If there is not already a relationship it would be difficult to ask for help when issues arise.

    Amen!(27)
    • You are right. We might be missing the point here. I see programs to enhance the couples ties, but nothing to support those who are already divorced or thinking about it. And let's face it, this is not such an uncommom situation today. I've been married for almost 20 years now and we've been gone through difficult times. That made us both look for help in therapy. I believe that things started to get solved when we stopped (I say this for myself, at least) pointing to each other and decided to work on the problems within ourselves, individually! How many of us are open to say and advise people to look for therapy? As being in the field of Health, and as a teacher, I often find out strange opinions on the subject just by the way people react! We are living in a complicated world, and we are not perfect! Perfection can only be achieved through faith in the GRACE of God, Who is called LOVE! I believe that the answer to help ourselves as community and families starts with the acceptance and hard work on our own individual limitations! (The friends that I've been sending this will recognise). There is a difference between the meanings of the words sympathy and empathy!

      Amen!(12)
      • This is absolutely true! I am a living example. My husband and I have had hardship in our relationship over the years. I pleaded with God for guidance, enlightenment, and wisdom of all sorts. I can honestly, I know he answered my prayers by telling me to fix me first and He will take care of my husband's part. It was a harsh answer. I followed through and I am still working on me; it has become easier to maneuver the pitfalls but I am still looking to Jesus for answers everyday.I can honestly say that today I am in a better place because i decided to look internally and look at my husband through God's eyes,gracefully.

        Amen!(8)
  3. *On divorce and separation*: This is truly a bitter pill to swallow; an ideal situation would require the couple to reconcile and live on, but in reality the factors leading to these can be dynamic and intense. The couple is placed between a rock and a hard-place. However, by saying this, I wish not to condone, on the contrary, scripture is clear on God's position on marriage and divorce. However much we may provide counsel, *(depending on the circumstances is relationship abusive and violent? Infidelity? Was marriage coerced or rushed? or even petty?)* the couple will make the ultimate choice.

    That said, then, what is our role as a church when this occurs? We should provide support and not place ourselves at the throne of judgement. We should take no side when counselling. We should remember that these decisions will impact the lives of the children. We should be patient with the reactions from either couple.

    It is a sad state of affair, but when it does happen we should be there to remind them that God is still with them; God is in control; and God has their best interest at hand. Maybe we can learn from Leah and the way she handled her suffering under her husband.

    She named her first son *Reuben*. It means, *“Behold a son.*” Leah said, *“Surely the Lord hath looked upon my affliction.”*

    *Simeon;* as Leah said; *“Because the Lord hath HEARD that I was hated.”* Simeon means *“to HEAR.”*

    *Levi* she says *“Because I have born him three sons.”* Levi means *“joined,”* or to be joined to.

    *Judah;* because, she said, *“Now will I praise the Lord.”* Judah means *“Praise“.*

    As her suffering progressed Leah progressed towards recognition of God and praise.

    Relationship are hard to predict, but all in all God is fully in charge. Today, as a church, we should open our hearts to those gifts of the Spirit and engage the patience, love and long-suffering they contain, that way we could be more accommodating to take up matters of struggling marriages and be of assistance.

    Amen!(9)
  4. Family is not where you find perfection, family is where your imperfections are accepted perfectly. Home is where we don’t have to struggle to prove a point, here we fall and rise, we scratch the itch.
    The prodigal son and the one who remained will always know they were welcome. With family we don’t do big things, we don’t talk big.

    At home we go down , we bend to reach the younger ones, we slow down for the small feet, we are happy with dirty walls and torn couches, for homes were never meant to be hotel lobbies, but a solace for the ravaged hearts and vanquished souls, a haven for the troubled mind...

    Amen!(18)
  5. Relationship issues are a serious challenge to many local churches. Many issues reach the leadership, usually when they are out of hand of the affected members. They would have made up their minds and charted the path to take.

    This, I suppose, is due to the communication gaps between the members in general and between members and the leaders. The relationships rarely reach personal levels where emerging issues can be shared.

    As part of the solution we have the female grouping "Dorcas" and are encouraging recruitment of young ladies in order to create a platform for the older women to share their experiences.
    It appears some trust is building and the younger ones are opening up to the grand Mothers.
    It's hoped, this link could provide information early enough to the leaders.

    Amen!(5)
  6. Hi good morning Bro. Maurice,
    It's always informative to me, your comments on the Sabbath School lessons.
    I have a question- In 1 Corinthians 7 Paul under inspiration posits that the marriage Vows Must Be Taken Seriously. He says, as I quote
    " And unto the married I command, yet not I, but the Lord, Let not the wife depart from her husband"(1 Cor 7:10).
    My female friend and Sister in Christ is in an unequally yoked domestically violent marital relationship for over 16 years. According to the text above, what options she has?

    Oh!
    She's fed up and isn't opting for counseling soon since she explored that option with further stresses.

    Thank you kindly as I await your response.

    Amen!(4)
    • I don't think that Paul's advice that "let not the wife depart from her husband" should ever be interpreted that a wife should stay in an abusive situation. If a person is abusive in a marriage situation, the perpetrator is the one who has not taken their vows seriously and broken them.

      Amen!(13)
      • I am a victim of divorce and I can say the experience is very complicated. It is so complicated because it makes you feel strange in your own church family.
        You dont feel the warmth of church any more because many people dont know how to handle you.
        1.You struggle with issues about future because you are not clear what to do.
        2. You struggle for community and church acceptance
        3.You lose friends

        Aloneness is hard to avoid when you go through divorce. The church family can help by providing unconditional and deliberate support to the victims(Maurice said about this).When our churches miss this support many divorced people tend to seek refuge elsewhere.

        Amen!(5)
  7. Im a divorced man and, yes. Church always condemn you... but if you stay firm in your faith... sooner or later you will find real friends and some members of your family will support you and help to rebuild your life. God's love is the best haven in these cases... I love this lesson... thanks.

    Amen!(5)
  8. I ran across this in my reading and it is very appropriate to our lessons this quarter.”Although in life change is normal and even necessary, not all change is desirable and beneficial. Beliefs and practices do not automatically become right simply because they are expressions of ourselves or of the prevalent culture. God’s will, as revealed in Scripture, supersedes all human institution and customs. Therefore we have to recognize and resist cultural views and practices opposed to the gospel of Christ, less we damage our relationship to God and water down our message and mission. Then Jesus’ words would also apply to us: “Neglecting the commandment of God, you hold to the tradition of men’ (Mark 7:8). True Christians will walk as Jesus walked, keep God‘s Commandments, and love not only God but their brothers and sisters as well. “(The Letters of John, p.43, Ekkehardt Mueller).

    Amen!(2)
  9. I remember when my parents were breaking up . My dad cried my mother didn’t. I was sad & hurt for him. They never married. He got over it. He still loved my mother even though they both moved on and found other partners/ spouse. As a child I always hoped they would get back together. When my mum married & had 3 children to my step father I knew it was never ever going to happen. My father passed away 2014 which is still quite painful & have not gotten over it.

    Amen!(3)
  10. I liken the issue of marriage and divorce to that of a relationship and faithfulness with God.
    That the union should be sacrosanct and in case of a separation a remedial action and process to be employed to iron out the differences between the aggrieved with the sole aim of reconciliation, to make peace - not pieces -with each other, to make peace with God.

    Amen!(1)
    • While I understand where you are coming from Daniel, In an imperfect world we have to face the realization that there are imperfect marriages. We should never make a case where a person should stay in an abusive marriage relationship. The abuser has broken the relationship and the marriage vows when that happens. I have seen too many abusive relationships, even ones that have attempted reconciliation, to even suggest that it is God's intention that the abused person remains in that relationship.

      Amen!(7)
  11. Dear Maurice, your comment of breaking the vows when one becomes abusive, bring to my mind a thought which you are not expressing. That is the freedom or release of the abused party from the bond of marriage as it sits in scripture.
    As a local church, in our bid to support members in violent relationships, have been stuck on the way forward even after establishing that the marriage is unsustainable.
    The instruction that "He who marries one who has divorced, commits adultery" seem to end all efforts into stalemate. The only windows that get acceptance is separation due to Infidelity and where the other party remarries.
    please shed a little more light.

    Amen!(3)
    • Just remember that I am a layperson and not a theological expert when I answer your question. So my answer is just a personal idea. If you understand the context where Jesus gave the instruction about divorce, he was answering the notion that a man could simply tell his wife that he did not like her anymore and could write out a bill of divorce on the spot. A woman who left her husband for any reason at all had no legal standing at all. The situation was very one-sided. My view is that Jesus was saying that changing your wife simply because you did not like the one you had was not a good enough excuse. I think Jesus was leveling the playing field for women. In those days women had few legal rights and Jesus' statement was really about how women should be treated.

      I think an abuser in a marriage situation has revoked their marriage vows in much the same way as an adulterer and that the abused person should be free to remarry if they so choose. The Bible makes no mention of the issue of abuse in marriage so we are left with the situation that we have to apply the principles expressed in the Bible to the situation we face today.

      Amen!(6)
      • I think the Bible speaks to this issue in 1 Corinthians 7:15 KJV "But if the unbelieving [spouse] depart, let him depart. A brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases..."

        I believe that "depart" refers not only to physical abandonment but to emotional abandonment as well and this is certainly true in domestic violence cases. In either case, the abandoned spouse is free to marry again.

        Amen!(2)
        • Siege, thanks for drawing my attention to 1Cor 7, it answers the question of unbelieving spouse departing and it also addresses my concern - it clearly says that it is better to be unmarried unless you can't control yourself.
          Why did Paul say this? What about "it is not good for man to be alone"

          Amen!(0)
          • Hi Shirley. In 1 Corinthians 7:15 KJV Paul does not say "it is better to be unmarried." He says that, as in adultery, abandonment releases the victimized spouse of the marital covenant. He or she is thus free to remarry.

            Amen!(0)
          • Siege you are correct, but when turning to 1Cor 7:15, my eye was caught by 1Cor 7:1 and 1Cor 7:7-8 where Paul says to the unmarried and to widows: It is good for them to remain single like him, which is a different issue to what you were discussing but isn't that the way sometimes with Bible study when you are looking at one issue you get light on another.

            Amen!(0)
    • Context is everything when looking for answers from Scripture. Jesus was being challenged by a running debate among Pharisees between those that thought a man could divorce for any reason and the idea that one could never divorce except in extreme circumstances. The debate arose out of Moses' bill of divorcement that said if a man find something "unclean" in his wife he could divorce her by making a bill of divorcement allowing the woman to marry.

      Considering that men held all the legal and social cards in that day, a woman dismissed from a home was in a veritable dangerous state. She could become enslaved. She may be left with going into prostitution just to avoid being a slave or destitute in life. There were few options, even with family for a divorced woman was a social outcast.

      Moses' bill of divorcement was to protect the woman from social destitution and/or being an object to pass off and take back on a whim.

      Jesus would make it clear that that divorce Moses gave was because of hard hearts and then clarifies what it meant as to being unclean. The only out for a marriage was something to do with sexual issues. Jesus doesn't specify. But He does allow that exception.

      Jesus recognized we are in a broken world and He supports marriage pragmatically. There are those times when marriages can dissolve. What Jesus was stressing was flippant reasons for getting out of a marriage. He was supporting value in the wife since the man held all the cards in His day, too. Marriage is important. Treat it as something to protect and value. Yet, it takes two to do that, and there are those times when one or both will never find a way to reconcile.

      Amen!(0)
  12. In the case of divorce and remarriage... I always find it dangerous to put words in God’s mouth where God is very clear. As such I can only stick to the biblical grounds for divorce. That said, I believe the church ought to have a means of counsel towards reconciliation for couples going through problems in marriage. And above all we really don’t need our own solutions when we can simply turn to God. He is still the God who sees the affliction of his people, hears their cries, know their sorrow and comes down to deliver them. It’s always not safe trying to create our own solutions like did Abraham

    Amen!(0)
  13. Difficult subject to be sure. We still struggle, as they did in the days of Jesus, to know just what is the best way to approach the situation. Does divorce forever blight both couples in church standing? Should it be taken lightly and for any reason divorce is ok, etc. Divorce isn't the unpardonable sin, and we must remember both individuals are still people who need support and care.

    Amen!(0)

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