Does Divorce carry a scarlet letter? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.
There is a stigma our society sometimes has with divorce, and this is abundantly so in the church. Thankfully, my church has a heart for the divorced so I haven’t seen this yet, but I have been told about this from others. Someone in my DivorceCare group the first time was a former Baptist minister who could no longer preach. Why? He’s divorced.
Yes, but what are the circumstances? Doesn’t matter. He’s divorced. End of story.
Someone else messaged me on Facebook to say that when their wife divorced them, they were not allowed to hold a position in the church. Why? Because an elder must be above reproach according to 1 Tim. 3. Never mind the person the letter is attributed to was a murderer of Christians in the past and called himself the chief of sinners in the first chapter. All of these are minor details.
You see, I can imagine trying to speak to a church one day about doing apologetics work for them and being asked if I’m married and my replying that I’m divorced. Now I could just say I am single, but if they look me up at all, which is likely, they will see I am divorced so no need to hide it. Then the obvious question will arise of why. I can give my side, but it is only my side. What reason do they have to believe me? I can tell them they can even contact my former in-laws, but color me skeptical that that will be considered a worthwhile use of time.
I wonder if the same will happen when I take a girl out on a date. Let’s suppose things get serious and she wants me to meet her parents. I go to do so and immediately, they want to ask me about the divorce. What if they say they hear that I was an abusive husband, for example?
This happens and it’s a real concern. It’s one of the reasons divorce is so destructive. There is a real split and it affects both parties and often people they interact with. There’s even a reality that if you have a large group of couples that are friends and one gets a divorce, the others are more likely to get a divorce.
I have a friend who has gone through a divorce because her husband was abusive. What if the same thing happened if she was wanting to work for a church. Never mind that her husband was a danger to her and could have been one to the kids. Nope. She’s divorced. Move along there.
End result of this overall? Christians who are already suffering rejection because of a divorce, and I am talking, in this case, about those who are wrongfully divorced, are further rejected by the people who are supposed to show love and grace to them the most and meet them in their suffering. Is it any wonder some people don’t want to go to church?
The church already tends to look at single Christians who are of age as if they are lesser Christians. Now picture those who are divorced. Some of us who are divorced, like myself, want to remarry. Others are just fine with staying single and have no interest. For those who are like me, it is often thought that until we get married again, we are second-class citizens. In the case of a pastor who is divorced prior, they suddenly become redeemed and useful for ministry again sometimes if they remarry.
There are ways the church can show love to the divorced regardless of if they want to remarry or not. I will get to that eventually. Before that, I do plan to do a series on what not to do and that includes statements that should never be made to a person going through or who has gone through divorce.
For all readers also, I want to let you know that these writings are coming from me after months of going through this and for the most part, carrying it privately. I have enough friends who knew what was going on, but on social media, I did not make it known publicly. I have had some of you get in touch with me making sure I am okay. For the most part, I am. Sometimes, I do have anxiety and depression hit for an acute moment. It’s one more reason I want to get health insurance. Overall, I have enough in my life to keep me going and I do plan to write eventually on what divorce is like today.
I am thankful the stigma hasn’t hit me so hard yet. I hope it never does. Most people who have only just met me seem utterly stunned when I say I have been accused of being abusive. They can tell I’m not that type. I try to remember that whatever is going on, God will use it for my good if I remain faithful to Him. I don’t know the future and how this will work out, but I never have before either. Why should now be any different?
However, my sincere thanks to all of you who are reading these posts and reaching out and contributing. Some of you have become donors on Patreon and that leaves me thankful. Some of you have subscribed to my YouTube channel. I hope also some of you have been blessed when reaching out to me as I want to help you if you’re going through divorce as well.
But to the church as a whole, please keep in mind this stigma. Not all marriages are equal, and neither are all divorces. No one is a perfect spouse, but in many cases, one spouse can be wronged greatly and be the party that is unjustly divorced. Do not treat them like they have committed the unpardonable sin. All of us have sins. Some of your sins are not mine and some of mine are not yours. All of us need grace. That includes those who have been divorced. Even those who have wrongly divorced someone need to be shown love and grace to work them to a place of forgiveness and repentance.
Please remember the divorced in your midst. It is extremely difficult for a man to have been faithful to a wife and then told he can’t help his church in the way he wants because of what was done to him. That man will be a victim twice over then. Divorce is a great evil and I still hold to that, even when it is sadly necessary due to something like abuse. Don’t compound that by adding rejection to it further.
(And I affirm the virgin birth)