Sanctified IN my Gracious Lord’s Evaluation – 1 John 1:9
God is faithful to forgive me and purify me. When I confess my sins to God and ask for His forgiveness, I am clean is His sight. He wipes the slate clean. That is difficult to understand because of the grudges that people continue to hold against each other. It is even more complex when I think of how hard it is for me to exonerate myself. One of the worst decisions that I ever made was to get married, and I have carried the guilt of divorce with me for nearly ten years. So, for my sake and all of the other Christian divorcees, I needed to see what God says about divorce, so that I could finally put my guilt and shame, which is no way brought on by God, to rest.
What does the Bible say about divorce?
Well, in the Old Testament, it does not look promising for a divorced woman.
- Leviticus 21:10-15 – The high priest shall not marry a divorced woman. Bad news: I can’t marry a High Priest.
- Leviticus 22:13 - But if the priest's daughter be a widow, or divorced, and have no child, and is returned unto her father's house, as in her youth, she shall eat of her father's meat: but there shall be no stranger eat thereof. Good news: I can live with my parents.
- Deuteronomy 24:1-4 - If a man marries a woman and then it happens that he no longer likes her because he has found something wrong with her, he may give her divorce papers, put them in her hand, and send her off. After she leaves, if she becomes another man's wife and he also comes to hate her and this second husband also gives her divorce papers, puts them in her hand, and sends her off, or if he should die, then the first husband who divorced her can't marry her again. She has made herself ritually unclean, and her remarriage would be an abomination in the Presence of God and defile the land with sin, this land that God, your God, is giving you as an inheritance. Bad news: If I get divorced again, I become a disgrace, so I better be careful next time.
The New Testament is a little more hopeful…emphasis on “little”
- Matthew 5:31-32 – "Remember the Scripture that says, 'Whoever divorces his wife, let him do it legally, giving her divorce papers and her legal rights'? Too many of you are using that as a cover for selfishness and whim, pretending to be righteous just because you are 'legal.' Please, no more pretending. If you divorce your wife, you're responsible for making her an adulteress (unless she has already made herself that by sexual promiscuity). And if you marry such a divorced adulteress, you're automatically an adulterer yourself. You can't use legal cover to mask a moral failure…” Bad news: Before Jesus died, I was considered an adulteress.
- Matthew 19: 4-9 – He answered, "Haven't you read in your Bible that the Creator originally made man and woman for each other, male and female? And because of this, a man leaves father and mother and is firmly bonded to his wife, becoming one flesh—no longer two bodies but one. Because God created this organic union of the two sexes, no one should desecrate his art by cutting them apart." They shot back in rebuttal, "If that's so, why did Moses give instructions for divorce papers and divorce procedures?" Jesus said, "Moses provided for divorce as a concession to your hard heartedness, but it is not part of God's original plan. I'm holding you to the original plan, and holding you liable for adultery if you divorce your faithful wife and then marry someone else. I make an exception in cases where the spouse has committed adultery." Good news: Though divorce was not in the original plan, God made an exception is cases of adultery.
What does all of this mean? Does God really forgive me? If I believe the Bible, and I do, God absolutely forgives me. God is not fickle as we humans can be. God does not want us to wallow in guilt. He wants us to learn from our mistakes, and follow His path. He shows this throughout the Bible.
On Monday, I will post the second part of this blog for divorcees...Ms. EV