What Does the Bible Say About Divorce?

Wayne Stocks —  In Theology of Divorce July 20, 2011

Divorce Ministry 4 Kids is now/

Hope 4 Hurting Kids

We are in the process of updating all articles and information from this site and moving them to their new home. 

You can find an updated copy of this article on Hope 4 Hurting Kids using this link.

Please wait while you are redirected...or Click Here if you do not want to wait.

Hi Susan,

I heart your heart because I’ve been there myself and it hurts. The very place where we should receive comfort and solace from the world is the place where we are rejected the most. When one divorces it does become the unpardonable sin according to many in the church. I don’t think it’s intentional though. I think church people don’t know what they don’t know. I’m not even sure they realize how judgmental they are.

I also believe the church is being manipulated by Satan. If he can get church people to reject the divorced, he knows the world won’t. Many times I think the church pushes the divorced out into the world. I can’t tell you the number of divorced people I know and have worked with that pull away from the church. It’s hard to go and sit on the back pew. It’s not fair to be asked to step down from serving because you are now divorced. There are situations where I believe it is good for the freshly divorced to step down from positions of service for a time of healing and to concentrate on their children. But not in every situation. I played the piano at my church and many times it was what I clung to. It seemed to be the only time during the week where life seemed just a bit normal. It was also a way for me to give back to the Lord during a crisis.

When I divorced my very best friend in our church and a sister in Christ took me to lunch and said, “Now that you are getting a divorce we can no longer be friends.” This hurt to the core of my being. Years later I found out that her marriage was on the rocks and she was trying desperately to protect her marriage. That is the case more times than not.

I have a good friend who was a minister’s wife. He left her and the church rejected her not him. She wrote a book called, “Divorce Hurts Even at Church”. I’m not sure it is still available. Her name is Dianne Swaim and her website that has some great articles on it. http://www.freshspirit.com/topics.htm

I also have some articles on my website to help and encourage single parents. I do workshops at churches to help them understand the importance of ministering to single parents. I also post articles for church leaders to help them understand what an important role they have in helping the divorced heal. My website is http://www.hlp4.com

I was just in Dallas, TX this past weekend presenting a workshop called “Divorce Hurts”. It was to help them understand the single parent life. God calls the church to reach out. He is very clear about it also. Christ reached out and had and still has a tender heart for the widow and orphan. And the mum that is divorced is a widow to Christ.

Another resource is the Association of Marriage and Family Ministry (AMFM). This group understands that the single parent family is still a family. We have a single parent ministry team with AMFM. Here is the link to our ministry team: http://www.amfmonline.com/single_parent_family_ministry.asp

There is a new video based program for churches to use to minster to this growing population. It’s called “Singles & Parenting”. If you want more information about it, please email me. I am an independent salesperson for DivorceCare for Kids, DivorceCare and Singles& Parenting.

I know it’s hard but hang in there. There are organizations and people that are slowly making inroads in this area. Don’t give up. Keep attending church. Keep praying. Keep reading articles on this site.

You can get through this and come out on the other side stronger. Many of us have and we need help.

suzan broadbent says:

Sometimes Christians fail to grapple with real world issues. They hide behind black and white clear cut thinking, believing the world, the bible and God have simplistic answers. They find one answer and fail to look further. I am a christian. I have been attending churches throughout my life. I used to be very active in the church. Now I’m not. Most Sundays I slip in and out without saying hello to anyone. Why? I am divorced. I am a single mum. People choose to not look further. They don’t pry by asking questions…. Instead they assume. They know married life is hard and assume I didn’t work hard enough. Well, when I met my husband to be, he was a church leader. We prayed together. But something happened to him at a church and he gave up on God. In his anger with life he became violent. He hurt my children. He hurt me. He sought days to control is. He still does. Married life is hard… And divorced life is hard…ESPECIALLY AT CHURCH. At church divorced life is alienating, isolating, lonely. The most difficult time I have had regarding the way I am treated as a divorced woman, had been at church. This should not be so. Church people, divorce is NOT the unpardonable sin, and you are not the judge and jury. I am glad your marriages have worked. Well done. Us single mums, we work hard too. We love God too. we have dreams aspirations and broken hearts and lives. We don’t need your judgement. We probably judge ourselves. We need your smile, your kindness, your acceptance.

Wayne Stocks says:

Susan,

Thank you so much for your comments. I think far too often as “the church” we forget that there are very real very hurting people that live in this very fallen world right alongside us. Instead, we hide behind the glass walls of a religion and external morality and forget that our Savior was not about religion but about relationships. I believe, as I hope was evident from this article, that the Bible is fairly clear when it comes to the issue of divorce. I also believe that knowing what we believe and why we believe it is important. That said, if we follow Jesus, our role is not to judge the relative sins of one another. The Bible is clear that we all sin, and that all sin is grievous in the eyes of a Holy God. It is equally clear that all sin is forgiven when we repent and accept Jesus as Lord. His death on the cross did not pay for all sins except divorce – it paid for all of them. To treat people differently denigrates the saving work of Lord on the cross. It breaks my heart that so many single parents, and consequently so many children, are driven away from church by judgmental attitudes, glances and a subtle ostracism at a time when they need the church the most. One of our goals here at Divorce Ministry 4 Kids is to call the church to address this issue head on. Should our churches call people to strong marriages and equip them with training and resources in that area? Absolutely! She we be equally welcoming to single parents and their kids and work to equip them in the roles that they are in? Without a doubt! Should we love both groups the same? Anything less is unacceptable!

I would be the first to say that an understanding of solid biblical doctrine is important in our spiritual journeys. I would also say that in ministering to hurting people, like our Lord, we must “lead with love.” We must approach the situation, any situation, with grace and mercy and love. We must remember that we all sin, and our God has forgiven us – not because we deserve it, but because in His mercy He chose to do so. When we keep the cross central to our theology, it is difficult to remain judgmental. When we realize that Christ died for me – a sinner! – it becomes impossible to judge ourselves better than any other sinner. As the church, we must resolve to be the hands and feet of Jesus to hurting people. Children of Divorce, single moms, grandparents who don’t get to see their grand-kids anymore, fathers who are denied access to their kids – all of these people are hurting, and it’s time the church (both its leadership and congregations) stood up, took notice and showed the love of Jesus to these hurting souls.

One of the heartbreaking things I am discovering from my survey of adult children of divorce is how few of them had someone who reached out to them during their parents’ divorce. Including, and especially, those who were in church at the time. I imagine the same is true for single mothers. God calls us to care for the widows and the orphans (something I am currently studying), and today I believe that single moms and children of divorce fit in God’s description of widows and orphans. The church must be intentional about loving and ministering to these groups.

Thank you again for sharing your story. It a story that the church, and the readers of this blog, need to hear. It is a story which, unfortunately, is all to common. It is something that we, as the church, need to repent of and turn from. If there is ever anything that we at Divorce Ministry 4 Kids can do for you Suzan, I hope that you won’t hesitate to ask.

In Him,

Wayne