Two days ago my husband and I celebrated our 21st wedding anniversary…just days after I learned of the divorce of a friend from my youth.  She is a Christian, and in her letter about the divorce she talked about how God is in control and would help her through this time.

Divorce is something that God never intended, and certainly does not intend for the body of believers.  Before I jump into a preachy soapbox in which a reader may feel pointing fingers, I want to tell you that I am not innocent in this subject area.  A few years ago I was on the brink of leaving my husband.  We had gone through some very difficult years in our marriage, and our relationship was very tattered and bruised.  Without delving into all of the mucky details, the whole thing came down to one moment when I locked myself in my bathroom.  It had all come to a head and I needed to make a decision…stay or go.  I was in so much pain at that moment.  Torn and confused beyond what I ever thought I could be.  I cried out to God…and I heard Him say, very clearly, “Stay.”  Believe me, that was not really what I wanted to hear.  Not so deep down I was really hoping God would see my side of things and give me the go-ahead to leave.  But He didn’t.  Being obedient to His command was one of the hardest things I had ever had to do to that point, but I did it, because He gave me the strength to do it.  And God used that obedience to do some major fixing.  He made a lot of changes in my husband’s life…and a lot in my own.  Marriage takes both partners, and no matter how much I wanted to blame my husband for all of our troubles, there was trouble that was my own doing as well.  God saved our marriage because He wants us together.  And together we can honor and serve Him in a way that we couldn’t apart from each other.

Now I’m going back to the part about divorce being something God does not intend…and to be more blunt, approve.  Sorry.  He doesn’t, and that is the truth of His holy Word.  There is reason behind it that is more than just keeping two people together.  It involves the Church as well.  But first things first.  Jesus brought up the topic of divorce in His Sermon on the Mount of Olives.  In Matthew 5:31-32 Jesus says that divorcing causes the spouse to commit adultery (breaking one of the 10 Commandments), and that anyone who marries a divorced person also commits adultery.

Jesus expands on this in Matthew 19:3-12 and Mark 10:2-12, two records of the same event.  The Pharisees had come to Jesus to test him, as usual, and threw the question of divorce at Him.  Moses had allowed divorce, and so, of course what Jesus said on the Mount of Olives contradicted that.  In part of these passages Jesus explained that Moses allowed divorce because of the hardness of the hearts of the Israelites, not because it was what God wanted.  But because the Pharisees needed more of the ‘why’ answered Jesus told them the following from Matthew 19:4-6, which He quotes from the Old Testament (Genesis 1:27; 5:2; and 2:24):  And He answered and said to them, “Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’?  So then, they are no longer two but one flesh.  Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.”

Jesus made one exception to this rule.  That was in the case of unfaithfulness.

When a couple divorces, it is wrong, but there is much more going on here than just a divorce of a marriage and the break up of the family.  Especially when the divorce happens in the lives of Christians.  Statistics go both ways on divorce among Christians and/or churchgoers.  Often it is claimed that the divorce rate is just as high as it is with non-Christian/churchgoers.  (I do differentiate between Christians and churchgoers because not all churchgoers are Christians.)  Other sites claim that among true Christians, those who faithfully practice their faith and beliefs, the divorce rate is much lower.  Regardless of the statistics that are out there, I can say that I see it personally far more often in the church than I should.  I cannot comment on the strength of a divorced person’s faith, other than to say that I have seen these people in church regularly for a very long period of time, or I am witness to confessions of their faith in various manners.

Satan is using divorce as an attack among the people of God.  There are obvious reasons why he would do this.  The first is that divorce is disobedience to God’s commands.  In luring Christians into divorcing their spouse, Satan is offering a temptation to sin.  He fills their heads with lies about their spouse, as well as about themselves.  He is able to exaggerate the flaws of the spouse, as well as the individual innocence of self, in a way that is blindingly filled with half-truths and out-right lies.  When divorce occurs, sin is committed, and distance is put between the Christian and God.  Of course there is forgiveness, when sin is confessed.  But I wonder how much repentance can truly occur while the divorce continues…I honestly don’t know the answer to that question.  As with any sin that pulls us away from God, turning back to Him is difficult.  The longer we wait to confess and repent, the wider that gap grows between us, and the more and more difficult it becomes for us to return to Him.  Divorce is such a painful thing, and those lies that Satan feeds us create such bitterness, anger and resentment.  It is a great task to overcome those feelings, and the hardness of heart, that by the time it is accomplished, the gap between Christian and God can be very large.  Satan’s mission:  accomplished.

Satan’s attack on the church is three-fold, though.  He tears down the relationship between a Christian and God.  He tears apart a marriage that God brought together for a purpose that goes beyond what we see as we stand at the alter to say our I-do’s.  And Satan does damage to the Church as a whole.  He tears apart the members of the Body of Christ.  Not just between the two who divorced, but all those in the church who know them.  One, or both, may leave the congregation, or even the church altogether.  Whether they leave or not, the rest of the body is in a situation where they are uncomfortable with how to respond to this situation, and these two people.  A few months ago, a lady from church, who had been divorced from her husband after they had been members together in this congregation for many years, married someone else.  Jesus said in His Olivet Discourse that God considered this adultery, both the divorce, and then the re-marriage to someone else.  How do I, as a Christian, and as a co-member of the Body of Christ, the Church, congratulate her and tell her I’m happy for her?  I really, really struggled with that.  The situation created enmity between parts of The Body.

Satan’s attack on the Church through divorce is also symbolic in nature.  The Bible describes the Church as the Bride of Christ (2 Corinthians 11:2; Ephesians 5:30-32; and Colossians 1:24).  The marriage of the Church (the Bride) to Christ (the Groom), joins us together with Jesus as one, He being the Head of the Body.  We, the Church, are a unit with Christ, just as a husband and wife are a unit, together.  As Satan continues to spread divorce through the Church, it is a symbol of his work to break down the marriage between Christ and the Church.

We must protect not only our human marriages, but also the marriage of the Church to Christ!!  If you are a Christian and married, pray for protection over your marriage!!  If you are a Christian who is unhappy in your marriage, pray for healing and restoration in your marriage, and for protection.  Remember, I don’t say this as someone who has not faced the pain and questions you face now.  But, God is faithful.  He does not want you to leave your spouse.  If the choice is yours, chose what God would have you do.  Be obedient to Him, and He will be faithful to you.  If you are a Christian who has gone through divorce, confess, repent, and seek God’s leadership in your life.  I know that God would heal your marriage, you, and your spouse, if you would open the door for Him to do that.  I know that may not be what you want, but God can give you a change of heart, too, if you are willing to obey.  If you are a Christian, married or not, pray for the protection of the Church, and the marriage between her and Christ.  We do live in the End Times.  More than any time in history, we need to use the power of prayer, and seek the protection of God for the Church.  Satan’s divorce weapon must be destroyed!!!