Yep. Twice divorced, three times married, all by the time I turned 30. I do love to divulge that tidbit of my history as reading the reactions of those hearing it has given me much insight into how lightly I need to tread moving forward. I once watched a woman choke on her salad. Red light. To be fair, I’m choosing who to share this with because I’m interested in getting to know them and if it’s so horrifying to hear that someone has been divorced, more than once, that’s a telling sign that it isn’t a relationship I should pursue. A relationship is not worth having if there’s no transparency (that’d be considered an acquaintance), even with your dirtiest laundry, of which divorce isn’t alone in my hamper. Please don’t hear me wrong, I’m not proud of my divorce(s). However, I’m also not ashamed either. It’s a fine line to balance on, due to the biblical evidence that divorce is a sin (1 Corinthians 7:10-11) and, in addition, I’m technically still married to my first husband (biblically, not legally!) and an avowed adulteress (Romans 7:2-3). Is there guilt or regret wrapped up when recollecting my past? Nope. Ultimately, my accountability is to God and, although He didn’t approve of my choices, He walked with me as I made them. That is the beauty of His love, agape and unconditional; for parents, we live out this love for our children everyday.
Divorce is so common today, even multiple divorces, but that doesn’t change that it still looked upon by God as a committed sin. This is where I find ease in calling a sin a sin when it comes to other common sins in our culture. I make no excuses for mine and, in turn, I can’t accept excuses from others. The Bible says, in black and white (or red and white), what God considers sin and all the explaining, blaming, deflecting, justifying and rationalizing won’t change that. Depending on the circumstances of the split, Scripture allows it for specified reasons (Matthew 5:32 and 19:9) but even those are due to our hard heartedness (Matthew 19:8). Malachi contains one of the most forceful declarations against divorce where the Lord says, “I hate divorce” (2:16). Be dutiful in reading the context of that zinger and it reveals why God says this. He always has righteous reasons for His ways and this passage is unpacking the unfaithfulness of Judah in her relation to Israel. In addition, the verse (2:16) listed above goes on to say more about what God hates, “and I hate a man’s covering himself (or his wife) with violence as well as with his garment.” Back in Jeremiah 3:6-14, more insight as to why God hates divorce is written by allegorizing the adulterous actions of both Judah and Israel. In sum, adultery and divorce are hated because they are breaking the marriage covenant of faithfulness not only to our marriage partners, but fundamentally in breaking our faithfulness to God.
How did Jesus Christ deal with adulterous divorcées? Certainly not by choking on His salad. The Samaritan woman at the well, who’d had five husbands, was engaged in dialogue with Jesus where He didn’t soften the blow to calling her out in her multiple marriages (John 4:16-18), but had a higher purpose in converting her so she would deliver His message and “many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony” (John 4:39). Fast forward four chapters to John 8, where Jesus is confronted by Pharisees who have caught a woman in adultery and are wanting to stone her. Still no salad choking here. He replies by calling out, first, the Pharisees in their self righteousness and, second, the woman as He sends her off, “‘Then neither do I condemn you,’ Jesus declared. ‘Go now and leave your life of sin'” (8:11). He released her, uncondemned, but commanded her to leave behind her life of sin. Jesus didn’t affirm either of these women’s sinful lives, but He did accept them. He hasn’t changed. He will always tell us to go and leave our sin behind. For some, that’ll be on repeat, replaying the same sin over and over again. As mentioned in a previous post, this is the sanctification process for sinners to saints.
Having no residual guilt or regret for my past isn’t because I don’t comprehend the gravity of my sin against a Holy God. I understand where I stand before Him and, in Christ, there is no condemnation (Romans 8:1). Continuing to condemn yourself for previously committed trespasses is a time and energy waster, not to mention self pity is a form of pride. Jesus told you once already, as He did the adulteress, He doesn’t condemn you, so go on about life and leave the sin where it is, the past. And yes, even yesterday counts as the past. As many times as it takes, if you’re struggling, you’re striving. Not that having a loaded dirty laundry basket is a prerequisite for humility, but in my case, my load keeps me habitually humble when witnessing the sins of others. I’m not sure that I could be ears to anyone’s sin issues and choke upon hearing them. As a matter of fact, it’s when I hear another confess that there’s minimal sin in their life that I feel like choking. In those cases, its generally self righteousness staring you in the face and, although it may seem more difficult to point that out to its beholder, let Jesus do it for us as He addressed the Pharisees in defense of the adulteress, saying that “any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone” and “those who heard began to go away one at a time” (John 8:7-9).