Lies are from hell. Their father is the devil. His favorite kind of lies are like a small round rabbit turd at the bottom of a tall glass of pink lemonade. A lot of deliciousness with a little nasty plopped in. Just pretend it’s not there, and you’re good to go.
I know how this lie works, because I used it myself on a number of occasions. Where did I learn it? I’m not sure, but it was while growing up. Maybe my parents? Maybe someone in my church? Maybe my Christian college? Maybe while I was in ministry? Maybe I just “knew it” all along because it was part of the water I swam in. The Kool-Aid I drank. Regardless, I used it. I used it in my head when the couple from my childhood church got married. She was a widow, and he was divorced. Every time I saw them, I thought of them as very nice adulterers. I mean, she couldn’t help it she was a widow. It didn’t seem fair that she had to fall in love with a divorced man and become a chronic adulterer upon marrying him. (Those “adulterers” love the Lord and are happily married close to 40 years later.)
I used it when a friend of mine divorced her adulterous husband. I thought she should “try harder” to love him and make it work even though he kept loving other women. (Seriously. I was a die-hard idiot.) When couples I used to know in my 20’s and 30’s began to get divorced, they seemed tainted, somehow. Like they were lazy. Like they were selfish. Like they failed. We religious folks are big on comparing. Makes us feel good about ourselves when we can find something wrong with someone else.
So when I started wondering if I might end up with a scarlet D on my own chest, I decided to do some studying, since I really had no idea if God would hate it if I got divorced—or not. I mean, He was divorced, and I figured He hated it because it wasn’t what He wanted. He loved His original bride. But did His hatred of divorce mean nobody could get one without Him hating THEM? I didn’t think that really fit with what the rest of the Bible told me about Him, either. See how little I knew? I literally had not done any thinking on this subject at all. Time to start digging.
I had read a book in my earlier years about divorce (Marriage, Divorce, and Remarriage in the Bible by Jay Adams) because we used to be in full-time ministry, and it was required reading. BUT, I couldn’t remember much of what I had read. The thought that a Christian couple would get divorced was anathema in my mind. However, now I was supremely curious to find out if anyone had written comprehensively on this subject, and I found the Cry for Justice blog and Barbara Robert’s book, Not Under Bondage: Biblical Divorce for Abuse, Adultery and Desertion. All I could think the entire way through was, “How come nobody knows this or talks about this?” It was like someone put the missing piece to a puzzle I’d been trying to solve most of my life right into place. KABOOM!
Then I read Dr. David Instone Brewer’s Divorce and Remarriage in the Church. I was amazed at the meticulous research and scholarship involved in the writing of both books. They are not difficult to understand at all, and I highly recommend them to anyone who wants a fascinating journey into history.
UPDATE TO THIS POST BASED ON COMMENTS BELOW: Dr. Brewer is a senior research fellow at Tyndale House in the UK, the third most important biblical research library in the world (the other two are found in Jerusalem and Rome). Researchers who want to study the Old and New Testaments in their original languages go there to do their work. Dr. Brewer specifically studies ancient rabbinic manuscripts. My point is that he has done a little more studying than the average Church Person as well as the average pastor, elder, and small group leader. So before blowing off what he has discovered about divorce and remarriage in the Bible, I suggest reading his book and THEN speaking from a place of knowing. You can watch some videos he made HERE.
We don’t know what we don’t know. If you want to start on your own journey to learning more about what you don’t know – yet – Pastor Sam Powell has a couple of excellent blog posts in which he explains why the Bible doesn’t even SAY “God hates divorce” in the first place! That translation most likely had an agenda behind it. Don’t believe me? Go read his articles:
So the whole “God Hates Divorce” mantra is just that, a modern day catch phrase used to keep women in their place. Even women (or men, as the case may be) who are being sinned against regularly with no repentance or change on the part of the spouse. But what it ISN’T, is Bible truth.