Life After Christian Divorce
Dr. Monica Vaskey
God, the Creator of marriage, the first institution, has laid out His plan for marriage as a lifelong union. What happens when we stray from His intention? The Bible addresses marriage and divorce. God’s design for marriage never included abuse, violence, or coercive control. Emotional abuse can bruise or severely harm a person’s heart, mind, and soul.
The apostle Paul further taught that the marital relationship is an ongoing demonstration of the sacrificial love that Christ showed His church. (See Ephesians 5:21-33.) What happens when the sacrificial love fades or is fractured? What does the Bible tell us about divorce?
Let’s look at this issue more closely. Sometimes, it is necessary. Sometimes, it’s even unavoidable. Nonetheless, we in the Body of Christ must encourage those in troubled marriages to seek counseling and restoration first because most divorces are neither inevitable nor necessary.
Some Christians disagree about whether the Bible allows divorce and remarriage. If you are concerned about having biblical grounds for divorce, you should look to prayer and study first and seek counsel from your pastor, spiritual leader, or counselor.
Is divorce preventable?
If you follow Jesus Christ, please pray carefully about your decision to divorce, and be open to God’s leading. (God’s heart is to heal marriages.) However, you can consider a legal separation first, giving you and your spouse more time to consider the issue.
Pray that God will open the lines of communication between you and your spouse and restore the love in your relationship. Pray for patience and a forgiving spirit. Try to resist the temptation to say angry words to your spouse or do things that would push them further away. Restoration does occur even in the most hostile circumstances.
You need help.
You may feel that there is no hope after marriage, and the hurt is too deep to restore or find new relationships and love you once had. The truth is that your life after marriage can be better and more robust than it was before. We can argue that God would never plan for any divorce or the pain of separation.
But God sometimes allows pain to bring about a greater good for His people and his purpose. God instructed Moses to lead His people out of Egypt into the desert. After a short period of rejoicing, the people started to feel the pain of desert living, remembering that they had been accustomed to a life of abundance in Egypt (though they had been slaves).
In their pain, they learned they had to lean on God for everything. Every day God uses sin to bring His children closer to Him. In good times, it is easy to forget that we still need God daily. We may feel the closest to Christ during painful trials, but even after we start to heal, the hope is that our relationship with Christ will be just as valuable as it was in the beginning.
When we surrender to His will and accept His grace, then we can be used to further the Kingdom, even being divorced. In keeping God at the center of our life, we continue with the ministry and the purpose that He has given us.
Divorce is a kind of death – the death of a marriage. Experts agree that grief from divorce is much more complicated than the feelings following the death of a partner. Family and friends can be hurtful after a divorce, especially if they do not agree with the decision. Shame, failure, and rejection compound the tremendous anguish of losing the security of marriage.
Because an unwanted divorce is so complicated, you need support from people who understand your situation. You may find a supporter in your pastor, a professional counselor, a trusted friend, or a Christian support group. Give yourself time to recover from this tremendous loss. Research suggests it takes about five years to acclimate to a divorce.
Although God hates divorce, He loves you through it and will always be there for you and with you. God embraces your pain and confusion. The Bible reminds us that Jesus lifts those who are broken, rejected, downhearted, and hopeless.
Maintain your integrity.
To get through this delicate process, you must remain faithful to God. Although your marriage may have failed, you can still be in His will, recognizing Him through this tremendous difficulty. No matter the outcome, maintain your integrity as you lean on your faith for strength.
Walking with integrity includes following Paul’s tutoring in Romans 12:18 “ If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” Applied to your situation, you must do whatever you can to resolve the underlying problems leading to the divorce. Ask can your partner, pastor, or counselor, “How have I contributed to this? What do I need to change?” Evaluate how or if you may have a part to play and forgive the wrong they have done to you.
Set healthy boundaries.
In Paul’s teaching, he included the expression “as far as it depends on you.” This implies that you cannot take responsibility for your partner’s choices, nor should you force the marriage to stay together. Pursuing peace does not mean soliciting your partner to stay. This feeds into destructive and, indeed, unhealthy patterns.
Let them leave if they want to go. Also, deflect the temptation to ignore destructive patterns for the sake of the marriage. However, turning a blind eye is unwise if your partner has been treacherous, unfaithful, and abusive.
Do not lose hope.
Another aspect of integrity is remaining committed to your marriage if it appears to be over. Unless your partner has married, the possibility of conciliation always remains. Numerous couples have married decades after their divorce indeed. While there are no guarantees, you can continue supplicating that God will restore your marriage.
God’s blessing is not just for complete families but for all who remain faithful to Him. The Adversary will try to move you so that God can no longer use you, that your divorce is shameful. In all aspects, God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28).
Keep loving Him, and do not lose sight of your calling as His child. When we were created, each of us was assigned a purpose. Even when we were young, it was always there. God has revealed the meaning behind your life, trials, and divorce daily.
Redeem your life.
God employs suffering to comfort the suffering. He aids in redemption by using the saved. God might use your divorce as a means of healing, giving you faith in your ability to endure, even flourish in the future, and share your experiences with others.
The fact that you have gone through a divorce, have recovered, and are flourishing on the other side can give people the hope and healing they need. Letting others know that you also went through a breakup would be best.
Observing how much better your existence is now, for self-care, divorced individuals occasionally start support groups or Bible studies, write books, give speeches, or compose inspirational music. After healing, we can all devise a method to give meaning to our suffering. God can use your divorce just as much as a marriage.
Whatever God has for you to do, do it to shed light on the dark areas of suffering, resentment, conflict, and divorce. Although our purpose may differ from one another, we can all be used in unique ways to solace those suffering and advance the Kingdom for God’s glory.
As you look for the reason or understanding behind your divorce, keep God near you, and He will walk with you. We can accomplish our God-purpose not through our strength but through the force and power of God residing within us, no matter the situation. Jesus and the Bible set high standards for love and relationships. God wants us to be holy and righteous, and marriage symbolizes God’s covenant with us.
But our Scriptures also teach us we have a God who loves us even though we often do not live the way God calls us to. We are human, and we make mistakes. Thank heaven we can repent and rely on God’s forgiveness when we get it wrong or fail.
“Broken Heart”, Courtesy of Kelly Sikkema, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Barrier”, Courtesy of Eric Ward, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Wedding Ring”, Courtesy of Engin Akyurt, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Broken Family”, Courtesy of Geralt, Pixabay.com, CC0 License