Category Archives: divorce

A Mediation Model for Christians

Jesus was fully immersed in the identity, experiences and perspective of both God and man as mediator between the two. So for mediation to be successful, each has to identify with the experience and perspective of the other, overcome strong emotional states, and consider all options to bridge the gap. “Each of you look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others” (Phil. 2:4).

Remember, neither side is without fault. “For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23). God repeatedly commands his people to seek and pursue peace (Psalms 34:14; Jer. 29:7; Rom. 14:19; 1 Cor. 7:15; 2 Cor. 13:11; Col. 3:15; 1 Thes.5:13; Heb. 12:14. He also promises to bless those who do so (Psalms 37:37; Prov. 12:20; Mat. 5:9; James 3:18).

God’s sovereignty is so complete that he exercises ultimate control even over painful and unjust events (Ex. 4:10-12; Job 1:6-12; 42:11; Psalms 71:20-22; Isaiah 45:5-7; Lam. 3:37-38; Amos 3:6; 1 Peter 3:17). The biblical examples of Joseph resisting the same temptation David failed to resist resulted in suffering for both, but God used both greatly. God will remain present in our suffering and accomplish good through our trust in Him (Isaiah 43:2-3).

Resources

What Does the Bible Say About Divorce?

Divorce and Remarriage: A Redemptive Theology by Rubel Shelly

The Peacemaker by Ken Sande

Hope in the Face of Conflict by Ken C. Newberger

 

Cross

 

What Does the Bible Say about Divorce?

By Dean Whitfield

I believe in the inspired inerrancy of Scripture in the original manuscripts and all that implies; which includes that (1) Scripture does not contradict itself (Luke 16:11), (2) Christ fulfilled the Law (Matt. 5:17), (3) our God is a god of logic, not confusion (I Cor. 14:33), and (4) the truths of Scripture are available to everyone without prior need of special education or intellectual capabilities (II Tim. 3:16-17; Jas. 1:5).

Any discussion concerning the divorced and the church must of necessity begin with an understanding of God’s position on divorce. Continue reading What Does the Bible Say about Divorce?

Marriage, Divorce and Living Together

By Dan Blair, a marriage counselor and family counselor.

Over time divorce rates and marriage rates have gradually moved closer. More are divorcing and less are marrying.

If marriage interferes with personal happiness, divorce seems to be more of an option. Spouses explore whether or not they can be happy in the marriage, and if not, divorce is the next step. At the same time, people are scared to divorce because they can’t afford it. As the marriage deteriorates further, divorce becomes inevitable, often around the same time a bankruptcy is an option.

Many of the around fifty percent of adults who are not married, would like to get married, but are postponing it. When couples live together before marriage, either they are aiming at commitment, with marriage as a future option, or they fear commitment due to personal or economical reasons. Those who are postponing marriage for economical reasons are waiting for greater financial stability. The lower your income, the less likely you’ll opt out of marriage. Currently, there are more single parents and kids born out of wedlock than ever.

Some couples that live together before marriage will never commit, and some eventually commit because that’s the expectation, not necessarily a wish. Marrying out of expectation is a risk for divorce. Research is not positive about cohabitation, indicating that cohabitators report the lowest levels of sexual satisfaction and higher rates of depression, addiction and aggression. If there are kids involved, there are often more problems with the kids. Another growing segment experiencing such problems is those that live together after divorce.

Commitment appears to be the greatest determinant of a lasting marriage. Couples that involve themselves in spiritual practices more than four times a week have a divorce rate less than one percent. Religious couples also report the highest rates of sexual satisfaction.

The following are extracts of an article from the Northwest Herald in McHenry County:

By HILARY GOWINS – hgowins@shawmedia.com:

To Tie or Not to Tie (the Knot)

To have and to hold. For better or worse. For richer or poorer. In sickness and in health. To love and to cherish. Until death do us part.

In a day when the wedding industry brings in billions of dollars each year and love and commitment have come to be symbolized by the size of a diamond or the price of a dress, these simple, sacred vows can get lost.

It’s easy to stick to a promise when times are good. It’s the sicker and poorer parts that test the strength of a couple’s commitment.

Penny and Ken Schwall of McHenry know what it means to endure those tests. They have faced the joys and struggles of parenthood and both have lost jobs, but what happened 2 1⁄2 years ago changed their lives forever.

Ken Schwall had to move into a Barringtonnursing home after being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis at age 36, on top of two other lifelong birth defects in his spine.

Now both in their 50s, the Schwalls are living separately – he in the nursing home and she with their two adult daughters in the family’s McHenry home.

“What I tease about now is that we’ve had every test of our wedding vows,” Schwall said. “There are times when it seems easier just to walk away – it’s the till death do us part’ thing you always come back to.”

Times weren’t always so difficult for the couple. Penny Schwall still remembers the feeling she got when she first met Ken, how they dated for three years before getting married. Their parents are now dead, but Penny remembers that they set an example of staying together.

“Wedding vows should be a sacred commitment and taken seriously,” she said. “We didn’t live together or anything beforehand; we waited till we got married. That’s really been one of the first and foremost things, taking it seriously. Marriage was very important to us as far as being together and having a family.”

———-

“Trends all around the United States seem to show that this is what’s happening – there are fewer marriages and more people residing together,” said Sara Busche, an attorney with Gitlin, Busche and Stetler in Woodstock. “A lot of the time, this is a way people cut costs. The law has to catch up to try to address issues when these breakups occur later, though. Because when you live together with someone for a long time and acquire assets together, there’s no law that addresses how that’s handled with unmarried people.”

The ways in which arrangements such as this affect individual relationships can’t be described in uniform terms. However, the Rev. Ken Gibson of Grace Lutheran Church in Woodstock said that there are dangers that come when couples decide to cohabitate before marriage.

“A lot of young people are looking through some rose-colored glasses and don’t get where they’re at in life,” he said. “There is some danger in it because they haven’t done the work. It’s a convenience.”

Gibson said his church provides counseling before big steps such as marriage and combining households, which help couples prepare for their life together by helping them figure out what to expect.

“What I tell my young people is, ‘You’re coming in talking about a wedding, I’m talking about a marriage,’ ” he said. “A wedding is one day – a marriage is a much longer commitment.”

———-

The faces of those deciding to end their marriages are changing, as well, Busche said.

“There’s no typical or mean age for divorce, but lately I’ve noticed there are a lot of people coming in who are older, who had long-term marriages,” she said. “Their children are gone and they’re deciding the marriage is dead.”

When Busche joined the firm nine years ago, she typically saw people coming in after their “seven-year itch,” she said. Now the crumbling of 17- to 23-year marriages is much more prevalent.

“When they got married the idea was that there’s no such thing as a divorce, but now it’s more accepted,” Busche said.

Gibson sees a different story in the younger generation, although he doesn’t have exact numbers. For the three years he’s been at the church, he says the number of marriages he performs has been going up.

“Our young people seem to be excited about the institution of it all and the commitment,” he said. “A lot of them are getting married older and they seem much more in tune with life and its realities.”

He said he can’t remember the last time he performed the marriage of a young couple, meaning those ages 18 to their young 20s. The couples he sees are at least in their late 20s or early 30s, Gibson said.

In the end, whether a couple is old or young, rich or poor, rushing into things or taking their time, nothing is certain. Ken and Penny Schwall met before either had turned 20 and married three years later.

“I say all the time, not only to our kids, but to friends and family, I’d rather be a light in a dark place,” Penny Schwall said. “Our big thing is … taking those vows seriously and knowing that it’s a commitment we made before God.”

Is Divorce a Sin?

S

By Dan Blair, a marriage counselor and family counselor.

Churches proclaim divorce to be a sin with certain exceptions. These exceptions depend on which church you attend. Some believe divorce is a sin unless there is sexual infidelity, but what about abuse or neglect of a spouse?

Most would say that sexual infidelity may warrant a divorce, but an abused spouse may be recommended a separation until the abuser gets help, and a neglected spouse may be recommended to try and save the marriage. There are a number of ways to save a marriage. But when it comes to divorce, there are a number of factors to consider; one may not find God’s will simply based on one rule to stay married except for sexual infidelity. Even then, sexual infidelity does not automatically demand a divorce.

Further complications include how the divorced are treated by the church. If a spouse who was abused or neglected by his or her spouse, had a relationship with a kind friend that turned sexual, one of the spouses would be free to divorce and marry again and even serve as a church leader, and the other may be judged and shunned by people in the church. Which do you think is which? While both sides contributed to the breaking of the covenant of marriage, the side that sexually erred is often targeted for blame.

Divorce is a legal issue, and some treat the Bible as a legal document to justify or condemn divorce. The Bible moves from rules and regulations in the Old Testament toward behavior based on a growing personal relationship with God through Jesus. Laws are an external demand. God wants more than external change. He wants internal change through a personal interactive relationship. Both the Old and New Testament are clear about God’s intention for marriage. While the Old Testament permitted divorce, the New Testament made clear what the Old Testament also made clear: God meant marriage to last. The Bible underscores the need to save marriages. There is no doubt divorce has major negative consequences on a person and the family. There are a number of options to take before divorce is unavoidable. However, if one does not view the Bible as a legal document addressing every circumstance, the justification for divorce is not captured by rules alone. It is based on one’s relationship with God and other Biblical values that come into play.

So one’s view of divorce may rest on one’s view of the Bible. Is the Bible like a legal document that covers all situations? Or does the Bible present principles that need to be applied to individual situations? Either view can support the high value of saving the marriage and that divorce is only acceptable if a party crosses this line: sexual infidelity. But, does that position address every situation? Is the New Testament more restrictive than the Old in that divorce was permitted but now is not?

There is a line between the position that Biblical rules have no exceptions except what is stated, and the opposite position that rationalizes one’s decisions to the point that they are not based on Biblical principles nor a personal relationship with God. Each one must look to their own conscience and ask if they are seeking God in their decisions, and especially in this decision to divorce. This may be difficult to do without consultation. Most likely at the point of divorce there have been sins committed on both sides; each side has to take responsibility for their own by examining the impact of his or her behavior on the other, expressing sincere remorse, making a commitment to the marriage and making sustainable changes. However, one’s position on the issue of divorce that comes from a personal relationship with God and Biblical values like justice, mercy and grace is ultimately preferable than one that merely follows rules.

God is a God of redemption. God seeks to restore that which was lost, and make it better. “Plan A” is preferred, but God can create a “Plan B,” even after divorce. David, a man after God’s own heart, required a “Plan B” after he committed adultery with a woman who later became his wife. Their son was chosen to be heir to a throne over the son of his first wife. This lineage led to Jesus Himself. This Old Testament story is one of many underscoring the message of a God who takes the bad and turns it around for good for those who return to God after their sin. Consequences remain, but redemption has the last word. Is the New Testament meant to imprison people in unholy relationships, only to punish them indefinitely after a divorce? Does the Old Testament convey more grace under the Law than the New Testament where people are covered by God’s mercy and grace? The Pharisees in the New Testament followed the law but missed important values in applying the law. Instead, the more one builds a relationship with God based on personal knowledge of Him (as revealed through reliable sources) the more clarity on this personal decision. The decision has to be personal because very few want a marriage based merely on duty, and such a relationship is bound not to last. In contrast, while God does not control people, He also may be the one resource that enables one to save the marriage.

For an exploration of what the Bible says about divorce, remarriage and leadership in the church see What Does the Bible Say about Divorce?