Guilt, Surviving Adultery and Divorce

To Reconcile…Or Not (Part 2)

As I said, I am going to attempt to dive a little deeper into this topic. I have written and rewritten this post multiple times in the last few days. To be honest, I’ve gone from downright angry to attempting to be firm yet gracious. I only hope that comes across in my words.

Since I began writing about my divorce, I have been repeatedly faced with criticisms about choosing divorce. I have been told that if I remarry, I will be living in adultery and therefore condemned to hell. I have been told that the only option is to stand in the gap for my now ex-husband as long as it takes until he repents. I have been told that because I made a covenant before God and man to this individual, it holds until death do we part—regardless of the circumstances surrounding our divorce.

I have several problems with this particular viewpoint, however.

  1. It heaps guilt and shame upon those of us who, for whatever reason, have experienced the hurt, pain, and shame of divorce. Always remember that Satan comes to shame, blame, and condemn; the Holy Spirit comes to lovingly convict and correct.
  2. This interpretation of scripture is only one view. Holding to this view and forcing it upon everyone is forcing man-made religion upon people and discounting the personal relationship that we are afforded with God through our Savior Jesus Christ.
  3. The first and greatest commandment is to love God with all our hearts, souls, mind, and strength. The second is to love our neighbor as ourselves. We win others into the Kingdom by the love we show, not be forcing a questionable and judgmental doctrine upon others.
  4. It is hard enough for us as divorced individuals to muster the courage to walk through the doors of a church alone; if we experience condemnation and shame, it is a sure way to get us to turn our backs on the one thing—Jesus Christ—who can heal us, put us back together, and use our painful circumstances for our good and his glory.

When I learned of my husband’s adultery, I offered forgiveness. However, that forgiveness was rejected as he continued in his hard-heartedness, continued in his relationship with the other woman. While I was fighting to keep my marriage together, he was choosing to live in unrepentant sexual immorality. I learned that it only takes one person to walk away from a marriage; however, it takes two people, fully committed to God and to working through issues, to keep a marriage together. In my case, I could not save my marriage alone.

It took me a year, many amazing Christian advisors and counselors, and many tears and agonizing prayers to walk away. When you enter marriage with a forever mindset… When you never thought or uttered the word divorce… When you gave your all to a marriage only to be rejected… When you never wanted anything more than to have a marriage that goes the distance… When you longed to be like your grandparents who were married for 72 years… There is no way to express how difficult it is to hear God whispering, “It’s ok to walk away.”

But, I did hear those words.

In that instant, I was free! In that instant, I knew that I had done everything I could do. In that instant, I knew that God had given me the freedom to walk away, that he had set me free from the covenant.

Over the years, I have struggled with guilt and shame. What if I had prayed more? What if I had stayed longer? What if I’d had more faith? The truth is, only God knows. My personal opinion is that God knew my husband was not going to repent and therefore he set me free. He came so that we might know the truth and the truth would set us free (John 8:32). He does not want us to live our lives in bondage, and I was in a place of bondage.

Now is where it gets sticky.

I believe with all my heart that God set me free from my marriage. If God set me free, no one has the right to tell me that I am bound to my husband until one of us dies. However, there is a mindset that would say divorce is never allowed for a Christian. But, it is only one interpretation of scripture.

There are black and white issues in scripture. Don’t kill. Don’t commit adultery. Love God. Love others. Show mercy. Give generously. There are no exceptions to these commands.

Then there are gray areas, areas in which even the experts cannot reach complete agreement. It is completely clear that God’s perfect plan was one man and woman for life. However, he gave an exception in the case of sexual immorality. Paul gave an exception in the case of abandonment by an unbelieving spouse. Moses permitted a certificate of divorce. Was it ever God’s preferred, perfect will? Never! But, God recognizes that we live in a fallen world where hearts can become hardened toward him. Therefore, he gave exceptions.

Briefly, I am going to provide some reading material for you.

I found this article on Crosswalk.com, and it resonated so well with me!

This link was sent to me by a reader encouraging me to stand on the permanence of my marriage, purporting that I must remain faithful to my now ex-husband.

This article provides an overview of the different views of marriage and divorce and gives some examples of when divorce may be allowed.

Here’s an interesting article about God’s own divorce from the northern kingdom of Israel.

Another article from Crosswalk.com that discusses biblical reasons for divorce.

These articles represent some vastly different views on marriage and divorce as it relates to the Christian. But, let me start by pointing out one similarity: Each article is written by a student of scripture, one who has studied deeply and has a much greater understanding than I do. And therein lies my biggest issue: Even the scholars cannot agree on the interpretation of scripture on this subject. Any time there is a gray area in scripture, I believe God would call us to extend a significant amount of grace and mercy rather than cast judgment and try to force others to accept our interpretation of scripture.

While we all agree that God’s perfect design was for a lifetime commitment, we live in a fallen world. Unfortunately, sin abounds. Many of us did not want our divorce, but we were not given an option in the situation. Our spouses abandoned us—some physically, some emotionally. We might have been victims of abuse (it doesn’t have to be physical abuse). Some were married to non-Christians who chose to walk away (the Bible addresses that one, too).

If you come to me and say, “I believe God is calling me to stand in the gap in prayer for my now ex-husband,” I am going to rejoice with you! I will stand beside you and encourage you every step of the way. I will be on my knees in prayer for you, your spouse each and every day. I will offer you every word of encouragement that I possibly can.

However, if you come to me and tell me that I need to be standing in the gap for my ex-husband, praying for reconciliation, I will call Pharisee. To try to take one interpretation of scripture and put it on me discounts my walk with Christ, all of the time I have spent on my knees in prayer seeking him. It discounts everything that he has spoken directly to my soul through scripture, through his people, through my own relationship with him. It sets me back in my walk, in my journey, as I have struggled through overcoming the guilt and condemnation already heaped upon me by the Accuser of the Brethren and by fellow Christians.

To insist that there is only one right interpretation of these scriptures—whether it is praying for reconciliation or the divorce is allowed interpretation—is the height of pride and arrogance. It reeks of Pharisaism. You see, the Pharisees were known for taking the scriptures, putting their interpretation on them, and holding everyone to their man-made rules for following scripture. They put themselves in the place of God—judging everyone by their outward actions, their adherence to their interpretation of scripture. While they were looking at outward appearance, only God has the right or the ability to look within and judge our hearts.

Let’s go just a step further. What did Jesus have to say about the religious leaders who stood in judgment over the people? He said they were like white-washed sepulchers, clean on the outside but dead on the inside. “You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to human traditions” (Mark 7:8). People who try to hold you to a specific interpretation of scripture in a gray area are clinging to a man-made tradition rather than to God.

And yet, how did Jesus respond to sinners? To the woman caught in adultery, he refused to condemn her. Instead, in his grace and mercy, he set her free and told her to go and sin no more (John 8). His best friends were the sinners and tax collectors—the lowest of the low. He spent his time with the outcasts, the downtrodden. It was the prostitutes who lavished him with love because they understood the depth of his forgiveness. It was the sick who flocked to him, knowing they needed his healing. It was the dead that he raised back to new life.

What did Jesus say was the greatest commandment? To love God and to love your neighbor (Matthew 22. And, BTW, this statement was in response to the Pharisees who were trying to trap him.)

How about the Old Testament? What about the scripture that says, “He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God“ (Micah 6:8).

So…what is the answer?

  1. Love God with all your heart. If you are doing your best to walk closely to Him, the Holy Spirit will guide you on the path he has for you. No one can determine that path in the gray areas except you in communion with the Spirit. Perhaps he will lead you to stand in the gap for your wayward spouse/ex-spouse. If so, stand strong in faith! Perhaps, however, he will set you free as he did for me. Hold your head high, knowing that you are approved by God even when others try to convince you that their way is right.
  2. Love your neighbor. There will be those who continue to try to turn you to a particular interpretation of scripture. While you should be strong, you can do so with love and not condemnation. I have been the object of insults because I disagreed with the stance others took. I try to never stoop to the level of hurling insults. I always try to take the high road. But, this road sometimes means a firm, strong stand (as I said, I have been accused of pride and anger).
  3. Always, always, always err on the side of grace and mercy. I have been in a church service when the pastor referred to “divorced people.” I felt myself horrified and humiliated. I remember thinking—even saying—that if my faith had not been so strong, if I had been someone going through divorce looking for love and acceptance and help, I would have never, never, never stepped back into a church building. We as Christians tend to be known more for what we are against than being known for our love. We are guilty of keeping others away from Christ by our religious talk and our judgmental attitudes. I don’t want to be guilty of scaring others away. Jesus said others will know we are his disciples if we have love for one another (John 13:34-35). I want my love for others to draw people to Christ.
  4. Never let anyone heap guilt and condemnation upon you. Satan is the accuser of the brethren. He comes to steal your peace. He comes to throw guilt and condemnation upon you. He wants you to suffer, to think that you will never be able to be used for God’s kingdom again because of your divorce (or whatever is in your past). However, the Holy Spirit never condemns, never throws guilt at you. The Holy Spirit comes to convict, to show you the error of your ways, to draw you back to himself. If you are suffering guilt and condemnation, it is not from God. If you are walking with him, doing your best to live in obedience, your sins have been thrown as far as the east is from the west (Psalm 103:12).

While I am not angry with anyone who tries to convince me that I must cling to the hope of reconciliation, I refuse to accept that there is anyone who can say with 100% certainty that he/she has the correct interpretation of these scripture. I have made the decision that I have the Holy Spirit living within me. He is here to direct me, to guide me, to lead me into all truth. I stand today knowing that he has led me to this place where I am free from my ex-husband. Why this path is the one he chose, I may never fully understand. But, I know I stand redeemed in the eyes of my Savior.

And, I live for an audience of The One. His opinion of me is the only one that matters.

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45 thoughts on “To Reconcile…Or Not (Part 2)”

  1. My heart goes out to you now and always.Stand by your conviction led by the Holy Spirit afterall salvation is personal.I have learnt over the years in my walk with God that He does not see things the way we do.If Rahab can belong to the lineage of grace what else can we say.Stay strong sister l believe the Lord will sort you out sooner than you expect.Love you.loads.

    1. Exactly! You think of all the “sinners” who had pure hearts before God. Rehab has definitely come to mind. Judah was certainly not a model citizen, yet he was the head of David’s lineage. David, a murderer and adulterer, was a man after God’s own heart.

      I stand firm knowing I am walking closely–not perfectly–with my savior!! Thank you for the encouragement! Love you too!

      1. I tried to leave a comment but it was rejected. I do pray for you! I do also believe that divorce and remarriage while the other spouse is alive violates scripture. I suggested that one would reds a very kind and scripture based look at the verses in Matthew and Corinthians that pertain to this subject. Yes we need to submit to our leaders but only, as the Bereans did, when it true to the Word. Remember Hosea and Gomer? Amazing what God did there!
        The person I recommended for further study on divorce and remarriage is Leslie McFall. Easy to find on the web.
        May The Lord restore to you all what the locust have eaten.

  2. As a Christian therapist [36 years experience] and also a divorced man-I agree with your approach and conclusions. Thank you for this ministry that you offer. Peter

  3. As someone who counsels hundreds of people in marriage issues, my heart goes out to you. However, at the heart of your article is a serious logical fallacy. The argument is: Since there is so much debate over what is right and wrong regarding DIVORCE, then it is up to each individual to decide for themselves what is right or wrong for themselves. The same thing could be said for the deity of Christ, the virgin birth, faith in Christ as the only way to heaven, etc. etc. There are millions of educated people on many sides of every issue, so according to the reasoning, truth cannot be known for sure so we are all on our own to listen to our gut instinct to tell us what is right and wrong in our own eyes. This is EXACTLY what brought the nation of Israel down over and over again. Priests didn’t adhere to the to the teaching of the Bible, there was much debate between Pharisees, Sadducees, etc., and Jesus confronted their false teaching over and over again stating, “Have you not read the Scripture where it says……..?” In other words, they should have been able to know God’s will based on the clear teaching of the Bible in spite of all the differing opinions out there. Telling people to make decisions on their own is poor advice. I suggest, instead of searching websites, that people read their Bibles and talk to THEIR pastor, not an internet link pastor, who has shown a consistent willingness to stand on the Word of God instead of telling people what they want to hear.

    1. Never did I advocate “go with your gut.” I advocate getting so close to God that you know his voice, you hear his whisper. I mentioned surrounding myself with godly advisors and counselors. And I absolutely advocate extending a healthy dose of grace, mercy, and love to fellow Christians where are theologies do not mesh completely. The Bible clearly makes exceptions–including the words of Christ himself.

      1. Thank you for your concern. I do not doubt that you have listened to many counselors. I think you will agree, however, that we can always find someone who agrees with us and we will eventually find a “wise counselor” who will advise us to do what deep down we really want to do anyway. That being said, I think the clear teaching of Hebrews 13:17 is to submit to the leaders of your local church. Submit to those whom God has placed over you as people who must give an account for your soul. Of course there are biblical reasons for divorce, I do not deny that, but it is better for those who are mature and are vested with the oversight of their flock to make those decisions, not the people who are in the middle of those conflicts themselves. In the same way a surgeon does not operate on their own family members (or themselves), we should trust those who oversee us to make the call as to when a divorce is allowable. If the pastors of your local church, which you have trusted to teach you God’s Word have told you a divorce is in order, and you believe their advice adheres to the teaching of Mark 10, Rom. 7:2-3, & I Cor. 7, then so be it. I do not know your situation. But sometimes thet greatest act of grace is advising someone to be patient and allowing for God’s grace to change someone’s heart, allowing time for God to teach them and us what we need to learn. I am grateful that God’s grace left Joseph in prison for 13 years. I am thankful that God’s grace told Hosea to be patient with Gomer. I am eternally blessed that even though I was faithless, God remained faithful to the vow He made to me. How do you know, O husband, whether or not you will save your wife? If the unbeliever leaves, files for divorce, moves in with someone else, that is one thing. But if the erring partner hasn’t given up, if God doesn’t give up on us, why should we give up on a fellow sinner such as us? (I Cor. 7:12-16).

      2. Legally speaking,[i.e man and God law] , her husband committed adultery.Thus, her wise Counsellor – ie Jesus- endorsed the validity of her divorce. He is the head of the Church-and, insofar as the Church brings condemnation into the scenario with regards to her-the Church is disobedient.The theology is crystal clear. It is now incumbant on the Church to engage in the restoration of both parties involved.There is no basis to revisit Scripture or the appropriate Church position and role on the issue.

        .

      3. I am sorry. You cannot have it both ways. The earlier argument was that divorce and remarriage issues are not crystal clear because there is so much debate over the issue. It is NOT clear what the meaning of “porneia” is in Matthew 19. Obviously Jesus did not mean adultery or Matthew would have used “moichea,” the greek word for adultery. Jesus, instead, used the word for sexual immorality that takes place outside of a marriage covenant (cf. Acts 15:20; 29; et al). In fact, if you read Matthew 19, all translations translate moichea as adultery ) if you read later in the 19:9 you will see the word moichea translated as adultery). Sexual immorality is porneia. If Jesus meant to excuse divorce on the grounds of adultery, why not use the word for adultery in Matthew 19? The theology, as you say, is NOT crystal clear. Therefore, it would be wise for one to follow the admonition of Hebrews 13:17 and submit to the teaching of their church.

      4. When you raise someone from the dead , then maybe the Lord will take your liguistic gymnastics seriously?

        When last did you engage a demonic manifestation and take authority over it and send it to the abyss? Have you the gift of prophesy enabling you to supernaturally speak into the dynamics raised by Dena?

        Do you spend your time studying the nuances of language around adultery when the World rejects Jesus on the basis of concerns around creationism , the age of the earth and the flood? And the representation of Him by people like you and I as irrelevant to their common , concrete and urgent issues.Like restoring us when our spouse breaks covenant in the form of adultery and we are broken at our core.

        Nuances represent a weak shield of faith .

        What use is a dubious pseudo intellectual exposition on what adultery is when we all know what it means? As a divorce lawyer [and therapist] and Christian I am pretty sure that adultery means shagging someone who is not your wife. The world and God knows what it is.Those who are on the receiving end of it are not healed by obscure qualitative social constructivist expositions of possible interpretations of scripture.

        Clearly it is complex this debate-but that adultery is a ground for divorce is crystal clear. Where the waters get muddy is where us Christians realise we are so immature in the things of God that we have no idea how to respond to an everyday devastation of the dream of committment and exclusivity. And being special.

        At the end of the day she was within her Biblical rights to divorce ; and both parties have the right to seek God and His people in a quest for restoration to an abundant life.

      5. Just the fact that you use your law degree to make money off of families splitting up says it all. To ignore the meaning of basic greek words defies all logic. I know you have to justify most divorces to justify your career, but let’s not make this about me and you. I was simply replyting due to confusion by one of the members of our church. Please do not respond to me any longer. I have no further words for you.

      6. Thank you, Peter, for your support. Proves my point exactly: theological differences is what it boils down to. According to my scriptural up-bringing, I had every right to divorce (which can be proven by scripture). We cannot reach 100% agreement on exactly what God meant. Therefore, we must extend grace. God’s way is NEVER condemnation and shame. That only forces people away from God and the church.

      7. In my particular situation, my husband–who was also my pastor–was in an adulterous relationship with a member of our congregation. My offer of forgiveness and reconciliation was trampled as he continued to see this other woman (behind my back) and “expand his business” (his words) to an online dating site. The decision to leave was made over a long period (a year) during which time he proved he was not repentant–only remorseful. I consulted with multiple leaders of our denomination, my ex-husband’s mentors, other church staff members. One particular pastor/wife I consulted had successfully navigated the waters of infidelity and reconciliation. There was no effort toward reconciliation; he wanted to continue his double life.

        I am oh so thankful God remains faithful to me in my faithlessness. In the midst of this betrayal, I ran from him, almost threw my faith away completely. He pursued me relentlessly, loved me completely. I have a greater appreciation for his gift of forgiveness than I ever could have grasped beforehand. I offered that same forgiveness to my ex-husband, and yet the offer was trampled, rejected.

        Beyond my particulars, my bigger point is that we as Christians need to extend a big, huge dose of mercy and grace when it comes to the issue of divorce. Not one of us has navigated this life with perfection. When someone accomplishes that feat, then that person might have the right to pass judgment. Then again, the one who DID traverse this journey perfectly was the one who stepped in and gave a huge dose of grace…

      8. Not that you need my affirmation, but if one of our pastors did what your husband did, we would take him through the steps of church discipline and if he still refused to repent, we would do as Matthew 18:17 suggests and treat him like an unbeliever. At that point, if he abondened you, it would match with I Cor 7 teaching regarding an unbeliever leaving a believer. You would not be “bound” any longer in such a situation. So yes, I think your congregation made the right call in your case, but many, many, many people run to a divorce due to one or two cases of infedelity. They lean on an unclear porneia clause in Matthew 19 instead of following the clear 70×7 teaching of Matthew 18. My concern with the article was that men and women would read it and only hear “do what your heart tells you to do.” The heart is deceitful above all things. We are better off submitting to church leadership because more often than not, they will make a better diagnosis and recommendation than when we try to do what is best for ourselves. God bless. (P.S. The only reason I came across this blog is because someone in our congregation took it as very bad advice. It’s difficult to write about this subject, I know. )

      9. You know, this comment thread is the perfect example of my argument in this particular post. It’s obvious that we both have the same desire: to see others grow in faith and walk according to His will. We both have a firm belief in the Bible as our inerrant guide book for this life. However, we have different theological backgrounds, slightly different interpretations of scripture (both of which can be soundly argued from scripture), and slightly different views on the practical out-workings in the lives of believers. My only request is that rather than focusing on the minors (i.e., exactly what was meant by “except for marital unfaithfulness”), that we focus on the majors (i.e., love God and your neighbor). Rather than heaping guilt and condemnation upon our brothers and sisters in Christ because their journey looks a little different from ours, that we bestow HUGE doses of grace and mercy.

        And I KNOW that doing so is following the example of Christ. God bless.

  4. preach it, sister Dena!! 🙂 This post is simply to tell you that you’ve got my support and to tell you how I am so blessed by your blog, by your relationship with the Lord, and the wisdom He shares through you. You & your family are in my prayers and as Ephesians 1:16-20 says “I pray for you, asking God, the glorious Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, to give you spiritual wisdom and insight so that you might grow in your knowledge of God. I pray that your hearts will be flooded with light so that you can understand the confident hope he has given to those he called – his holy people who are his rich and glorious inheritance. I also pray that you will understand the incredible greatness of God’s power for us who believe him. This is the same mighty power that raised Christ from the dead and seated him in the place of honor at God’s right hand in the holiest of place.”
    Blessings on you!!

    1. Thank you so very much! I appreciate your encouragement and your prayers. I only want people to respond with grace and love, to understand that God leads each of us on an individual journey. I want those feeling guilt and condemnation–especially from other Christians–to understand that it is not from God. I want everyone to seek God fully and completely so they can experience his life-giving power.

  5. I love your posts. Those encouraging the idea of standing in the gap no matter what do not grasp the concept that adultery is rape of the faithful person s soul. You should point that indifferent individual to Divorce Minister s blog. Like you and me, he suffered the trauma of the actions of an unrepentant and unfaithful spouse. Please keep up your posts. They are so helpful 🙂

    1. Thank you so much for the encouragement! I plan to stand firm no matter what. As I said, if you’ve been called to stand in the gap, I strongly support you. All I ask is that you extend the same respect to me! I will have to look at that blog. I’m not familiar with it. Thanks, and God bless!

  6. Love you keep doing what your doing which is what God wants you to do only you know what Gods holy spirit whispers to you! Thank God we can have such a bond with Him Wow thank you Jesus

  7. Thank you so much for this encouraging article. I never would have believed that after 41 yrs of marriage my husband is divorcing me with absolutely no Biblical, moral or legal grounds. He is the one who’s been having an emotional mental affair/ obsession for the past 5 years( unknown to me) and tried to act on it this past year. He is unrepentent despite months of counseling by our pastor, counselor and interventions by our best friends. I am clinging to the Lord and putting my trust in Him alone which is hard when I’ve counted on my husbands help for so many years. To make it even more interesting I’ve spet the past 6 months recuperaring from a severely fractured/ shattered ankle which has made it necessary for husband to tay here to help.

    1. I’m so very sorry, Irene. While I don’t know what your future holds, I know that God won’t let you go. He will carry you through each and every day. He will take care of your every need. He will not let you fall because of your husband’s choices. It’s certainly not an easy path. It’s not painless. It’s frustrating and confusing. But, as you cling to him, he will change you into his image. He will guide your every step. He will let his peace that surpasses all understanding guard your heart and mind. He will repay every pain with double blessings. Love and prayers!!

  8. Thank you for the article (and your time in preparing it), as this is a very tough subject to navigate through (having to do so personally). Yes we need to strive to hear God and follow His lead (as much as we can being imperfect); and that God wants us to extend grace, mercy, and understanding to those going thru this (as He does to us); since God hates divorce because His heart breaks (as does ours) knowing it affects so many people (family, friends, and strangers) for a very, very long time.

    1. Yes, Peter. I agree 100%. And, thank you so much for your perspective and support. No one can fully understand what divorce is about unless they have walked this long and difficult path. There are so many difficult and private issues that go into the decision. Only I fully know what I endured over the course of my 15+ year marriage (adultery was only one aspect of it). Only I know the lengths I went to in the effort to save my marriage. And only God knows what the future holds. And he sent the Holy Spirit to be our guide for these decisions. I don’t think anyone can make a decision for us. While we must deeply, intimately seek to know our Savior’s will–which includes wise, godly counsel–only God knows which path we should follow.

      God bless you in your work and your ministry as you show others the love of Christ in the midst of their pain and suffering!!

  9. My ex departed, if appeared reluctantly with no one else involved after three years of marriage. After waiting 13 years and being mocked in my belief that God could restore the relationship, “what relationship? that statement is literally a nonsense” I was told if he (as a professional) could afford it he would divorce me then. He had, to my knowledge, never been involved with anyone else, had apologised for putting all the blame on me and stated that I was an innocent bystander who had been caught up in “his mess” He had come to the point of suicide 6 yrs after leaving and had been diagnosed with some type of chemical imbalance…not enough to stop his career as a professional.
    God gave me the verse “let the unbelieving partner depart” He had been a minister prior to our marriage, He had taken a more and more intellectual life path. I remained on a faith walk.
    God had given me the promise “I have seen his ways and will restore comfort to him and to those who mourn for him Isa 57:18” interestingly He has confirmed this promise time and time again and in the last 3 years has brought him from a State some distance away to live (in hiding,- he thinks) 5km away from me. I believe only God could have brought him back as he would know no one but me here, and God has revealed his location, phone number (it is unlisted) even shown photos of the home inside and out and revealed he is using his full first name …he was always known by the abbreviated version.
    I am not uncomfortable with my actions and felt I had waited long enough and do not really want to move over and make room for anyone else in my life but I know God. He can do the impossible. I am not 100% sure I made the right decision in getting the divorce. It went against all I believe but I have worked through years of shame etc.. But I will pray and do nothing more in this situation.
    All I know is that My Redeemer lives.
    My situation was less clear than yours as there was no one else involved but you are the one who faces the Lord and He is a God of Grace and Jesus dealt with our righteousness on the cross.
    We are never certain, as one of the writers above seems to be of the total rightness of our decisions but we walk with a risen Saviour not a Rule book. This occurred almost 30 years ago. It is a long walk but you are never alone.

    1. “We walk with a risen Saviour not a rule book.” What an absolutely true statement–the exact argument that I am making. What an amazing testimony you have. I know that God has used this long and painful path to mold you into his image. I know your faith is so deep, so refined. I know that our savior has amazing plans for you, an amazing future.

      Thank you so much for sharing, for encouragement, for affirming that we walk by the guidance of our savior.

      God bless!

  10. Dena – would you have a problem with an not-oft quoted part of scripture in Romans 7:1-4? Or does Paul (by inspiration of the Holy Spirit- 2Peter 1:18-21) not know what he is saying? To qualify myself (as Paul had to in 2Corinthians) – my husband is unfaithful to God, the wife of his youth and our children, and he filed for divorce (which was final in April of this year – two days past 24 years of marriage). Our children’s ages are 23, 22, 20, 17 and 13 – one daughter), four sons. I know the battlefield well and so does the Lord. Looking forward to your dialogue.

    1. I have no problem with any scripture as I hold to the inerrancy of all scripture, knowing it is God-breathed. However, it’s very important that we take scripture as a WHOLE. I’ve known people who can justify ANY action using scripture.

      My point is simply this: there are multiple interpretations (man-made traditions). We cannot hold others to any ONE interpretation because we as humans are fallible. Therefore, we MUST extend grace and love to others who hold differing interpretations. I was brought up in a tradition (Southern Baptist) that holds to the sanctity of marriage. However, there are exceptions (as even Jesus AND Paul gave exceptions).

      As for Romans 7, if you look at the greater context of that passage, you find that Paul’s point is this: we are no longer under the law, but under the grace of our Savior Jesus Christ who came to set us free from the law. So, to use that passage to force one interpretation on all divorced people is failing to recognize the context. You can’t divorce a passage from context.

      And, again, because Christ came and died so that we could have a personal relationship with him… Because he sent the Holy Spirit to be our personal guides in this life… No one has a right to discount or judge what he has told me personally. Trust me. It was a long, difficult battle to hear him say that it was ok to move forward. But he did. Therefore, I will listen to the gracious, personal words of my Savior over anyone else.

    1. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever! I will respect you and your efforts to follow him and his word, and I only ask that you do the same for me. Let’s focus on the most important things: loving God and loving our neighbors, for these are the greatest commandments…

  11. Dena,

    I just read your article on Crosswalk and proceeded to your blog. My husband of almost 24 yrs also committed adultery and abandoned our family. I found a website called “The Hero’s Spouse” which explained Midlife Crisis and introduced me to standing. I sought God with all my heart and I felt like he told me my spouse would return like the prodigal son. After a year of waiting, my husband did return but left again 4 months later back to OW. My faith was torn as I didn’t understand why the marriage wasn’t restored. We proceeded with divorce, but I didn’t feel guilty – I knew I had pursued forgiveness and reconciliation. I then started reading Rejoice Marriage Ministries and I felt like God was calling me to stand again. My marriage has been tumultuous where I have had to endure an alcoholic and abuser. I really thought God always wanted reconciliation and I know all things are possible with Him, but after reading your blog, now I’m not so sure. I know only He has my answer, but just wanted your thoughts as I respect and agree with your blog. Thank you & God Bless

    1. I wish I had easy answers. I will be honest: I don’t like to say it’s time to quit or continue believing. Only the Holy Spirit can tell you what direction you can go. What I do know is this: 1. I don’t think anyone can say with complete certainty how God intended these verses. While scripture is holy and inspired, we are dealing with human interpretations–which are not infallible. I believe you have to study scripture, listen very carefully to the Holy Spirit as he directs you, and walk in obedience. 2. No matter which side you fall on, we must show tremendous grace and mercy to those who hold to different interpretations. Only God has a right to judge, and he looks at the heart. He knows your heart desires to walk in complete obedience, and he will reward that.

      What I do know is that–according to my Bible–Jesus gave an exception for divorce in the case of adultery. In Malachi where it states “God hates divorce,” the context is of the unfaithful spouse. And, I believe God DOES hate divorce because it causes his children so much pain and devastation–not because it is a sin so much greater than any other! He hates ALL sin! Paul also gave an exception in the case of an unbelieving spouse who chooses to leave the believing spouse.

      If you study scripture, the interesting part is that Paul and Jesus elevated the woman from that of property (as she was viewed in biblical times) to an equal. They were trying to change mindsets, to get men to love and treat their wives as beloved children of God rather than disposable property that could simply be cast away by a divorce paper if the woman was somehow displeasing to a husband. I think the Bible is trying to say that men must love and treasure their wives, commit to them, treat them as precious, love them as Christ loved us. If a husband isn’t doing that, he is failing God.

      Having said that, God often looked at women who were mistreated by their husbands and blessed them because his heart broke for them. Look at Hagar, Sarai’s maidservant. Look at Leah, Jacob’s first wife. He was the God who saw their mistreatment, the God who heard their cries. He was broken-hearted for their pain, and he chose to bless them. God sees your pain. He hears your pleas. He doesn’t want you living in a situation where you are mistreated. He loves you and treasures you. He wants to bless you.

      I can’t tell you what God has for you specifically, but I can tell you that he has good plans for you. He has plans to prosper you. He has good works that he ordained for you long ago. He says you are his masterpiece. Only he can tell you what he has for you.

      One final thought: Divorce is not an unforgiveable sin. I had a Christian counselor tell me that I would be forgiven if I chose that path. To be honest, I don’t even feel that I sinned because I believe I had biblical grounds and I believe God told me to walk away. But, God’s grace, Christ’s blood, is big enough to forgive any and all sins–except rejecting Jesus Christ. He sees your heart. He knows your pain. He understands that we will not walk perfectly on this earth. Seek wise counsel. Get alone with him and listen for his whisper. Know that you are loved!

      Lord Jesus, my heart aches for Barb as she walks through this dark season of life. You are not the author of confusion but the giver of peace that surpasses all understanding. Give Barb extra doses of your wisdom and peace today. Help her to know that you see her misery and that you have plans for amazing works for her. Help her to sense your deep love and compassion for her and her circumstances. Only you can guide her in this decision. Give her the supernatural guidance she needs today. Help her to know that she is loved and being lifted before you. In Jesus’ name I pray, amen!

    1. Barb, I encourage you to read Romans 14. I just read it, and my mind was immediately drawn back to you. Determine what your convictions are and live by them. Dont let anyone condemn you because they believe differently. I’m always available here or by email at denasdevos@yahoo.com! God bless!!

  12. I just found this website. …Please pray for me, and my children, my ex husband.I too believe in reconciliation if both spouses repent and forgive each other and remarry for His Glory. Sadly that’s not our case. I struggle with missing my children’s father who is now sober but has a girlfriend. He still blames me for all his mistakes, and being judgemental for his weakness and addictions. In my defense, I was constantly on guard in protecting our family for he opened the door for the enemy on so many occasions. It was hard for me to let go and let him lead our family when I would pray for him to be the spiritually leader and to not have to divorce. Please pray for me, for my lonely heart and brokenness for our family. Pray that I can grow in his grace and be the Godly mom my children deserve as I get past this loneliness .than you for your prayers!!

    1. DO NOT BLAME YOURSELF! A sick, addicted spouse will make it all about you. He/she will never take responsibility. You were striving for survival, walking on egg shells for fear of his response. I know. I’ve been there. I enabled my husband (out of a drive for survival), but it was not my fault. Do not take the blame. Turn to God. Trust him to take this mess and make something beautiful out of it. Trust him to be your Great I Am, meeting your every need at just the right moment. Trust him to lead you, guide you, direct you. He’s got you in the palm of his hand! And I have you in my prayers!

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