Neither the fact that half of all marriages end in divorce, nor the fact that the percentage is higher among both people identifying as Christian and ordained Christian clergy changes the greater truth that divorce is tragic. Always. All the divorce recovery workshops and self-help books cannot whitewash the lasting psychological and emotional damage done to everyone involved, including the divorcing spouses, their extended families, their friends, those who look to them for leadership, and, most especially, their children. It is for that reason that God forbids divorce except in extreme circumstances such as physical abuse or abandonment. Far too many Christians twist the text to suit themselves. “Emotional abuse,” “not healthy for me or the kids,” “hindering my growth” – phrases that can mean anything or nothing. Marriage is a commitment. “For better or for worse.” The fact that God makes exceptions has been used to excuse all manner of selfishness.
I know, not only from decades of counseling Christians, but also because I did exactly that some 35+ years ago. Yes, God has, over time, healed me, healed those I hurt, and, as God always does, brought good out of the mess I made. Sadly, some people look at that and conclude that it won’t be so bad if they too ignore God and go their own way. Divine unconditional love becomes a rationalization, an alibi. But it is always, under all circumstances, far better to sacrifice self and what we think will produce personal happiness, fulfillment, and actualization for the greater glory of God. Precisely because God is love and loves us unconditionally, having created us in the divine image and redeemed us from the way of eternal destruction, God forbids only what is harmful to us. God does not make arbitrary rules.
God’s perfect will is ultimately what will bring us the most blessing and joy.
God’s perfect will is for us to stay married. Full stop.
But maybe in your case it is too late.
If you come from a fractured family, you’re in good company. There is no record of Sarah or Isaac ever speaking to Abraham after Abraham almost sacrificed Isaac. Abraham and his 30-something year-old son come down off the mountain – Abraham goes one way, Isaac another. Abraham lives in Beersheba. Sarah lives in Hebron. Were they estranged? Did they ever reconcile? Did Isaac lose faith in his father and Sarah in her husband? Sarah dies in Hebron. Abraham grieves, walks for 15 hours to get there, pays way too much for a piece of property, and buries her. He later remarries and has more children. Isaac has a rough marriage and repeats several of his dad’s notorious mistakes/sins.
From the book of Acts, we get the impression that Saul, the rabbi from Tarsus who later took the name Paul, was a member of the Sanhedrin Council voting for the stoning to death of the first Jesus-martyr. If so, he had to be married – all members of the Sanhedrin were married men. Yet, later, it is clear from his writings that he is not only not married, he prefers being single and recommends it to the general Christian public (unless they really need some sex). Was he a widow? Did he and his wife separate? Did she leave him?
And, of course, there’s the prophet Hosea in the Old Testament married to a prostitute who keeps cheating on him. He keeps taking her back.
God is good at bringing beauty out of ruinous ashes.
But that’s no reason to purposely burn the house down.