Tuesday, January 29, 2008

On Divorce and Remarriage

I have wanted to do a post on this subject for a while now, but it is in my nature not to offend people. I do apologize if this steps on people's toes, but these thoughts come from the many comments I have been given throughout the last year. Please note that if I mention something that one of you might have said to me that I do not hold any grudges against anyone. Period. I fully get that when anyone says something to me it comes from a heart of love and a desire to help. I try to always take people's comments and look at them from their standpoint. It really helps to not take offense!!

Divorce and remarriage are topics that have long been taboo in the fundamental Baptist circles. I have found that it is right up there with the versions issue and the definition of "Godly" music. But in a culture where the divorce rate is over 50% (New Hampshire's at 60%), the church is being forced to deal with divorce.

There is no question that God hates divorce and that it is far too easy in America to get divorced. What I would like to address is specifically my situation where unfaithfulness has occurred. I have been told that I should not have "kicked him out." If he was willing to stay with me, then I should have done that. This is based on I Cor. 7:13 that states you must not divorce an unbelieving spouse if they are willing to stay with you. My response to that is verse 15: "If the unbeliever leaves, let him do so." I did not kick Rodney out. When he confessed to the affairs, he told me he wanted to "stay together" for the sake of the kids, but he wanted to be free to do whatever and be with whomever he wanted. He would come and go as he pleased. Is that kind of life really being married? I could not even imagine what it would be like, so my response was that he had to make a choice. His family or his new life- he could not have it both ways.

So the next progression comes to remarriage. With the new year upon me, I turned a huge corner. I have found that I am done grieving the loss of my marriage. God has brought me through so much over the last year and I am so much stronger for it. I can picture myself with someone else. Of course, that man does not yet have a face!! But I am ready to begin that process of finding someone. I have had one "pep talk" about how it is wrong to remarry. This woman so sincerely told me that I needed to devote the rest of my life to praying for him to repent, and when that prayer was answered, then I should welcome him back with open arms. The woman knew nothing of the turmoil of verbal abuse that I was taking from him at that time. I could not imagine ever being with him again, so I took it to my pastor. He so lovingly corrected this wrong advice by telling me that when the divorce was final, it was also final with the Lord. I was not married to him anymore, thus releasing me from any scripture relating to staying with him.

Matthew 19:9 states very clearly that God gives exception for unfaithfulness. Beyond this, think with me logically for a minute. We have all been taught that God is merciful and full of love. He told me point blank that he left me because he no longer wanted to live the Christian life and I did. What does it do to the idea that God is loving and merciful if He would condemn me to a life of singleness and my children to being fatherless when the only thing I did wrong was be Godly and serve Him??!!! Seriously, oh Conservative Baptists, does that really make any sense?

The final thing I want to address is that of how to find a spouse. Back in college days, the book "I Kissed Dating Goodbye" came out. I will preface it by saying I never read the book, so I may be off on it's teachings. But many people jumped on its bandwagon and renounced dating as we know it. Many of my friends said they were going to let their parents pick out their mate. This is the heart of why I never read the book. That's all fine and great if you have good Christian parents. I did not then nor do I now. I must rely on Godly council and my own set of standards that I have prayerfully set up. I did all this the first time, and I really thought things were ok. However, no one can control a person's heart. He was well loved and respected by several pastors through the years. He deeply hurt our current pastor as he was considered a strong alli in the ministry.

So, how does one who is now 30 and has four children find a good spouse? Do you do nothing and pray for "the one" to magically appear before you? Is it ok to look around? Where does the stuff about not being the leader come into play? New England is a cold place spiritually. Just look at the states that allow same sex marriage- all New England states (except New Jersey)!! Good men are hard to find, and Christian men are even less. Churches are full of single moms. Mine has at least five. I will not go into all details, but I have taken some flack from a couple of people for some of my "unconventional" thoughts on how I might find Christian men. I should not be so bold. It is not safe. I need to just let God bring me someone. When you stop searching is when it will happen. All of that is ideal advice but is it real for today?

I have no desire to divulge how I am going about my "dating" life so publicly. But if I happen to send one of you a personal email asking your opinion on someone or something, please do your best to give an honest response. And please know that I have a series of checks and balances set up. My pastor is one of the wisest men I have ever met. He will be the only one that will preform my next wedding, so if a man does not pass his "test" then it is a dead issue!!

I know the task ahead is daunting. It will take someone very special to take on four children. I struggle with this daily. I battle the feelings of being "damaged goods " as I am now someone else's castoff. But I know that I am special to the Lord. He promises to give the desires of our hearts if we trust in him. I know that He has a plan for my life and it is far better than I can imagine. Jer. 29:11 says, "For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord. Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."

Thanks for staying with me on this long post!!! And if you are still reading my blog after this, then I know you are a real friend!!!!


Ann-Marie said...

I hear you, J, and agree wholeheartedly.

I remember the bandwagon that was I Kissed Dating Goodbye. Joshua Harris even came to Moody where the girls swooned and the boys admired him. I was like, "Whatever!"

We are raised to be our own people, and God can bring us to our mate or our mate to us any way He wants. There’s no need for a "process." (There’s also something a little self-righteous about proclaiming yourself a relationship guru before you’re 25.)

At least it wasn't that STUPID Dating with a Purpose book they passed out at Berean. Remember that? It was so antiquated; we used to mock it by calling it "Dating a Porpoise." Ha! Ha!

I think you've got your head on straight, dear girl, and I, too, thank God for giving you an amazing spiritual family so close! I trust them (and I don't even know them).

Hang in there. If Mr. Right's out there, he's a very lucky man to have amazing YOU (and your great kids) in store for him.

Love you!

Dora's Life said...

Wow,funny how we have come to be friends, eh? crazy how the Lord brings some people together...
I know the Lord is good and He will find you a good man worthy of you and your beautiful children!
I love you like a sister, just from getting to know you through your blogg and I think of you and pray for your family often!
Have a great day and be strong...

Heidi said...

Coming from the Conservative Independent fundy background that I do. I definitely see where there would be hangups. That is pretty much what I was taught growing up.
In the past few years, through the leading of the Holy Spirit through our pastor, I have learned so many things that changed some of this narrow minded thinking.
I grieve when I hear the closed mindedness of some of the traditional based fundamentalists, so I understand where you are coming from.
You have your head "screwed on " straight and you are right on. It would take a special man to take on four kids. You go girl; find him.
I remember that book. I had roommates who read it. There was no way my dad was picking out my husband. Who knows what I would have ended up with.
By the way, I plan to keep reading.

Schoonover Family said...

I have found over the years that many times people seem to delight more in continuing another person's pain, rather than encouraging them on. In your situation, I am firmly convinced (not that it would matter one way or another) that you handled everything well above reproach. He did what he wanted to do, and he has basically made restitution impossible. Do not feel you are restricted by anything but what GOD has for you! I pray the right man comes along and sweeps you off your feet!!

Saul or Paul said...

It is ironic that today I listened to a pastor on the radio today that was speaking about marriage and being single. The bottom line was the pastor was talking about Paul and his thoughts on love and marriage. The twist was taking into light the thought that if Paul was a good Jew named Saul and had followed the law perfectly then he was married before his conversion on the road to Damascus.

Now looking at Paul’s philosophy of love and marriage in the light that he could be widowed or divorced… not sure where it all stands historically but it does put an interesting spin on things.

For you as a woman and a mother you have to take a lot into account. I would encourage you to follow God’s leading in your life. We will continue to pray as you go against traditional IBF advice and look to the wonderful future that God has prepared you for.