Safe Place with Ruth Graham

Divorce within the Church has been controversial. I have talked to so many who have been wounded by Church teaching. I thought it was the “unforgivable sin”. Some church traditions have taught that divorce is not permitted unless there is adultery or a divorced person is not allowed to remarry and if they do, they are committing adultery. A divorced person cannot serve in the Church.

Many have been wounded by such legalistic teaching. We must remember that Jesus broke principles over people – not people over principles. If I err it will be on the side of mercy and grace because I believe that is the side Jesus stands on.

II Corinthians 3:13 says we live in the freedom of Christ – but that is not to mean we can use our freedom as a license to do what we want. Galatians 5:13 warns us not to turn our freedom into sinful opportunity.

God’s original plan for us was that marriage was to be a lifetime commitment between a man and a woman. It was to illustrate God’s relationship with His bride – the Church – therefore it is sacred, not to be treated lightly.

Marriage is not necessarily for our happiness alone but as an instrument for spiritual growth and development. It is a sacred covenant that should never be broken. That is His ideal. It is our ideal. But we do not live in an ideal world.

I believe legitimate grounds for divorce are: infidelity which includes pornography, homosexuality, sexual perversion; abandonment which can happen while you are living in the same house, no communication, emotional isolation and not supporting the family; and abuse which can be physical, emotional and verbal as well as neglect.

Malachi 2:16 is used as a definitive statement, “God hates divorce.” God doesn’t hate the piece of paper the judge signs. He hates the breaking of the covenant bond which can be adultery, abuse or abandonment. God may hate divorce but He loves the divorced person.

This may be news to you but divorce was God’s idea! (Deuteronomy 24:1-2)

There are 2 different words for divorce in Hebrew but there is only one in English. One word means “abandonment” having no legal right or standing in the community – not a legal divorce. Desertion. It was like being in “no man’s land”. Divorce was God’s mercy for those abandoned. The other word is to cut marital bonds – a legal divorce giving equal rights for both parties to remarry.

In the new Testament there are the same two concepts but Paul introduced another: “leaving”, not a legal divorce. If they leave they cannot remarry because they are still married. In Mark 10:12 there was no legal divorce. With a legal divorce one was permitted to remarry.

In Corinth there was such a climate of immorality Paul taught that each was to have their own wife or husband – no wife-swapping or polygamy. When Paul said it was better to remain unmarried it wasn’t because he was opposed to marriage or thought marriage was a lesser state, he thought Jesus’ return was imminent. He didn’t want anything to distract from serving the Lord.

When he talked about church leaders being married to one person he was talking about polygamy not divorce. How many good people have been banned from Church leadership or ministry over that one statement!

I have struggled with this issue because I have been divorced and remarried. It was not easy. But I do know God’s grace in manifest ways. Divorce is ugly involving loneliness, rejection, sense of failure, loss of self-esteem, criticism, financial problems, the children suffer…it goes on and on.

Divorce may be necessary but it is always a tragedy. It is tragic with difficult consequences but staying in a toxic marriage is not necessarily better or more godly.

I’ll write more about this issue in the coming weeks!

This has been a long cold Winter and it doesn’t look like it is over yet! Spring likes to tease us throwing in a really warm day then dropping us on our heads with a cold temperature. I don’t like it. But I’m not the One in charge. I’ll just be patient and wait. The patient part is hard for me. Well, waiting is too.

Who likes to wait? We live in an “instant” society. It started with instant coffee. We no longer had to wait for the peculator. Do you remember the first computer you got? It had a dial-up modem. You would give it a command and it would do it’s thing and in a minute or two you got your response. And if you needed to download a page it could take a minute or more. We considered it a marvel until digital came along and gave us instant answers.

But instant answers don’t come with wisdom. Too frequently we rush to the answer without considering if it is true or not. Just look at the news media and politics. Who do you know in that field really ponders their answers and gives wisdom? I am sure there are some… These days it really isn’t real journalism, it’s opinion giving. We need wisdom to understand the difference.

Instant answers have little, if any, depth. Virtually no wisdom but we rely on them because we are busy and don’t have time to wait for wisdom. But how do we wait for wisdom? Quietly – tune out the noises around you, the noise in your own head. Think.

Read slowly and consider, think about what you read. When I was in high school, I was required to take a speed-reading course. I regret that. I can skim a page and get the gist of it – but that is not really reading to gain understanding and wisdom. It’s more like what they do in Congress now with heres 2200 page bills they pass without real thought or consideration.

But that’s another subject!

The best way to get wisdom is in the scriptures. Read it. Meditate on it. How do you meditate? Well let me give you an example: If you want to meditate on Psalm 23:1, “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.” Read it silently. Then read it out loud. Then take each word. “The” – not one of several but the. Then take “Lord”, ruler, master. Is He Lord of my life? Then the word, “is” present tense, right now He is Lord of all. Then the word “my” is personal. It brings it home to me…

Then “shepherd”. A guardian. A supplier. A guide. A protector. Then “I” – bringing it back to me, personally. Then “shall not”. Won’t. I need not fear lacking in something I need. He will take care of my needs.

Go through the verse (or verses) that way and see how it begins to shape your, thinking and give you wisdom. Then throughout the day return to the verse in your mind.

You will discover a whole new depth of wisdom.

It’s Resurrection Day! He is Risen!

“Worthy art Thou, our LORD, to receive glory and honor and praise, for thou didst create all things and because of Thy will they existed and were created.”

They woke up on Saturday and asked themselves, “Was it real?”, “Did it really happen?”

But as they scanned the horizon they could still see, in the distance the three crosses outlined against the sky. They stood as a terrible reminder of the horror that had taken place. It had been real. He was dead. He was in a tomb.

Now what? Would the Romans come after them and do the same to them? Should they get away and hide for a time till things cooled down?

They huddled together for moral support – each sharing their own story of what they saw and felt. No, it had not been an awful night mare – it WAS real. They never imagined He would be beaten so viciously, scorned so cruelly, mocked so heartlessly nor that He would die a criminal’s death.

It had all gone so wrong.

Now what? They just couldn’t think clearly. None of them had slept much. And they’d just have to wait until morning when the women would go anoint the body with spices. They might need help – one last thing they could do for Him.

But until then they just had to wait. Did they talk about the things He taught them? Did they read the scriptures – like the Psalms – to comfort themselves?

They would just wait…with broken hearts.