The late Tammy Wynette’s 1968 version of D-I-V-O-R-C-E, like any good country music tune, cuts at the heart. If you haven’t heard this song in a while, go to YouTube. Or if you just want to read the lyrics, google them. If you’re thinking about getting a divorce, you may think twice.
The subject of divorce from a 21st century religious, theological, Christian, or scriptural point of view is puzzling. Some Christians today have largely settled on a point of view that concludes divorce is okay, necessary, or not as bad as we once thought. I don’t mean that Christians or Christian churches encourage divorce. In fact, they continue to teach that God intends marriage to be permanent–a union between two who become one–’til death we do part.
But many churches routinely provide seminars for the divorced; social events for the divorced; Sunday School classes for the divorced; counseling for those going through divorces; etc. I’m not condemning these practices. The church should minister to those suffering from the ravages, even cruelty, of divorce. Divorce is so pervasive that churches excommunicating the divorced would probably find a shrinkage in church membership. Even churches that take a very conservative approach to divorce don’t bar the divorced from attending worship services.
Let’s face it. We’re all touched by divorce. Parents, children, other family members, good friends, fellow Christians, ourselves. I readily confess that staying married is one of the hardest things I’ve done. Tammy W would probably say that, too. She was married five times.
I don’t mean to say that it’s been terrible. Far from it. My wife is the best thing that ever happened to me. Our family has made life worth living. But when we are told in Genesis 2:24 and Mark 10:8 that a man and a woman who marry “become one flesh,” I can’t honestly say that I even understand what that means–other than marriage is meant to last forever and divorce rips the one flesh apart. I’ve heard those who are divorced describe it exactly that way.
What makes the way at least a part of Christianity seems to consider divorce today so perplexing, even astonishing, is what Jesus taught about the subject.