Friday, July 24, 2009

Getting Your Remarriage Permit

I often have someone come in my office and inform me of their desire to divorce. Whether invoking what they consider to be the "adultery exception" (as they often call it) or not, I always know what is coming later in the conversation. I listen for it, yet never have to press for it. Eventually, their motive is fully exposed. They don't simply plan to divorce.

They plan to remarry.

Sometimes, they already have a future spouse in mind. Other times, they have no one in mind, but they do believe that their spouse's adultery not only gives them permission to divorce, but gives them permission to remarry as well. Nearly every time, I hear a statement like, "I'm leaving my spouse because I deserve a husband who will be faithful to me." (Or the sister statement, "My kids deserve a father who will be faithful to the family.") While it is true that God's design is for a man to be a faithful husband and father, I would also argue that His design is for your current spouse to play that role, not someone else.

I have yet to counsel a person who wants to invoke their "right to divorce" that does not also see it as permission to remarriage. Therefore, before they are divorced (read: still married), they are already thinking toward sharing a marriage bed with another partner. There may not be a name or face attached, but they are already entertaining the thought of someone other than their current spouse.

Isn't such thinking adultery?

[But the person is no longer my spouse, for they have broken the marriage, I have heard some protest. But such thinking is inconsistent. If the marriage is broken, why seek a divorce? It's simply the legal formality, they argue. But again, would they apply the same rule to engaged couples? Are engaged couples free to engage in intercourse because all that waits is the formality? Would you be content with your child taking such an approach?]

This does not end with a hard-hearted-learn-to-live-with-it exhortation, but rather, with a time of reflection at the cross. Jesus died for those who are unfaithful. Even in the midst of pain and hurt created by someone else's unfaithfulness, I am called to see my own propensity to wander. I am given the privilege to take them to Christ who endures my unfaithfulness, but also remained faithful even in the midst of Judas' betrayal and the disciples' denials. Though difficult, the believer is granted opportunity to greater intimacy with Christ as they share in the fellowship of suffering. In the face of their spouse's unfaithfulness, they can choose to be faithful to their covenant, just as Christ remains faithful despite our unfaithfulness.

In the end, additional adultery is not just avoided, but the gospel is also exalted!


Darby Livingston said...

Outstanding Danny. Really.

danny2 said...

comment over at darby's blog:

It un-nerves me that God has created marriage to illustrate the redemptive relationship we have with Christ (the Church) because of the Cross. This fact remains as sure as the rising sun: we are all adulterers. As believers, surely there has been at least once when we have chosen to follow after what we believed to be greener grass than the streets of gold God gives us in Christ. We who are so easily deceived would probably do well to forgive adultery. If we would say, "but my spouse cheated on me- they broke the greatest of all promises!"....we would do well to remember that marriage is but a whisper of the greatest relationship. And we break that all the time...and still He seeks no divorce. Thank God for the True and Better Husband. [emphasis mine]