Tag: Marriage

Divorce Complications

Anon – I’m a Christian and I divorced my repeatedly unfaithful husband a few years ago. He married again and I have had trouble with my relationships with my children who have embraced (accepted) his wife. I feel they have betrayed me, their mother. He has since died and I feel guilty that I did not stick it out with him. How does God fit into all this mess?

Dave – You’ve raised some good issues concerning marriage, family, devotion, and divorce. Although Scripture is clear that a person can divorce their spouse if that spouse cheats on them sexually, Scripture does not say that they must take this option. It simply says it’s okay to do so if you want.

So I believe married people should not divorce unless the Scripture says it is okay. No matter what has happened in the past, however, I also believe that couples should first try to reconcile before divorcing. If there is consistent physical/emotional abuse (which the Bible does not include), I think it wise to separate physically for self-preservation and try to work on problems without living together. Scripture also says that believers can divorce unbelievers if the non-Christian wants it.

Truly embracing someone else’s children from a second or third marriage is a difficult task because there was a broken covenant. This task, however, is not impossible with God at the helm. In some cases, families improve. No matter if we goof up in this life, when we turn our heart to Jesus, He will turn people’s hearts toward each other.

I think God permits divorce in cases of adultery because it symbolizes mankind’s continual unfaithfulness to God. He wants to make a point to us. Because we our in a sinful state, it is difficult to perceive the degree of wickedness in our actions and hearts. Of course, a strong love can forgive and repair a relationship, but ONLY when the guilty person truly repents. Without repentance, there can be no relationship no matter how much unconditional love is in a heart. Now this love will empower us to forgive the guilty person (even 70 X 7 times), but that does not mean a relationship of marriage will be restored. It takes two to do this, not one. If a person hits me in my face at lunch break in a cafeteria, I will forgive him. But if he continues to do the same, I’ll forgive him but not sit with him. This concept can be applied to divorce as well.

I understand the voices you hear in your mind making you regret divorcing your husband. Obviously I do not know all the details of your husband’s behaviors, but it sounds like his sin against you, your family, and God was an ongoing thing that was not leading to a willingness to be helped to change. People can change even though they are not Christians. It happens all the time. Granted, we have an advantage being plugged into the Redeemer, but God gives grace even to unbelievers at times (“He sends rain on the just and unjust“).

Concerning you relationship with your chidren whom you feel have betrayed you, God can restore relationships. Humble, honest self-evaluation coupled with a sensitivity to the Holy spirit works wonders. I know one of your children, and she loves and cares for you much. I don’t think she has rejected you because she has accepted your ex-husband’s wife into her life. If there are deeper issues here, Christian counseling is needed.

I sense there is deep-rooted anguish in your soul about your divorce. Because I do not know much about what went on in those days, I do know that it is in the past…and any wrongdoing on your part (if there was any) has been forgiven you by Jesus Christ who is Lord over all. You can begin to rebuke that demonic voice that attacks your thought-life in the name of Jesus and it will lose its power over you in time. It’s kind of like quitting smoking cigarettes. The voices that urge us to begin again are strong and consistent for the first few weeks, then gradually fade in power over the months. So when you first start arming yourself with God’s weapons over your enemy’s voice and using them, those demons will go, but will return soon after. But if you do not allow them to really penetrate your mind by using Jesus’ authority over them, you will discover, over time, that you will no longer be tormented by them. If you feel you need more help, find a good Christian counselor or pastor.

Feedback so far:

Jim I – Thanks for sending this Dave. The enemy had a field day with me went I went through divorce.

Sex Before Marriage

Ever since the late 1960s when many societal norms were challenged, sex before marriage began to rise sharply in the United States. Unfortunately, so did drug abuse, wilder music, and lack of self restraint among the young generation. Many of that generation didn’t have much of a chance to hear God’s voice on many issues. Few churches were preaching the Gospel and few Christians were Bible savvy enough to be salt. Suddenly there were many reasons to get high and have sex. “If it feels good, do it!” became the mantra of a wayward generation. Hallucinogenic drugs “helped the mind expand to see deeper truths about life” and premarital intercourse “helped people discover if they were really meant for each other” or so the mantras promised. Our nation was a sitting duck for major deception and is now wallowing deeper into it.

What was tragically missing in those days was rational discourse in favor of obeying God’s rules. For example, if God has a “shalt not” rule, it is there for our protection, not sadistic control. God is keenly aware of what happens in a fallen sin-cursed world, and He always wants the best for us. Too many churches were lifeless, however, and were not feeding people with what they needed spiritually. Few clergy and few believers knew how to lovingly and successfully defend the Scriptures. It is good to see that much of this has changed, but we are still scrambling to recover. I believe that since Christians were not the salt they were called to be, our nation became vulnerable to sensuality (doing what we want). Proverbs 29:18 has insight for us today: “Where there is no vision, the people are unrestrained, but happy is he who keeps the law.”

Fortunately, God loves us so much that He sets up “fences” to protect people from being harmed. There are several reasons why premarital sex is wrong, and most believers have heard those. I would like to provide a list of advantages of waiting until marriage to have sex that perhaps few people have thought about. This list goes beyond obvious ones such as avoiding unwanted pregnancy and disease. Many touch on non-physical aspects to human life such as the emotional, social, and spiritual realms. One problem is that people tend to fixate only on the physical dimension when it comes to health issues. Humans are not mere animals. Our differences go far beyond IQ measurements. We are made in God’s image, we have souls and spirits (1 Thess. 5:23 and Hebrews 4:12). We are the only life form on earth that knows it’s going to die, we can wonder about what happens after death, we have moral concepts, and a spiritual construct called dignity. Animals have none of these. In order to judge God fairly on His rules, we need His perspective.

CAUTION: I am not saying that all of the following advantages of abstaining from premarital sex will be true for everyone. But many will. I am also not saying that if some or all are true, that a person’s future marriage is doomed. However, they will have to conquer more hurdles to succeed as a husband or wife. So here it goes (in no particular order):

  1. The assurance that your partner does not want you just for sex (freedom from being used). This is a huge advantage for females since young males usually are mostly interested in the pleasures (and bragging rights) of sex and are not quite emotionally mature yet to know how to selflessly care for a girl during the teen years. The truth is, if a guy really loves a girl and she wants to wait until marriage to have sex, he will be willing to wait also. The Bible says that love is patient and kind, does not demand its own way, and bears all things (1 Cor.13:4-7). So one sure way for a girl to know her boyfriend really loves her is to wait until after marriage to have sex. If he refuses and leaves the relationship, good! She needs to see that rather than getting more hurt later.
  2. Freedom from sex becoming the focus of the relationship. When people are young, this becomes a major threat to the relationship. Real, lasting intimacy can be lost. Waiting forces us to focus on personality meshing and learning how to become a mature man/woman. Premarital years should be viewed as “boot camp” for “war” (marriage, lol). There’s a lot of learning and practicing necessary to become a successful husband or wife.
  3. Freedom from deeper emotional hurt when the break-up occurs. Emotional hurt is the most common result of premarital sex, not pregnancy or disease. Because intercourse between two humans is more than just a physical act, emotions can be at high risk. When sex occurs, there is always a soul-tie that takes places, and when this is ripped apart, the pain is greater.
  4. Freedom from worrying about a tainted reputation (being “easy,” for example). Right or wrong, many young guys will think a girl will easily give them sex if she has done it before.
  5. Freedom from distraction. There are many important things going on in a person’s life that can get side-tracked by sexual relationships, especially when still in school or college.
  6. Freedom from worrying about parents finding out. Practicing deceit separates relationships.
  7. Freedom from comparisons with future spouse. Right or wrong, it will happen. A husband or wife will compare their spouse with another person that they had sex with before marriage, and sometimes the sex was better with a previous partner. Uh-oh! This can lead to marital difficulties.
  8. Freedom from fear of “measuring up” to spouse’s past partner(s). Sooner or later a spouse may wonder if they are as good or better than their spouse’s past partner(s).
  9. Tendency to trust future spouse more if they resisted sex with others before marriage. The earlier and more often a person has sex before marriage, the more they are apt to cheat on their spouse (Travris and Sadd, The Redbook Report, 1977 and several others through the 1990s).
  10. Sex tends to be more special if saved for that one person. Again, no other life-form on earth can have this be true for them except humans who are made in God’s image. We are NOT just smart apes!
  11. Freedom to discover different ways of showing love. Young guys often pressure a girl to have sex by saying, “If you love me, prove it!” While love will be demonstrated, it should never be demanded to be demonstrated and in a specific way. Can you imagine a relationship where one says to the other, “If you love me, take out the garbage right now!” That would be an abusive relationship, and if someone is giving in to demands for intercourse, they are being abused as well.
  12. Saying no to sex can make convictions stronger. Many people have a mere belief in abstinence, but when situations change (i.e. they get older or an attractive person becomes interested in them), they give in. A conviction is a stronger belief because it has several rational reasons for the stand, and can be defended under pressure.
  13. Not yielding to temptation in one area may cross over to other areas. There are many wrong paths to take in life. Jesus said, “Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it“ (Matt. 7:13). Good self-control can apply to other paths as well.
  14. Lower risk of cervical cancer for females. Early sex for females increases cervical cancer risk. There may be multiple reasons. One is they have more chance to be exposed to the human papilloma virus (HPV). This is now the leading cause of this type of cancer.

Saying “no” these days is not an easy thing to do. Sometimes pressures come from the guy and the girl needs to be ready to defend herself. It can be a battle of wits and words! If he degrades marriage by saying it is just a piece of paper, she can counter with “If that is all it means to you now, that’s all it’ll mean to you later.” If he claims, “Everybody’s doing it,” she can challenge him by saying, “Then who are you doing it with?” This comeback is especially good because it gets him off his offensive position and now he must fight from a defensive posture which will not favor him. If his rudeness persists, she must be willing to say, “Then you’ll have no trouble finding someone else.” If he is a real “Don Juan” and claims he loves her, she can counter with “I love my dad too. Ask him if it’s okay. If he says “yes,” I’ll do it.” This last one is my favorite – “C’mon, it’s natural!” She can say, “So is poison ivy but I don’t want it touching me!”

There is also a lot to be said about “secondary virginity.” This is when a person has had sex once or more but now is waiting for marriage. God cleanses us from all sin and we become white as snow. We can begin again. It is extremely encouraging to know this! Some girls think that once they’ve lost virginity, there’s no use in stopping. Yes there is. Many of the above advantages can be theirs if they wait.

I recall a Brenda Starr cartoon where a young man was pressuring her to have sex:

The man: You want me to go away where?!
Brenda: Just away from me. Give us time.
The man: Whatever happened to the spontaneity of youth?
Brenda: We traded it in for the wisdom of age.
The man (not yet deterred): A relationship without spontaneity is like a car without gas.
Brenda: A relationship without caution is like a car without brakes!

Brenda was ready for this guy. Kids need to be trained and ready for the real world. They need to be told why God has His rules. Sexual intercourse between humans is like fire. Obey the rules of safety and it is a huge blessing, but disregard those rules and it becomes a destructive force. Finally, always remember that if we turn to God to help us ward off temptation, He sends help: “No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it” (1 Cor. 10:13).

P.S. If you have a tween or teen, you might want to use this as a discussion guide.

Dawn H: I’ve got more to write, but let me say thanks for now. Since all this info was written by a guy, it makes the message more special. Really. 🙂

PT: Dave, you seem to cover the topics for discussion so well that there is little room for any of us to respond other than with a ditto. You certainly covered the topic of sex quite well here. I will add that I have subscribed to Psychology Today for years just to see what is current in research and the social norms of the day. The articles submitted by these educational elite are about as far away from God as any biblical Christian could imagine when it comes to topics about sex. They seem quite able to see the difficulties that arise in marriage and sexual relations, but have no answer other than more psychology. I fear for today’s youth, especially those who subscribe to the postmodern view of sex, where they become their own conscience.

Linda B – That’s my tenth grade Jesus-freak-health-teacher talkin’! I love it! Thank you once again for being the one God chose to wake me up all those years ago.

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