Last summer I had surgery to repair an umbilical hernia. I wasn’t convinced it was necessary but my family was worried about it and said, “Some people die from hernia’s dad!” so I set it up. It was the first surgery I had had in 37 years so, as I knew, surgical procedures had changed a bit. Every precaution was taken because there is still the danger of infection or other complications in spite of all the safeguards in place. I was given tremendous care at the facility and then was given an excuse to sit in a recliner for a week. As far as surgeries go its hard to imagine one going easier. I received great care before and after from the medical professionals, from my family, and from friends.
A week later I went back for a check up and when I lifted my shirt to show the surgeon the area he looked surprised. He told me that that is about the most bruising we ever see with this surgery. I later asked him if I could go swimming, he said sure, but do me a favor. “If you do go swimming, keep your shirt on, don’t let anyone see that, and don’t let anyone know who did that to you.”
Of course, there’s nothing funny about most surgeries. Some of them are deadly serious. But I want to direct your attention to another sort of cutting. It happens a lot and there simply are no controls and no safe and healthy means of anesthetizing the pain that comes from such a cutting. The cutting is less like a surgery and more like a bomb, no one close to the blast walks away unscathed. Jesus said, quoting Genesis 2:
Matthew 19:5–6 (ESV) 5 . . . ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? 6 So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.”
In place of the word “separate” the King James version says, “put asunder.” This language is picked up in the a traditional version of the marriage ceremony. Perhaps you think my analogy between surgery and divorce a bit over done. But The Greek word behind the translations “separate” or “put asunder” includes the idea of “sever.” Furthermore, my interviews with groups of divorced people both in the past and very recently back up my characterization. There are no safeguards against the cutting involved in separating what God has joined together in a marriage. It doesn’t matter how clean or efficient the process; it is a devastating experience. Believing that I am following God’s leading, I will carefully wade into this topic at Bethany Place this Sunday. Surrounding divorce. there are several groups of people I want to encourage and speak to, each with unique needs. Here are a few (there are other scenarios):
To the married person considering divorce because they’ve gotten caught up with another person I would like to challenge with every arsenal in scripture and heart broken story I know to block their way. Attraction for another human being will go away if it is not nourished. Sexual or romantic bliss is not a right that we can demand.
To the person contemplating divorce because of irreconcilable differences I would urge to slow down.
To the person contemplating divorce, because of abuse I would say get out of harm’s way immediately.
To the person who’s been divorced, I want to offer God’s grace and hope.
To the children of divorce, I want to say God loves you, its not your fault, and we want to help you.
To the church and the Christian community I want to say, let us wake up to the carnage these folks are going through and be doing all that we can to love and rescue and make a difference in their lives.
You can see some of the scripture for Sunday’s message and suggestions for prayer regarding this subject below.
Matthew 19:3–9 (ESV)
3 And Pharisees came up to him and tested him by asking, “Is it lawful to divorce one’s wife for any cause?” 4 He answered, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, 5 and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? 6 So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” 7 They said to him, “Why then did Moses command one to give a certificate of divorce and to send her away?” 8 He said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. 9 And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery.”
Suggested items for prayer:
- Pray for existing marriages that both partners will live by the values of Matthew 19:5-6.
- Pray for persons pursuing marriage that they will be allowing God to shape their character to be fully prepared for both the blessings and challenges of marriage.
- Pray for persons considering divorce that they may listen to godly advice and stay close to God and to his church as they struggle.
- Pray for hope and for healing for those in the midst of divorce, for all parties involved including children.
- Pray for those that have been divorced that they might richly experience the grace of God, his acceptance through his grace, and his purpose for their lives.
- Pray that the church may know how to sensitively, practically, and faithfully minister to all persons affected by the tragedy of divorce.