Lesson Unlearned

BAD NEWS

It was my freshman year in college.  After a long day, I came home and listened to my answering machine (obviously, this is 1994).  There was a message on it that would soon change my world.  My sister said words I never thought I would hear, "They're getting a divorce."  Unsettling news to say the least.  I walked outside my dorm room and cried for hours.  I couldn't imagine a world with my parents not being together.  I was so confused.  I just remember being angry. A flood of old memories came back to my mind. Wrestling with my dad after breakfast and hearing my mom laugh as I tried to take him to the floor.  Football games, dinners after church, bad jokes my dad would tell, our family laughing together...all gone.

RELATIONSHIPS DON’T LAST

As I arrived at my junior year in college, without realizing it, I had come to a conclusion about relationships: they were temporary and not at all intended to last.  Marriage was a non-negotiable and this new reality guided the decisions I would make with women.  I would get close but not close enough to be known.  I would make sex my only goal, and I was very open about that fact.  One night, I went out on a date and when the waiter asked if there would be two checks, I emphatically said, “Yes!”  Why would I pay for someone that I was NEVER going to commit to?  She was offended, yet I made it clear we would never be more than people who go out and occasionally have sex.  As you could imagine that went over like a lead balloon.

What I didn't realize was that my conclusion was birthed out of one major reality: I never wanted to be hurt again.  The pain of divorce taught me to never let people close.  They will hurt you—especially in a romantic relationship.  I had sat too many hours with my mother wondering where her life had gone. I had seen the anger and confusion from my sisters.  I had seen my dad become very introverted and somewhat depressed.  The shrapnel of divorce was still piercing all of our hearts years later.  No way did I want to be a part of that mess again!

DIVORCE = DESTRUCTION

Magicians often do a trick where they take a woman and saw her in two.  Crazy trick, right?  We all know its magic because there is no way you can saw a person in two and they live.  It’s entertaining, but not realistic.  When a father or mother makes a decision to divorce, they are fooling themselves if they believe that they can cut a singular family unit in two without something being destroyed.  It's not a realistic thought.  As far I can tell, this is what God hates about divorce (Mal 2:16 NIV).  He hates seeing the family separated.  He hates for two people to make a covenant, agreeing that nothing could ever tear them apart, and then go their separate ways.  He hates what divorce does in a young boy or girl’s heart.  He hates seeing families make decisions about which parent they will spend Thanksgiving with, or the awkwardness of graduations.  He hates something that has become very normal in our culture.

I think what God hates the most is that Christian divorce says something about Him that isn't true.  The Gospel tells a story of man committing to sacrifice his own life so that others can live.  His passion for reconciliation drives him to a gory death. Divorce, when done outside of biblical parameters, is a message of self-preservation.  The passion to have a better life drives them to separate. I believe this grieves the Lord more than anything else.

LOVE GOD MORE

The Gospel message is the hope for any couple on the brink of divorce or already separated.  The Gospel message causes a man or woman to fall deeper in love with God daily.  It is embracing the perfect love of Christ that frees you to love others (1 John 4:19).  It is what enabled me to overcome my view of relationships and by God's grace commit to loving a wife.

Loving God is the most important thing in life.  In Matt 22:37-40, Jesus says everything that God has ever said can be whittled down to two statements—even what he has said about divorce.  Love God and love man.  So then, Love God and love your wife or husband.  In this you will find true life.