Ten Guidelines for a Christian Divorce
Divorce may have led you to the edge of an unfamiliar cliff. For the first time you realize how easy it is to become bitter. You understand why people seek revenge. You have moments when you subtly or overtly hurt your spouse in ways you never thought you would. At the same time you’re asking yourself how to let go of this spouse as a lover and confidant. The future is a scary unknown and you can’t make yourself jump into it yet. You feel like an absolute failure. Survival is everything and sanity is doubtful.
Honoring God in the midst of this? It would be nice but how are you supposed to do that when the divorce itself makes you feel like somehow you’ve let Him down?
What if it is possible to honor God
even in especially in the midst of a messy divorce? What if your love for God is the one thing that brings order to the chaos? What if God is able to help you with that bitterness and show you how to love a (soon-to-be-former) spouse in a new way? Can you imagine jumping into the unknown and finding that the attitudes changed and faith built during your divorce give you dignity and purpose? And this helps you land on your feet? In a pleasant place?
That’s what most of us think. But having been through a divorce, I know firsthand how hard divorce is and what a difference my choice to honor God made in me and in my divorce. I didn’t have any guidelines to follow. What I did have was the Holy Spirit gently reminding that Jesus’ ways aren’t my ways. I knew I had to stick to the truths in the Bible. It was time to apply them in this unfamiliar place. So I made my own guidelines for making it through my divorce without compromising my commitment to Jesus Christ. I wasn’t perfect. Regrets still linger over the mistakes I did make. They are painful regrets, regrets I hope you might avoid.
Below are what I consider to be the cream of the crop. These are the truths that transcend all situations but are especially helpful in the midst of what is not just a battle for the kids or property or our sanity, but is essentially, always, a spiritual battle. Yes, a spiritual battle. You may never be so vulnerable again, and Satan knows it. Sinful attitudes and actions creep in like crazy during this season. Never forget that even this battle is really all about your soul. You need all the Godly help you can get to guard your heart.
Top Ten Guidelines for a Christian Divorce
- As much as it is up to you, have biblical grounds for divorce.
- Don’t bash your spouse to your children, your spouse’s family, or mutual friends. Ever.
- Don’t seek revenge.
- Have good physical/emotional/sexual boundaries.
- Don’t use or manipulate your spouse to get what you want.
- Choose to love your (former)spouse in a new, God-honoring, (love your enemies?) kind of way.
- Be honest. Period. (Disclaimer for spousal abuse victims: Be discreet about important details to protect yourself.)
- Grieve. Get angry. Get sad. Go through denial. Bargain. Get angry and sad some more. Then deal with the painful reality that it’s over. This will take a long time. Give yourself that time.
- Wait until your divorce is final before dating.
- Trust that God has plans for your future. These plans do not involve sexual immorality!
What will it take to do these things? A heart that is open to learning how to put up good walls (boundaries) with a divorcing spouse. At the same time invite God in through His Holy Spirit to help heal the deep, deep wounds. I’ll devote future blogs to sharing what’s behind each guideline; some great verses that are so encouraging. Meanwhile, won’t you take a moment right now to ask Him to help you with your situation?
Dear God, You know the nitty-gritty of every relationship. All the good and all the bad. You grieve with us over all the losses. May those in need of your healing and your help understand how much You love them. May they be aware of Your ability to heal, to teach new ways – Your ways – and to guide us into places we’re too afraid to go by ourselves. Hold us closely as we grieve, comfort us as only You’re able. Give us wisdom to make wise choices and the ability to look at our situation and spouse (or former spouse) as You want them to be seen. May we be as wise as serpents and as gentle as doves, leaving vengeance and justice to You. Help us guard our hearts from hurtful people. Help us to understand that we are never truly alone, that You love us always and will be with us always. Give us faith to believe all that You promise, and remind us that you forgive us when we forget or let our fears overwhelm us. Thanks, God, for being here for us, at this very moment. In Jesus name, amen.