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The Unpardonable Sin?

There is a group of people in our churches today that are treated as outcasts and lepers. I am talking about the divorced. As one who has experienced it, I do know what I am talking about. Before I had the trouble I did in my own marriage I was one those who looked down on those that had failed marriages. I guess you could say I had a pharisaical view. Being a deacon on the board of a church put me in a place where when somebody’s name was mentioned for a leadership position one of the first things that would disqualify them was whether they had ever been divorced. In Many cases it was not the fault of that person. They had tried everything to keep their marriage together. I remember not wanting to attend a couple of friend’s wedding because one of them had gotten divorced before he was a believer. It hurt them both because many from our church refused to attend. We had a tendency to look down upon those that were divorced and treated them as second class.

Let me be clear on this subject. Marriage between a man and a woman is a sacred thing. For the believer, it is a covenant made with God and is an earthly representation of Christ and His bride, the church (Eph.5:25-33). Which is one reason why satan hates it with a passion and will do his utmost to make a marriage, especially a Christian marriage fail. Malachi 2:16a: "I hate divorce, says the Lord God of Israel." According to the Bible, God’s plan is that marriage be a lifetime commitment.

Jesus was asked what He thought about divorce one day.

3Some Pharisees came to him to test him. They asked, "Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any and every reason?"

4"Haven’t you read," he replied, "that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’

5and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? 6So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate."

7"Why then," they asked, "did Moses command that a man give his wife a certificate of divorce and send her away?"

8Jesus replied, "Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning. 9I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, and marries another woman commits adultery." Matthew 19:3-8

The Greek word translated "marital unfaithfulness" is a word which can mean any form of sexual immorality. It is can mean fornication, prostitution, adultery, etc. Jesus is saying that divorce is permissible if sexual immorality is committed. Sexual relations is such an integral part of the marital bond "the two will become one flesh" (Genesis 2:24; Matthew 19:5; Ephesians 5:31). Therefore, a breaking of that bond by sexual relations outside of marriage might be a permissible reason for divorce. If so, Jesus also has remarriage in mind in this passage. The phrase "and marries another" (Matthew 19:9) indicates that divorce and remarriage are allowed in an instance of the exception clause, whatever it is interpreted to be. It is important to note that only the innocent party is allowed to remarry. Although it is not stated in the text, the allowance for remarriage after a divorce is God’’s mercy for the one who was sinned against, not for the one who committed the sexual immorality.

Another exception is given by Paul when talking about divorce in 1 Corinthians:

10To the married I give this command (not I, but the Lord): A wife must not separate from her husband. 11But if she does, she must remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband. And a husband must not divorce his wife.

12To the rest I say this (I, not the Lord): If any brother has a wife who is not a believer and she is willing to live with him, he must not divorce her. 13And if a woman has a husband who is not a believer and he is willing to live with her, she must not divorce him. 14For the unbelieving husband has been sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife has been sanctified through her believing husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy.

15But if the unbeliever leaves, let him do so. A believing man or woman is not bound in such circumstances; God has called us to live in peace. 1 Corinthians 7:10-15

Also I believe that in the case where a spouse is abusive towards their wife or husband or the children that they should never be forced to stay in that kind of situation.

I loved my wife. I wasn’t the best husband in the world, but she was just about everything to me. When she became mentally ill our families and I tried everything to convince her she needed help. Many pastors tried to counsel her concerning it and they had failed. Her mental illness and the way she approached the children and I was becoming more dangerous with each passing day. It was decided after much counselling and advice from pastors and doctors that I should have her committed. Her mother and I had to get a court order to do so. It was one of the worst days of my life. The hospital after evaluation said that she was paranoid schizophrenic, but she was refusing treatment and they could only hold her for 10 days. As soon as she got out of the hospital she filed for divorce. For seven years I fought against that divorce and tried everything within my own power and through God to reconcile our marriage. Many great pastors and ministries tried to convince her she needed help and that she needed to work out our marriage but she refused even when she was confronted with the word of God. After the seven years I felt God was telling me it was time to let go and the divorce was granted to her. I never wanted it.

I came to see from the other side how many believers treat those who are divorced. I wasn’t even allowed to usher in the church I had known almost all my Christian walk. I knew I was called to ministry and yet I was not allowed at all to be part of leadership in any area. Those days became the darkest and loneliest days of my life and I slipped into depression. A great spirit of condemnation fell on me and many of the brothers and sisters that I thought were close friends withdrew from me. But God broke through. He sent a pastor to me who told me that God was not finished with me. That yes, divorce was a sin, but I was forgiven. He prayed with me and I was delivered from the depression and condemnation.

Today God has brought me to the place in leadership He always intended for me. I am more satisfied than I have been than at anytime other time in my life. God’s grace and mercy is greater than divorce or any sin.

Please don’t misunderstand me. Every avenue should be taken in order to try and preserve a marriage before going to divorce. But there are those who will look for any excuse to divorce and that is wrong and there have been some bad examples out there including a Christian singer who while she was married shot a music video with a country singer and decided that it was that country singer that God wanted her with and not her husband.

About 20 years ago we had a case that rocked a denomination. Two children of a couple of well known pastors in Quebec got married. It was a highly celebrated marriage and one of the largest Christian marriages that had ever been seen in the province. Within two years, the woman decided that she had made a mistake and wanted a divorce. The young man did everything he could to stop it but failed and within months of the divorce the young woman was married to someone else.

These people and many others have made a mockery out of Christian marriage. But there are those that have done everything they can to hold a marriage together and failed. Many people that God has called into leadership are destroyed not because of their divorce, but because of those in the church that lack wisdom and understanding. If God can forgive them why can’t the church? They have seen their ex-spouses go on to other marriages and what they see as happiness and yet their own church treats them with scorn and they wonder if they are really children of God. Please they need your love. The pain and shame that many of them feel is more than many of you can imagine. Divorced people are hurting people. They need your compassion and understanding. They need to feel part of the body of Christ again. Reach out to them. It’s what Jesus would do.

28"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." Matthew 11:28-30


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Comments on: "The Unpardonable Sin?" (22)

  1. your right, about how people who are divorced are looked upon as outcasts in most churches and by most christians. and i injoyed reading this blog entry. people who have gone through a devorce are not the only people that have had the church turn their backs on but how about queers? (i have researched and mean no offence by this term but find it most appropriate) i understand that this is a whole new topic and i am not saying that it isnt a sin. just wanted to make an other point to add on how the church can be so \’unlike\’ christ! hypathetical, if someone were to be married and then divorced (sinned) should they never be forgivin? does God not show grace? and should we hold that against someone for the rest of thir lives? so how is it that someone who has gone through a devorce be labled as someone not… i don\’t know \’holy\’ enough to work in the church ever again!

  2. Very good entry…I pray your \’wife\’ is getting the help she needs now, does this mean you will never re-marry? do divorced Christians have to spend the rest of their lives alone? I don\’t think so, but would like your opinion..I know a few divorced Christians who have remarried and are very happy AND working in the church.!!! go figure….plus I have a wonderful single sister that is not divorced…lol

  3. This is an awesome exposition of the this convenant. I\’m so sorry about your loss. I can\’t imagine the distress it would cause when one of the spouses falls away. I too have been guilty of judging divorces in which the believing spouse had done everything they could, but were now loosed from the convenant. But even still, those types of divorces are rare, the majority of them are two brats that are too selfish to sacrifice for one another. No different than the world. I especially agree with your thoughts on abusive partners. Submitting to that is ridiculous.I think every married person has wondered at some point if they made a mistake. If you\’re married, and you\’ve never wondered that, then you\’re a liar. 😉 The enemy is an expert at asking "Did God Really Say?". The question is are we willing to champion those thoughts and bring them under subjection to Christ.But suppose that one did miss God\’s will for their spouse. What then? There are a few scriptures that come to mind:Matthew 5:37 [Amplified]Let your Yes be simply Yes, and your No be simply No; anything more than that comes from the evil one.Psalms 15:4 [Amplified]…who honors those who fear the Lord (who revere and worship Him); who swears to his own hurt and does not change; We are bound by a convenant with almighty God. It\’s all about the follow through, "for better or for worse". But remember, even though we "think" we\’ve missed it, God only gives good and perfect gifts. Thank you Gerry for reminding me how sacred this convenant is, and what a treasure and promise Larissa is from God. I can\’t help but wonder what/who God has in store for you! (Sorry, couldn\’t resist 😀 )Jason

  4. my family is at least 3 or 4 generations of Christians, if not more. When my uncle seperated from his wife, it was big, then my other uncle got a divorce, and that blow my grandparents out of the water. Children were invovled in both marriages and it was a big deal. The one set moved on and started to see other people, but to them it just didnt feel right. And my cousin started having nightmares and while with the one parent called for the other. It was beginning to take a tool on the both of them for being apart. They talked things out, I am not sure if a divorce actually happened or not, this was a long time ago, but they reconciled and had another ceremony. However, my other uncle, that did not happen. He met a woman from work and married her. It was unfortunate because my grandparents were hurt that he wasnt working things out with his ex, the mother of his boys, but he had fallen in love with another and remarried to her. I love my aunt, she is a wonderful woman, but it is a shame at how divorcees are looked upon in the church. The church that I attend Hope Community Church in Pickering, has a divorcee class, and also a class for the children who are involved as well. It is a really good program. Thank you for your words and the attention brought to highlight this topic for us as believers, we should be doing all that we can for everyone, married for 50 years or divorced after 2. We are all still children of God, and loved just the same through His grace.Blessings,Bethany.

  5. Interesting. I like to read what you have to say. It just amazes me sometimes what God will forgive. His love is so powerful. I just dropped in to say hi and tell you that things are going ok with my pregnancy, the baby is very active and my boyfriend and I have been coming closer together as a couple. Also I have a new space and I will be deleteing my current one. The new URL is http://spaces.msn.com/members/mommy72188. I\’ve been praying for guidance. a lot. haha. Um, I was just wondering, it says in the Bible not to yoke yourself with unbelievers, but it also says that if you are married to a non-believer to stay with them and through your quiet obediance they might come to Christ (I\’m not sure of the exact wording of that) but my boyfriend is an unbeliever and I am a new believer. Am I to stay with him? I mean he does not believe so is it ok to get married to him in hopes that he will someday accept Christ?? I am so confused. Anyway I have to go so I will talk with you soon!

  6. This is a rather irrelevant question to the whole topic, but I am rather confused about this. You live in Montreal correct? And your wife was french. And you have a french last name, but, it doest seem to indicate to me that you can speak french. I thought it was rather confusing considering you live in Quebec. But then again, I am making assumptions here. I\’m just curious and confused about that.

  7. Gerry I need you and your church if possible to pray for me. Not just me. This whole town that I live in. Its a small town, but not too small. Mom feels that there is just something wrong here that is ripping our town apart. There are divorces happening all over and just bad things happening in general. Last night one of mom\’s friends woke up and saw a demonic presence above her bed and above her baby\’s crib. Then mom told me about a time when her daughter Hannah saw something above her bed too. It wasn\’t just her that saw it, Tiffany was with her and saw it and the cat was hissing at it…. Another time a friend of theirs eric saw it when he was with Hannah. There is something really wrong in our town (Melville, SK) and we need all the prayer we can get … please please please .. .God Bless, Carrissa

  8. Does the bible say you SHOULD divorce your wife/husband if they are unfaithful, or does it say it is permissable, leaving the decision to you?Good post

  9. Gerry, my last comment got wiped somehow. I thought at first this was going to be about the contiunual denial of grace. Glad I read on.Your struggle reminded me so much of Shadowlands the film. It describes C.S. Lewis\’ preaching on suffering… and how he married Joy Gresham. Shortly afterwards, Joy died. It was after this that his preaching on the subject became more compassionate… because he understood through experience and not just theology.It amazes me how God raises his servants up and puts them in situations that mirror what he is trying to say to his people. I praise him that you are one of those people Gerry. You are in a unique position to bless people who come from failed marriages. God truly is close to the broken hearted.I\’ve not been married, but I did go out with a girl for seven years. 1 year in and she lost her faith. Two years in and she betrayed me. I stuck with her because I wanted to give her opportunity to turn back. She did not. After 7 years God himself called it to account… and I remember the days after that were some of the most joyous I had experienced in some time. I was convicted and said to God that I did not deserve to be blessed in that area of my life, and that he could have it. I think he was waiting for me to say that. He has given it me back (or at least promised to). I wait for the day when the right person will come along. Maybe I already know them and the time is not right. All I know is that I am normally expectantly at peace… hoping and trusting on that promise. Sometimes my impatience gets the better of me and I find myself crying out in anguish though.Thank you for your prayers Gerry… I may share your comment with my home group tonight… it may encourage them.As to the more trivial matter of the banner in the top of my page. It\’s another powertool similar to your mediaplayer. I can\’t remember the code. I found it here: http://spaces.msn.com/members/d3vmax if you eneter the code it gives you a sandbox that enables you to enter 500 letters of code.Hope this helpsBlessings, grace and peace to you in Jesus name.Nick

  10. I remeber thinking as I read this two things, one was the day my uncle fell over the side of a houseboat as he told a joke and leaned back to far, he was lost for 5 days in Georgian Bay, he too was divorced and tried to rekindle the marriage that failed, but as his new girlfriend watched him disapear into the darkness of that water,she remembers how his body was not to pass through the church for a mass because he was divorced,I know it is a strong vow before God that was made,but he was taken straight to the burial sight instead. what do you think?. Another is last week a girl at work discussed the wedding of her Aunt to be married in costume.Halloween costumes,She says she will be dressed in black,and groom as vampire, and the quests also as they attend the wedding at the graveyard…….. Who do you think would marry these people? this in no way could be someone of christ,What do you think? Sharon

  11. hey Gerry. thank-you for coming to reply so quick! It\’s not a problem, everyone that I have linked on my space are spaces I frequently visit and read, even if I leave no comment. I just thought you might like to know. For your first question, I am not 100% sure he is the baby\’s father. I pray every night that he is and that if he is not that God give Bryce and I the strength to get through it… if it is His will. Secondly, my pastors are my parents. Both of them. haha. They are not my real parents, it is a home, but I have come to think of them as parents. (It was through living with them and their example, the example of their kids that I came to Christ) and they think I should be with them. He is over here a lot and we spend time together, they know him and like him, he spent Thanksgiving with us, but I have not voiced my thoughts to Sheila yet, about him being a non-Christian, or Duane for that matter, so they do not know what I think, therefore all they can think is he is the babies father and we seem so good together. Since I have moved in our relationship has come a long way (we actually talk now!) and we have even stopped having sex because of my newfound faith in Christ. He has respect for and my wishes, but he does not believe, and sometimes I feel that he is mocking Christianity? Although that could also just be my imagination 😀 He says he believes there is a God, BUT he has not accepted Christ as his saviour.. o and he was brought up seventh day! I pray to God for guidance and that His will be done, but sometimes I am not sure what His will is ….I have to go now though and help the kids get ready for school (mom and dad were at a pastors retreat for the night) so I hope to hear from you soon! Take care and God bless hun!! p.s. I left the link to my new space, because I will be deleting this one shortly, so just leave the comment there when (if) you get around to replying 😀 Thanks!!!

  12. i was trying to make a point more so than ask the question 🙂 i\’m just saying that everyone should be accepted and we should love others no matter what sin they are dealing with or have gone through. after many years of thinking that you choose your sexual orientation i now believe that people are borne with all kinds of sexual interests just like being born with a disability. its just the world we live in and people are born into sin. when you say that \’they cant stay in that sin\’ what about lustfull desires? thats a sin but can you tell someone that they cant feel those feelings? thats not being realistic. i think that we are obligated to be accountable for our actions but you cant control temptations… as long as we walk this earth, each of us will have to fight our temptations. me

  13. very good post on a confusing and difficult arena. moses was divorced. david commited adultery and murder. we see how God did with them. i guess some times God doesnt understand the church rules…… :)s. lizard

  14. The-Country-Cowboy said:

    Ever seen the parent trap?

  15. Good Post Gerry, I too am on my second marriage after divorce. I probably didn\’t have a good reason in the beginning to file for such…however, I cannot imagine what things would be like today had my path not gone the way it did. Today, I am married to the most wonderful, Godly man I could have ever imagined. Now know…it didn\’t start this way…but our lives were changed by God and all for the better. Sometimes…God can make wonderful things out of our huge mess ups! I am also a product of divorce. They say, the generational sins will suffocate you until you are cleansed from them. I went through a time where I truly felt imprisoned by such sins. I am still dealing with a few…but for the most part, God is rescuing me and my life has turned over a beautiful new leaf. I don\’t regret my first marriage..as I have two beautiful children from it…but I, today, testify to many of the sanctity of marriage. He has a plan! A marvelous, wonderful God Plan! Have a blessed weekend Gerry,~Val~

  16. Good post GerryI am seperated from my husband. I asked him to leave our home due to his drug use. Instaed of changing his behaviour he slpt with 3 women in 2 months. Needless to say our marriage is over and I have fallen in love with someone else. However I can\’t say that I\’ll ever give marriage another shot. If a strong believer like you and the people in your church can\’t make it work there isn\’t much hope for the rest of us.J

  17. To Julie_May,Just a word of encouragement. If I had not given love/marriage another chance…I wouldn\’t have the life I have today. I wouldn\’t have two more children (smart, handsome and God loving boys) and I wouldn\’t be expecting my 5th child at the age of 41. I know that being burned as you have been is hard and tends to harden ones heart. But remember…God is a God of mercy and forgiveness. He has a plan for you and that may or may not include another person to share your life with…but let Him make that decision. Just keep faithful to Him and allow Him to work in your life. With God…ALL THINGS ARE POSSIBLE! I will be praying for you.~Val!

  18. Ciao Gerry,God Bless You.Thank you for this blog that you posted. It is so true, as I have been divorced as well, and have felt as an outcast among some of my family and friends. I have even lost some really good friends as a result of it. It was an awful feeling, and I am sure that God does not want us to feel this way, but I did, and sometimes still do. I now have a wonderful fiancee who is the best in all the world, and I love him dearly. He is a God send to me. Thank you Gerry for posting this topic.Please send my Greetings to Pastor Paul and the family for me, I am looking forward to hearing from him soon.Take Care.God Bless YouLoveShelleyxXx

  19. I had a divorce in the past. We had sinned against God, but He forgave us and He still has the mercy for me. My ex husband abused me several times, many things that destoryed our marriage, not success. Now I am with my second husband, whom i stay with, i make sure that I don\’t leave him. No more divorce. God tested us through many trials and we still worked out and to stay together. I am very happy. I sometime talk to my ex- husband, who lives in Sask… we became friends, forgiven years ago. Pray for him to return to the Lord ( he s backslidden) and be saved in Him.

  20. Interesting….Gerry…you were judged then, thrown into a blanket where circumstances prevented the ideal? Made it impossible to say *all* divorce was bad…..hmmmm, as far as *I* know, the church condemns all divorce, but now, you in a "leadership" position, are ready to excuse your situation…..I\’ll never hold back on the truth my friend, I think it keeps people humble…..and easier to find mercy for others.

  21. HydrovitaeThere is a difference between actively seeking a divorce and being a victim of it. If you read it properly you\’d understand that God as much as He hates divorce allowed it in certain situations. But in every case every marriage should be held together until every avenue has been tried.

  22. "Made it impossible to say *all* divorce was bad…..hmmmm, as far as *I* know, the church condemns all divorce, but now, you in a "leadership" position, are ready to excuse your situation…..I\’ll never hold back on the truth my friend, I think it keeps people humble…..and easier to find mercy for others."…. or you could actually read the Bible instead of going on heresay and forming arrogant, insulting, *uninformed* accusations under the guise of humility-imparting "truth". How\’s that for truth my friend? Jason

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