10-17-15 “Can I Divorce My Spouse Because of Abadonment or Abuse?” – Pastor Shane Idleman

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Complete Sermon Notes

Can I Divorce Because of Abandonment or Abuse?

Introduction: Move cautiously and carefully – only God can really answer this question.

I’m a big fan of restoration

A Focus on the Family newsletter stated that when a research team studied 5,232 married adults who were interviewed in the late 1980s, they discovered that 645 of them were unhappily married. Five years later, these same adults (some divorced, separated, or still married) were interviewed again. The study revealed that two-thirds of the unhappily married spouses who stayed together were actually happier five years later. The opposite is often true for those divorced. Although those who divorce may temporarily escape the pain, divorce introduces new emotional and relational difficulties.

Matthew 19:9 And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced commits adultery.”

Let me take this opportunity to speak to the Christian who had no solid scriptural grounds for divorce, yet chose to leave. This is serious. We would not intentionally walk into the enemy’s camp, yet this is what we do when we walk out from under God’s covering. The choices we make today will influence the quality of our life tomorrow. Sin takes us farther than we want to go, keeps us longer than we want to stay, and costs us more than we want to pay. For some, it’s not too late. Repent and return to God – HE can restore your life, and in some cases, your marriage.

HOPE FOR THE HURTING: Our marriage was not in God’s will

  1. Except for abandonment.

1 Corinthians 7:10 Now to the married I command, yet not I but the Lord: A wife is not to depart from her husband. 11 But even if she does depart, let her remain unmarried or be reconciled to her husband. And a husband is not to divorce his wife.

Separate to 1. reconcile or 2. stay single

I believe that abuse would fall under this umbrella – But even if she does depart.”

Spousal Abuse is an Epidemic – emotional abuse: cruel and violent treatment. They tear them down and use the kids against them. They use the scriptures as weapons. Physical Abuse – coward / deep repentance needs to take place.One of the biggest obstacles when seeking direction, is to become involved in another relationship soon after the divorce or separation.

This severely hinders the ability to follow God’s lead. Many have plan B in case God doesn’t move quick enough. I’m astonished at the number of people with back-up plans. They keep a boyfriend or girlfriend on the back-burner, on low-heat, just in case restoration does not occur.

12 But to the rest I, not the Lord, say: If any brother has a wife who does not believe, and she is willing to live with him, let him not divorce her. 13 And a woman who has a husband who does not believe, if he is willing to live with her, let her not divorce him. 14 For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband; otherwise your children would be unclean, but now they are holy. 15 But if the unbeliever departs, let him depart; a brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases. But God has called us to peace.”

VIEW 1: Does not mean that when a Christian is deserted by an unbelieving spouse he or she is free to remarry. It means that the Christian is not bound to fight in order to preserve togetherness.

VIEW 2: When a spouse leaves and has moved on with no intention of returning, God does not want the other spouse to be bound to the past—He wants us to live in peace. But does this mean that the spouse who remains is now free to remarry? In my opinion, the word “bondage” (douloo) is the key. If an unbelieving spouse leaves and ends the marriage, the other is released and is free to remarry. They are no longer a slave; they are released.

“Not under bondage” signifies a release

MacArthur: “The believer is under no obligation in such a case” (1 Cor. 7:14). No obligation to what? https://www.gty.org/Resources/Print/Questions/QA118_Whats-your-view-of-divorce-and-remarriage

A significant amount of time needs to elapse: This may reveal if the person left only for a season, or has chosen to leave permanently.

As a practical example, many would be single, never to marry again, if they took this verse to mean that they are to never to remarry. They would not have a new loving spouse and wonderful children. This, to me, would be true bondage. Only God can truly answer this question.

But what if the spouse who chose to leave is a “believer”? Serious consideration must be taken here. Is this person genuinely a believer…or just a professor? Genuine faith is reflected in a transformed life, a love for God and His Word, sincere humility, selfless love, and an attitude of repentance?

This type of love would not choose to leave unless there is genuine abuse, adultery, and so on. When the spouse who chooses to leave does not have these characteristics, it may be safe to assume that they are not truly a believer. But some spouses leave because the environment is unbearable, not because they are an unbeliever.

CLOSING [read excerpts]: “Those who hunger and thirst for righteousness will be filled.” We will be satisfied – it all depends on where we direct our hunger.

God can deliver those broken by a failed marriage, but in order for change to occur on the outside (i.e., remarriage or restoration) it first must occur on the inside. Strongholds include bitterness, pride, lust, selfishness, substance abuse, toxic relationships, anger, and physical abuse, to name a few.

God heals us primarily with the transforming power of His Word and obedience and repentance through a broken heart: “He sent His Word and healed them, and delivered them from their destructions” (Psalm 107:20).

I vividly remember my wife encouraging a young mom not to leave her husband and small children. Her response was shocking, “I know what the Bible says, but God wants me to be happy. He knows my heart.”

Ephesians 4:31-32 says to “let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.”

If you are separated, or recently divorced, and are lacking peace and joy, I encourage you to re-think your current situation. Confusion, anxiety, fear, and some forms of depression are sometimes indicators that we are outside of God’s will. (Please note the word “sometimes”.)

A personal favorite, 1 Corinthians 7:17 states that we must accept whatever situation the Lord has put us in, and continue on as when God first called us. We are to use every situation for God’s glory.

If single, use that opportunity to build and strengthen character, and care for the things of God. LET GOD BRING A SPOUSE

If separated, use that time to seek God more fervently and pray for guidance, direction, and restoration. Allow Him to mold and direct you, and rebuild the relationship…if that’s an option.

If divorced, use that experience to learn while asking God what good can come from it. One of God’s wonderful characteristics is that He desires to use our brokenness. In fact, it is in our weakness that His strength is manifested. Be assured that all things work together for good as we commit our lives to Him!

Don’t allow past brokenness to cause future pain. Regret and failure will linger as long as we let them. Scripture is very clear: We are to forget those things that are behind us and focus on those things ahead. You can’t change where you’ve been, but you can change where you’re going.

Recall earlier mentions of shepherds, who from time to time would break the leg of a lamb that continually wandered from the flock and, thus, the shepherd’s protection.

What will it take to bring you back to the Shepherd?