The Church Marginalizes Singleness Because Divorced People are Proof that Divorce is Not the Ultimate Sin

Part 12 of a series. Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4 Part 5 Part 6 Part 7 Part 8 Part 9 Part 10 Part 11

This post is dedicated to my maternal grandmother, a woman of God who was living proof that divorce is not the ultimate sin and that divorced people can lead happy, meaningful, blessed lives. This series has been written and posted in the room in Grandma’s beloved “Hoosier House” where her time on earth ended October 17, 1997 with her younger daughter, my mom, and me at her side.

For many Christians, divorce is the ultimate sin. A husband can molest his and other children, beat up, threaten to kill, and verbally abuse his wife and children, rape his wife, get a woman not his wife pregnant, patronize prostitutes, be addicted to pornography, have multiple affairs, and spend all the couple’s money on frivolous things leaving his family starving, in rags, cold, or homeless, yet if his wife divorces him, she is considered to have committed a sin greater than all of his.

A wife can be verbally and physically abusive to her husband and children, get pregnant by a man not her husband, have multiple affairs, and spend all the couple’s money on frivolous things, yet if her husband divorces her he is considered to have committed a sin greater than all of hers.

Spouses seeking divorce are sometimes told that if they divorce their spouse, they will be miserable for the rest of their lives and that the short term happiness of divorce will not be worth the long term pain the rest of their lives. Over and over they hear that God hates divorce, and are often considered to be second class Christians. Many Christians shun them, opportunities in the church are closed to them, and they are constantly exposed to the stigmas of divorce.

Even though divorce is difficult, there are many divorcees who have risen above those challenges to lead happy, meaningful, blessed lives and who were, and are, Godly, wonderful people.

My maternal grandmother was one of them.

Divorce was not something she wanted. But my maternal grandfather did, and scripture says in I Cor 7:15 to let unbelieving spouses depart. So she did, especially as Grandpa, who had already tried to harm her once, might have killed her had she not granted the divorce. It was a painful chapter in a life that had been mostly hard.

But Grandma overcame those difficulties and her faith in God was an inspiration to all. God did not punish her severely or ignore her prayers because of her “sin” of divorce. One of her prayers God answered continues to bless me to this day.

At the time of the prayer, Grandma was living in a big house in Ohio.

Her children-two daughters- and four grandchildren lived in Indiana.

Grandma was getting old, and asked God what to do with her big house and her life.

At the time, my parents-Grandma’s younger daughter and her husband- did not have a garage.

God gave the solution to both Grandma and my parents: build a garage and attach a house for Grandma to it.

They began construction on the building. Grandma put her house on the market and prayed for a buyer.

It sold within a month before Grandma’s “Hoosier House” was finished and she had to live with older daughter who at the time lived just down the road from younger daughter until it was finished.

Grandma lived in that house the rest of her life and Mom thinks they were some of, if not the happiest, years of her life. She ministered to her family, to people in a nearby nursing home, and others whom God put into her path.

When she got sick with her final illness, her daughters, both nurses, took care of her in her home with no assistance except for home hospice care in the last days of her life. She died quietly with Mom and I at her side and the following morning, fall 1997’s first frost carpeted the ground. Grandma had been dreading winter, and God took her just before it hit. When we took her body to its final resting place in Ohio, the trees along part of the route were at their peak autumn colors. To me the lovely trees were a sign of God’s love to one of his departed servants.

As of this writing, I have lived in Grandma’s “Hoosier House” almost nine years and that arrangement has been a blessing to both me and my parents. Before I moved here, we let another family live in the house for several months which was a blessing for them. When the day comes that my parents and I leave the property we have called home for decades, I am sure Grandma’s “Hoosier House” will be a blessing to those who own it after us.

Godly divorcees leading happy, meaningful lives are a problem for churches. How can they preach that God hates divorce, that it is the ultimate sin and that divorcees will be miserable the rest of their lives when there are divorcees in their midst who prove otherwise? How can the church make divorcees seem like horrible people when they are constantly proving otherwise?  How can they discourage spouses miserable in their marriages from divorcing when there are Godly, blessed, happy divorcees around?

By marginalizing singleness, churches can discourage divorce even when it’s the best option for a couple’s marriage, for one or both members of the couple, and for the sake of their children if they have them

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