I recently had the pleasure of doing a podcast interview with Gretchen Baskerville, author of, “The Life-Saving Divorce.” (You can listen at www.leslievernick.com/podcast.) She had so much wisdom to share we split the interview into two episodes! Today I want to share with you just a couple of the big questions she tackled.
1. Is marriage a permanent covenant…no matter what?
What the Bible says might surprise you. It’s important to understand the background of the divorce passage of Matthew 19…the religious leaders were trying to trap Jesus by forcing him to choose between the teachings of two different Rabbinic schools. The school of Shammai said divorce was acceptable only in the event of sexual immorality but the school of Hillel said a man could divorce his wife for, literally, anything. Ridiculous reasons. Women were being discarded and left with no way to support themselves. God cared about that!
Also, Jesus’ cousin had just been killed by King Herod Antipas for speaking up about the King marrying his brother’s wife. The whole point of the religious leaders questioning Jesus about divorce was because they wanted the king to kill Jesus, too.
Now, this isn’t some recently discovered history. This has been common knowledge among Bible scholars for more than a hundred years! Here’s the point. This passage was about protecting women! It was never meant to keep a woman in a marriage where she is being emotionally, financially, and/or verbally abused but her husband hadn’t been sexually unfaithful so she’s stuck. And, yet, that’s how it’s been used.
Another “go-to” divorce verse is Malachi 2:16 which says, “God hates divorce.” Or, does it? Did you know this verse was only interpreted this way by King James? And that was after 2,100 years of interpreting this verse to be talking about a man who simply wanted to divorce his wife for any trivial reason. The Dead Sea Scrolls confirmed this earlier interpretation. And that’s why, since the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls in 1996, no major Bible translation has used the wording, “God hates divorce.” (For more information go to www.lifesavingdivorce.com/malachi)
It’s vitally important that women begin to do their own study of the scriptures instead of being swayed by culture or men who simply want to convince them to stay in an abusive marriage.
For a more in-depth study on this topic, Gretchen and I recommend you read David Instone-Brewer’s book, “Divorce and Remarriage in the Church: Biblical Solutions for Pastoral Realities.” Available here: https://www.amazon.com/Divorce-Remarriage-Church-Solutions-Realities/dp/0830833749
2. How does a woman deal with other Christians who disagree with her position on divorce?
Christians tend to paint nearly all divorces with the same brush: “wrong.” I think we can all agree divorce is always hard. And there are times when it's wrong. But it most definitely isn’t always wrong. Only you know all of the factors going into the decision to leave your marriage and that’s why only you should ultimately make the decision with God’s guidance.
Here’s the reality: you are never going to change the mind of a biased person. That means you may have to distance yourself from certain people for a time. Don’t spend your valuable emotional energy trying to make the world around you agree with your decision to divorce. They won’t.
Allowing negative, judgmental people to speak into your life is giving them power in your life. That isn’t to say you shouldn’t allow feedback from healthy, godly people. Contemplate what they have to say. Really pray about it. But, as I said, the decision is ultimately between you and God. Live for his approval. He is the ultimate authority in your life. Don’t give that position to another person.
No need to be mean or even angry. Instead, choose to find a good, Bible believing church with supportive people.One other thing. If you’re in the middle of the pain of divorce, remember that God will not leave or forsake you. There is life on the other side and it can be a good life.
Gretchen Baskerville’s website: https://lifesavingdivorce.com/
List of Bible passages on divorce and abuse: www.lifesavingdivorce.com/abuse-in-bible
Life Saving Divorce book by Gretchen Baskerville
Relationship Truth: Unfiltered Podcast: www.leslievernick.com/podcast
Relationship Test: Are You in an Emotionally Destructive Relationship?