Monday, June 7, 2010

Third time's the charm.

A couple of nights ago we went to a wedding reception. Don and Deanne were first engaged in 1980, but they broke up and married other people. It’s so great to see them together now—happy and looking forward to sharing many years of happy love.

When we arrived at the reception Don’s dad hugged us, thanked us for coming, and said, “Someone from the church has got to reach out and love my son.” His words broke my heart.

Don’s first marriage ended when his wife left him for another man. Everyone who knew the couple was shocked and saddened by the completely unexpected turn.

When a couple divorces they have to divide the furniture, wall hangings, dishes, and towels. They argue over custody of the kids, dogs, cats, and goldfish. If all goes well, each partner walks away with half the shared physical assets and the kids continue to thrive.

The saddest element of divorce is the division of friendships. Perhaps it wouldn’t be so awful if the husband and wife could sit with a mediator and weigh the pros and cons of every person in their life, then amicably agree to split time and custody. It doesn’t work that way.

Generally speaking, friends and family choose sides and everyone dons weapons fashioned from gossip, assumptions, lies, and judgment. It’s a terrible phenomenon and there are no winners.

The church supported Don in his divorce. After all, adultery is a church sanctioned reason for ending a marriage. Don remarried a year or two later and he stayed in the church’s good graces. That all ended when he divorced his second wife.

After his second divorce Don lost most of the remainder of his friends. His pastor warned him to “never step foot” in the church again.

"I hate divorce," says the LORD God of Israel, "and I hate a man's covering himself with violence as well as with his garment," says the LORD Almighty. So guard yourself in your spirit, and do not break faith. 1 Malachi 2:16 (NIV)

There’s no doubt God hates divorce, but I know that I know that God LOVES the divorcee. Loving a friend and standing by him or her when their marriage falls apart is (I believe) what God calls us to do. Divorce is not a contagious disease. You won’t need antibiotics if you get too close to someone suffering the ravages of a marital break-up—I promise.

Sin happens when we break fellowship with God. We then suffer through our anger, bitterness, depression, and all manner of emotional distress. The sadness is magnified when we suffer alone and the people who should be Jesus with skin on abandon us in our hour of need.

Do you know someone who is out of fellowship with God or with the church? Get off the pew, pick up the phone, and reconnect. Send them a card or letter—anything to extend a hand of love and support. You won’t get infected, I promise you! Get off the pew!

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