For the Children

Many times married couples stay together for their children, and they are often encouraged to do so by those who think it is best for children to have both parents in the home under almost all circumstances. People say that if we would simply exhibit love within our marriages, that would solve the problems that might arise so that the thought of divorce would never even enter our minds. These people generally tend to see fault on both sides when couples decide that their children would be better served if they themselves lived separate lives. "If we would all just do what is right," they say, "divorce would not even be a word in our language, and children could grow up with both parents in the same house."

I do not believe it is always best for children to have their parents together. I think it can sometimes cause many problems for the children. My mother left my father when I was fourteen. I wish with everything in me that she had done it sooner. My mother's social worker said that at one time she encouraged women to stay with their husbands. She did that until her encouragement caused one woman to return to her husband only to be murdered by him shortly thereafter.

I have great respect for my father because I think he truly loved God and wanted to do right, and I also think I got my strong desire for truth from him. But my life was forever warped because of him, and until my mother left I lived in daily fear. After several years of almost constant fear, I began to shake uncontrollably when my father would start saying things that scared me.

For many, many years after my parents' separation (and my father's untimely death one year later) my toes were always pulled up, ready to jump and run. To this day I jump at the slightest sound or movement. My son once said, "Mom, every time somebody walks up behind you, it's not to kill you." And I responded, "Yeah, but I have to be ready for that one time." Of course, I do not really think anyone is going to sneak up on me and kill me. I am simply "shell shocked" by a dark childhood.

I know that love is important. And it can indeed solve many problems. In a perfect world love would conquer all. But we do not live in a perfect world. I know that if both people love and both people seek to do all they can to deny themselves and put their spouse's interests above their own, then all marriages would have a fighting chance. But one-sided love does not conquer everything, or much of anything.

My mother was a saint among saints, the most gentle soul I have ever known. But my father was mentally ill. It would be great if we could all just "do what's right and everything will work out." It does not always work out. And this love that we proclaim, what does it do when things do not work out? Condemn or forgive?

Does love tell the divorced person that he is now stuck in limbo and can never marry again and find happiness, or does it give him a second chance to try to have a good and wholesome marriage? Does love allow a hurting woman with little children to find a new husband to help her provide for the children and give them a stable home (with a mother and a man who fathers them even if he is not their biological father), or does it tell her she must now raise her children all alone? If divorce hurts children because they no longer have two parents in the same house, then wouldn't remarriage be one solution to that problem? Is our concern really for the children? If it is, once a marriage has broken down, we ought to want the best home life possible for the children.

We all know that the world would be a happier place and God would be more pleased if we could all be obedient to every single command. But it isn't going to happen. And because God knew that, He sent His Son to die for our sins. Sometimes we get our lives in a real mess, so tangled that Solomon probably could not untangle them. When that happens the solution is to "go, and sin no more" (John 8:11).

We can make emotional pleas on both sides of the issue of divorce and subsequent remarriage. Some think that granting the right to a second marriage actually promotes divorce. If that is true, then it is because people do not love their spouses anyway (and what good is that marriage?) or they are a few bricks shy of a load. Because, let me tell you, divorce is no fun. People do not get up one morning and decide it is a good day for a divorce. They do not, as some seem to think, skip merrily into divorce court and go out the next day and joyfully seek a new spouse. The wounds and scars and scabs go on forever. A marriage has to deteriorate to the point that reconciliation is not possible before one of the people in it opts for divorce.

We have to love our spouses and we have to be concerned about the damage divorce does to children, but we have to love divorced people too. And until we walk a mile in their shoes we do not know what they have suffered and what more pain and suffering we might be putting on them (and their children) by our doctrines that we insist they accept. People who are gossips do not have to stop talking; people who are gluttons do not have to stop eating; and people who are adulterers do not have to stop marrying.

1 Corinthians 6:9 Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind,
10 Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.
11 And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.

I thank God for His bountiful mercy and love!

Tina Rae Collins
August 18, 2006