From the Bottom-to the Top Effects of Divorce

Imagine a fancy and large home led by a man and a woman whose inside feuds have gone consistently viral to the neighborhood. Imagine the two sides to the same story with details that are literally unrecognizable although they supposedly account the same event. Imagine fighting and bickering that carries on and on and is even broadcasted on Facebook and other means of messaging. In this scenario, two teams oppose each other even though they used to be teammates with each other. People who were once thought of as reasonable and self-controlled now lash out at one another on a regular basis without feeling any qualms about what they’re doing or saying. These same people get the younger and more impressionable people to join their team, and they pit the youngsters against the opposing party! Imagine all of this; it’s easy if you try.

Malachi 2:10, “Have we not all one Father? Has not one God created us? Why then are we faithless to one another, profaning the covenant of our fathers?” In just a few more verses Malachi 2:13 reads… “And this second thing you do. You cover the Lord’s altar with tears, with weeping and groaning because he no longer regards the offering or accepts it with favor from your hand. But you say, ‘Why does he not?’ Because the Lord was witness between you and the wife of your youth, to whom you have been faithless, though she is your companion and your wife by covenant. Did he not make them one, with a portion of the Spirit in their union? And what was the one God seeking? Godly offspring. So guard yourselves in your spirit, and let none of you be faithless to the wife of your youth. ‘For the man who does not love his wife but divorces her, says the Lord, the God of Israel, covers his garment with violence, says the Lord of hosts. So guard yourselves in your spirit, and do not be faithless.”

Malachi was written over 2 millennia ago, and yet we have largely not paid attention and we have not learned the lessons clearly instructed in the prophecy. I understand this was written in the Old Covenant, however, the principle still applies today, there is a direct correlation between the feuding that goes on within private homes and the feuding that goes on at the level of national oversight. Even thousands of years ago, the brokenness and destruction seen within national governments was linked to the brokenness and destruction seen within individual homes as a result of covenant-breaking and even divorce. If you don’t believe me then just take the time yourself to read through the Old Testament and you will see it is as plain as day.

And according to the Bible, why do individual homes begin to feud? James 4:1 says, “What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel.” As sinful human beings, we have our own inside individual struggles which cause temptation. Earlier in James 1 we are told, “Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am being tempted by God,’ for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.” So, we have an internal struggle that tempts us to sin against God, and when we give into temptation and rebel against God that is when we sin, and when we stop turning away from our sin as we justify ourselves and put down the opposing party and we ignore God, well then that sin brings forth death. It brings forth death of marriages, death of homes, and it brings about quarreling and fighting on a national level as it creates a culture of death which spans far and wide.

The theory I’m suggesting as the cause of our current national quarrels is no new theory, but is literally as old as the Bible. The Bible directly links national strife to interpersonal strife within the home, ultimately seen in divorce. The breakdown in the family leads to the breakdown in a society, and sadly our culture has embraced the breakdown of the family rather than rightly hating it. What began with Immanuel Kant focusing reality around us then led to the Enlightenment period when values and morals were to be centered on individual choices. This framework of individual rights and autonomy was validated when the American and French Revolutions proved successful. The American Revolution was validated by the success of the Industrial Revolution. The 1900’s brought about post-modernism, and the “American Way,” was again validated by victories in the World War, and so Americans just collectively thought “What we are doing seems to be working, so let’s keep going.”

As all of this history was unfolding, the divorce rates were climbing and climbing and climbing until they reached their peak in the 1980’s. Well, guess what… The 50 year olds of the 1980’s would be in their 80’s now, and the 40 somethings are now the 70 somethings, and the 30 somethings are now 60 somethings, and the 20 somethings are now 50 somethings, and those who are now in their 40’s, 30’s, and 20’s are often times the children who dealt with divorce, and saw the astronomical breakdown in the family structure firsthand. We are now living at a time in history when literally every generation in American society has been heavily impacted by divorce. Divorce and everything that comes along with it has now become the norm of 2019 American society.

You may be wondering, “Who are you to be speaking about divorce?” Well, anyone who knows me also knows that I’ve had a front row seat to divorce in my 27 years on earth. I’ll spare you too personal of details, but trust me when I say I have as much experience at the center of a family negatively impacted by divorce as anyone else you know. Here is what I’ve learned that is so very striking to me as somebody so deeply impacted by divorce:  You don’t know how much divorce affects you until years down the road. When you’re just a naïve and simple minded child you deal with divorce by dealing with divorce. This means you put a smile on your face when you need to smile, you try and make the good times last and you block the bad times out of your memory. You put on a tough face and you pull yourself up by the bootstraps, after all isn’t that the American way of doing things?

You see, this is the very reason why we should be so bothered and we should deeply ponder what is going on in our society at this very moment. We are living in an age of deeply fractured relationships NOT from the top-down, but from the bottom up. Our society asked for individual autonomy for the past 300 years and individual autonomy is exactly what we got, but it hasn’t seemed to bring us the peace and happiness we thought it would has it? A focus on individual choice has led many a family to become disrupted to the point of destruction, and that destruction has broken out and into the neighborhoods, and into the freeways, and onto the interstates, and the interstates have taken that brokenness to the social centers of our nation, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York City, and Washington D.C. The fighting mentality which started in millions of individual houses is now being made manifest at national level at the White House, and just as we’ve been obsessed in our past with strife, battling, feuding, quarreling, divorce, and brokenness, now we are unable to get away from the constant noise of quarreling, bickering, fighting, and attacking coming out of each of the social centers listed above in the form of attacks, political speeches, unfair rhetoric, social media uproars, and all the like! And what makes this so terrible is as I’ve already said:  you don’t know how much divorce affects you until years down the road. As our society promotes quarrels and divorces at every stop along the “American Culture Highway” we do not yet realize the negative affect this will have on our democracy, our future generations, and our eternal souls. Right now we have been trained by our own internal struggles to dig in our heels and fight to win. Well, your side might win and your side might lose, but either way, the fighting and the divorcing of homes, families, churches, businesses, and government structures WILL have lasting negative effects that we won’t even realize until years down the road.

But none of this is new. The story is as old as sin itself and finds its roots in Adam and Eve. When an individual has a battle of rebelliousness and godliness within them they are then tempted, and when they choose to act on that temptation by disregarding God and following after their own passions that then leads them in the wrong direction. When that same individual then allows this to become a pattern it then begins a quarrel with those closest to him, which would mean he is battling with those within his own home. When this same man refuses to listen to God and repent and turn away from His rebellious ways then that leads that man to get away from what he sees as a problem (in this case it’s his wife and family), so the man gets a divorce. This divorce negatively impacts the kids, it negatively impacts the spouse, and what the man doesn’t realize in the immediacy of things is that it will negatively impact him, and according to the Bible it could even kill his soul, because His heart becomes so hardened to what He’s doing that He blatantly rejects God and all hope for that man becomes lost. Well, these sorts of men and women are not in a vacuum, they don’t just go and live on a beach until they die, but instead they are leaders in companies, in sports, in media, and these quarrelers go on to even be national leaders. Rebelliousness then creeps into every aspect of a society. And how did this all happen? Well, first the rebelliousness was excused in the individual, then it was excused in the court, and then as a society becomes numb to the reality of these sorts of quarrels things like divorce become normalized, and these quarrels don’t just stop once a person is out of a marriage, but it continues on and on until something drastic occurs!

Malachi helps us to understand that a divorce doesn’t just fracture the covenant between man, and wife, it actually affects the rest of God’s family and even the rest of society. That is why Malachi says “Did he not make them one with a portion of the Spirit in their union? And what was God seeking? Godly offspring.” Through healthy families committed to God He has purposed to bring about more Godly offspring who then raise their families committed to God and then so on and so forth.

But, in Malachi’s day and in our day divorce has run rampant and at this God is deeply offended and because of divorce God’s family is in many ways fractured and individual lives have become fractured. God looks at divorce and He despises it. That is why verse 16 says, “For the man who does not love his wife but divorces her, says the Lord, the God of Israel, covers his garment with violence, says the Lord of hosts.” Meaning for the man who divorces his wife he is collecting God’s judgment-and must be forgiven and restored. And if you yourself have been the cause of a divorce then even you can be forgiven and restored, but you must recognize what you have done and turn to God in true repentance, and God is just to forgive you by His grace through faith in Jesus.

There is a ton that could be said about divorce from this passage alone, but let me just say this… If you are you are from a broken home-I’m sorry-divorce is wrong and it causes a lot of brokenness and it hurts. If you have been victim in a situation where your spouse left your marriage covenant then you know first hand the immense pain and trauma this causes. God hurts with you because God never intends for anyone to get divorced and God wants all marriages to last with the couples working through their issues and always relying on God their Father to help them through it. But, the reality in our society today is that sadly many marriages fail, and many youth today have learned to never even seek a godly marriage in the first place because of their front row seat to such nasty family divisions in their childhoods.

So what do we as God’s people do about it? Well, Malachi clearly points out that divorce fractures the covenant with God and with the family-and what do you do when you fracture a bone? You go through the process of healing and through the process of healing-those around you can go through healing, God’s family can heal, and slowly the rest of our society heals. Malachi actually motivates us that the way we begin to heal is by “guarding ourselves in our spirit, and not being faithless.” The way to move forward as God’s family so broken by divorce is for each individual believer to begin by examining their own walk with the Lord and praying asking God for protection from bitter thoughts, and sexual immorality (things that can skew our view of marriage) and by being faithful to the covenant we make with God and will make with our spouses. When our families are experiencing difficulties we don’t stab each other in the back and run away from each other but we stay faithful to our family and work through the issues-and then beginning with one family just as God began with Abraham’s family-He slowly but surely builds up all believers and heals them, and then from believers the rest of society gradually experiences healing too. It’s a tall task but it’s not an impossible one as long as we have faith in the one who has healed us and given us the ability for healing from even the deepest brokenness.

“He (Jesus) was pierced for our transgressions and crushed for our sins the punishment that brought us peace was upon Him and by His wounds we are healed.” The healing we need because of the brokenness we have due to our sin comes through this Jesus-the healing we need because of our parents’ divorce comes through Jesus-the healing our nation needs because of the bottom to the top effects of divorce comes through Jesus-the healing God’s family needs because of this is all through Jesus.

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