Feb 2, 2016

When Love is Broken by Divorce

By an Anonymous Contributor

In Till We Have Faces, by C.S. Lewis, Queen Orual, who has no husband of her own, loves one of her guards. However, her love is twisted because it is a love that consumes him, takes him away from his wife and family, and ultimately causes his premature death from overwork. It is a selfish love, not really love at all, because it is a love for her own good, not for his. And this illustrates what C.S. Lewis once wrote: "Love is not affectionate feeling, but a steady wish for the loved person's ultimate good as far as it can be obtained." After the guard’s untimely death, his wife confronts Queen Orual, who ultimately realizes her way of loving was selfish.  

We are often not very good at loving selflessly--not even when we have promised to love “‘til death do us part,” and this can cause tremendous damage. My former pastor once said that not only does a divorce in a family break a fundamental bond between husband and wife, but it breaks a bond between parents and children as well. I would go further to say that if a family is a web of relationships, all of the web is broken, hanging, blowing in the breeze and vulnerable. The bond is broken between the spouses, among the siblings, and between the parents and children. My parents divorced when I was fifteen, and it devastated our family. We were happy, secure, safe. And then we were not. No one was happier after the divorce, not even the one who wanted it.

Over the years, I've had people empathize with me, I've had friends who have listened to me talk about the divorce. But I'd never heard someone tell me, like my pastor did, exactly how I felt without realizing it. He put into words something I had felt since I was 15 without knowing why. I was just supposed to get over it. But when something is broken, you can't just get over it. At best, on your own, you heal a bit, scarred, and you move on. I limped along, broken, for several years. My faith was not strong, and I did reckless things. I still do not have a relationship with my sister. Even though my relationship with my parents was mended in time, I do not believe it is what it could've been had they stayed together. My kids don't know what it's like to have grandparents who are married to their original spouses.

But with God, nothing is broken irrevocably. God binds the broken-hearted and heals their wounds. He draws us into Himself and applies, through our pastors and through His Word, a salve of forgiveness and love. He picks us up and holds us close, and we are healed by the forgiveness of our Savior, Jesus Christ, who loves us perfectly, selflessly, having given His life to save us. His love for us is always for our good. His love for us is sometimes the only way we can know what the ultimate good is. Because of Him and His beautiful love for me, I am no longer just a broken soul. In faith, I depend on my Lord for everything that I have and everything that I am. He has given me Himself, and with that, life and love and blessings beyond measure.

Marriage is often broken in this world, and there is sometimes no way to avoid it. Even within intact marriages, we all have broken the Sixth Commandment by not loving and honoring our spouses as God would have us love them. We often love them selfishly and take them for granted.

But by God’s grace, the love between a husband and wife is still the closest love to God's love that we can experience on earth. St. John Chrysostom, a church father, wrote "The love of husband and wife is the force that welds society together," because the love of a husband and wife for each other binds the whole family together. Statistically, children from intact homes do better in school and are more likely to delay sexual initiation until a significantly older age. An intact family has a much better chance of raising children who will go on to be successful in life.

Moreover, we have a responsibility to our spouse as well: God gave each of us our husband or wife to love and cherish as the special human being that no one else can love in the same way. It's a privilege to see our spouse in the most intimate moments of life, to carry him or her through sickness, through pain, through joys and triumphs, through loss, and eventually, perhaps even through death. It's not easy. To stay the course and see it through is sometimes the hardest thing we will have to do. But it is not something that we will regret in the end.

So we trust God when He said that "a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh." That verse explains why everything is broken after a divorce--because you cannot tear apart one flesh and make it whole again. God can make us whole again, God can heal us, but that does not free us from the consequences of our sinful choices here on earth. So we love and honor the spouse that God has given us, even when it's hard. We remind ourselves that God's love is always perfect, that His will for us is always good and holy, and we seek His forgiveness and grace as we fail to live up to our duties as the husband or wife that we should be.

In peace let us pray to the Lord:
Lord, have mercy.

For the peace from above and for our salvation,
let us pray to the Lord:

Lord, have mercy.

4 comments:

  1. This is such a heart-wrenching topic. Christians also need to have compassion on someone who divorces even though all of this is true. And please be careful not to imply that the sin of what is happening is "half" their fault. Sometimes there is more going on than they can ever tell you.

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    1. Absolutely. My mother-in-law sometimes remarks that when it comes to issues like divorce, out-of-wedlock birth, etc., society should be strict (there should be a clear sense that these things are not good) but individuals should be compassionate (it's not our job to personally apply the law to the people we know).

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    2. Your mother-in-law's counsel is wise. Our society should listen to the children of divorced parents: http://www.marriage-ecosystem.org/divorcestories.html

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  2. Thank you for this. I'm learning first-hand that marital discord affects children even when they're grow and married with families of their own, and that the broken relationship pains so many more than just the couple. You are right to point out that it solves no problems, even with those who want it.

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