Troublesome Topic: Missing Puzzle Pieces and Some Guiding Principles About Divorce and Remarriage

One day a man came across something he had not seen in decades. It was a very special puzzle that had been given to his wife by someone dear to her. His wife would be happy that he found it. It was a vintage, octagon-shaped puzzle produced in 1968.

However, when he opened the box, he found that only a few of the pieces were present. He felt in the bottom of the tote, but they were not there.

What should we do with puzzles like this in our lives, e.g. remarriage after divorce? Should we throw the whole thing away? No, this is something special given to us by someone special. Should we keep our knowledge about this a secret until you have all the pieces put it together properly? That would take a very long time and we may never even start. Should we start with the pieces we have and look for the other pieces? If we do this, it will look ugly for quite a while.

The illustration of lost puzzle pieces shows how challenging the topic of divorce and remarriage is for Christians in North America and some other parts of the world too. We no longer have all the pieces, so what should we do with this puzzle?

We need to start by understanding what the Bible teaches and why; then we can discuss what people in various situations can do about it.

Guiding Principle #1

God chose the family as His answer for many problems in life and culture, and He chose the family as the leadership vehicle for His people. We ignore the importance of the family to our own demise.

Guiding Principle #2

Everyone needs to be under authority. We must answer to someone other than ourselves. Even the president of the United States must respect the authority of Congress, the Supreme Court, and the voting populous. He is not a Lone Ranger. No one is. We need to be very conscious of, respectful of, and obedient to, the authority figures in our lives. And those authority figures should be the ones God established, not the ones we choose for ourselves.

Guiding Principle #3

God established a very special plan for human sexuality. Sex should be kept between one man and one woman, for life. That was God’s design.

Guiding Principle #4

God is gracious and holy

He knows we are ignorant,

He knows we are weak.

He remembers that we are dust (Ps 103:14).

He knows we find it hard to follow His designs and He loves us anyway. 

He knows we get ourselves into situations where all of our choices seem less than ideal.

Guiding Principle #5

God is characterized by a perfect balance of holiness and grace. So hold on to God’s grace with one half of your brain, and to God’s holy standard with the other half of your brain. Jesus is our example of perfect balance. Jesus was able to balance God’s high standard and God’s great grace without doing harm to either one of them.

The current attitude of American culture regarding divorce and remarriage has come about in part because of the legalistic, judgmental attitudes of many Christians during earlier years. Many Christians have emphasized the holiness of God’s standard to the exclusion of His amazing grace. Not only so, they emphasized God’s holy standard in some ways, such as divorce and remarriage, but ignored it in other ways. This has made the world turn a deaf ear to anything the church has to say. In some contexts those judgmental attitudes still remain the norm.

Guiding Principle #6

In most situations involving divorce and remarriage, self-centeredness is the root problem. If you are living in a culture that has strayed far from God’s plan regarding sexuality, it probably because self-centeredness has been allowed to go unchecked.

Guiding Principle #7

Let’s make this conversation primarily about the next generation.We want them to follow God’s designs better than our generation has.

Guiding Principle #8

Some things in life are uncomfortable but we still need them. Remember going to the doctor’s office and getting a shot? The nurse would say, “you’re going to feel a little pick.” Whatever a little pick is, the shot was more than that. It was an inaccurate way to describe what we would feel. We need shots and they are uncomfortable; let’s all be honest about that.

In my dealing with the topic of remarriage after divorce, I will not candy-coat it. Some of you will feel more than just a little pick. Because of where our culture has gone, this one can be a hard pill for some people to swallow. However, I will strive to maintain a balance between God’s holy standard and His grace and mercy.

Guiding Principle #9

Hear my heart and hear God’s heart through me. I will try to present this with as much tenderness as possible. However, anyone’s words can be misconstrued. So, I ask you to hear my heart.

Guiding Principle # 10

I ask you to hold on with me through the whole thing. Please do not jump to conclusions about my intentions or about the validity of my interpretation of these passages. When you get to the end of what I have to say on this matter, then decide if you agree or not.

The next lesson is: Divorce and Remarriage in the Law Deut 24