Sunday, July 26, 2015

Exposing DivorceCare: Session One-“What’s Happening to Me?


Eph 5:11 And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.

This is the second of a series of posts exposing the popular divorce recovery ministry of DivorceCare.
DivorceCare(DC) claims to be a Christ-centered support ministry established for people who have experienced, or who about to experience divorce. They claim that their goal is to help find help for the hurts of divorce, discover hope for the future, and experience God’s blessing. The founder of DivorceCare, Steve Grissom, is a product of divorce and remarriage. He started DivorceCare based on his experience of divorce and the experience of healing from this divorce to remarry. He claims it was God’s calling to start this ministry.

These posts will not only expose the fact that DivorceCare is not God’s witness, it will expose the fact that DivorceCare presents a false message of the Gospel, and at the very least exposes that DivorceCare denies the Gospel with how they teach on marriage. This ministry leads people to erroneous teaching and damnable heresies on marriage and salvation. This post will also make it clear that the ministries that provide DivorceCare as a tool to recover from divorce have allowed false teaching among the body of Christ. This latter truth is the major reason for writing this exhortation. 

Please read this part before proceeding to the rest of this post: Exposing DivorceCare: What is DivorceCare?

DivorceCare Session One:

"What’s Happening to Me?"

It is this first session where we see the theology of DC and how this plays out for the duration of the series. The first session of DC deals with the pains of divorce and sets the tone for the remainder of the sessions. The pains (I refer to them as consequences of sin) are severe if one or both spouse rejects or breaks the vow they made to each other. The “pains” that DC lists include: Emotional instability, shame, energy loss, stress, anxiety, and confusion. DC makes a point not to address that sin is the root of divorce. In fact, had DC considered offering the Gospel message from the start, these 13 week sessions could be narrowed down considerably. 

Since sin is the root of divorce, it would be wise to understand that addressing sin would help in reconciling the marriage, but never to believe that divorce is the final option. Sin is the problem in every divorce. Therefore, it is important in understanding how to deal with sin rather than discovering “What’s Happening to Me?” Unfortunately, most people who attend DC are separated or divorced from their spouse. This should divert the idea of applying the actions of the other spouse to the conversation. As a former facilitator of DC, I have found at that very few attendants wish to point any blame on themselves. I understand this condemnation is generated at the other spouse usually comes from a unregenerate individual who has yet to believe the Gospel. The Gospel message begins with us, and the actions and wisdom we gain from salvation from both sin and death would help us to see the real problem in the lives of a prodigal spouse.

Compassion for a person must never exceed the truth of God’s word. Thus, bringing peace to a person suffering from the consequences of sin should never exclude truth in the face of hurting someone’s feelings or making them feel uncomfortable. It is my understanding through discerning the experience of the sins surrounding divorce that a person needs the grace and truth of the Gospel. The reason I say this is that a new creation in Christ will already have a clear understanding that sin is the reason for the actions of the other spouse. 

I have concluded that a regenerated believer would have nothing good to say about the entire content of DC, and at the very least, the Holy Spirit would give him or her discernment that what DC offers is nothing less than human philosophies. This first session certainly points to the idea that sin unchecked in the life of an unbeliever will produce pains that have no natural remedy. This is because the pains of unchecked sin are spiritual and connected to the eternal soul.  

This first session attests to this spiritual conviction as the idea of confusion is stated as a “pain” of divorce. What is ironic or at least convincing of the power of the Holy Spirit, is that DC thought it necessary to include three sub-titles of confusion.  

The first sub-title of confusion is: “Why won’t the pain end?”
The answer to this is quite clear. A one-flesh covenant was never meant to tear apart. A divorce tears apart a one-flesh covenant when one or both covenant spouses will not repent of sin. The rending does not tear apart the covenant, it attempts to end what God says man could never put asunder.  Please understand that “Not repenting” can never be associated with “Never repenting”. We can never know in this lifetime when, or if, a soul will repent of sin and come to salvation in Christ. As believers we are commanded to preach and be a witness to the power of the Gospel, and we are to baptize in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit to make disciples of men. We water and plant, and it is the God that provides the increase. This commandment is not exempt from a believer in a one-flesh covenant spouse in marriage, for is not marriage a representation of the Gospel?

The second sub-title of confusion of the question: “Why do I love my Ex?
This question answers itself, but since it comes from a ministry that denies the definition of one-flesh covenant marriage, it is intended to be answered without spiritual discernment. If the question was: “Why do I love my covenant spouse?” The answer is that a one-flesh covenant is spiritual in content because it is a product of God’s creation which preceded the fall of man into sin. Thus, the power of marriage is such as it not only represents the Gospel, it provides fallen men with a viable witness to the power of the Holy Spirit that acknowledges the very existence of God so that men are without excuse. What God joins together, let no man separate.

Romans 1:20 For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:

Since marriage is from the beginning, it serves not only as a witness of God’s love, grace and mercy, it provides a clear understanding to those who would say that God never revealed Himself to
unbelievers. Marriage at creation was God’s grace to give man a helpmeet. It was gift, and to deny this gift would to deny the very existence of God. So marriage being a gift from God would give us understanding that those who enter marriage have no power to exit marriage apart from God’s command.

Those who understand the significance of a new life in Christ will understand the spiritual bond of marriage.  A question like, “Why do I love my Ex?” only serves to undermine the fact that calling a covenant spouse an “ex” takes away the spiritual power of the marriage bond. One-flesh marriages binds the man and woman to become one, no longer will they be two, while they remain in the flesh. Thus, death in the flesh of one-flesh covenant marriage is the only means in which to sever a marriage bond because the spiritual bond of a man and a woman served the purpose of marriage definition as it was from the beginning. 

The spouse who has been crucified with Christ will remain in covenant and never believe the idea that an unbelieving spouse actions can end a one-flesh covenant bond. The absurdity of the question only reveals the blindness of DC and those who endorse this false teaching. Since a new life in Christ is reconciled to God through the Lord Jesus Christ, would not the new creation be an ambassador of reconciliation? If so, how is "divorce" a representation of reconciliation? 

The last sub-title of confusion is, “Why do I feel relief?

This question fails to take into account the possibility of those who are unequally yoked have begun to experience peace because they no longer enslaved to an unrepentant unbeliever. If the Holy Spirit  indwells their soul, they will never consider divorce or remarriage, but peace from being unequally yoked will give the believing spouse freedom to remain in Christ.

The consequences of the unbeliever leaving or abandoning a marriage will deny him or her of any peace. Since he or she has thought it best to break a covenant before the Lord, the consequences will either lead to repentance and faith in Christ, or those consequences will lead to death. If we understand that God is a pursuer of souls, that a witness of the believing spouse will remain in Christ, and that the unbeliever cannot “remarry” since they remain in covenant marriage, it is to understand that "relief" is really saying that you are loving your covenant spouse like Christ loves the church and that God has all things under control.   

Another thing to consider is that this “relief” may be a result of the end of an adulterous union. In session six, DC’s position is that a divorce ends a one-flesh marriage covenant.(“What Does the Owners Manuel Say?”) We will find that after exposing the lies of this session, the word of God gives no provision for sanctified adultery through remarriage after a divorce.  This is another reason to understand DC’s choice of questions, and their lack of discernment in why people ask these questions.

 A person that divorces and remarries would certainly be convicted by the Holy Spirit that divorce does not end a marriage and that “remarriage” is sinful. A person who feels relief from leaving a sinful union is because the Holy Spirit is no longer being quenched and they are no longer living in sin. What needs to happen is that the understanding of "relief" should bring about a profession of repentance from an adulterous union that should have never occurred in the first place.  DC would have us believe “relief” comes for reasons that have nothing to do with believing a “remarriage” after a divorce of a one-flesh covenant marriage is sinful. 

The "On My Own" section of this session includes a testimony by one of the "Experts", Georgia Shaffer. Georgia Schaffer is an author, speaker, Christian life coach and a licensed psychologist. She believes she lost her marriage while battling breast cancer http://www.georgiashaffer.com/ There is great Biblical passages and real truth in Georgia’s testimony and the content of the On My Own section for this “What’s Happening to Me? Session. What this section really exposes is the fact that divorce is something never to be celebrated and that divorce usually involves negativity among the body of Christ.

The evangelical church has certainly failed in dealing with the considerable implications that surround divorce.  Divorce is a dark mark that few churches will address. The willingness by the evangelical church to advocate and support ministries such as DC is like dosing a fire with a water labeled container filled with gasoline. I would argue that DC, and similar divorce recovery ministries create more problems to the divorce problem because their foundation of marriage is on sinking sand. This only serves to recognize and conclude that the evangelical church fails in defining marriage and is unwilling to take measures of accountability against unrepentant sin. 

In conclusion, this first session provides a means in which to keep the participant interested in returning for the next session. At one point, Steve Grissom urges the participants to commit to three sessions of DC. If this was to ensure that the word of God would speak to the permanence of marriage, I would recommend the DC program to anyone going through divorce. However, the overall theology of DC provides an incomplete and dangerously deceptive message that does not glorify God, and this session is only the start of a series of errors that exposes the lies of DC. Since DC fails to recognize divorce as a sin problem, it is clear that the sins of DC must be exposed so the exhortation and rebuke leads to repentance.

Exposing DivorceCare-The Road to Healing/Finding Help 


In Christ's love,

Neil

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Exposing DivorceCare: What is DivorceCare?



 Eph 5:11 And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.

This is part one of a series of posts exposing the popular divorce recovery ministry of DivorceCare.
DivorceCare claims to be a Christ-centered support ministry established for people who have experienced or who about to experience divorce. They claim that their goal is to help find help for the hurts of divorce, discover hope for the future, and experience God’s blessing. The founder of DivorceCare, Steve Grissom, is a product of divorce and remarriage. He started DivorceCare based on his experience of divorce and the experience of healing from this divorce to remarry. He claims it was God’s calling to start this ministry.

These posts will not only expose the fact that DivorceCare is not God’s witness, it will expose the fact that DivorceCare presents a false message of the Gospel, and at the very least exposes that DivorceCare denies the Gospel with how they teach on marriage. This ministry leads people to erroneous teaching and damnable heresies on marriage and salvation. This post will also make it clear that the ministries that provide DivorceCare as a tool to recover from divorce have allowed false teaching among the body of Christ. This latter truth is the major reason for writing this exhortation. 

The DivorceCare program offers a 13 week video course and workbook that is designed to show the various steps for healing from divorce. There are volunteer facilitators who show the video and then discuss the information for that particular week. This is in a group setting and allows for participants to share their experiences. The workbook includes summaries of each video session and an “On My Own” section that includes Bible verses and questions for individual study. This section also includes personal testimonies form various people which are applicable to the session title.

The 13 weeks of DivorceCare (DC) are intended to culminate into a new life in Christ and how the experiences of divorce lead the reader to understanding words like, forgiveness, reconciliation and restoration. I must include that like most ministries, DC strives to help the participants to reconcile their current marriage. However, their use of the words like “intentions” and “ideas” when they discuss the definition of marriage only subverts from the truth of marriage definition. Also, the fact that they wish to reconcile marriages, this could, and many times does include “remarriages” after divorce. 

Since it is a 13 week course, this post will stick to the significant sections of the course that deal exclusively with marriage definition and how this applies to the Gospel. Steve Grissom is the main narrator of these sessions. It is important to note that DC provides an extensive counsel from DivorceCare Experts. These “Experts” include pastors, counselors, authors, and biblical scholars. Some of these “Experts” are divorced and remarried, and some of these are married in first covenant marriages, and a few are single, never married. There is one couple who reconciled a first covenant marriage.   

DC also uses “real life” scenarios with paid actors to heighten the context of the session. This theatrical approach adds to the emotion surrounding the situations and context of the session. We certainly have become a culture that seeks the entertainment value of the theatrical and it is important to note that emotions and feelings must not subvert and water down the word of God.  

Lastly, DC uses real life testimonies of men and woman who have gone through divorce or are in the midst of divorce. There is also a few who have reconciled their marriage and a few who have divorced and remarried. There is one woman who remained single after her divorce. It also must be noted that real life testimonies are only valid if those testimonies align with the word of God. If none of these testimonies speaks to the life of born again believer, they only add to deceive and create false witness to the power of the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. 

Here are the 13 sections of DC:

  1.   What’s Happening to Me?
  2. The Road to Healing/Finding Help
  3.  Facing My Anger 
  4.   Facing My Depression
  5. Facing My Loneliness
  6. What Does the Owner’s Manuel Say?
  7. New Relationships
  8.   Financial Survival
  9. KidCare
  10. Single Sexuality 
  11.   Forgiveness
  12.   Reconciliation
  13. Moving On, Growing Closer to God

In the DC booklet, there is a “Foundation For Healing: a personal relationship with Jesus Christ” section. If I were to start to expose any false teaching, it would center on the definition of the Gospel and how this message applies to teaching on marriage. Though there are ample verses that would speak into the lives of the listener by the power of the Holy Spirit, it is the context in which they use the verses that comes into question.  A false understanding of the Gospel leaves a false conversation of salvation, and certainly a false understanding of marriage. The DC gospel makes no mention of being born again, but to their benefit, the verses they use have the power of making a person see the truth of their sin.

Again, it is important to note that even though DC applies basic verses to share the Gospel, it enough to expose their lack of discernment in handling their definition of marriage and how this message contrasts to their teaching on a one-flesh covenant marriage. 

DC provides a Gospel message that excludes several key components. They fail to make a comparison that the Ten Commandments show the seriousness of our sin and how they commandments requires perfection to stand before the Holy of Holies. (Hebrews 8:13)They exclude that under the Old Covenant, a sin offering was required to absolve the sins and restore the relationship with God. The New Covenant is God providing the sin offering once and for all in the image of the Son of Man, who is the Lord Jesus Christ. Instead of God wishing as DC puts it, “stabilizing our orbit” to experience a “better life” in this world, the Gospel puts the emphasis on God’s grace and mercy to restore our souls for all eternity. 
 
2 Cor 5:17-20 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God.


The Gospel is about reconciliation. God loves us enough to provide a means to reconcile us to Him. The Gospel message is not specifically about a personal relationship with Christ as it is about dealing with our sin nature to make that possible. In fact, when we repent and believe the Gospel, we are transformed into the likeness of Christ. Thus or reconciliation to God makes us ambassadors of reconciliation. This transformation needs to apply to everything DC says about marriage, divorce and remarriage.

Since the Lord Jesus Christ was without sin, born of the Spirit and came to earth in the flesh, His death, burial and resurrection provides us with a means in which to reconcile our flesh of sin into a new birth in the spirit. The Holy Spirit resides in us when we repent of our sins and believe by faith in the works of the Lord Jesus Christ. Thus, as new creations in Christ, we now stand justified before the Father because we are covered by the blood of Christ’s sacrifice.  Even though we still live in the bodies of flesh, the Holy Spirit transform us to understand know the things of the Spirit of God and through this process of sanctification we become slaves to righteousness because the blood of Christ delivers us from the bonds of sin and death.   

DC offers the salvation without acknowledging the significance of justification simply by excluding the definition of sin and how this separates us from knowing that the blood of Christ covers us and justifies us before the Creator. This seems like a subtle deviation from the message DC offers, yet this will play out in how they handle the covenant of marriage. Since the law of marriage preceded the fall of man and the needs for God’s hand in providing our salvation, DC would have us believe that marriage is anything but a spiritual institution that is divine in definition. Thus, a new life in the spirit will understand the significance of marriage definition and that divorce is never an option for the regenerated, justified and cleansed child of the Living God. 

I want to reiterate that the passages DC provides could provide the reader a complete understanding the Gospel and that there is a very real possibility that the power of the Holy Spirit works in even the most heinous of circumstances. In fact, if a person comes to have a real relationship though the power of the Gospel, they would question much of the content in this DC publication, and thus come to the conclusion that DC’s message of divorce recovery is hypocritical to their understanding of the Gospel.  

Now that we have an understanding of DC’s rendering of what they believe on eternal security, we can deconstruct their understanding of marriage definition and how this applies to what they teach about recovering from divorce. DC is not unlike most ministries who teach about divorce. They believe that marriage is holy and that God intended marriage to be a lifetime commitment. Intentions are not the same as commandments, and if marriage is a one-flesh covenant until death, “intentions” and “ideas” lead to capitulation and disobedience, because they focus on what “ought” to be rather than what “is” to be.

Exposing DivorceCare-Part 2-What's Happening to Me?

In Christ’s love,

Neil