Sunday, August 30, 2015

Exposing DivorceCare: Session Thirteen: Moving On, Growing Closer to God



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



This is part twelve and the final post of a series of posts exposing the popular divorce recovery ministry of DivorceCare. The previous posts were written in order to this final post.

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.

Moving On, Growing Closer to God is the final session of DivorceCare.(DC) In this session, DC highlights three areas of council. 


  • How to deal with fear, worry and anxiety
  • How to keep from being controlled by your past
  • How to grow from divorce and find a hope for a future.


These are very real concerns when moving on and growing closer to God. The problem is not that DC understands these areas, the problem is that DC has built these foundations on sand. DC believes that divorce ends a one-flesh covenant marriage and that what they offer is sound biblical advice. The truth is they offer more sin and false hopes for people experiencing divorce. 

A wise council from a Christian perspective is to offer both grace and truth. Since a marriage cannot end in divorce, it is imperative that DC offers sound counsel to help a person understand the will of God so that he or she can bring Him glory. DC offers a relationship with Christ, but this is without offering both the grace and truth of Christ. Thus, DC offers a different Jesus and advice that is contrary to the word of God. 

If DC would center their teaching on the Lord Jesus Christ of the Bible, marriage would not end until death of one or both spouses. Thus, sound advice and teaching would come with the concept of what a person should do if his or her spouse breaks marriage covenant. The only way to break covenant is to deny the vow you made before your spouse and God. This is called sin. Sin could involve adultery, sexual immorality, addiction, abuse, abandonment, and a host of other sins that could jeopardize the marriage covenant.  The idea is how to handle the sin… 

The problem is that DC has bought into the perspective and traditions surrounding the definition of marriage over the last few centuries. Also, the secular traditions of men and how the world views divorce has slipped into the churches across America. Unilateral divorce laws (such as no-fault divorce) have all become common in America, and what is sure to happen in the world will sure to be followed by the evangelical…this always leads to more sin, and same-sex marriage comes to mind…

 There is no short supply of “Christian” authors who will say in one breath that it is “best” to reconcile a marriage than it is to divorce, and in another breath tell you that there are loopholes in scripture specifically for a certain kind of situation that is applicable for divorce.  These same authors and pastors will tell you marriage is sacred and is a representation of the Gospel, but then they approve divorce and remarriage as if the power of the Gospel is not applicable to remaining in marriage in the most difficult of circumstances.

What they essentially have done is redefined marriage as something that is not holy or sacred. The redefinition continues as these same pastors and authors capitulate on same-sex marriage. If you think that marriage was not holy and sacred, I suggest you read early writings from the church prior to the institutionalization of the church by Constantine. You will find that divorce was not an option, and if divorce did occur, remarriage was always adultery.

 If DC wants to glorify God, defend marriage and help those going through a divorce, the best solution is to change their curriculum to the permanence of marriage. This is not only providing sound biblical advice, it also makes marriage as God COMMANDED marriage to be…one man and one woman for life. Growing closer to God is seeing the things the way God sees them. Divorce is not on the list as something God loves, and it should not be on our list either. 

 So what is the solution? How could DivorceCare change their curriculum to conform to God’s will in the spirit of the Gospel and not to the will of the flesh through divorce and remarriage? It starts with the sharing the grace and truth of the Gospel. If DC does not share the power of the Gospel in the very first session, they are either ashamed of the message, or they are ashamed that the message will expose the idea that divorce is totally contrary to the Gospel. In turn, what DC shares and offers is contrary to the Gospel.

I have noticed that there is a significant difference from the early edition of DC to this new one that came out in 2011. DC has "refrained" from talking about the Lord Jesus Christ in the first few sessions of videos. Sure, the workbook is there and offers biblical advice, and even offers a truncated gospel message, (read the first installment of these DC posts here) but the videos cater to a culture saturated in entertainment. DC has spent a lot of money hiring actors for their dramatizations and they rely on emotions and feelings more than they rely on the pure power of the Gospel.

DC makes it easy for a person to return and experience another thirteen week course on stuff they may have missed. The Gospel offers true transformation for all eternity.  If DC makes it clear that God created marriage for His glory, it will be so easy to understand that a person makes a covenant vow of marriage for life. Even though the governments and institutions (congregations) of man will tell you that a divorce paper has the power to end what God joined in heaven, you will remain with the vow and expect that the Holy Spirit has the power to save a prodigal spouse from sin and death.
 
Divorce is a death sentence because it places the life and death of a sinful spouse beyond salvation. The Protestant reformers reliance in tradition courtesy of the “Westminster Confession of Faith” (WCOF): 

“In the case of adultery after marriage, it is lawful for the innocent party to sue out a divorce, and after the divorce to marry another, as if the offending party were dead.” ~ WCOF

If we can know that beyond a shadow of a doubt that a sinful spouse will never repent of a sin he or she committed to us, can we be sure that divorce is the right option? According to this Protestant tradition, it is applicable for a spouse of adultery to divorce a sinful adulterer. 

If the “offending” party is "dead", how can he or she attend DC, obtain salvation in the Lord Jesus Christ, and then remarry someone else? 

You may say that once they are “saved”, they are free to a new life in Christ...
 
Ok, I get that part, then why are they not repenting of their sin to the spouse that “divorced” him or her because of their unrepentant adultery?!?!

If they are declared FOREVER “dead” by the WCOF, then the WCOF is false. If the WCOF (This is the FOUNDATION of most all evangelicals AND DivorceCare) calls that adulterer “DEAD”, then he or she would have NO option to marry anyone...RIGHT?!?

Since the “innocent” party sued for divorce and remarried another (possibly this “remarriage” was to another “dead” divorced person), are they now both guilty of adultery since the “dead” spouse was brought to life though the power of the Gospel?!?

The WCOF is NOT the word of God because it makes a grand assumption that a person of adultery will NEVER repent, thus freeing the innocent spouse to divorce and remarry. Friends, this WCOF idea of marriage, divorce and remarriage is false, and completely contrary to the following verses: 


I Corinthians 7:10,11 And unto the married I command, yet not I, but the Lord, Let not the wife depart from her husband: But and if she depart, let her remain unmarried or be reconciled to her husband: and let not the husband put away his wife.

Here is my personal suggestion to the staff and creators of DC. Teach that marriage is holy and that the power of the Gospel makes it possible to remain in marriage even in the worst of circumstances. God is way bigger than any sin that man can conceive in his wicked heart. The power of prayer and the power of the Holy Spirit is for those who remain true to the vow he or she made to the living God.
Here is how the weeks would be titled:

Marriage is a representation of the Gospel-This week would include the Gospel message and how this message applies to the covenant of one-flesh marriage in the Lord Jesus Christ. The grace and truth of this message is in the power of the Gospel and our total need for a Savior, Redeemer and Comforter.  

God hates Divorce- This week would center on the historical and cultural ideas of divorce and how it applies to the world’s idea of marriage. The grace and truth of this apples to the power of the Gospel to remain in marriage and that divorce only creates more sin.

The next few weeks could be specific to the pains of divorce, however, these sessions do apply to feelings and emotions, but rather they center on a complete relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ and how our time on earth is to prepare us for eternity. The overall course would never need to exceed thirteen weeks, but it would center on the idea that people of divorce are not second class citizens, but they are victims of lies propagated by false teaching on the covenant of one-flesh marriage. 

I have said this many times, if the evangelicals and DC would apply the truth of marriage, divorce and remarriage, we could take back the definition of marriage in one generation. The world will divorce and remarry, but the church of the Lord Jesus Christ must set the example that marriage is until death. This includes church discipline for the sinner (he or she must know that the consequences of sin do not allow any other choice other than to repent), and comfort and protect for the innocent party of divorce (Making it crystal clear that a divorce does not end a marriage, and that remaining in Christ includes remaining unmarried until the other spouse comes to repentance) in order that repentance and forgiveness lead to reconciliation and restoration.

The consequences will be great, because many will have to dissolve adulterous unions of remarriages. These consequences pale in comparison to the millions who have died in adultery and will remain in adultery for years based on the false teachings of men who loved their flesh more than they ever desired to remain in the power of the Holy Spirit.  

In conclusion, I write these posts for God’s glory. I truly love the idea of a divorce recovery program, but would much prefer that it would be a marriage building ministry centered on the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. This ministry will not tolerate divorce and will do whatever it takes to help speak in spirit and truth to the covenant of marriage.  I truly pray that the creators of DC would repent of this false teaching. I pray too that they would reconsider their curriculum and retool this ministry to defend the permanence of marriage. There is still time...

Eph 20-33 Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ; Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God. Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.  Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church: For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church. Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband.

In Christ’s love,

Neil

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Exposing DivorceCare: Session Eleven and Twelve: Forgiveness and Reconcilation





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

This is part eleven 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.

It is the eleventh hour, and DivorceCare (DC) turns the corner and wants to talk about forgiveness and reconciliation. I thought it was best to combine these two sessions since they are pivotal in exposing the lies of DC. In the first ten video sessions, the viewer has experienced the pains of divorce in sessions one through five, they get what they believe is sound biblical advice in session six, and then seven through ten, DC  offers advice on new relationships, finances, children and sexuality. We need to keep in mind that all this advice is based on the viewer believing that a divorce ends a one-flesh covenant bond of marriage. 

Eph 4:32 And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you.

There are many stories of forgiveness and reconciliation in the Bible. Not the least of these is the front to back story in the Bible of God’s forgiveness and reconciling us to the Father through the life, death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. This is the ultimate story of God’s love for us. While we were yet sinners, God made a way of reconciling us to Him. Forgiveness and reconciliation are key components of the foundation which is love.

There are other stories of forgiveness and reconciliation in the Bible, and these stories are a reflection of God’s forgiveness. The story of Joseph in the book of Genesis is a very interesting story. (Genesis 37-50) Joseph’s brothers conspired to have him murdered, instead they sold him into Eygpt. Joseph is accused of adultery by Potiphar’s wife, he is thrown into prison but is ultimately redeemed by God’s grace. The story ends with the very influential Joseph forgiving his brothers and restoring his relationship with them. 

Equally interesting is the story of Job in the book of Job. Job had everything and loved God with all his heart. Yet, in one day he lost everything but his life. Eventually, God restored Job, but more importantly, God restored Job to a greater understanding of who He was. Perhaps the most interesting and most relevant to marriage and the idea of forgiveness, is the story of Hosea and his marriage to a prostitute, Gomer. 

Hosea never gave up on his wife, and divorce was never an option. Hosea never relinquished his love for his wife even after she committed one sin after another. Often this story is a picture of Christ’s love for us. The Lord Jesus Christ remains faithful even when we stray. He can never change. The writer of Hebrews says it perfectly: Hebrews 13:8 Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today, and forever.

If God hates divorce, how does forgiveness and reconciliation apply to divorce? How does “divorce” fit into the picture if we read these stories of betrayal and deceit that end in forgiveness, reconciliation and restoration? How is forgiveness and reconciliation applicable in divorce and believing that divorce ends a marriage, but not applicable to remain in the marriage covenant?

These are real questions I asked myself when attending these DC sessions. I had to make a conclusion that if God hates divorce, what part did forgiveness play if the marriage was not reconcilable? Then I questioned if forgiveness was applicable to “divorce”, why would it not be applicable to remaining in marriage? 

DC, like the evangelical church, will tell you that it is best to forgive and reconcile the marriage then it is to divorce. They believe that marriage is an “idea” and God’s “intention”, but they also believe “certain” situations offer the “innocent” spouse to deny forgiveness and obtain a divorce decree. We know that sin is the cause of divorce. Therefore, God’s word offers plenty advice on how to deal with sin so that repentance of that sin brings about reconciliation.   

DC starts the Forgiveness session workbook with the sentence: FORGIVENESS IS THE KEY TO HEALING. We need to ask ourselves. Did God send His only begotten Son to “Heal” us, or was there much more to this? I really do believe that DC is trying to equate forgiveness with the power of the Gospel. However, they first have to deal with the idea that marriage is the center of that healing, and a divorce is not. Divorce is totally contrary to the Gospel, and trying to explain forgiveness while believing a divorce can end a marriage is like trying to fit a square peg into a round hole.

DC goes on to explain the consequences of unforgiveness. Ironically, most dictionaries do not recognize the word “unforgiveness”. The correct term is bitterness. The list DC gives for “bitterness” is it is an emotional prison, and bitterness has physical effects that hurts relationships. These are very accurate descriptions and once again, DC has a firm grip on defining the effects of divorce, they just error into believing that God approves of divorce as an option of marriage.

DC goes on to explain that what forgiveness is not: Forgiveness does not minimize the hurt or offense, and forgiveness does not mean you have to trust the other person. DC correctly make an equation that forgiveness is not reconciliation, HOWEVER, reconciliation is impossible without forgiveness. What DC fails to compare is that forgiveness and reconciliation is not applicable if a person does not repent of sin. Loving someone is not tolerating their sin, and love will point out the sin of someone. Forgiveness comes when the person repents of the sin they have committed against us. We can forgive someone on the basis that we know that the "ignorance" of their actions are contrary to God, but never are we to tolerate their actions if those actions are contrary to God.

DC tries to equate forgiveness within the confines of divorce, as if God does not hate divorce. If you love someone, as Christ loves us, you will not divorce them no matter what they have done to you. Read Hosea again. The understanding is that a divorce, or believing a divorce ends a marriage, has the power to release a person from having to reconcile. If forgiveness is applied AFTER a divorce, the only way to reconcile is if both spouses remain UNMARRIED. DC will try to make us believe in the twelfth session that reconciliation is possible AFTER divorce. 

In this twelfth session, DC makes a strong plea that reconciliation is not restoration.
 Here is there outline in the workbook and DC makes these grand assumptions:


  • ·       A couple can reconcile without restoring the marriage
  • ·       The degree of reconciliation depends on the commitment of both people to the process
  • ·       What should be in place before you consider restoring your marriage or taking back your ex.


The "idea" (there is that word again) is that a marriage can be restored after a divorce must first come after assuming that a marriage can end in divorce in the first place. The thought of restoring your marriage without forgiveness and reconciliation is impossible. The same is true for the Gospel. The Lord Jesus Christ loved us enough to die on the cross, but unless we are willing to accept our sins, and believe that he was the propitiation for those sins, then our faith is meaningless. We have to repent of sin and believe that the Lord Jesus Christ washes us from sin and declares us righteous before the Father. 

If we believe a marriage ends in divorce, what obligation do we have to reconcile to the person we are divorced from? The only reason would be for our own benefit if it has to do with dealing with children of marriage. But this is really only tolerance to a degree...Civility in dealing with a spouse when it comes to children is important, but if there is no children involved, what makes you think we would have to reconcile after divorce, let alone be civil to an ex? I have often believed that divorce is the same as mentally murdering the other spouse and burying an empty casket. There is no obligation to believe they are ever alive once you divorce them...

Reconciliation is useless without resulting in restoration. Imagine if God reconciled us to Himself, but we had no way of restoring that relationship. In other words, you are reconciled, but you still cannot be restored to enter in His presence. If marriage is not important and holy to God, why get married, or even marriage was important if one could simply leave marriage by the actions of the other spouse?

When I read the words of the Lord Jesus Christ in Matthew’s (19:4-6) and Mark’s (10:6-9) account, it is clear to me that marriage is until death, and if you or your spouse is hardhearted, wishing to divorce, remaining unmarried is the only option. The “idea” is that divorce does not give the options to remarry and leave apart from your spouse, the “idea” is that forgiveness, repentance, reconciliation, and restoration is the only option you have to deal with whatever sin has entered the marriage.

The Lord Jesus Christ deals with this church discipline in Matthew’s account. I have dealt with how the church SHOULD handle divorce here.  To say a couple can reconcile without restoring is taking marriage and handing it over to anyone other than God. DC and the evangelical pastors do this masterfully. They will perform a “remarriage” after divorce, bless a “remarriage” after a divorce, and participate in a “remarriage” after divorce on a Saturday, and come Sunday they will talk about how all things are possible with God on Sunday…insert exception clause…except for restoring a marriage. 

This is hypocrisy and it is evident in the recent capitulation on same-sex marriage. The same men and women who capitulated on divorce and remarriage are the same ones embracing homosexuality. This licentiousness of “remarriage” is not a foundation of a spirit-led believer, it is the heart of a person who needs gratification of the flesh. Remarriage gratifies the innermost areas of the heart because it originates from the very hardheartedness of divorce. I often wonder if DC is already planning to prepare sessions for divorce and remarriage from same-sex marriage. 

In conclusion, DC offers a false message that is incompatible to the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. Forgiveness and reconciliation will always lead to restoration. What DC promotes in forgiveness and reconciliation is impossible, incompatible, inconceivable, and illogical in divorce, but what God offers is that forgiveness and reconciliation is a prerequisite with marriage.  If marriage was anything other than a one-flesh covenant that can only end in death, then we could understand that DC was promoting the idea that marriage is for our happiness and not our holiness. 

The Gospel is for those who embrace God’s love for us…while we were yet sinners. Marriage is not unlike the Gospel. When we vow in marriage, we give up all rights to be single again. We have placed our lives into the hands of the Creator. He is the designer and co-covenator of marriage, and when our spouse does the unthinkable, only will our faith in Christ be the strength to sustain us and help us to remain faithful till the very end. He would not want it any other way. 

Marriage is never going to be easy, there will be tribulation. God wired us specifically as men and women that we would require His grace to love and respect each other, which is totally against our makeup. A man will struggle to love his wife like Christ loves the church, and a woman will struggle to submit to her husband in all things. But that is where the Lord comes in. Love and submission is our only hope. We can truly represent the Gospel by how we view, define, display and live marriage. We only have to admit that apart from the Lord Jesus Christ, we are nothing.

 Romans 5:1-10Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope: And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.  For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.  For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.

In Christ’s love,

Neil