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,



Carol Vaclavicek said...

Interesting look into part of the satan's family-destroying machinery which, sadly, includes both church and state. I never gained this perspective because of the years of influence of Rejoice Marriage Ministries characterizing "Divorce Care" as a literal "meat market" aimed at sweeping the bad witness of broken families under the remarriage rug.

That's a bunch easier than loading up the church buses and hauling down to the state capitol to DEMAND in the name of Jesus that the immoral and unconstitutional law of the 1970's that built the dirt pile be reformed or repealed. We all know how that's done now, thanks to abortion activism and standing against wave 2 of marriage redefinition (not that very many could bother to be engaged with that effort until it was all over us).

I vividly remember sitting across from my Christian attorney a year ago when he suggested these sessions, looking him straight in the eye and saying, "I would NE-VER attend anything like that!"

Neil Novotnak said...

When I first participated in the DivorceCare program, I was a new creation in Christ. The class was fairly large, and I could see the pain on the faces of the other people. At that point I knew that divorce recovery would be a part of God's plan in my life. it was through these sessions and the testimonies of the others that I could see a deep need for the power of the Gospel.

But I was unaware that God was not quite done with changing me. It was through these sessions of DC that I started to understand the definition of marriage and how DC, and the evangelical church in general, has deviated from God's design that marriage is from the beginning.I am sure that I am not the only one who has gone through the DC sessions coming away from these sessions questioning the idea that a new life in Christ would never consider the idea of divorce or remarriage. Should DC repent and restructure their ministry to the truth of God's word, they would be an incredible witness to the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.