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,



Kathy Rollwage Merry-Heart Face Painting said...

I believe that there is no sin that the blood of Christ cannot cover.
God hates divorce, but loves the sinner.

Neil Novotnak said...

Thanks for the comment, Kathy. I too believe that Christ's blood covers sin. But when you say "God hates divorce, but loves the sinner", are you referring to the sin of divorce, or the disobedience to believe a divorce ends a one-flesh marriage covenant?

It is one thing to believe that divorce has the power to end what God has joined, and then enter into an adulterous remarriage after the divorce. It is another thing all together to remain in covenant, trust God, pray for a lost soul, and shine the light of Christ when a prodigal spouse repents of sin. This is a salvation issue becasue divorce leaves one or both in sin. Repentance, forgiveness, reconciliation and restoration are for marriages,not remarriages after divorce.

The command of the Lord is that a man is never to divorce his wife and that a woman, if divorced from her husband, must remain unmarried or reconcile the marriage. (1 Cor 7:10,11)The whole idea is that trusting God comes before what we think is right in our own eyes. Also, marriage is the foundation, not divorce and remarriage. It is so easy for us to point to excuses and exceptions, and not what God commanded.