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Biblical Studies 101: Is there forgiveness after divorce?

The number of divorced people in the US more than quadrupled from 4.3 million in 1970 to 18.3 million in 1996, according to a Census Bureau report on Marital Status and Living Arrangements.

The Bible speaks of marriage as honorable before God (Hebrews 13:4), and a union where two become one (Mark 10:8). Popular culture celebrates the ceremony, or the ritual of marriage - "what" happens (as opposed to the reason why). Other misconceptions about marriage add to the likelihood of divorce.

Pope Shenouda III, head of the Egyptian Coptic Church condemned a recent Egyptian court ruling, allowing remarriage rights for divorced members of the Coptic faith. Pope Shenouda III claims the ruling goes against the Bible. His resolve on this point is such that he threatens excommunication for priests who perform marriage rights for previously divorced Copts.

The Christian church shares responsibility to teach that divorce was not intended to be part of human experience. It was not part of God's perfect will (Malachi 2:16). It was permitted (with consequences) after people failed at God's standard (Matthew 19:8).

Yes, God hates divorce. Remarriage does not make divorce better in the eyes of God. That being said, if a person is repentant, then to forbid water (for baptism (Acts 10:47)), or to excommunicate people from the church because of remarriage after divorce is to take Christ's suffering as of none effect. Jesus died for the sins (plural) of the world. He does not like divorce; he loves mankind whom He made in His image. Excommunication is a fancy way to say that a person can not be forgiven in the eyes of the church. Is the church above the God whom it claims to serve? God forbid.

"25 And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses. 26 But if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses." Mark 11:25-56

Jesus asked the burdened to come to him for rest (Matthew 11:28). If churches keep kicking people out for being in sin, it shows how very much they misunderstand the purpose of God's call to restoration (Luke 19:10). It has happened before. When Saul persecuted Christians, he thought he was doing God's will, too.

The LORD hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee. Jeremiah 31:3


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