50 Shades of Grace: Part 1

Since publishing my most recent post At The Edge of Grace, I’ve had some conversations and encounters that have rocked my insides a bit. Through that rocking, I’ve been able to see a few things more clearly and felt compelled to share some of the aftershock and subsequent settlement.

Because there have been multiple events, I’m going to address the main two encounters individually and split this into 2 parts so that no one passes away from a novel size blog post. My purpose is not to bash anyone or start a war; therefore I will not use any names and as few specifics as possible. Yet I feel it is important to address the issues as many of them stand in direct opposition to my stance on life and my goal as a Christian woman walking the ugly path of divorce, among other things.

When you make the choice to write publicly about the most private aspects of your life, you open yourself up to everything, not the least of which is judgment. I knew that going into the blog world, and though I am not someone who is comfortable with upsetting others or having nay sayers against me, I’m not going to allow that to stop me from doing something I feel called to do, telling my story and speaking truth.

Let’s dive right in.

Today I saw a pointed Facebook post from the same person I referenced in my post At The Edge of Grace that was very clearly directed at me. A person I’ve had a grand total of two conversations with in my life. Shortly after her post and the flood of comments that followed, I received a message from her. Here is what it said:

Hey girl! I saw your post about Gods grace. The majority of christians will honestly gently commend you for your patience… afterall, the ‘christian church’ has a higher divorce rate according to recent polls than even the ‘unbelieving world’. But, heres the thing- I am going to merely put another perspective out there. Its raw, and VERY unpopular. Trust me, you’ll get thousands of hugs and high fives for your posts supporting ‘divorce’ and probably hardly ANY for questioning your own initial reasoning. If you choose to completely ignore my message, thats ok. I love the bride of Christ and if you are genuinely a christian, nothing I say when supported by Gods word should offend you. While it might sting at first, as it does us all.  OK, so you bring up that we are ALL sinners(AMEN), you then make a giant leap that goes against scripture.. .in that Gods grace is cheap enough to NOT sanctify us and cause us to change. God says we become new creatures, but by your own admission, you did ALL the same things. Scripture isn’t ‘grey’ on the area of divorce, God hates it. You gave 2 years to a man who you fornicated with(also something God hates), had THREE boys and then… seriously? two+ years of marriage?? Thats hardly a ‘labor’ of love. Its ROUGH to stay married to a sinner. Its EASY to divorce one. I understand you had the encouragement of your family. Thats so sad. Do they not know Gods scripture about NOT speaking against two that have come together under God?? I would never encourage a couple to divorce because I ALSO know the God I serve and He CAN and DOES change the brokenhearted. He heals the wicked.. thats the business HE IS IN. There is HOPE with your husband. Scipture even promises protection for him IF he is married to a believer. Dont fear my rebuke, God seek out Gods word.. NOT ‘modern teachers’. Gods only allowances under the levitical law were adultery and that was merely because of their ‘hard hearts’. Praying for you Rachel. I know that most people will commend you, sing your praises… because your position gives them comfort in their own rebellion but Gods grace is not TO sin but to NOT SIN. He gives us the grace and mercy to be holy and be conformed into his image.

Following this message were several others with even more harsh language and judgmental tones which practically condemned me and my sons to hell for choosing to divorce my alcoholic, adulterous, mentally and emotionally abusive husband, while labelling me a “fornicating, rebellious ‘Christian’ that missionary dates guys who live like boys,” among other repulsive things. I share this because I want to dispel any potential misunderstandings from my previous post and clarify a few issues, as well as speak to each of these points.

To begin, receiving “hugs and high fives” is never my goal in why I post and share intimate details of this painful journey with the world. She stated that not many would “question my initial reasoning” for writing such posts. The ONLY reason I write about the ugliest aspects of my life is in hopes of bringing healing and encouragement to others walking a similar path. Otherwise, there is no point to going through it or speaking about it ever again. My reasoning is to show people that in spite of sin and a past colored by poor choices, followed by years of striving to correct those choices (and many more to come), God still loves me. There is still a purpose for my life and my suffering, and there is still a place for me in the kingdom, as there is for all of us should we choose to seek it.

I am in NO WAY supporting divorce or encouraging divorce. In fact, I hate divorce just as God does and tried very hard to avoid it. The length of time in which I tried is truly not up for discussion or debate by anyone other than me and God.

She states that I “take a giant leap that goes against scripture in that God’s grace is cheap enough to NOT sanctify us and cause us to change.” Where she read that I am unsure. I NEVER said, and never would say, God’s grace is cheap and doesn’t require or cause change and sanctification through Jesus. To the contrary in fact. My entire blog is a tribute to the fact that God has changed me and rescued me, and continues to do so, and my never-ending journey toward grace and redemption. In case the referral was toward an unbelief in God’s ability to change my husband, that’s inaccurate. I stated that I believed strongly in God’s ability to do that, and still do. That does not mean that God requires me to stay on a crashing train knowing it’s headed straight for death and stay on it.

In reference to Christians being “new creatures” and turning from their sin, that is true; however, “new creature” does not mean “no longer human.” It doesn’t negate our flawed nature and innate humanness. She stated that by my own admission I “did all the same things,” meaning my Christianity is a false claim because I didn’t “become a new creature.” I absolutely did change prior to and inside of my marriage. That change was not reciprocated. And regardless of change, I am still imperfect and make many mistakes on a daily basis. As do we all. I didn’t do all the same things in a sinful way. I did all that I knew to do in a biblical, Christian way in an effort to save my husband and my marriage. I understand God hates divorce and I stated that very clearly in my post. I hate it with all that is within me and nothing about this is something I would choose; nor am I glorifying divorce or claiming it is something to encourage just to satisfy one’s own flesh and selfish desires to “be happy.” I also made it very clear that this was not an effort to “find happiness and contentment for myself.” It in fact had very little to do with that. To judge the length of my marriage “to a man that I fornicated with” and deny that it was a “labor of love” is not only not something she can’t speak to, but it is inaccurate.

Her statement, “Its ROUGH to stay married to a sinner. It’s EASY to divorce one,” is one of the most appalling statements I’ve read lately. First of all, WE ARE ALL SINNERS. Marriage is rough no matter who you are married to, because we are all imperfect, flawed sinners. My situation was beyond just the typical “sinner.” Justifying her judgment and condemnation of me and my life based on biblical truth is repulsive. The bible is very clear about divorce and marriage, and even biblically, I am within my limits to get a divorce. Nothing about this path has been easy. Not the marriage and certainly not the divorce. I stayed knowing that a divorce would not solve all my problems, it would only open up a new set of problems. However, the set of problems on this side are the lesser of the two evils. Again, I did not choose this road flippantly or in my own flesh. I fought against it and wrestled with God and many others to seek truth and understanding of how to proceed in my life. My heart stays broken for my husband and it will always be a “labor of love.”

She has stated that I CANNOT remarry and that my sons will suffer forever as a result of my choice. Although I am not seeking remarriage now or anytime soon, the bible outlines grounds for divorce and the rules for remarriage. An article called Directions: You’re divorced-Can you remarry? by Gary M. Burge states, “Many today have misread this particular passage to make two statements: (1) One cannot divorce his wife unless she has been unfaithful; (2) Whoever remarries commits adultery. But this is not the meaning. The active verb here is “commits adultery,” and the entire sentence must be held together. It should be read, “Whoever does the following commits adultery: divorces his wife (except for immorality) and remarries another.” Judgment is being placed not on someone remarrying but on someone remarrying after pursuing an illegitimate divorce. If the divorce is invalid, so is the remarriage. But the reverse is also true: if the divorce is valid, then re marriage must be acceptable, just as it was in commonplace Jewish custom.” My divorce is valid by all biblical standpoints.

She also brings my family into her argument and asks if they do not know scripture speaking against two that have come together under God. There is part of the problem and why I say my sin and biggest mistake was ever getting married in the first place. We didn’t come together in marriage under God. We came together under sin and self will. I dragged him to the alter kicking and screaming. THAT was my mistake and yes, there will be consequences for that decision, among which is the difficult, painful marriage that ensued and now the subsequent divorce.

If you read my post, you know that I spoke about my strong belief in God’s ability to heal the brokenhearted and to perform miracles. I also know that this doesn’t happen in a vacuum of our own time table and that it can take years and even lifetimes. That is why I stayed the course and married him in the first place; however, it became clear that I was on a crashing train. Worst of all, I had brought three more lives onto this train with me. I agree that I will likely suffer in some way for that decision for the rest of my life. I pray firmly against the suffering of my boys, but know that they too will endure pain as a result of this decision. They would have endured pain and suffering had I chosen to stay on the fast train to nowhere as well.

Just as I have believed in miracles for my marriage, I believe in miracles for my divorce. I believe that God is standing in the gap for my sons and protecting them with His own mighty hand. I believe that He has released me from the bondage of a sinful marriage and the ugliness of my past mistakes. I believe that He is a redeemer of ALL things that I am included in that, whether I am a divorced woman or not. I believe in scripture and that God removes our sin as far as the east is from the west and that nothing can pluck us from the hand of God. I believe that I have repented of my sins and that God and I are on the same page, which is not something anyone else has a place or ability to judge.

When I said that “modern teachers” preach the fact of grace, I did not mean to the exclusion of other teachers. All biblical teachers educate people about God’s grace and mercy because it simply is the foundation of God and Christianity.

She speaks of Levitical law and that the only permission in the bible to divorce is adultery because of their hard hearts. All of that was present in and outside of my marriage. As a side note to adultery as the bible outlines it, adultery is more than just sexual immorality. It also includes abandonment, either by an unbelieving spouse or through emotional abandonment, financial abandonment, or physical abandonment; all of which were also present.

While the bible is very clear and has very little gray area about divorce, among other hot button issues, it is also very clear about judgment and condemnation. God is the only one who can judge a person. Our role is simply to love one another and to love God. To speak truth and seek the face of our heavenly father, the only perfect one, as we stumble through this messy life.

I want to make it clear that I never said or believe that God’s grace gives us permission to sin. God’s grace simply gives us permission to be human. When we sin and make mistakes, as we all do and will do until we die, God’s grace is sufficient to redeem us if we seek Him. I’d also like to clarify even the title of this post and say that I am not saying there are 50 shades of truth. Grace is a biblical truth that can be found on every page of God’s word. I am not trying to find gray area to forgive myself and justify my poor choices in the past and my mistakes along the way, nor am I trying to extinguish myself of all guilt and shame or give myself the ability to continue in sin. I am simply saying that despite all of that, in spite of my flesh and my flawed, broken, busted spirit, there is hope for me. There is hope for all of us. I pray the truth of my message and God’s word shines through the confusion and human error, and that if there is anything in me or my writing that is not biblically sound, that God would flesh it out. I simply cannot get on board with someone who claims I am not a Christian and will rot in hell because of my mistakes and choices, twisting my words about grace and God’s love to fit their own judgmental schema.

My path has been ugly and messy and very broken. There is still a lot of broken pieces and there likely always will be. If you can find someone who doesn’t have broken pieces along their path please, let me know who they are so we can all learn from their perfect ways. I am not that person. I am simply a flawed beyond belief, damaged, broken, sinful girl on a journey toward redemption through grace. I pray we all seek God’s truth, not our own, and that in spite of our broken lives, we never lose hope in the ability to carry on and be restored; able to live abundant lives to the glory of the one who calls us His own.

I am open to hearing feedback and thoughts on this matter, as well as my previous post in question. Thank you to those of you who have given your time, support and grace through this messy journey with me.

***If you’d like to read more about my journey, the other posts directly about my divorce and marriage are here:

Letting Go of the Broken Mirage
When Love Ends in a Courtroom
With This Ring