To shepherd the formerly married is to come to grips with his or her sexual need.

When the Hebrews were “making bricks” in captivity, they asked, “How shall we sing the Lord’s song in a strange land?” Most formerly married persons can identify with that disturbing question.

A notion exists that when a person becomes divorced—or widowed—a “stop” button is pushed, then a “rewind” button, and he or she is returned to a second adolescence.

While the church has had a great deal to say said about premarital sexual expression, little has been said concerning the needs of the formerly married—unless one simply assumes that everything said behavior applies as well to postmarital sexual conduct.

Over one million persons will be divorced this year; hundreds of thousands of others will lose a mate in death. Change may come on a moment’s notice, more and more frequently through desertion or defection. For others, such a change is wrought through accident or heart failure. One day someone may be married and sexually active, and the next day, single again. For some, age or personal preference makes termination of the marital state less burdensome, with sexual expression in marriage having become obligation rather than celebration. For others, sexual need can be a menacing reminder of a new status.

In our sexually oriented society, many Christians define their personal attractiveness by the love of a mate. If that mate leaves, especially for a younger, more attractive partner, how does the rejected person view his or her self-worth? How does one whose sexual expression has become “habitual” in twenty years of marriage live without the warmth and affirmation of intimacy?

Consider these statements by formerly married persons:

• You don’t turn off ...

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