I am a single, divorced man—“Stephen” in Craig Keener’s book And Marries Another. I abhor divorce. Having experienced its pain, I hate it more passionately than I did before. But I offer no apology for my state: unlike many American Christians, I have never fornicated. I was never unfaithful to my marriage. Nor did I want the divorce that was forced on me. I am divorce’s innocent victim.
Our churches tend to classify all divorced people in a single category, as if divorce’s sinfulness implies that all of us chose our condition. Let me tell you how this language feels to someone who was divorced against his will: it stings.
My unrepentance on this point is not a claim to sinlessness. Not only would that be bad theology, but it wouldn’t be true—in general, or in my marriage. Still, I cannot repent for a choice that was not mine to make. I daily affirmed and demonstrated my love to my wife.
My wife ran off with her best friend’s husband. I fought the divorce for two years—the legal limit in my state—hoping to get her back. I never stopped loving her, though some years ago I finally abandoned hope of her return.
Our main issues of contention before her affair—when both of us still seemed to love each other—were my refusals to participate in behavior that I believed would compromise my testimony as a Christian and as a minister. These are issues on which my wife and I had firmly agreed before our marriage.
Of course, I now recognize things I should have done better. But I also remain certain that I loved and served my wife faithfully.
Some insist that it “takes two to break up a marriage.” Although most Christians make exceptions for cases like mine, their language suggests that they do not think very hard about the exceptions. The ...1
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