I walked a dear friend through the grief of a dying marriage last year. After less than two years enjoying what she thought was a wonderful marriage, she discovered the lies and the multiple infidelities her husband had been covering up since before they were married. Even worse, he was unrepentant for his numerous betrayals.

It was the first and only time I ever counseled anyone to seek a divorce.

We both knew how deeply marriage matters to God and that covenantal relationships are not intended to be broken. Yet, God gives his people clear guidelines for times when divorce might be the only acceptable solution. In her case, the damage and lies were too numerous to overcome with only one party committed to repairing their failed relationship.

As her marriage died, I was able to come alongside her, mourning her husband’s unrepentant heart and the future that she had lost. I saw the heartbreak the revelations of her husband’s deceit brought. Then her outlook sunk lower when she recognized that they weren’t going to be able to work to mend their young marriage, and this was the end.

These seemed like inevitable aspects of the pain of divorce. What I didn’t anticipate was her agony grow as she walked into church on Sunday morning.

As a church, we are significantly more committed to staying married than the culture around us. Unfortunately, sometimes the biblical zeal for marriage overwhelms the need for grace, support, and care for those who are victims of the broken relationships bound to arise in our sinful world.

So in her Christian community, the gossip spread. She quietly backed away from her former church, in hopes that her husband would be free to experience repentance and heal in the midst of a community ...

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