Is Divorce an Unforgivable Sin? - Elisabeth Klein

When I first announced my separation, I lost several speaking engagements.  On the one hand, I understood where the people were coming from, being a former women’s ministry director, but I have to admit, I felt such shame in those moments.

I think one of my blog readers who commented last week hit the nail on the head: “I had one person go as far as to tell me that {God} doesn’t forgive {divorce}.” I think there are people who believe that divorce is the unforgivable sin. Or, at the very least, that talking about it is the same as condoning it, and no one wants to be caught condoning it.

But, as I’ve talked about here before, divorce is never black and white, even when it appears to be. I do not believe every divorce is a sin, though I do believe some is. See, even I – a divorcee – can’t see my way through all the grey.

Some things are cut and dry totally not sin. If I brought cookies to a friend because I care about her, completely not a sin. And some things are cut and dry totally a sin. If I had an affair with a married man, totally always sin (for both of us).

But divorce, grey grey grey. If my husband cheated on me and were unrepentant, I believe I could get a divorce and not be in sin. If my husband repeatedly abused me and were unrepentant, I believe I could get a divorce and not be in sin (sadly, many, many people disagree with this point). But if my husband just drove me crazy or I weren’t in love with him anymore or I found someone else who gave me butterflies, I believe that if I got a divorce, I’d be sinning.

HOWEVER, with that said, regardless of the circumstances regarding your divorce, I do not believe you will be forever frozen in some sin state. And this is where I believe so many of us divorced people feel stuck and feel shame. We feel labeled by others who disapprove of us and we feel the weight of our own guilt barreling down on ourselves.

But let me be clear: there is only one “unforgivable sin” mentioned in the Bible and it is not divorce. If you are divorced, you are not forever bound to your sin, regardless of how you got there; if you are repentant and have sought God’s forgiveness, you are forgiven and cleansed and free.

How dare any of us act as if God can’t forgive a divorced person. Seriously. Who deemed you the person to look at the cross and then look back again at our lives and shake your head with disapproval and judgment? Last I checked, church-going people, there is only one God, and you are not him.

My blog commenter continued: “After much Scripture searching and prayer {on my part}, she said it {to me} again. I finally had to speak up! ‘Do you mean that God can forgive a murderer but not me because I have been divorced? Do you mean that God can forgive thieves but not me? Do you mean that he can even forgive you for passing judgment on me and condemning me to hell, but he can’t forgive me? Do you mean that his word that says ‘there is now no condemnation for those that are in Christ Jesus’ is wrong?’’ Yes, I believe marriage is meant to last a lifetime but, I believe God still loves me.”

Read those words again: “Do you mean that his word that says ‘there is now no condemnation for those that are in Christ Jesus’ is wrong?” Whew. I’m probably preaching to the choir here because I doubt too many judgers read my blog; but if you have ever said anything like what this woman endured, or what I have endured, or what many of the divorced women I hear from endured, please consider asking her for an apology. And if you’ve even thought it, please think – for just a few moments – not just about your mound of sin, but about your mountain of judgments. You’re living in a scary place in your faith because if you believe divorce can’t be forgiven, then you must not believe your sin can be either. And who wants to live their life that way? It is the judger that I feel the most sorry for.

As my sweet girlfriend said to me in a text, “You have nothing to be ashamed of. Nothing!” Sweet divorced ones, start today to lay down your guilt and shame. If you’ve been on the receiving end of harsh words, know they are not from Jesus. Know that the person who spoke them was wrong. And instead soak up God’s grace and mercy. He loves you. He does not condemn you. You are free.

 

 

If this post encouraged you, you would benefit from “Unraveling: Hanging onto Faith through the End of a Christian Marriage”, found here or “Living through Divorce as a Christian Woman”, found here.