Divorce, Marriage, Prodigals

An Open Letter to Prodigals

Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the Lord, that he may have compassion on him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.

Isaiah‬ ‭55:7‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Are you running from your marriage? Have you convinced yourself that investing any more time in a relationship that isn’t providing what you want or feel you deserve is an exercise in futility? Do you long for a fresh start and clean break from the bondage to a marriage partner you have fallen “out of love” with? If so, please take the next few minutes to consider a perspective that up until this point, may have eluded you.

If you answered the above questions in the affirmative, it is likely you’ve already purposed in your mind the path to be taken. You may think to yourself that nobody should have to remain in a loveless marriage. You deserve to be happy and God wouldn’t want you to be miserable the rest of your life. You might even acknowledge that divorce is wrong, but believe your situation is unique. Restoration, healing and forgiveness work for some people but it is an impossibility for your marriage. Or so you think…

YOU ENTERED INTO A COVENANT WITH YOUR SPOUSE AND GOD.

Consider the oath made on your wedding day and the words spoken before your spouse, pastor, audience, and Almighty God. “I take you to be my wife (or husband), to have and to hold from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death us do part, according to God’s holy law, in the presence of God I make this vow.”

“But from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female.’  ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” Mark 10:6-9

Once joined in marriage, Jesus himself plainly states the husband and wife should not be separated. This is not up for debate, nor are there any special circumstances or loopholes. Divorce is not to happen. If you willingly violate God’s law and think there won’t be consequences, you are gravely mistaken.

GOD DOES NOT MAKE “EXCEPTIONS” TO HIS LAW.

But my spouse violated the covenant by not honoring or respecting me, so therefore it’s ok if I walk away from the marriage. WRONG! If this is your line of reasoning, it is seriously flawed. Two wrongs do not make a right. Furthermore, do you see any example in Scripture where a sin is atoned for by committing another sin? On the contrary, if we examine the life of Jesus, we see the complete opposite. He countered hate with love, anger with grace and longsuffering and bitterness with forgiveness.

I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery.” Matthew 19:9

The behavior of your spouse does not let you off the hook when it comes to honoring the marriage covenant. Even if your husband or spouse has committed adultery, divorce is not justified. Divorce only prevents you from being found guilty of adultery if the grounds for divorce are sexual immorality. The anger, unforgiveness, and hard heartedness that have existed leading up to the divorce, are still offenses you will need to give account for.

“IRRECONCILABLE DIFFERENCES” IS A LIE FROM THE PIT OF HELL.

All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 2 Corinthians 5:18-20 

Modern “no-fault” divorce laws reflect a disdain for Christ’s teaching and the message contained in His Word. For confessing Christians especially, the notion of irreconcilability goes against the very heart of the Gospel. The story of God and man is entirely about restoration; a righteous and holy God reconciling Himself with sinful created beings. Saying divorce is the necessary course of action because the conflict between two individuals is too great for God to repair, undermines the reality of God’s power, as well as the validity of your own faith.

STUBBORNNESS AND AN UNWILLINGNESS TO FORGIVE IS LIKE IDOLATRY.

For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. 1 Samuel 15:23 KJV

You cannot reconcile forgiveness with divorce. They are completely at odds with one another. If you claim to have forgiven your spouse, yet are willing to go through with a divorce, you are lying to yourself. Do not be deceived. Unforgiveness and a right relationship with God cannot exist together.

Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. Colossians 3:5

The pursuit of divorce as a means to bring you happiness, exalts your wants and desires over God’s. Our God is an awesome and jealous God; one who does not share His glory with others. Engaging in this behavior is foolish and dangerous. Those who willingly violate his laws and think accountability will never come are in great error.

SIDING WITH DIVORCE IS SIDING WITH THE WORLD AND SATAN.

We love because he first loved us. If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother. 1 John 4:19-21

Divorce is the opposite of love. I would argue that divorce is a perfect example of hate. To stand against one’s spouse in a court of law is to treat him or her as the enemy. Think of the picture this paints for others to see. You would be hard pressed to find a greater example of how to best undermine and destroy the witness or testimony of a professing Christian than to stand before a judge and advocating for the permanent separation of you and your spouse.

For I hate divorce,” says the Lord, the God of Israel, “and him who covers his garment with wrong,” says the Lord of hosts. “So take heed to your spirit, that you do not deal treacherously.

Malachi 2:16 NASB

The lost world does not know God or love Him. Being a Bible believing Christian means standing against the things of this world. Defending and advocating for something God says he hates, puts you in the same camp as unbelievers. If this is your position, the question that must be asked is, “What exactly sets you apart?” Your stance on this issue is contrary to the entire theme of Scripture. You cannot hold this perspective and stay in the Lord’s will if you are a child of God. Stop trying to bend God’s Word to fit with your will. Instead, conform your will to God’s truth. This is the only course of action that truly honors our Lord.

If what has been shared here strikes a nerve, then you should be glad. The conscience, which has been given to each and every one of us, is what pricks our hearts and helps us to know the difference between right and wrong. You may be attempting to convince others that your decision to move forward with divorce is right, but deep down in the hidden recesses of your heart, you know this isn’t true. For the sake of God’s kingdom and your witness, I urge you brothers and sisters, please do not go down this path.

One day there will be a reckoning. When you stand before the Almighty, the excuses you have made in this life will be of no value. You will be held accountable for denying the truth of Scripture and willingly violating God’s commands. Do not be a fool. Repent now of your wicked ways, and turn your heart back to Christ. He will forgive. This is His promise. He has a perfect plan for your life, but it will only be realized when you turn away from your life of sin and give yourself completely over to Him. The time to repent is now. Do not delay.

In Christ,

Tommy Larson
Purposed Marriage

Contentment, Divorce, Healing and Reconciliation, Waiting on God

Christ is Enough

The LORD is my chosen portion and my cup; you hold my lot.

Psalm 16:5

For those in troubled marriages whose spouses have left or checked out emotionally, it’s easy to think of our situations in terms of what is lacking. While it is natural to desire and long for reconciliation and restoration, we need to be mindful of our tendencies to forget the abundance of grace and mercy poured out upon us each and every day.

Reflecting back on my time in the valley, I remember occasions I would give in to despair, or be overwhelmed by the stress and pain the fight for my marriage was causing me to endure. Being in a position now where I can look back and assess my past actions, it’s clear the times I found myself in the lowest emotional state, was when I was focusing on my situation, rather than my identity as a child of God. Back then, I often lacked perspective, and failed to see the broader picture. In reality, that short chapter of my life was an indescribably small segment, compared to the rest of eternity. It’s that same lack of perspective that compels many standers to lose hope for restoration, and instead turn to the fleeting and temporal happiness found elsewhere.

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

2 Corinthians 12:9-10

Mature believers in the Lord will understand the practical implications of this reality. For them, contentment in present circumstances is the norm. It is because of this right way of thinking, they are able to endure the hardships, persecution, and suffering that accompanies remaining faithful to marital vows after a partner has walked away. These standers have come to grips with the role God has assigned to them. Obedience and acceptance is the driver and motivator for all they say, do and think. Underlying all of that however, is the understanding that their lives belong to Christ, and that glorifying and growing His Kingdom remains their primary goal and purpose.

Do you find yourself constantly asking God for more? Are you struggling emotionally, and find yourself longing for companionship, and a restored fellowship with your prodigal spouse? If the answer is yes, it shouldn’t come as a surprise. While God has designed us to be relational beings, and has given us hearts and minds meant to connect on deep levels with one another, we need to be mindful not to let our emotions rule over us. Overactive emotions can oftentimes lead us to lose perspective, and act in ways that are not rational. If honest, many reading this will probably admit that being guided by over active emotions in the past, likely contributed to the fractured state of our marriages.

As believers, we need to come to the point when we say to ourselves, “Christ is enough”. In the book of Philippians, Paul tells us to be content, regardless of the circumstances. Practically speaking, this is to say “If the Lord restores my marriage, I will be content.” or “If the Lord delays the restoration of my marriage, I will be content.” It’s not a matter of where we find ourselves in the restoration process that should define our level of contentment. Rather, our state of mind should be characterized by satisfaction, peace and well-being. Remember, the outward expression of our inner heart condition is what the lost world sees displayed in front of their eyes. May our testimonies always reflect the reality of Christ’s abundant grace and goodness.

True, we should all continue to pray God’s will for our marriages, and that restoration occurs in the Lord’s perfect timing. Never cease in this endeavor. But as you make your petitions before the Lord, also ask for contentment. It is when we arrive at the point when we can say, “Christ is truly enough.” that God has us exactly where He wants us. It is in these moments, great and miraculous things can occur!

In Christ,

Tommy Larson
Purposed Marriage

Christian Walk, Endurance, Spiritual Warfare, Temptation

Be Ready for Attack!

Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world

1 Peter 5:8-9 ESV

Through the course of our ministry, my wife and I have heard from many standers. One recurring question we have heard deals with how to handle attacks from a prodigal spouse. In most cases, the “attacks” come in the form of verbal abuse, passive aggressive actions, or blatant inappropriate behavior with a member of the opposite sex. In any case, it matters little how the attacks come packaged. The ensuing trauma and devastation sustained by standers can so painful as to leave many to wonder if saving the marriage is even worth it.

If you have felt this in the course of your stand, believe me when I say you are not alone. In the midst of my time in the valley, there were many occasions when I cried out to God begging that he would cause the pain to go away or to help me understand why everything was happening the way it was. At that stage of the battle, I was still at a point where I didn’t know how to handle the circumstances I was in. I failed to discern the spiritual nature of what was happening or how to successfully defend myself against the enemy’s attacks. To serve as an example, I submit the following diary entry.

My heart aches. The emptiness that consumes me is ever present. Oh my children! So innocent. So undeserving of any of this. Amy, why do you hate me so? Why can you not see what you are doing? Lord, what am I to do? I know my response must be love, but should this love confront Amy with the word of truth? When I do, it falls on deaf ears. She doesn’t hear me. She cares nothing for me. I am worthless to her.October 25, 2015

At the time of that particular writing, I had fallen into a despondent and thoroughly depressed state of mind. So worn down by the enemy I was. Tired, defeated and utterly hopeless could best describe me then. But despite my fragile condition, the Lord was working. It was only after I had been brought to a place of true repentance and submission, I became able to discerned the strategy of the evil one, and see with my own eyes, his wicked hands and voice of deception at work. This same modus operandi of Satan has been around since the fall of man. It is a tried and true tactic that has worked nearly every time it’s been used. But despite the effectiveness, there is one memorable example in Scripture where the strategy didn’t work.

If you recall the New Testament story of Jesus being tempted in the wilderness, you’ll remember that in every instance where Satan attempted to deceive Christ, Jesus’ immediate response was to call upon Scripture. You’ll notice that Satan didn’t attempt to argue when confronted with absolute truth. Instead, he moved on to a different temptation and lie. Jesus responded the same way He did previously. Eventually, Satan gave up and left. He knew the attempts to deceive were of no use. In other words, the enemy’s attacks simply rolled off Jesus’ back. Our Lord was equipped and prepared to thwart what was coming at Him, because He was filled with a knowledge of the truth. This comes only from the Word of God.

And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God.”

Rev. 12:10 ESV

Attacks come via direct orders from the ultimate enemy, Satan, who is described as the great deceiver and accuser. Prodigals under the enemy’s control, will point the finger of judgement and blame at standers as a means to take the focus and spotlight off of their own sinful behaviors. This is a typical strategy meant to deflect and avoid confronting their own iniquities. As long as the focus is on you, whether it is your past or what they interpret as your “wrong” behavior now, they are free and clear to pursue whatever lifestyle choice they desire. Attacking and accusing you, often of the very things they are doing, is an intentional act meant to control the narrative and to frame their perspective on things in such a way as to condone their own behavior and demonize yours.

Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.

Eph. 6:13 ESV

We know from Scripture there is nothing new under the sun. The lies and accusations your prodigal is uttering now, have been used over and over again by sinners looking to justify their behavior. If you are standing for truth and your marriage, the attacks will come, however, you must not take them to heart nor allow them to negatively impact your identity as a child of Christ. Rightly interpret the attacks for what they are; desperate attempts from a defeated enemy who knows his days are numbered. Standers need to deflect what is coming at them by equipping themselves with the Word of Truth. The enemy has no answer for this and never will.

To be clear, we are not advocating for engaging in a shouting contest with your prodigal as they hurl accusations and you respond by quoting back Scripture. On the contrary, when the fiery darts come, stay calm, collected and composed. Respectfully walking away from a potentially volatile situation is far better and much wiser, than giving into your emotions and once and for all, letting your prodigal spouse have it. Let God be the one who delivers justice. You be the one who focuses on demonstrating grace, perseverance and forgiveness.

In Christ,

Tommy Larson
Purposed Marriage