God begins by guiding us into His perfect plan with His biblical principles. Then come our faults and those of others; pain and broken heart. But this is not the end. God’s perfect plan includes healing, forgiveness, and resurrection.
Divorce was never God’s plan for His children. He knows that such a breakup is painful and leaves deep scars. “And it is not only the divorce that hurts, but everything that led to the divorce: the breaches of our commitment”, specifies Pastor Jacques Loignon, author of the book “Divorce, survivre à l’épreuve de séparation” (available in French only). The original covenant was to “leave his old life, be joined to his wife, and become one flesh” (Matthew 19:5 NKJV), every little action that contravenes these three covenants (leaving, joining, and becoming) leaves scars.
God hates divorce (Malachi 2:16). Not only because it goes against His perfect plan, but because our Heavenly Father knows how damaging the breaking of such a covenant is. “We are quick, in the churches, to condemn divorce, but we do not take enough time to listen to those who are going through this ordeal, we do not take enough care of them,” admits this pastor, who offers support groups for divorced people.
In his book, as in his support groups, Pastor Loignon guides divorced people through three essential stages. “There is, of course, the stage of legal divorce, that is everything that has to do with legal papers, but there is also the stage of emotional divorce and spiritual divorce,” he explains. After signing the legal papers, a divorced person should take time to emotionally grieve the loss of their relationship. Their self-esteem was affected during the process, as well as their confidence in themselves and those around them. Every divorced person must therefore take the time to rebuild themselves emotionally. Often it is even necessary to rebuild a new circle of friends, sometimes even change churches and establish new bases. “It’s a process that takes on average two years, but it can be longer,” he says.
For Pastor Loignon, the stage of spiritual divorce is the moment when we make peace with God in the face of our divorce. “We need to be able to ask the difficult questions, recognize our part in this situation, and be repentant of our mistakes,” he explains. “Divorce or what led to divorce is a sin to be repented of, but it is not the unforgivable sin either. God forgives, and God restores.” The adulterous woman in John 8 should have been stoned according to the law of Moses, but Jesus applied grace and compassion to this situation. If Jesus did it for her, can we believe that He can still extend grace to a repentant heart?
To be ready to enter a new relationship, we must have gone through all these stages: having finished with the legal side, having rebuilt our self-esteem and healed our hearts, and having the conviction that God has forgiven us. “But we don’t need to remarry either!”, concludes Pastor Loignon. “It is not marriage that gives us happiness, it is our relationship with God. We can live alone very well and feel good about ourselves. There’s nothing wrong with staying single.” It is a state in which we can learn to flourish. God also wants to use single people powerfully: there are several in the Bible who played a dominant role (Daniel, Jeremiah, Hannah the prophetess, Paul, and even Jesus!). Don’t think that divorce is the end or an indelible stain. There is nothing that the blood of Jesus cannot wash away. And there is no vessel too broken for God to repair and to fill with His Holy Spirit.