I don’t know the statistics on the number of Christians who are, or have been, divorced but what I do know is Christians who haven’t experienced the pain, sorrow and suffering of divorce may not comprehend how destructive and hurtful their condemnation of divorcees is. Whether the condemnation is overt or covert doesn’t matter. It is destructive nonetheless.
Somewhere I read that Christians are the only army that shoots its own. You know what? I believe it. Especially where divorce is concerned.
While I contemplated what I would write on this topic, my brain took a left turn and thought about the lepers Jesus healed when he walked on this earth.
Lepers were outcast. They were considered less-than. They were removed from fellowship with their loved ones and friends. People avoided them. Lepers were looked down upon. Those who considered themselves clean crossed streets to avoid contact with these unclean people.
Because there was no known cure for leprosy, it was a feared disease. Lepers were untouchables because of the fear they would infect others. The priests were the ones responsible for banishing lepers who were in a contagious stage to prevent the spread of infection. They were also responsible for readmitting lepers whose disease was in remission. Lepers were considered ritually unclean. Because leprosy destroys the nerve endings, lepers often unknowingly damaged their fingers, toes, and noses.
How the leper’s heart must have ached. How desolate and hopeless he must have felt. No support system. No human touch. No love. No affection. No compassion. Only condemnation for something that really was not his fault.
Much like the bells lepers were required to wear around their necks to announce their arrival…Unclean! Unclean!…many divorced Christians feel as if they too, have been made to wear heavy bells hung around their necks, and banished, due to others’ fear of infection. Just as leprosy destroys nerve endings, those struggling with the stigma of divorce, may also become numb and maimed.
We don’t have to say it aloud for divorcees to get the idea. Our forced smiles, lack of contact, and avoidance conveys the same message.
Because we are called to be like Jesus Christ, I looked at how he interacted with lepers. There’s an incident recorded in Matthew, Mark, and Luke that tells the story of a leper who went to Jesus and said, “Lord, if you are willing, you can heal me and make me clean.”
I find it interesting that not only did Jesus heal the man of his leprosy, Jesus healed the man by reaching out his hand, and touching the one proclaimed by the religious folk as unclean. Jesus touched the untouchable. You know what? He still does.
Contrary to what some might believe, being divorced does not put a person on a sliding scale further away from the love of God, than say…a gossiper or a liar.
A sin is a sin is a sin. Each of us is a sinner saved by grace, whether we’ve been divorced or not. The Gospel message is one of forgiveness, restoration, and hope. Perhaps it’s time we put away those arrows we direct at our fellow Believers, or anyone else for that matter, and embrace each other as Pilgrims traveling through life together.
An unclean leper? No. Touched, and redeemed by the blood of the Lamb.
Sandy Kirby Quandt is a follower of Jesus with a passion for history, travel, and photography. Sandy has written numerous articles and stories for adult and children publications. Looking for words of encouragement or gluten-free recipes? Then check out Woven and Spun. www.sandykirbyquandt.com. Sandy lives with her husband in Texas.