Paul explains, “For the unbelieving husband is made holy because of his wife, and the unbelieving wife is made holy because of her husband. Godly offspring.” In the Hebrew, “A child of God.” What does the child experience?
Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy” (1 Corinthians ). So guard yourselves in your spirit, and let none of you be faithless to the wife of your youth” (Malachi ). The Lord enters the scene to explain what happens to a child when parents fail to guard their marriage “in the spirit”: “For the man who does not love his wife but divorces her, says the Lord, the God of Israel, , says the Lord of hosts.
Depending on the day, I might say the same thing if I read my first two paragraphs. When it is destroyed, the threat of lost place and lost purpose becomes a reality.
I don’t think I have found more help in my own journey of healing than in seeking help from others who have walked the same paths — who have had to do the hard work of finding Christ through the weeds of having divorced parents. Look for other sons and daughters — of God, and of divorced parents — and walk with them. Few things are more traumatic than a car accident — 2,000 pounds of steel and glass bending and scraping, with no respect for the limits or boundaries of the human body inside.There’s a path of healing that every victim of a serious accident must take.It will, of course look different for different sons and daughters, but no one can deny that the emotional and relational bleeding needs attention, likely long after the papers are filed. Years later, because I didn’t have the resources to work through things as a nine-year-old boy, certain forms of brokenness seem native and normal to me.
A chorus of adults with long-divorced parents will dismiss in unison: I totally get that. Divorce “attacks the self, because the self is formed within the belonging and meaning provided by the family.Ernest Hemingway wrote, “The world breaks every one and afterward many are strong at the broken places.” To put it tritely, experiencing the divorce of parents is just really, really hard. By his grace, it will not destroy you, but make you stronger (Isaiah 42:3–5).Paul realized that he went through an affliction “so that [he] may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction” (2 Corinthians 1:4).While not the main point of the text (primarily speaking about marriage between a believer and unbeliever), we can note three things: Malachi argues, “Did he not make them one, with a portion of the Spirit in their union? So guard yourselves in your spirit, and do not be faithless” (Malachi ).There is always violence in divorce — a scary, violent, destructive storm within and all around the family. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate” (Matthew 19:6).A child is an irreducible unit — a singularity cannot be separated from itself. What the parents experience relationally, the child experiences internally. Depression, anxiety, addiction, anger, compulsions, and distractions are all possible effects of being torn, and very often we are not even aware that these things might be related to the “accident.” Scripture uses many different metaphors to speak ethically, but theologians have used at least two terms that are relevant here: the “forensic” and the “renovative.” The “forensic” is legal. In order to heal, we need to be able to distinguish between our brokennesses. But, unfortunately and tragically, it still breaks you.