The Passage That Kept Me Going

After I had first heard my ex-wife had cheated on me, I chose to give her a period of time, 90 days, to see what she would do.
I had also begun to ask counsel of those I knew whom I had respected in the ministry who had experienced divorce and they had given me counsel.  One of those friends, who had an experience in marriage in which he was claiming aggrieved status, said that he went through and did a serious season of self-examination.
Yes, the divorce may seem like it is all their fault, but it is still a good thing for us to do self-examination.
As a result of that conversation, during that time period when I had taken to consider thoroughly what I should do, I began to recount my sins as well, the places where I had messed up in our marriage, and the places where I knew that I was in the wrong.
And while I never engaged in physical acts of adultery, I may as well have (Matthew 5:27, which is based not on a new commadment or new interpretation of the Torah, but on the old commandment of Exodus 20:17 and Deuteronomy 5:21).  The wrong desire is adultery.
And, no, not even a first look is right or good.  No, “admiring the L-rd’s creation” is the same as “scooping fire into your lap”.  It does not work.  I have heard all the preacherly catchphrases and they do not work.
Been there, done that, bought the T-shirt, got the tattoo.
We must resist the equivocation.  If by my confession someone can be freed, it will be worth it.
And deliverance from all of that nonsense, whether the act is physical, mental, or emotional (and they all form pathways that are not often or quickly removed), is a process.
So, as I was going through that process, I had a conversation with a pastor friend who is an expository preacher and a Teacher by Redemptive Gift, and I told him what had happened.
He then directed me to a passage in Micah.
See it here:

I will bear the indignation of the LORD because I have sinned against him, until he pleads my cause and executes judgment for me. He will bring me out to the light; I shall look upon his vindication.
Micah 7:9

By hearing of our own offenses and knowing what sin is, we know the absolutes, and thereby where the boundaries of the fence are.  And we can take a strange comfort in knowing where the boundaries are, because then we can know when we are in the right and when we are in the wrong.
We need to know that we can be wrong when we are wrong.
We need to know there are still standards.
Let’s cite Frank Peretti, because he says it better than I can, and BE FOREWARNED, to my survivor peeps, the context is an internal discussion pertaining to a bathtub drowning, and the character in the book is in the process of coming to grips with her own state of reality, which is necessary in order to overcome denial:

She looked at the tub; she touched the cold, blue-green porcelain. I could pretend, she thought.  Just for the sake of discussion, I could pretend that this is a fence, a limitation, a boundary.
A boundary I crossed over, and shouldn’t have.

She let her thoughts continue on their own and just enjoyed listening to them huddle together and confer in her head.
What if what happened here was wrong?
Ah, come on, according to whom? There are no absolutes; you can’t know anything for sure.
What if there are, and what if I can?
But how?
Later, later.  Just answer the first question.
What if it was wrong?
Then I’m guilty.  I made a wrong choice, I jumped the boundary, I did wrong.
But I thoughts boundaries only exist in your mind!
I did wrong. I want to think that, just once.
Because I need a fence.  Even if I’m on the wrong side of it, I need a fence.  I need to be wrong.  I need to be guilty.
What for?

Sally stirred. She pressed her hand firmly against the tub where her child had died. she mouthed the words, then she whispered them, then she said them out loud, “Because at least then I’d know where I am!
Apparently she’d awakened a dormant emotion; pain came upon her suddenly, and aching deep in her soul, and with gritted teeth and a stifled whisper, she pounded the side of the tub.  “Oh, God!”
She rested against the hard plaster wall again, panting in hurt, anger, and despair. “O God, help me!”
Despair slipped and fell. His talons had lost their grip.
There, she’d said it.  She’d followed the proposition through to its conclusion, had her little fit, and how she was finished.  She didn’t know if she felt better.  She felt a little foolish for talking out loud to herself–or to God, whatever the case may be.  It didn’t matter.
-Frank Peretti, Piercing the Darkness, pp. 206-207-

Further, when we know there are fences, we know not only that there is a wrong side…
And when we are on that wrong side, and therefore guilty….
But also…
That there is a right side…
And we can be on that side…
And we can know when we are on that side…
I spent myself handling my offenses against the throne, and against Him, and against my then-wife.
Pam, to whom I am married now, helped deeply in that process of dealing with the offenses.
It is possible, while you are dealing with a divorce or even with a seperation with what you did wrong.
Consider the gravity of what Jesus said to the Pharisees.
“Because of the hardness of your hearts…”
Gang, I cannot overemphasize this enough.
If you are not dealing with the hardness of your heart,
it does not matter if you have biblical grounds or not for divorce.
It does not matter if your heart is wounded, and justifiably so.
It does not matter how many different ways you are tied up due to generational bondage or covenal agreements.
If your heart has gone hard, then it will be damned hard to have a successful single life or remarried life.
What made blasphemy of the Holy Spirit so easy for the Pharisees is that precise condition, and over and over again, that was the illustrated root of their resistance toward the Son of G-d.  It was not a religious spirit.
It was hard-heartedness that got them.  It was the resistance toward Ezekiel 37 and 38.  They did not allow Him to breath life on them and remove their stony hearts.
Their bones were devoid of sinew and muscle.  The Rulers had no Exhortery pliability.
In my own adultery, there were several things I sowed that reaped destruction.
And it began with fear of man, thinking this was the right person to marry based on a dream.
And after I bore the indignation of the L-rd and dealt with the process of recovering a pliable heart, He took up my cause, in some very subtle ways.
Hit the second half of that text from Micah 7:9

until he pleads my cause and executes judgment for me. He will bring me out to the light; I shall look upon his vindication.

“Executes judgment”.  That is Mishpat.  Execution.  He can be trusted to execute to those who want his working in their lives.  Judgment first starts in the house of G-d, with us, and then with our case.  He judged it, and executed.  He is the G-d who executes.
Our job, believer, is to handle our business honestly, vulerably, and openly.  Come hell or high water, do it, and deal with your junk.
Now, concerning pornography in Matthew 5, I had a conversation with a friend who had some thoughts, and they echo mine here.  What follows are our very rough, unrefined, unrevised thoughts somewhat mixed together.
I think that what Jesus was trying to say is not that the two (adultery and looking on a woman with lust) are the same.  Rather, what He was driving at is “you think you are holy because you avoid the big act.   Well, the act itself consummates because it is rooted in an attitude germinated in the soil that says that lust is okay.
That person that says it is “okay to admire the creation of G-d” does not realize the danger they are helping you to jump into.
One is adultery and the other is the adultery of the heart.  One begins a process, the other finishes that process.
In the act of physical adultery, you are joining two people, two spirits into something that did not previously exist.
In the instance of lust, damage is done, but spirits are not joined.
Said another way, Jesus is saying, “Well, if you really want to be righteous “clean your thought life.”.
Don’t pretend that makes you holy just because you are avoiding physical adultery.
There are commonalities between the two, but they are not the same.
Would it feel the same to you?
If you had to pick between the two 10 years of porn that you could fight through together, versus one act of adultery, which would you pick?  That give you the evidence that the two are not the same.
Having experienced both, I would have to say, “I would have picked having to fight through 10 years of porn to rescue my bride, over one moment of adultery”.
I know in her a lot of what was lost.
This woman is a card-carrying Exhorter who was given a birthright of authority over nations.
And because of the hell that we dealt with, she is now way-removed from that path.
So, in handling your own situation, my question is, “what will you do to avoid a hard heart?”.
Hard hearts are seedbeds for Jezebel.  Jezebel is not merely this beastly dragon that wants to kill the prophets.  It can end that way.
But Jezebel begins with a decision that “I am not going to let anyone hurt me like that again.”
And the entry point for her is subtle.  A grandmother who neglects her grandchild or grandchildren.  A mother or father who somehow hurts their kids.
Yes, they are accountable for how they hurt us.  But ultimately, we are responsible to pass the Mercy’s Test.  All of us.  The test of the Right Response to Pain.
The news is that the Phoenicians hurt Jezebel by marrying her off as part of Omri’s contract with the Phoenicians.  She was a gifted and multi-talented Exhorter, considering the gifts that Phoenicia had and gave to many places.
The news is that Jesus, our chief example, and an Exhorter, was hurt by all sorts of people, and allowed them to do what they did to Him, and yet gave Himself to them, for them.  Just to have one Nicodemus.
And the news is that others will hurt.  I have hurt, and some of you will hurt.
But we must protect our hearts and keep them tender before G-d, and not let it get that edge of hardness.
Proverbs 4:23.
Must pass.  Must pass.  With flying colors.  Bearing fruit in our season, and being planted by the streams of water.
Streams of revelation.
Streams of dreams and the vision G-d has for us.
Streams of affection.
And we must wrestle this temptation to grow calloused to the ground.
We have too many needless casualties of war because of wounds through relationships, marriages.
The bloodletting has got to stop.
Tempering my counsel from yesterday because I want you to catch the punchline, understand you may have a right to divorce, and that may be where G-d is sending you, but you do not have a right to leave with a stony heart and keep your life-giving effectiveness.
The gifts and callings of G-d are irrevocable, true.
But other things can be damaged and you still keep your gifts.
Your anointing can be affected.
The size of your conduit can be crimped.
The shape of your seal can be damaged.
The sum total of your potential effectiveness can be lessened.
And the level of your kinetic effectiveness will definitely taper off.
Gang, we must push through.

A Conversation I Had With My Wife On Adultery and Divorce and Remarriage

A few years back, as many of y’all know, given I am pretty open here about about my own life, my wife and I had a conversation concerning the breakdown of my previous marriage.  In that conversation, she pulled something based on the context of Leviticus 20, the fate of the perpetrator, and the ultimate end of the one sinned against:

When adultery happened in the [Torah], the perpetrator and their co-perpetrator were stoned.  The partner of the marriage who had been the innocent in the relationship.

But what happened to the innocent who was sinned against?  He or she was left as a widow or a widower, and was thus permitted to marry again.

I then drew the connection following the principles of hermeneutics.
Think specifically of Rule #1…
Or as Joe Castleberry of Northwest University calls it, the Jiminy Cricket Rule of Hermeneutics

Always let your context be your guide.

So, here is the larger context of the canon, using both the Tanakh and the New Testament.

The only difference between adultery in the Tanakh and adultery in the New Testament is that the perpetrator gets to keep his or her life.

And the one sinned against?  They have the same status as a widow or a widower, and are thus free to remarry.  Reading Jesus and Paul together, we see this permission as well implied in the context of his discussion of the Pharisees.

Whoever divorces for any reason except fornication/marital unfaithfulness/sexual immorality

You are permitted to divorce your spouse, from the way I read the varied texts, and marry another, if adultery/sexual immorality is the root of your issue.

Now, granted, let me throw three caveats here.

First, if you have permitted your heart to become crunchy, or cold, or you permit a Jezebel/Ahab combo take residence in your heart (which is a real possiblity, because Jezebel says “I am not going to every allow myself to be put into a position to get hurt again”), you are A) going to have issues with relationships beyond adultery/fornication/marital unfaithfulness B) have issues hearing Father’s voice in discernment on the matter.

Second, if you refuse to hear Father’s voice on the matter and only consider your immediate needs/wants/lusts etc., you are going to have a hell of a time the second time around.

Third, before you respond to quickly end a marriage, have an extended conversation with Father, because He will always have input to give to you.  Even with the biblically justifiable means of divorcing an unfaithful spouse, the L-rd might have a few pages to speak to you on the matter of your marriage.

Be darn sure you pay attention to all He says on your specific marital issue.

It is the glory of G-d to conceal a thing; but the honour of kings is to search out a matter. –Proverbs 25:2-

With those three caveats, a soft heart, a willingness to hear the voice of Father, and every last shred of input He has on your own situation, proceed with what He tells you.

Also, I would add as valuable a deep and thorough application of 1 Corinthians 7 and 1 Peter 3 to your given situation.

And take caution and much care how you proceed.

As to the subject of abuse, I personally consider that under the category of “marital unfaithfulness”.  There is a violation of marriage covenant that happens in the presence of abuse.  And thus, evauating each situation on a case-by-case basis, I can see biblical grounds for divorce based on abuse.
This is, however, one of those cases where I would counsel as a pastor, STRONGLY, THAT YOU SEEK FATHER.

And in the area of remarriage, I would strongly counsel you to seek the L-rd about that in the arena of abuse, as to whether or not remarriage is the wisest course. Not just IF, but even if He clears you to remarry, then WHEN.
The other dynamic I want y’all to grasp as I write this is this:

If you are looking for an excuse to exchange your current spouse for a new model just because you want to sample another set of wares and are tired of the model you already committed to, then your heart is already hard and you need to repent.


Also, please realize that divorce is not to be treated as something worthy of a party or celebration.

Something in you died:  something of which you were part.

Those of you throwing divorce parties and saying “thank G-d that bastard/bitch is out of my life” never got the point of marriage.

Those of you who are crying for any number of reasons, and whose emotions are all over the place, because of the depth of pain opened up by this sort of tragedy get it.

Those of you wishing to call me heretic because you are proponents of that nonsense called Covenant Marriage, “you put down your rock and I will put down my sword and we will try and kill each other like civilized people”.

Jesus gave us an exception in his teaching on divorce.

Get over yourselves, and your egos, and your preoccupation with “you are violating G-d’s word”, and let’s actually reason together from the text of Scriptures.

Read the Bible, donkeys.


When something on this level dies, it is one of those things in your life that is worth mournful contemplation.  When my first marriage ended, I sat sheva without realizing why.  I did not thank G-d for it, and I did not want anyone to celebrate my newfound freedom.  I rent my clothes as a reflection of what happened to my heart.

And then at the end of that week, I arose and anointed myself with oil, and concerned myself with rebuilding my relationship with my sons. And I went, at Pam’s invitation, to the Sunday School class she was teaching on the Bait of Satan.

And later, in conversation with her, I understood why I sat sheva.

Ezekiel 24:16
“…behold, I am about to take the delight of your eyes.”

It was the death of something that was precious.

It was an actual and literal death.

So, while I am grateful for my marriage to Pam, I look on that previous season with sobriety.

And, yes, the wine is sweeter in this second marriage, but it came at a steep price.  Adultery, seasons for reconciliation, and eventual implosion of marriages are like the bombing of Nagasaki.

My ex-wife, when we had first began a relationship in 2004, made a comment to my then-pastor sometime after we had become engaged.
“G-d told me he is my Hosea.”

Not the words you expect to hear, and at the time when I heard those words, they resonated.

I thought I understood back then why they resonated; she had a dark period before she had come to Missouri, and I was pretty sure that her relationship with me would be redeeming and cleansing for her.

But now, I understand some things more deeply than I chose or would have ever wanted.  And give the treasure and the cost, I would not wish the treasure on my closest friend, or the cost on my worst enemy.


Some treasures are more costly than we realize.

G-d can only hand us some of these costly but necessary treasures by forcing them on us.

During the process when He forces those treasures on us, He makes us pay a cost that we did not want to pay.  And that cost is steep and painful.

When I was being made to pay for the gift of earned authority to work with couples in marital trouble, I began to learn that this first marriage was never G-d’s intent.

During that marriage, there was never a settledness, a meshing of the two into one.  I blew past all sorts of red flags, and those parts that knew it was wrong, I quieted them down with sermon after sermon that I had heard through the last couple of decades telling me that G-d would make the wrong one the right one.

That was one of the consequences of choosing to marry not the right person:  A lack of meshing.

So, what was the gift?  Earned authority to work with troubled marriages.
What was the cost?  I paid the price for choosing to disobey and marry the wrong person, and then G-d choosing to remove that person by allowing the marriage to slip into multi-pronged, multi-faceted disrepair.  As a result, I destroyed my life and she destroyed her own life, and hurt the lives of several people close to both of us.  I lost several opportunites for ministry and missions work.  I lost several precious friendships.  I lost the chance to finish my M.Div.  I lost my ministerial credentials with the Assemblies of G-d.  I lost the chance to live with my sons, who now dwell several states away from me.


So, remember, when you are the victim of a marital unfaithfulness, you do have liberty.

But please, I implore you to treat it with a huge dose of sobriety.  And if you need some help picking through your marriage, I am glad to lend a listening ear or some counsel, to whatever extent you might need.

Sort and pick through the issues with someone you trust.  Do not sort through these issues with people who are willing to run down your spouse/ex-spouse.  Sort through them with someone whose mouth is on the altar and who has drunk deeply from the cup of sobriety and humility.

Be blessed, gang.