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Monday, September 16, 2013

A World Where Divorce is Illegal

Please welcome guest blogger today; Glenn Machlan, Bible Translator with Youth With A Mission.  Currently, Glenn is translating the scriptures into a language spoken in a remote village in the Philippines   His work is the first translation for this language.  Consider supporting Glenn Machlan through the YWAM link.


Disadvantages of making divorce illegal
The Philippines, where I work, is the only remaining country where divorce is illegal. Much of that is due to the strong Catholic presence here. But that doesn't mean that all the problems associated with divorce are avoided here. In fact, there are some situations that are made worse by the unavailability of divorce. For example, adultery and the starting of a second family is more common and more accepted than in the US. Former president Estrada was known to have more than one ‘family’ though he was, of course, still married to his wife, which explains why a certain joke was going around when he was running for president. It seems he had gone to the Catholic leader in the Philippines at that time, Cardinal Sin, to make his confession, and began by saying, “Forgive me, Sin, for I have fathered.”

When I first came to the Philippines, one of my Tagalog teachers was also a pastor, and he asked my advice on two situations he faced in his church. The first was a man who had left his wife and family to start a second family, never going back to his wife. The second was a woman whose husband had started a second family and lived with them during the week, but came back to her during the weekends. The pastor wondered how the church should respond to the people in those situations. I puzzled about it for a while, until I saw that part of the problem in untangling things was that divorce was not an option. So in the first situation, the man had basically divorced his wife and remarried, though without the legal status. And in the second situation, the woman had an adulterous husband that she couldn't get rid of, and so he was basically a bigamist. Both situations, I believe, were made more difficult because divorce was not an option.
Jesus said that God permitted divorce because of the hardness of people’s hearts. And I believe that there is real mercy and wisdom in allowing divorce, because hard hearts are a reality. I certainly see the disadvantages of making divorce too easy, as in the US, but there are also real disadvantages in making divorce too hard or even impossible. And while there are definitely hardships in a divorce situation, there is also many times a mercy as well, in keeping us from worse pain and giving us opportunities for joys we would not have otherwise experienced. And whether we see the mercy or not, we can hopefully take some comfort in knowing that God is working even our bad, difficult experiences for our good and His glory.

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