Question:

Dear Jeffrey,

I really love and enjoy reading most of your articles and Q&As. It has guided me to answer some of the dilemmas I faced as a young Christian. I came to the Lord's church as a truth seeker and made my way to find a local congregation that follows the New Testament pattern to obtain my salvation. I was in so much grief because of the various sins I was involved in. My initial intention was to seek refuge within God's sanctuary and then "adjust and mend" my heart in the way that's within God's will. I clearly understand there's no turning back to my past. I need to look forward and grow spiritually in a righteous manner.

Because of the unique and rather rare way I came into my local congregation, many brethren were very curious about me and my background in general. I came in as a divorcee and I had a fair share of struggles that mainly came from the various emotional baggage I carried over from my past, which sometimes I don't feel comfortable talking about publicly. The question of whether I have a scriptural right to remarry was a heated debate among some of the brethren and the preacher. The preacher, whom I consulted upon previously, believes that I don't have a biblical ground for divorce because of the driven motivation behind the divorce and advised that I should remain single or seek for reconciliation. I was put away because of my ex-spouse's desire had provided an opportunity to committed adultery. I discovered many intimate items of another woman in our home -- notably, in the master bedroom where we slept. Shortly after this happened, I left and moved back to my parents' place. Despite this, my preacher doesn't find it certain that I have a Scriptural right to remarry and much prefers for me to either stay single forever or seek for reconciliation. He's for the latter because God hates divorce. My ex is an idol worshiper with very warped syncretistic and pluralistic ideology, which is already a clear distinction in the yoke we carry. I don't understand why God would want to make me go through all these things. To this day, the preacher still thinks I don't have any scriptural right to remarry; yet, the ironic part is that when I asked the church to assist me in gaining a  reconciliation, so as to be right with God (if that's the only biblical way), my preacher said he's glad to study with him but he doesn't think it's within the church's responsibility to help with the reconciliation. I was baffled.

While I understand that some brethren really find it unfair for me to remain single, the assumptions of many things actually caused me to stumble and to a certain extent, I felt pressured over it, especially in front of many who are still unaware of my marital status. Some still think that I'm still single because I look younger than my age. Some brethren attempted to set me up or even have thoughts of recommending me to some worthy brothers who are much younger than me. I know their behavior is a form of concern, but it's making me really uncomfortable; yet, at the same time, I did not want to sound rude.

I don't really want to heed or accept any further advice from brethren who are struggling with similar sins, which I noticed the church has not been actively addressing it. We have several estranged married couples within the church. One sister's heart is so hardened that she wouldn't pay a single visit to her ill husband when he was admitted to the hospital for heart surgery. She once told me it's pointless and advised me not to let anyone to be my stumbling block between my relationship with God. One brother left his estranged wife with us and went with a few brethren to set up a new congregation; yet, no one is really stopping him. Recently, a brother came to me telling me all the unglamorous stories about his abusive wife and the sins his children have committed. I also learned that he also share this information many brethren within several group chats and has been changing the stories to different sisters. One sister and I had to get the elders involved to deal with him accordingly.

These people have indeed fallen short. I was really disappointed because that's not what I want to see as a new convert. Many are still in sin and, yet, are trying to encourage me at the same time. I find this very ironic and can't help it but judge them. I was warned about passing judgment. The preacher thinks I should lower my standards and expectations and give them a benefit of doubt. I do have a fair share of my own struggles with my own sins as well. I think it's fair enough for me to extend a similar level of understanding to these brethren. But how can I really accept that where I know they are not doing what the Bible teaches them? Many are matured Christians, which makes me wonder what have they been doing exactly. This is not helping me to grow, inasmuch I want to love God's people and accept them wholly. Because of these things, I suffered several sleepless nights thinking about them. What biblical advice you have to help me to overcome these while I'm trying to build up my faith?

Pardon me for the long account, but any answers will be greatly appreciated.

Many thanks in advance.

Answer:

"If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us" (I John 1:8).

No individual is without some in his life at various points in time. Thus, since a church is composed of individuals, the church deals with problems among its members frequently. In the seven churches of Asia in Revelation 2-3, five of the churches were dealing with some severe problems. The remaining two were dealing with persecution, poverty, and a lack of strength. However, what we learn from Jesus' letters is that it is not the church as a whole that determines the individual's destiny. A good church makes it easier to remain faithful, but you may still find faithful individuals in a bad church.

It is easy to get caught in a trap of seeing flaws in other people and then stopping right there. The Pharisee in Jesus' parable well illustrates this: "The Pharisee stood and was praying this to himself: 'God, I thank You that I am not like other people: swindlers, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I pay tithes of all that I get'" (Luke 18:11-12). The reason to note problems is not to make ourselves feel better but to figure out how to help others out of their sin. The fact that someone else is sinning doesn't make you a better or worse person.

True, people who are struggling with a particular sin are not the best source for telling you how to deal with that type of sin (Matthew 7:1-5). But I doubt everyone is having the same sorts of problems.

In your particular case, you know your ex-husband was committing adultery. Nowhere does God state that he has to be caught in the act. The evidence was clear and you had good reasons to conclude that he had been committing adultery. That lead to you leaving him and divorcing him. It means you are allowed to marry again if you so wish. The preacher at the congregation drew the wrong conclusion from the facts that you told me. By the way, this should have been something the elders of the congregation should have handled.

 

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