March 17, 2009 by Stacy McDonald

Beauty for Ashes: A Testimony

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Part I

“To console those who mourn in Zion, to give them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they may be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified. “ (Isaiah 61:3)

[Because of the length of this testimony, I have broken it into two parts. If you are going to read this, I pray you read both parts, so that you are able to get a complete picture of what I am hoping to communicate.]

Our story is a true vignette of God’s mercy and love. It is proof that He doesn’t leave us alone or forsaken. It’s a tale of redemption, mercy, grace, and hope—a story of restoration.

When I look back over the tapestry of my life, I am both humbled and amazed at how God in His mercy has creatively transformed each and every painful experience, as well as my many failings, for His glory. Where Satan sought to steal and destroy, God healed and redeemed. He took the smoldering embers of a ravaged past and lovingly fashioned for His glory a golden testimony of hope.

Those who have never endured the wrenching pain of an adulterous betrayal cannot fathom how truly devastating it is. James and I have both experienced it first hand. You see, we were both married before. Though we each bear the scars inflicted by infidelity, we also carry the indelible mark of healing that comes from the One who gave us beauty for ashes—the One who did not leave us hopeless and forsaken; but, instead blessed us by bringing us together and choosing to use us as a couple—as a family—for His glory.

This does not mean that James and I were blameless in every aspect of our past relationships. We made mistakes, sinned, repented, and were forgiven, fallen creatures that we are. There is no question of whether or not we were perfect spouses—we were not! But that does not negate the fact that we were both the “innocent victims” of adultery.

“A bruised reed he will not break, and a faintly burning wick he will not quench; he will faithfully bring forth justice.” (Isaiah 42:3)

I could write volumes of heartbreaking stories from both of our experiences. However, my point is not to gain sympathy or make excuses, but to make it very clear that neither of us simply walked away from marriage. In both of our situations, we clung tenaciously to an adulterous spouse bent on leaving.

Looking back, we both agree that while our staying was out of a desire to live biblically, it was also, to some extent, out of an unhealthy obsession to remain joined to someone who had already “left” the marriage. Sometimes, it isn’t love or conviction that keeps the victimized spouse in the marriage; but, rather obsession and fear.

For me, I think I was afraid of being alone. I so desperately wanted to be loved that I thought I could force it to happen if I had enough “faith.” Rather than viewing the directive in 1 Peter 3:1 as an act of obedience that God might use to bring my husband to Christ, I viewed it as a formula that required Him to. I was terrified of being rejected and alone, not realizing that it was out of my control; and that it had in fact already happened.

I eventually had to come to terms with the fact that it is God who changes hearts. While I wanted and prayed for reconciliation, it wasn’t up to me to “make” it happen; I was simply called to trust and obey. And if God’s answer was, “No, I have something else for you.” I needed to be obedient and walk in that.

1 Corinthians 7:15 was a great comfort to me. It reminded me that God had not left me in bondage—He had indeed called me to peace. My hopes and dreams were not dashed on the rocks of despair; and though man had rejected me, God had not. He heard my cry and answered me in my trouble.

“For the LORD hath called thee as a woman forsaken and grieved in spirit, and a wife of youth, when thou wast refused, saith thy God.” (Isaiah 54:6)

God had for me a future and a hope!

“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11)

We always share our testimony with a bit of fear and trembling. One concern has been that those who may be in shaky or difficult marriages would say to themselves, “Well, look what God did in James and Stacy’s lives. Maybe divorce is the answer for me!” We want to make it clear that God’s intention for marriage is permanent (until death). “What therefore God hath joined together, let no man put asunder.” (Mark 10:9)

But it must be understood that an adulterous spouse is the one who has “put asunder” the marriage. It is done. Yes, it can be forgiven, but it is not the victim of adultery or desertion who has “put asunder” the marriage.

Consider this quote from Jay Adams:

It is altogether true that God hates divorce. But he neither hates all divorces in the same way nor hates every aspect of divorce. He hates what occasions every divorce—even the one that He gave to sinful Israel. He hates the results that often flow to children and to injured parties of a divorce (yet even that did not stop Him from willing divorce in Ezra 10:44, 11) And He hates divorces wrongly obtained on grounds that He has not sanctioned.

James and I work very hard to honor marriage. That’s why we invest so much time and energy ministering to families on this topic. We want to see marriage honored among all—to see God glorified in every Christian marriage! That means we Christians must instill purity, faithfulness, and sound doctrine into our marriages. Teaching the truth about what Scripture says regarding divorce and remarriage is promoting, defending, and honoring marriage.

Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge.” (Hebrews 13:4)

Perpetuating the Pain

While Christians are called to comfort the fainthearted and uphold the weak (1 Thessalonians. 5:14), in some Christian circles, the grieving “victims” of divorce are victimized a second time…by the church. While ministering to numerous Christians devastated by a divorce they didn’t want, and then wrongly judged by those in the church, we began to wonder if perhaps God could use our testimony to help minister truth and healing to the huge number of wounded families in our midst.

This article is not meant to be a comprehensive apologetic for the biblical allowance of divorce and remarriage. For a deeper understanding of what the Scriptures are truly teaching in this area, we highly recommend the book, Marriage, Divorce, and Remarriage in the Bible by Jay Adams.

It is our prayer that our testimony will encourage the church to rightly minister to the many casualties of divorce. Too often, rather than help to bear the burdens of those who are suffering, many in the church add more weight to their already staggering load.

“Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” (Galatians 6:2)

Grace Widows

I am of the opinion that the word “victim” is highly overused and that it often enables us to dwell on our circumstances, rather than move forward in the Lord. So, as I was writing this, I wondered how we should refer to the “blameless” one who has been divorced for the cause of adultery or abandonment, without perpetuating the “victim” role.

According to the Westminster Confession of Faith, written in 1646 by the Westminster Divines, the “innocent” party in a divorce may marry another, as if the offending party were dead:

In the case of adultery after marriage, it is lawful for the innocent party to sue out a divorce (Matt. 5:31-32) and, after the divorce, to marry another, as if the offending party were dead (Matt. 19:9, Rom. 7:2-3).

What would the husband or wife be called if “the offending party were dead?” They would be called a widow or widower. Scripture makes it clear that it is lawful (but not mandatory) for the innocent party of an adulterous affair to seek a divorce and marry another without sinning.

And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery. (Matthew 19:9, emphasis mine)

Furthermore, a widow can be defined as one who has been abandoned by a spouse, either through death or divorce. The offended party is not obligated to “chase after” the spouse who has chosen to leave, or to wait indefinitely for him/her to return.

But if the unbelieving [spouse] depart, let him depart. A brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases: but God hath called us to peace.” (1 Corinthians 7:15)

Matthew Henry has this to say about a deserted spouse:

If the unbelieving relative desert the believer, and no means can reconcile to a cohabitation, in such a case a brother or sister is not in bondage…not bound servilely to follow or cleave to the malicious deserter, or not bound to live unmarried after all proper means of reconciliation have been tried…In such a case the deserted person must be free to marry again, and it is granted on all hands.

And some think that such a malicious desertion is as much a dissolution of the marriage-covenant as death itself. For how is it possible that the two shall be one flesh when the one is maliciously bent to part from or put away the other?

In past centuries, an abandoned wife, who was granted liberty by the Roman Catholic Church, was called a grace widow. Note the following definitions:

A woman divorced or separated from her husband by a dispensation of the Pope, and not by death… E. Cobham Brewer, Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. (1810–1897)

The term [grace widow] originated in the earlier ages of European civilization, when divorces were granted [only] by authority of the Catholic Church. Indianapolis News (1876).

[Grace Widow] often applied to a divorced woman, or a woman who has been abandoned by her husband. – William Dwight Whitney, The Century Dictionary 1889

Though this may seem like a good term for describing the innocent party in a divorce, we are not Roman Catholic; we don’t seek the “favor” of the Pope in granting us liberty in regards to our treacherous treatment or abandonment. But could we borrow the term?

The victim of adultery or abandonment may be rightly considered simply a “widow;” but, for the sake of clarity, it seems we should distinguish between someone who is widowed through death, and someone who is widowed through the treachery (Malachi 2:15) of an unfaithful spouse who is still living. With all that being said, I’ve decided to take a chance and borrow the antiquated term, “grace widow,” to describe the “innocent party” of divorce.

Often, rather than rally around the grace widow with prayer, comfort, and support, many Christian leaders instead sentence them to a life of celibacy. They are often told that God is honored by their suffering and loneliness and that remarrying would cause them to be in a perpetual state of adultery.

After watching the adulterous spouse move on with life, many grace widows are left with little hope of ever having the godly family they so desire. For the record, self-inflicted suffering does not honor God any more than self-flagellation does. In addition, ministering to the widow and his/her children is a command of Scripture.

“Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble…” (James 1:27)

The Attack on Marriage

I find it incredible how many different ways Satan attempts to keep Christians from entering into godly marriages: Convents, homosexuality, careerism, monasteries, the forbidding of remarriage after divorce…

“Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons… forbidding to marry…” (1 Timothy 4:1-3)

Perhaps it is the godly seed Satan wants to prevent; or maybe he just hates the beautiful picture of Christ and His Bride that marriage depicts. Regardless of the reason, it is clear that Satan wants not only to destroy godly marriages; he desires to keep them from existing in the first place.

But did He [God] not make them one, having a remnant of the Spirit? And why one? He seeks godly offspring. “Therefore take heed to your spirit, and let none deal treacherously with the wife of his youth. For the Lord God of Israel says that He hates divorce, for it covers one’s garment with violence…” (Malachi 2:15, 16 emphasis mine)

Ministering Hope to the Brokenhearted

In each of our cases, God was gracious in providing pastors and friends who had a solid (and historic) understanding of divorce and remarriage. There were those who faithfully walked with us through our valleys: praying, counseling, listening, weeping. In our lives, they served as God’s instruments of peace and healing along the way.

For I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me. (Matthew 25:35-36)

After hearing some of the horror stories others have endured, we realize we were very blessed to have such support during our trials. Still, during our marriage together, there have been times when we too have experienced the sting of judgment from those who don’t seem to know any better.

Over the years, there have indeed been those who viewed us as second-class Christians—tainted. We experienced seasons when we felt we were merely tolerated, and were tempted to believe we were virtually useless to the Body of Christ because of what we had been through. How could we glorify God with a marriage that should not be?

When James and I met, we were amazed at how God had brought us through similar circumstances. While there were marked differences in our trials, we were truly able to understand the unique pain of the other. Just as someone who has experienced darkness can better appreciate light; so too, could we, having experienced a marriage filled with pain and chaos, appreciate the beauty and holiness of a God-ordered marriage, adorned with love and respect.

We knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that God had brought us together, and we could see how he was doing great things in the lives of our children—our family; yet, there were still some who insisted that we should never have married. Later, we found out there is an aberrant teaching out there that instructs couples that if a Christian has been married before, he/she should now divorce the current spouse! Such a perversion of Scripture!

By their logic, I should have remained a struggling, single mother, working outside the home while strangers trained and nurtured my daughter each day. And this is what I did at first. In fact, for a long time, I remained legally married (without child support), quietly hoping for God to change the heart of my ex-husband while he lived with his girlfriend in another state. But, as I prayed and studied Scripture, I eventually realized I was free to move on with my life—for the sake of my daughter, for my own sake, and most of all for the glory of God (1 Timothy 5:14).

If James had followed this doctrine of perpetual celibacy, he too would have remained alone for the rest of his life, with very little impact on the lives of his children (Deuteronomy 6:7).

Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” (Genesis 2:18, emphasis mine)

But as we studied Scripture, God (as usual) gave us hope.

A father of the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in His holy habitation. God sets the solitary in families; He brings out those who are bound into prosperity… (Psalm 68:5,6)

Read Part Two HERE

Copyright © 2009, Family Reformation® Ministries. All rights reserved.
The duplication of this article in any format without the express permission of the author is prohibited. However, please feel free to link to it here.


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25 Responses to “Beauty for Ashes: A Testimony”

  1. Happy in Dole Valley :) says:

    Stacy,

    Thank you for posting about this topic. My husband and I were both married before as well. I didn’t have time just now to read your entire post, but I look forward to reading it later today when I have my afternoon cup of tea. :) This is a sensitive topic as some in the church aren’t quite sure how to respond to the knowledge of our previous (failed) marriages. We were both abandoned yet freely acknowledge our own sinful contributions to said failures. God has been gracious and kind to restore the years the locusts have eaten. Blessed by the name of the Lord!

    Blessings,

    Lisa

  2. NYLass says:

    Stacy,
    I cannot wait to read part II. I wish that I could talk to you about this; I have so many friends who are divorced and I want to RUN to them with this!! (I emailed) May God bless you as you continue in this work!
    Anne

  3. Marcie says:

    Stacy, Thanks so much for taking the time to reveal this intimate part of your life to us. I am remarried after a particularly ugly divorce, only I was the one who left the marriage. For years I stayed in my marriage and prayed believing that God would heal my husband and our marriage. My husband had a volatile personality, and I saw signs of abuse on our young children for years. He went to counseling, anger management, parenting classes and support groups at my insistence, and just after he was proclaimed “recovered”, he crushed in the skull of our 9 month old baby.
    A social worker came to the hospital to take the baby into custody, informing me that I would probably never see him again unless I left my husband. I never went back to him again, leaving with only the clothes on my back. I was fortunate enough that several people came to court to testify on my behalf (including our pediatrician, who was on the board of DSS), and had both children back with me again within two weeks.
    I feel as though I carry some sort of black mark as a Christian, particularly now that I’m remarried. And I still haven’t figured out how to handle the situation. Obviously, since my current (sweet! wonderful!) husband and I have been married 4 years with 4 children (10, 8, 2, 1), our situation automatically looks suspicious. Most of the time I don’t say a word. I feel like if I “explain” that I automatically look guilty. I also worry about being judged for marrying such a man in the first place, and I worry that people will judge my second husband, since often women follow a pattern of relationships with abusers.
    I guess the Lord never promised that life would be easy! And I am so grateful for my beautiful family that I suppose it doesn’t matter what other people say, but I know those comments can be hurtful.
    ANYWAY…my point is that your testimony was such medicine to my heart today. God bless you, Stacy!
    Marcie

  4. Heath Clan says:

    Well written. You exalt marriage while extending grace.

  5. Jennifer says:

    Stacy, thank you for posting this. There is a largely untapped area of ministry out there for divorced/remarried/blended families and it is nice to see someone reaching out to those people.

  6. Jennifer says:

    Stacy, this is vital to Christians; thank you for sharing it. I actually had a woman online once tell me that she wished she had stayed married to an abuser. She told me it would have been better that she be beaten to death than burn in hell for divorcing her spouse! Nothing I said made any difference; it was unbelievable, listening to her. She told me later that she always rather wished she had killed her husband in self-defense; then she wouldn’t be worried about her soul. She considered death to be better and more Godly than divorce! I’ve never seen such a devastated soul in my life. I hope other troubled people will benefit from this.

  7. Persuaded says:

    wow… stacey, all i can say is wow.

    as you may (or may not, lol) remember, i am a single mother. i am separated from my dh and have been for many years. i have never felt the release to divorce him, and so i will remain separated until i do. it is, at times, an excruciating place to be…my dh has told me that he would have divorced me already but for financial reasons. these things hurt. a lot. but i think one of the most painful things about being in my situation is (as you so aptly put it) the second class Christian status those of us with failed marriages must endure. i went from being the leader of a women’s ministry in a large church, in charge of the nursery- to a non-person role, overnight unable to hold any positions of authority in the fellowship- just because my husband had left me. i had ladies turn their backs upon seeing me in the store. i’m sure you have heard the saying that Christians are the only ones who shoot their own wounded? well, i know this firsthand, lol.

    all that happened many years ago, and now i have come to a place of contentment and peace. what the enemy meant for evil, the Lord has used for good in my life. i can say with the psalmist (i believe to be daniel) “it was good for me to be afflicted, so that i might learn your decrees” i am not happy that i have a failed marriage, but i am happy i have had the Lord to take me through it.

    well, i guess in the end i had a whole lot more than “wow” to say after all, lol. you have given me much to think about and i look forward to installment 2 with great anticipation?

  8. Webfoot says:

    Thank you, Stacy. Thank you for sharing your testimony of how God has worked in your life.

    God bless,
    Mrs. Webfoot

  9. Tonya says:

    Thank you, Stacy for again being willing to share with everyone. :-) I too have read the book by Jay Adams and highly recommend it to everyone! My husband was married and divorced many years ago. I am curious about your take on the scripture that says a man must be a husband of “but one wife” in order to be an elder. I know James is a pastor, so you’ve obviously decided this isn’t applicable in your situation. I’m only asking because my husband, who would be an incredible elder/leader in the church, says he is unqualified based on his divorce. I would love to hear your thoughts on that passage.

    Thanks!

  10. Stacy McDonald says:

    Thanks to all of you for your encouragement. Please pray for the ladies who come here to read. May God’s Truth illuminate their hearts.

    Marcie – Thank you for sharing your traumatic story. I can’t imagine how horrible that must have been for you. Was your baby able to heal after something like that?

    There will always be those who view us differently. That is one of the reasons I really appreciated the Jay Adams book. He talks about how crucial it is that we (and especially pastors) rightly interpret the Scriptures here. He does a much better job of explaining it than I do. Praise God He is being glorified in your family now!

    Dear Persuaded – my heart goes out to you. I remember waiting for that “release.” I stayed married, no child support, praying for reconciliation, while he lived in another state.

    I’m so thankful God released me by showing me in His Word the liberty He had for me in Christ. He didn’t leave me and my child forsaken and in bondage to treacherous treatment, but called me to peace. Again, I highly recommend Jay Adams’ book. Blessings, dear sister.

  11. Angie says:

    "Rather than viewing the directive in 1 Peter 3:1 as an act of obedience that God might use to bring my husband to Christ, I viewed it as a formula that required Him to."

    Stacy,

    I find that I have done likewise in my parenting. I have taken specific scriptures and principles from scripture that pertain to parenting and have used it like a formula to train my children and then when they did not respond in a manner that was in line with my expectations I wondered why God was not upholding his end of the bargain. I still find I struggle with these kinds of thoughts. Do you have any more wisdom to share on this matter? I would be grateful for any of your thoughts.

    Thank you for sharing your testimony, it is a very sensitive topic and I appreciate your candor and thoughts on the matter.

    Grace & Peace,
    Angie Head

  12. Stacy McDonald says:

    Hi Tonya,

    The verse you are referring to is:

    “A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, temperate, sober-minded, of good behavior, hospitable, able to teach; not given to wine, not violent, not greedy for money, but gentle, not quarrelsome, not covetous;” (1 Timothy 3:2-3, NKJV)

    I am not a theologian; there are certainly others who have explained this much better, but let me take a shot at explaining what I’ve learned. In verses 2 and 3 Paul lays out 13 qualifications of an elder. First of all, these are all characteristics an elder must have now. It doesn’t mean that he has never sinned in any of these areas.

    For instance, an elder must be blameless. Obviously, this doesn’t mean that he has never sinned. But it does mean that he must be a man of faith, known for living a godly life. He should be temperate. This doesn’t mean that he has never lacked self control or over indulged in food or alcohol. It means he has put such conduct away and is now known for his temperate, sober-minded behavior. The entire list is an example of his good and wholesome reputation.

    Regarding the “husband of one wife” portion of verse two, a better translation of the Greek (though not so readable) would be, “a one wife/woman man.” Not only was this a physical requirement for an elder (he wasn’t to be a polygamist), it was also a heart matter. A “one woman man” is neither flirtatious, nor does he have a wandering eye. His marriage bed is undefiled (Hebrews 13:4). He is faithful to his wife—they are one, as God intended.

    If we interpret this verse in a wooden manner, we would also have to disqualify the single man from office. Yet Timothy wasn’t married. A widower who had remarried would also be disqualified, since he has been married to more than one woman in his lifetime.

    The only way to force this verse to mean that “the husband of one wife” means that an elder who is biblically divorced and remarried is disqualified from office is to go back to the erroneous view that claims that a remarriage after a divorce is sinful because the marriage cannot be lawfully dissolved.

    For a man to be the husband of two wives, he has to either be a polygamist or, at the time of his second marriage, he is still married to his first wife. If the divorce took place under legitimate, biblical grounds (she was adulterous or abandoned him), then he is fully divorced from his first wife. He was free to marry (as if she were dead), so he does not have more than one wife if he does so.

  13. The Henderson Family says:

    Stacy,

    May God richly bless both you and your family. I hope many will learn and benefit from the wisdom you have shared!

  14. Stacy McDonald says:

    “And then when they did not respond in a manner that was in line with my expectations I wondered why God was not upholding his end of the bargain.”

    Angie – I know what you’re talking about. I think the reason we so badly want a formula is because we so badly want to be in control! To live by faith requires us to acknowledge that God is in control. We’re called to be obedient and to persevere, but to understand that it is God who changes hearts—including ours!

  15. Susan says:

    Stacy-
    This is probably one of the most honest, heartfelt, intelligent posts I have ever read about marriage and divorce. I think most Christians in happy, fulfilled marriages have NO idea the kind of pain that those who are NOT in good marriages have to endure, nor do they have any idea how much more grief they add to the hearts of those going through such hard times when they unscripturally judge what they do not scripturally understand. I am so glad that God has such tender mercy and true compassion for those whose lives have been devastated by adultery, divorce and abandonment! Thank you so much for this post, and I am very eager to read the “rest of the story”!
    Susan

  16. Susan says:

    Stacy-
    Another question that maybe you could answer somewhere in your next comment or installment: Do you think that verble an/or physical abuse is also grounds for divorce? Is abuse a kind of abandonment? We have talked about this in our home several times, and never seem to come to any conclusions. I feel like women who are in these kinds of relationships have been “abandoned” in the sense that the promises that their husbands made to them at the time of their marriage, ( to love, to honor, to cherish, etc.) have been irrevocably broken, and that these women have therefore been abandoned. And if abusive behavior is not grounds for a Biblical divorce, what do we say to these women who are trapped in such devastating circumstances? I would really appreciate any insight you could shed on this, because I think that this issue is even more murky and unclear in our churches today than divorce is!
    Susan

  17. Hillary McFarland says:

    This was a lovely testimony. Your humility and grace will touch many as you minister to others through the pain and heartache you have endured. God bless!

  18. a humble servant says:

    Wow.
    Thank you so much for sharing.
    I too have wondered through theses issues/verses not knowing which way was up sometimes!!
    I know of several women even now, who are dealing with unfaithful spouses and wondering if it is ‘ok’ to even wonder (!?) if there is maybe someone else out there for them. They feel guilty even wondering this b/c of faulty teaching in the church at large. I and am anxious to pass your wonderful post on to them. I also have another dear friend who has been divorced and is now happily remarried and home schools, etc and has been very hurt in some very popular christian circles in the US recently….with the exact (!) advice you said you have heard where she is to leave her present lovely family and go back to her first (unbelieving even!) husband!
    Kind of crazy!
    I look forward to parts 2 and 3 as well.
    God bless you for sharing so honestly and sincerely.

    In prayer for you as you ‘go public’ online! (brave souls!),
    Julie

  19. Stacy McDonald says:

    I’d like to add something here. Even in the case of adultery, there is room for forgiveness and restoration. God can do great things in the midst of a devastated marriage.

    Years ago, I had a friend who left her husband. Their marriage was troubled and during their separation they had both been unfaithful. Neither of them were Christians.

    She and her children moved to another state. While there, she became a Christian. She moved back and reconciled with her unsaved husband. They went on to have another baby, but she soon discovered he had been unfaithful again. Rather than leave, she decided to forgive. Because of her testimony, he eventually became a Christian too.

    They went through some tough times, but God has blessed them tremendously. They are a testimony to their friends and relatives of God’s amazing grace.

  20. Stacy McDonald says:

    “Do you think that verbal and/or physical abuse is also grounds for divorce? Is abuse a kind of abandonment?”

    In some cases, the answer is easy. If a husband is in jail for abusing his wife and children, he has certainly abandoned them. God has put in place certain jurisdictions to protect women in these difficult situations; so in the case of true abuse, I would direct a woman to her church leaders and to the civil authorities for help.

  21. Marcie says:

    Stacy, sorry to be just getting back to comment! In response to your earlier question, my baby is 8 years old now and seems to be doing very well. He’s extremely bright and energetic, but his mind often seems to be in outer-space: I really struggle to engage his attention or draw him out of his own thoughts. I recently took him in for some comprehensive testing and was told that his behavior is within normal ranges… So I guess we’ll just keep watching and praying!

  22. Mrs.L says:

    Stacy,
    Outstanding post! Praise the Lord for His “Amazing Grace” in your life! Thank you for being so transparent in order to glorify God’s redeeming work in your lives!
    Blessings to you and your family!
    Pam Leding

  23. Susan says:

    Dear Stacy,
    This is a somewhat painful topic in our marriage – I was married once to a man who went to massage parlors (a euphemism for brothels) and once stayed away for multiple night w/o me knowing where he was. My wonderful husband has had some inner issues with wondering if I was not a loyal wife – even tho I have never given him reason. We talk about that once in a while and I am going to send this column on to him. “The joy of the Lord is my strength. SK

  24. Esther says:

    Stacy, you and James have a beautiful testimony! Thank you for sharing the link.
    And thanks also to other commenters sharing their stories of the grace of God redeeming you from terrible destructive marriages.

  25. alexiamiguel3 says:

    Just wanted to ditto all the THANK YOU's for this post. I also was married and divorced. Unfortunately, I didn't learn my lesson the first time around… and I did it twice.

    Praise the Lord, He is faithful to forgive EVERYTHING when we bring it to the cross… even this.

    I am now married to a man of God (we both weren't saved when we met, and we actually both were unfaithful to our 'living arrangements'… broke up, and then because I was pregnant we tried to work it out 'for the kids'. Praises the Lord, now we are both serving the Lord, happy, and raising our kiddos. :-)

    Unfortunately I also have felt the 'sting' especially from (I hope well meaning) Christians.

    God Bless you for all you do.

    Alexia
    http://www.homeschoolblogger.com/ourfunhouseofgod/

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