Intimate Clarity

Clarity On Divorce

Three Angels Broadcasting Network

Program transcript



Series Code: IC

Program Code: IC180112A

00:01 The following program discusses sensitive issues
00:03 related to sexuality.
00:05 Parents are cautioned
00:06 this presentation may be too candid
00:08 for younger audiences.
00:31 Welcome to Intimate Clarity.
00:33 I'm Jason Bradley, and I'm here with Jennifer Jill Schwirzer,
00:36 and she's a licensed professional counselor.
00:38 And today, we are going to discuss a sensitive topic,
00:42 but it's a conversation we need to have.
00:44 You know, Jen, the Bible says that God hates divorce.
00:48 What are your thoughts on that?
00:50 I think He hates divorce.
00:53 As pertains to divorce in a marriage,
00:55 He hates divorce of any kind, you know,
00:57 relationships becoming estranged
00:59 or fragmented, He doesn't like that.
01:01 But He particularly hates in a marriage context
01:04 because He loves marriage,
01:06 and He designed marriage for our good,
01:08 for our happiness, for our benefit.
01:10 So God's ideal for human sexuality,
01:12 we always like to put that ideal in place
01:15 and show God's design,
01:16 was that we would be in a lifelong partnership,
01:18 in a committed, consensual,
01:21 loving relationship for our entire life,
01:23 that's His ideal.
01:24 And that's the context in which He designed sexuality
01:28 should be experienced and expressed.
01:30 So that's a good thing.
01:33 The Bible says that,
01:34 "A man will leave his father and mother
01:37 and cling to his wife or cleave to his wife."
01:40 That's how it describes marriage.
01:42 So what happens in marriage
01:44 is a new entity is really created, and it says.
01:48 "The two shall be one."
01:49 So there's a new entity created and what happens in divorce
01:54 is you're really basically pronouncing that entity dead.
01:59 It's over, and it's really like a family.
02:01 You're kind of pronouncing a family dead.
02:04 It's a tragic thing,
02:05 and it comes at a very high cost,
02:06 emotionally, and spiritually, and psychologically too,
02:10 and sometimes financially, and physically.
02:11 I was going to say. A lot of other ways, yes.
02:15 So typically, when we discuss divorce in church,
02:19 we refer back to Jesus' teaching in Matthew 19.
02:21 I'd like to go through that for a moment here.
02:23 Okay.
02:24 So a group of teachers asked Jesus,
02:27 if a woman essentially married several different brothers
02:31 and each brother subsequently died
02:33 and she married the next brother,
02:35 then which one would she be married to in heaven
02:38 is what they were essentially asking.
02:40 And Jesus went on to say, "Well, in heaven,
02:42 there are neither male nor female,
02:44 they're like the angels."
02:45 So in other words, there's no marriage in heaven,
02:47 and that's not going to be an issue
02:48 I think is what He was saying.
02:50 And then He went on and jumped into His teaching
02:53 about divorce.
02:55 Actually, they asked Him a question, they said,
02:57 "Can a man divorce his wife for any cause?"
03:00 So pay attention to that phrase, "Any cause."
03:03 That's referring to a type of divorce
03:05 that was prevalent in Judaism at the time
03:09 where a man who wanted
03:11 to get rid of his wife essentially
03:13 could divorce her for a trivial offense
03:17 provided that he was willing to pay out
03:19 what was essentially like an alimony.
03:21 So like she burned the tofu?
03:24 That's right, like,
03:25 I don't think they had tofu in those days,
03:27 but she burned the toast or she burned the falafels,
03:30 you know, and he was ready to divorce her for that,
03:33 he really wanted to be rid of her,
03:34 it's like a bad headache,
03:35 send her on her way
03:37 as long as he was willing to pay out that money,
03:39 he could hand her a bill of divorcement,
03:42 and she would have to leave.
03:44 Whereas, if he wanted to prove
03:45 that she had broken her marriage vows or something,
03:48 he'd have to go through a court process
03:49 and that if he won that case, he wouldn't have to pay out.
03:52 So it kind of depended on how much money the guy had.
03:55 And that payout is like alimony today?
03:57 Essentially, yeah. Correct, yeah.
03:59 So a lot of these men had money
04:02 and they probably didn't honestly pay their women
04:04 very much to send them away.
04:06 So that would happen rather routinely
04:08 and men would then pursue another relationship.
04:11 So what happens is Jesus is talking
04:14 to a group of Pharisees and religious leaders
04:18 who are divorcing their wives
04:20 for trivial offenses and doing it
04:23 in a very unethical, very immoral, sloppy way,
04:28 and people take that counsel that He gave them
04:31 where He said that,
04:32 "Only in the case of adultery could you divorce
04:36 in God's plan."
04:38 And they apply that to women
04:41 that are suffering physical abuse
04:43 in their marriages,
04:45 and we've seen this happen over and over again.
04:46 And I would just submit
04:50 that we have to consider the intended audience
04:54 when we interpret a passage of Scripture.
04:58 So Jesus is talking to these men
05:00 that are dismissing their wives for nothing,
05:03 and we apply it to the woman
05:04 that's getting beaten black and blue.
05:07 Yeah, it doesn't...
05:08 It definitely doesn't apply to that.
05:10 Jesus wouldn't want you in a situation
05:12 where you are one step away from losing your life
05:17 or you're going through abuse and torment,
05:19 we serve a God of love.
05:20 That's right.
05:21 You know, He's not going to want that.
05:23 In addition to preventing divorce
05:24 in the case of abuse,
05:25 a lot of the same religious leaders
05:27 were against separation.
05:28 So there was no way
05:30 the woman could ever under any circumstances separate
05:33 from an abusive husband,
05:34 and women have lost their lives over that.
05:37 Wow. It's true.
05:38 A lot of the same religious leaders
05:40 that taught this also
05:41 really, really discouraged separation,
05:43 and this is one of the reasons that we have a whole program
05:48 on what we call structured separation
05:50 or how to deal.
05:52 When you need to get away from a marriage,
05:53 you're not quite ready to divorce yet,
05:55 but you need to get away, what do you do?
05:57 I was going to ask you to break down
05:58 structured separation.
06:00 Well, just to give a recap
06:01 'cause we have a whole program on it,
06:03 but basically, we give a recap is you tell the person,
06:05 "I love you. I'm committed to the relationship.
06:07 This is what's going wrong.
06:09 This is what I need to repair the situation,
06:11 and I will come back when you're ready,
06:13 if you show me evidence that you've changed."
06:15 And you call that an affirmation sandwich.
06:16 It's like an affirmation sandwich,
06:18 that's absolutely correct.
06:19 We love those affirmation sandwiches, don't we?
06:23 So the pressure should be on the one
06:26 who made the marriage intolerable in the first place
06:30 when it comes to divorce.
06:32 So what we see
06:33 and you and I were chatting about this before is,
06:36 you know, someone will endure abuse,
06:39 financial abuse, physical abuse even,
06:43 emotional, psychological abuse,
06:45 a pattern of abuse year after year after year
06:48 with absolutely no incentive to change on the abuser's part,
06:53 and the victim will finally, in exasperation,
06:56 file for divorce and end the marriage,
06:59 something like shooting a horse with the broken leg,
07:01 you know, it's going to die anyway,
07:02 might as well shorten the misery of it,
07:05 and they'll do that,
07:06 and then they will get accused
07:08 of being the one that broke up the marriage.
07:10 Which is crazy.
07:11 Not true, and I always ask like,
07:13 "Who really did the divorcing here?"
07:15 I'm not saying it's always the right decision to file,
07:17 but when people do it out of that kind of exasperation,
07:20 I put a lot less pressure on them
07:22 than I'm going to put on the person
07:23 that made the relationship
07:25 an intolerable situation to begin with.
07:27 Yeah, yeah.
07:28 And I'm going to go to them, and I'm going to confront them,
07:30 and I'm not going to coddle them
07:31 as they often want.
07:33 Now I have the privilege as a counselor of kind of
07:35 knowing the inside of these situations
07:38 and I see these abuse situations unfold.
07:41 And, you know, for that reason,
07:44 I don't take a hard stand against divorce
07:46 when there's abuse involved
07:48 because sometimes people do all they can
07:50 to end the abuse.
07:51 Yeah, absolutely.
07:52 I'm not saying I would divorce on those grounds,
07:54 but I'm saying I'm not hard on other people.
07:56 I give them, you know, freedom to choose,
07:59 and I don't shame people that have already been through
08:01 a very, very difficult situation.
08:04 Yeah, well, you know,
08:06 we've seen those situations escalate...
08:08 That's right.
08:10 To where the individual that was being abused
08:12 ended up getting killed, you know.
08:14 It happens.
08:16 And a lot of times,
08:17 they have received advice from religious leaders,
08:20 "No, you stay in the marriage.
08:21 You stay, you stay, you stay."
08:23 A lot of times, I'm sorry to say this,
08:25 but the configuration looks like this,
08:27 the husband is abusive, the wife is enabling.
08:30 She takes it year after year,
08:33 she even covers up for him abusing her.
08:36 I've seen so many marriage situations
08:38 where one spouse is basically covering
08:40 for the other's abuse of them.
08:42 Wow.
08:43 And I just want to take them by their shoulders and say,
08:46 "Don't you see what's going on here?"
08:47 Yeah.
08:49 Well, you know, they might tell you,
08:50 "Oh, I tripped, I fell."
08:52 Right?
08:53 Yeah, and they'll cover up for them.
08:55 Yeah. That's right.
08:56 Or even emotional abuse, you know, a case where,
08:59 you know, an individual is cheating on the spouse,
09:02 and the spouse...
09:03 And then they come home and blame the spouse,
09:05 and they say, "The reason I'm doing this
09:06 is because of everything that's wrong with you."
09:09 And the spouse believes them. Yeah.
09:11 And keeps trying to fix themselves.
09:12 Yeah.
09:13 You know, I'll be honest,
09:15 early in my counseling experience,
09:16 I had a couple that I was counseling
09:20 and one of the two was,
09:23 let's just say, a little disorganized.
09:25 Okay.
09:26 And the other spouse was very angry about that.
09:29 And they pressured the disorganized spouse a lot.
09:33 And so the disorganized spouse came to me for counseling,
09:36 "Fix me, I need help. I need to be fixed."
09:38 Yeah.
09:40 And what I didn't see that was going on
09:42 was that the real problem was that the other spouse
09:44 was just far too critical.
09:47 And they needed to learn,
09:48 sometimes when it's not a moral
09:49 or ethical issue or a safety issue,
09:52 you just need to accept people for who they are.
09:54 Yeah, I mean there has be...
09:55 You signed on for that.
09:56 Yeah, there has to be some form of individuality,
09:58 yes two become one,
09:59 but there still has to be
10:01 some kind of individuality in there, you know.
10:05 And I'm sorry, as a clinician, I was new to it all,
10:08 but I didn't pick up that really the spouse
10:11 that was complaining about the other spouse
10:13 was the spouse that had the bigger problem.
10:15 Yes, everything's a pet peeve. Exactly.
10:18 And the thing that made it difficult was the spouse
10:20 that they were criticizing all the time agreed with them.
10:22 Yeah.
10:24 And they were like, "Yeah, I am the problem.
10:25 Let's fix me."
10:27 And so it was just...
10:28 The whole system was sold over to that narrative,
10:30 and I really didn't get through.
10:31 It wasn't wise enough to get through it,
10:33 but if I had it to do over, I'd say,
10:35 "You know what the real problem is here?
10:37 Is you have far too much criticism
10:39 and not enough acceptance."
10:40 And, you know, constant criticism of a person
10:43 you're living with can constitute abuse.
10:46 It can constitute abuse.
10:48 And I would say, there's one thing I've seen
10:51 that's present in almost every family,
10:55 almost every person's childhood,
10:57 and so generally speaking,
10:59 people criticize too much and they don't affirm enough.
11:04 The criticism to affirmation ratio,
11:07 some clinicians say it should be 6:1,
11:09 but now they're saying 20:1
11:11 Wow, 20:1.
11:12 You affirm and build up the people around you 20 times
11:15 to the 1 time you point out something wrong.
11:16 Yes.
11:18 And you kind of have to point out things wrong
11:19 'cause when you're in a family,
11:21 it's kind of like you're in a phone booth together,
11:22 you know, sooner or later you have to say,
11:23 "Can you move your leg over there?
11:25 I can't breathe."
11:26 You know? Yeah.
11:27 So you're going to have to criticize,
11:29 it's not that you never criticize.
11:30 And there's always room for improvement,
11:31 but at the same time,
11:33 it's like you don't just dwell on
11:34 and focus on someone's faults, you know.
11:38 And then it looks also like, in that situation, like,
11:42 well, what's wrong with the person,
11:43 the person that doesn't like anything,
11:47 has pet peeves, everything's a pet peeve,
11:49 what does it say about...
11:51 Like they're not happy with themselves,
11:52 that sounds like.
11:53 Well, I'll tell you one possibility is that
11:55 they have a personality disorder.
11:56 There's a couple of them that come to mind,
11:57 one is called obsessive compulsive personality disorder
11:59 or, you know?
12:01 OCD.
12:02 Micro-manager, yeah, it's not the same as OCD.
12:04 OCD is when a person does it to themselves,
12:06 but obsessive compulsive personality disorder
12:08 is when you control other people.
12:10 Okay.
12:11 Yeah, basically,
12:12 and then there's narcissistic personality disorder
12:14 where a person is just extremely selfish
12:17 and extremely self-centered,
12:19 and it's all about them and never about you.
12:21 They lack the capacity for empathy.
12:25 They lack the capacity for caring
12:26 about the people around them.
12:28 Wow. Yeah.
12:29 And they also have an unusual ability
12:32 to manipulate the way people perceive them.
12:35 So oftentimes, in a marriage situation,
12:37 they'll, you know,
12:38 perpetrate a lot of abuse on their spouse,
12:40 really harm their spouse,
12:41 make life intolerable for their spouse,
12:44 and their spouse will eventually
12:45 throw up their arms and seek a divorce.
12:48 And then the narcissistic personality
12:50 will be able to kind of commandeer the narrative
12:54 and control the narrative and make themselves look
12:56 like the martyr.
12:58 Wow. It's extremely frustrating.
12:59 Yeah.
13:01 Human psychology is...
13:03 Complex. Yes, very complex.
13:05 Yes, very much so.
13:06 That's a lot.
13:09 I mean, it's a lot to go over.
13:11 What would you say would be like the primary takeaway?
13:15 Of this segment?
13:17 I would say that God designed for marriage to be a school
13:23 where we learn how to love and be loved
13:25 our whole life long
13:27 and that sometimes it turns into the opposite
13:30 and that when these ungodly principles take over,
13:35 this hatefulness, this selfishness,
13:38 this self-centeredness that makes life miserable,
13:40 the criticism,
13:42 failing to affirm the people around you,
13:45 engaging in verbal, emotional, financial,
13:48 or even physical abuse,
13:50 we need to look carefully at that situation
13:52 before we tag the person who filed for divorce.
13:56 Yeah, before we just start labeling people.
13:58 Divorce is bigger than just a legal transaction.
14:01 Absolutely, absolutely.
14:03 Man, our time just always goes by so fast, Jen.
14:06 Thank you for sharing that information.
14:08 You're welcome. Yeah.
14:09 My pleasure.
14:11 And if you need more information,
14:12 if you need resources,
14:14 please go to
14:17 and make sure that you join us
14:18 on the next episode of Intimate Clarity.


Revised 2018-09-24