Shoot the Wounded

It is so like us to think we know better than everyone else, isn’t it? After all we make our choices based on the best information we have and are convinced that what’s best for us is best for everyone.

The best car to drive, the best school for our kids to attend (or to home school), the best doctor and medical treatment to pursue, the best political party to vote for, whether or not to vaccinate your kids or not, or to stay married, separate or divorce.

Say what?

I listened to the hurting heart of a woman the other day who had divorced and she was upset because other would say things to her kids about the “why” of the divorce. A “why” that the gossipers didn’t even know. Saying she had an affair (not true). Her kids knew the truth but hearing others cast false aspersions on their mother without knowing the facts of the divorce, was painful for them and her.

Oh, and these were “Christians”.

She said “If someone wants to know why I divorced, they should just ask me, but no one does.”

I told her, “In my opinion, it’s none of my business. If you want to share it with me, great, but I don’t need to know what happened and I have no right to judge you because I didn’t walk in your shoes.”

Got that? I didn’t live in her house, in her marriage, and face the challenges she did. I am not the one responsible before God for her choices (or that of her spouse) either. She and her ex-husband are. I can pray for them in their hurt, that God can somehow be glorified in the midst of the pain and brokenness and maybe even bring about reconciliation if that’s his will. But I have no right to judge her or treat her with disrespect because of her divorced status.

If she had come to me before the breakup and we had talked I might have been able to encourage her to stay. I’m pro-marriage. But I’ve done that before with women and listened and prayed and still watched them walk away. I still don’t judge because I knew the depth of the pain and suffering they had endured. I also know that divorce brings its own ugly set of problems. It is not a path to be undertaken lightly.

The irony is how quickly some Christians will recommend divorce to people in difficult marriages (and look down on them for staying). So we tell people to divorce but then we condemn them when they do.  Bi-polar Christianity? Lord, please save us from well-intentioned Christians!

And gossip. Let’s not forget that ALL sin is detestable to God. ALL SIN. Gossip being one of them. And slander. Telling others that someone had an affair when you don’t know that for a fact – well it’s slander. Gossip is as much a sin in God’s eyes as divorce is.

If we are to be brothers and sisters in Christ, we need to have compassion. Yes, call out sin but do it to that person, one on one (Matthew 18 anyone?), you don’t blab it to all and sundry. Beyond that, pray for them. Support them as human beings who need to know and understand God’s love in the midst of their pain. Be Christ to them.

Now, if they are persisting in sin and are unrepentant about what’s happening, then don’t be a party to that. If you see someone hurting, be careful not to judge them. If you want to know the story, ask, but be prepared then to extend Christ’s love even if you don’t agree with their choices. If necessary speak the truth in love. In spite of what they may tell you, you still didn’t live in that house, in that marriage and I suspect much will be left unsaid.

What about you? Any thoughts on this? Have you felt the weight of condemnation from well intentioned “Christians?” I know I have.

Lilly Grace

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