A few provisos before I launch into this post proper. This post is quite spontaneous, so please forgive me if it lacks structure. I may need to come back and completely edit everything…. that is, if I don’t delete the post altogether. I recently posted to Facebook, and it was such a dubious post that I myself knew deep down even as I was posting it that I might eventually have to delete it…and that is eventually what happened. Because of the subject matter of this post, and because I have not really had time to refine my thoughts, it might eventually become clear that it is wiser to delete it altogether.
So yes, this post is about that big D word, DIVORCE. On one hand, I do not want to admit the possibility of divorce for my own marriage in the slightest. I just don’t want to let my mind think down that road. And yet, there are some things that would make me walk away from someone, just like that – no counselling, no mediation, no discussion, nothing. This is not a theoretical discussion by any means. I have certainly walked away from people “just like that” before, and if I had to, I would do it again. It might sound a little immature that I often refuse to discuss it. This is how it looks from my perspective: there are certain things that people should know, and that I should be able to hold people to. And yet, so often, people fail to live up to these basic things. I think to myself “You should know that.” These things are basic. They should not require discussion. Furthermore, I can’t help feeling that people use the concept of “discussion” to buy themselves time in things they know that they should not be doing. That is, I know that they know perfectly well that they should not do X, Y or Z. But they go ahead and do it anyway, and they take it for granted that I will sit there and start discussing why I did not like X, Y or Z, and I will give them countless chances while they pretend to be sincerely repentant and while they swear blind that they will finally change. In short, they take my patience for granted, they’ve factored in this time into their calculations, when they expect to string me along as they feign repentance. I… just… nope. Just nup. If there is something extremely obvious that I think that you should know I am not going to discuss with you when you fail in these basic things. Rather you can go and discuss with the God whom you claim to serve and if you are “sincerely” mystified find out the reasons for my behaviour from Him. I am just going to walk away.
Basically, much of this boils down to sincerity. The point is that there is so much insincerity in the Church. So much. Everywhere. I have personally experienced whole oceans of insincerity from supposed Christians, even pastors. So when people fail in these basic things, it is often an expression of and proof of their insincerity. So when I just walk away from someone, it is not because “they are not perfect” or they made a mistake. It is rather because their actions often demonstrate to me that they were lacking in sincerity from the very beginning. Which means that I have completely wasted my time by hanging around with them. All the amazing goals and dreams I have been pressing towards were never going to be achieved, because their heart was always focused on something else. Which is also why I am not going to waste yet more of my time by sitting around and discussing it with them. It definitely suits their purposes to string me along by pretending that they want to change, because of what they can get from me while I still sit and hope.
I have just thought of the perfect analogy for this: the song/nursery rhyme/folksong “O Soldier, Soldier won’t you marry me? (with your musket fife and drum?!)” I have used this analogy before (I’m sure!) because it is the perfect example of someone stringing along someone else for what they can get while they pretend to be sincere. For anyone who has forgotten this song/rhyme or never learnt it, basically it tells the story in song form of a woman who falls for a gallant soldier and wants him to marry her. But he fobs her off several times, saying that he needs this item of clothing or that one. Then finally when he has received from her all these items of clothing “of the very very best”, he reveals to her that actually he cannot marry her, because he is already married. So the obvious point is that if he was married all along then clearly he was never sincere and he took all those things from her knowing that he would never fulfil her wishes – even if he wanted to. This song is set back in the olden days, before divorce and remarriage became as commonplace as they are now. Obviously if he had come straight out and told her that he was already married then she would not have wasted all her precious possessions on him, would she?! So of course he had to pretend.
And this is exactly how it is in church. For the sake of winning these material goods from you, such as your tithe, your financial offering, people will pretend to be what you need them to be. And it is those lapses that demonstrate that they are not and they never were who they claim to be. As Jesus Himself says in the Bible “By their fruits you shall know them.” Matthew 7v16. So you go into these churches, and you compare the “fruits” on display with what the Bible says. A really obvious example for instance would be this: If you as a pastor are really sincere about caring for the members of your church and you claim to emulate Christ, why do you live in palatial gold-plated (or sometimes even solid gold) luxury while members of your congregation starve? Why do you encourage members of your church to take out loans to make financial contributions to your wealthy church, a large proportion of which will end up in your pocket, when these members are already severely in debt and you live like a rockstar? These are extreme examples. And yet there are pastors in the world, so many of which these exact examples are actually true. Whenever people proclaim these men and sometimes women as “powerful instruments of God” I just cannot agree and I tend to be quite vocal about my opinions. And unbelievably, there is consistently, unfailingly a shocking percentage of supposedly mature and seasoned Christians who will defend these “men of God”, no matter how outrageous their excesses. Perhaps that is why these “men of God” feel emboldened to carry on living like they do, and making their crazy demands. I shudder.
But as I say these are quite extreme and obvious examples; with many Christians and pastors it can be a lot more nuanced. That is why it can sometimes take time to observe, to evaluate, to reflect. I guess what I am trying to say is that if I decide that insincerity is at the heart of someone’s actions, I don’t bother to discuss it. Trying to get me to discuss it is simply stalling for time. I just walk. Until I have walked away from a church, people apparently find it hard to believe that I will do this. People think that they will be able to pull the “stalling for time trick”. (And while you are sitting there discussing, drafting blog posts, praying, presumably you will still be paying your tithe and making other financial contributions and other contributions to that church in the meantime, while you are waiting for issues to be “resolved”…) And yet I have walked away from churches so many times! Even churches who apparently rated themselves quite highly in terms of sincerity.
Bringing it back to the topic of divorce and marriage, I just cannot stand for insincerity. Even if the perpetrator is my supposed husband. So yes, there are things that would make me walk away – right away from someone. And I already know that I would not bother to talk about it.
Furthermore (is this the voice of pessimism?!) I am so unimpressed by the Church at large and so convinced of the insincerity within it that I am quite sure that at least 50% of men in the Church at large or any given church would do things that would make me walk away just like that within the first three months of marriage if I made the mistake of marrying any of that 50%. Seriously. And this includes 50% of all those really nice men I have previously smiled at every week, that I exchange Facebook comments with, that I have sometimes allowed myself to wonder whether they are romantically attached. And that is not to say that the remaining 50% are paragons of sincerity. Because they are not either. I just believe that for the others it might just take a little longer for their insincerity to show through. Or they might be a little more diplomatic in issuing commands. Which is not to say that no-one is sincere. But in my pessimistic estimation less than 1% of “Christian” men are actually sincere. And an even smaller percentage are truly investing their every effort and determination to be like Christ – which ALL Christians should be doing. OK, let us concede that that may be overly pessimistic. Let us say that at the very most optimistic analysis maybe anything from 15% – 25% of men are truly sincere. And that is being very generous. And yet, even with that, at even the most optimistic analysis, even so less than one percent of Christian men are striving after God and Jesus and the Bible with everything that they have – at least in the UK. I can state that categorically from my lifelong experience of Christians. And yes, that definitely includes pastors. In fact sometimes pastors are the most insincere people of the lot. If they are not striving after gold-plated (or solid gold) luxury for themselves as in the example given above, then they might be striving after a lower level of that, which nevertheless fails to be truly centred on Christ.
But on the other hand, I never want to let the concept of divorce so much as glance in the direction of my marriage. So let me be clear, I could walk away. If I had to, please believe me, I would walk away. However, guess who would then be lonely – again – moi! Guess whose life would then be devoid – again – of the strong arms and throaty whispers of a loving husband – my life! And guess whose first marriage would forever hamper and hinder the possibility of contracting another marriage, which might be more successful? Mine! What I mean is that if I marry someone so insincere that I find myself just walking away, I would be back to square one, the exact same position I find myself in just now, sighing in singleness. However, that situation would even be worse, because I would then be a divorced woman rather than “never married”. The Bible teaches against divorce and remarriage. Like here in Corinthians 7v10-11 (link to v10) There are arguments than can be made (as with everything) and to be candid many Christian people will remarry if they want to. But if I ever want to marry someone else, more sincere this time and if he is as sincere in faith as I would like him to be, then he might likely not believe in marrying a divorced woman. And to be honest I myself don’t particularly believe in remarrying… So that one first poor marriage might forever hinder my Huggie-Wuggie dreams, and doom them to frustration. I am not going to go back to an insincere husband just because there is no-one else available to marry. So I might have to resign myself to singleness.
Unfortunately, an insincere man is unlikely to care as much as I do about marriage, if he does not care so much about the God who instituted marriage. So he might be all the more ready to agree to marriage even if he is not as determined to get it right as I am; he might be thinking: “Well I can always divorce her!” – even if he would never actually say that out loud. And then after divorcing me he might casually move on to the next marriage and I because I am the one who is truly sincere I would be the one to be suffering, languishing in unescapable singleness, while he is happily living his life with wife no. 2, or 3, or 10.
This is one very big reason why I am so resentful towards the idea of a bad husband. For many of these men, potentially ruining my life is something that they will casually embark on, the way a *non-church specimen (speciman!) might casually get someone pregnant and leave her to face the consequences by herself. I just want to metaphorically scream at these men to stay away from me. This is what this blog is in a way, a long angry scream at such men to stay away from me. It seems to me that both inside and outside the Church, many men apparently think that women’s lives are theirs to treat just anyhow they like. I believe that as a woman the way to handle such men is not to try to get them to “treat you right”, but rather to identify them then to stay as far away from them as you possible can, to not give them the slightest access to your life.
All this is why I have got to get it right first time. This is why I am so scrupulous about evaluating people. And if we’re talking about only 1% of Christian men, or even less than that, then clearly the odds are not great, are they?! And yet I know that Mr Wonderful, Mr Thoroughly Sincere, Mr Holy Holy Holy, Mr Extremely Attractive and Mr Somehow Still Happens to be Single are all out there, and are all the same person, and by the grace of God, and by determination of prayer, he and I will find one another. But I “sincerely” cannot afford to be complacent, even if everyone else can.
*I’m being sarcastic. Because naturally this happens in the Church as truly as it happens outside the Church.