Divorce and the Angry God

So I’m in this state of paradox where I am finishing my book on divorce while simultaneously rewriting my primitive soteriology…(which for those of us who stay out of the big kitchen of theology basically means what I believe about God)…yes  I am rethinking some of the secondary and even primitive concepts about God, who He is, and why Jesus died, as well as contextualizing some of the second tier ideas like hell and wrath and etc…
Pretty heady stuff when you wrap it up in gravy ladle theology terms, but in the words of my heart I am simply coming to terms with concepts that I have never fully thought out but held some sort of belief about.
So what do you believe about God? Did He pour out His wrath on Jesus (as I have held for most of my life in agreement with the *penal substitution model) or was the cross a ransom and covenant event?

I have come to the recent conclusion that God is not mad, never really was for more than a brief moment, His anger last for but a moment but His mercy endures forever…so the idea that the cross is the shock absorber of Gods wrath has slowly been drifting away like a broken toy that I slept with for 50+ years…it seems familiar and strange to get into rest without it, but I have known in my heart that there was something broken about it and just could not put my finger on it.

We can blame Anselm (Bishop of Canterbury), but the truth is we are prone to make God in our own image, short tempered, bitter and unhappy…

Obviously I have been doing some heavy lifting in the research department because suddenly I realized that most of my model about control, anger, relationships, punishment, sin and life, the resurrection, atonement and even hell have all had their foundation in an idea of God that made Him seem angry all the time, ready to punish disobedience at the drop of a hat and frankly no fun to be around…a God who would vomit around sin and would evaporate His Presence anytime we wandered away from the straight and narrow…

Regardless of what you believe about why Jesus died and who killed him, this IS the lifestyle and culture you develop if you hold to the *penal substitution model of the atonement, you can say something different but your behavior will naturally gravitate to a concept of God that is based upon rules and code-books, laws and punishments, control and fear…

The natural outworking of understanding that Jesus diverted the wrath of an angry God at the cross is to move into a relationship of fear and rule keeping because He is after all a consuming fire and cannot look upon sin…and we must stay ever so near the cross which functions like a blood soaked shield that keeps the rays of Gods anger from vaporizing our rebellious souls…bad people no cookie for you!

As I begin to dismantle this idea it occurs to me that a lot of what I have accepted about divorce has come to me through the filter of an angry God model…after all “God hates divorce”..thus Malachi 2 declares to us and we use this verse as the main bully stick to keep people in control when their relationships cannot be controlled…

Anyone who knows my personal journey would never beat me up, for all practical reasons I was “biblically divorced” in every sense of the righteous word…but that did not stop the aftershocks of an angry and now disappointed God from showing up in my head and questioning me when I ached to be married again…

I can tell you this much..I AM NOT MADE TO BE A EUNUCH…I do not want to be, do not like the idea and have no desire to be alone  and its not even mostly about sex, its about reigning in life with a co-regent, its about having someone to share the victory, defeats and adventure with… its about relationship and life and laughing and hanging out doing nothing as well…

I love the idea of growing old with someone, getting to know them until I can make the perfect cup of whatever for them and fluff their pillows just right and instinctively know what color of curtains they would choose…its about intimacy of soul and its what most of us were made for…

Some of us don’t care anymore…and if that’s you make a statement and stay single and clear the pond for the rest of us…I cannot think of anything more fun than getting to know someone on such a level that I can make them laugh anytime they need it…and if that is not in you then may you find peace and quiet with your cats and ministry to the isolated…but isolation is not part of my genes…I do not want to be alone…not with the assignments I have been given.
This drive to reconcile who I am and what I have encountered (divorce) has made me plunge head first into these primitive ideas about God because as I read scripture I find glaring statements about remarriage that make it seem like I must remain single or commit adultery…(Matthew 5 and 19 come to mind) 

Even reading the early church fathers gave me no respite…brutal language that implied a God who would not tolerate remarriage under any circumstance unless the other party was dead…

The tension this created inside me was almost unbearable, here I am a hopeless romantic and love a God who will hate me if I want to remarry…

I know I am painting extremes here, but its important that I communicate what I felt…see what you believe about God isn’t simply information, it is also an emotion, it has the power to liberate or subjugate, it can create freedom or slavery, it can make you powerful or powerless all depending on what it is you believe about the One who made you…

If God is always angry at sin and sinners, then there are no excuses, you must tow the line, and any deviance from the gospel facts whether you knew them or not must incur His displeasure…He’s mad for crying out loud, don’t bother him with this sex drive He put inside you, He expects you to ignore it since He does, and all that talk about romance, what is wrong with you? The world needs saving, your little wants and desires are wasting His time, grow up and get over it, you blew it and no longer qualify for a good life of relationship (for which you were created)…suck it up buddy….

If Gods unhappy then the least you can do is be unhappy too!

God hates divorce, says so right there in Malachi (written to Jewish men who were abandoning their wives and sending them away empty handed and destitute much like the Pharisees in Jesus day)…

When I finally began to take off the “wrath of God” lenses that I had been living the bible through a different thought began to emerge in my heart…

The God who hated divorce got divorced in Jeremiah 3 so that through divorce He might destroy the power of divorce and set free forever those who were subject to bondage through the shame and despair of divorce (paraphrasing Romans)…

And the God who divorced Israel is now planning on marrying the Bride of Christ, so unless He kills Israel we might need to rethink our concepts of remarriage and adultery…
What I am trying to say is that the concept of Gods wrath and anger being poured out on Jesus has the potential to color everything in your world and if you are divorced like I am, the power of that model will make you miserable…
But what if the cross was actually God rescuing broken slaves from the marketplace of sin and death?

What if the cross was essentially the great blood cutting of covenant that invites us into intimacy and deep deep fellowship with the greatest Lover in the universe?

What if the primary message of the cross is not “I am angry and sin must be punished” but instead it is “I love you so much I will become vulnerable to your deepest desires and transparent and safe and stretch out my limbs to embrace you with no defense against you, I will make a covenant with you so deep that it will require me to raise you up in a new kind of life that is centered on joy and peace and righteousness that I place inside you because I love you so much I want you right next to me all the time…?

Our puny rules about divorce don’t stand a chance against a God with that kind of love, a God who entered into the death of not only sin, but also the death that divorce brings so He could conquer it and bring the life that went missing…

Remarriage is to small a word…upgrade is what He is after…divorce for a true believer while tragic and painful, when seen in the light of God resurrection power is actually a romantic upgrade…

At least that’s the theory I am now exploring…

A final picture…what if Gods heart is so big that Jesus on the cross is His engagement ring to you? 

What if Gods primary drive to you is relationship and not “fixing” you? I’m not at all suggesting that we are not broken and in need of repair, but I am beginning to entertain the notion that God truly wants us to be powerful in His presence…He’s after a bride, someone who captivates His heart and makes it beat faster, someone whom He would gladly give all things…this sounds more like the New Testament to me…


What if you’ve stolen His heart and He’s crazy about you?



(*Penal Substitution is the name theologians give the idea that the cross was about Jesus taking on the wrath of God because His honor has been insulted and He must punish sin,the cross is essentially “punitive”… my issues with this model is that it splits up the Godhead so that one part is mad=Father, one part is nice=Son and one part is apathetic=Spirit…

Besides that it disallows God ever forgiving sin.. if sin MUST be punished then how can God ever forgive sin, forgiveness and paying for sin are two completely different things one is not like the other and you must choose one because either it is forgiven or it is punished but it can’t be both. 

So the substitution model goes contrary to what the New Covenant is declared to be about in Jeremiah and the Hebrews…the model I am currently embracing and exploring is referred to a the “Ransom theory” or Christus Victor and was held by ALL of the early church fathers until about 1000 AD when Anselm developed his version of the substitution model…)










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