Tag Archive: divorce


The relationship between Sean and I, like all couples like to affirm, is unique. We got married when I was 21 and he was 24, he had just returned from a working year in Norway and I had just completed my first year in theology, he was bearded with scruffy surfer’s hair and I was clean and caffeinated.

People said things would change, that living together would be a huge adjustment and that the first two years of marriage would be the hardest, but to be honest none of that really phased us nor was it our experience. We spent more time with singles than we did with other couples, we had numerous people staying in our home for extended periods of time and our weekends consisted of late night movies, sleepovers on the floor and Catan. All of that changed when we moved to PE…

Port Elizabeth is a beautiful place with beautiful people, but it is very different from life in Cape Town. Making new friends who you can share life with is difficult, especially when all your time is engaged in work and ministry – and so it seemed that year 3 would be the one to introduce new challenges and trials into our relationship.

Evenings with friends and Catan sleepovers were exchanged for early nights in watching Modern Family and finding new 2 player board games (it must seem nerdy but Carcassonne is pretty good). Communication became more important than ever and keeping peace in the home (the virtue and the plant) became more difficult. We would get into arguments about silly issues of no consequence and things that really mattered were sidelined and ignored.

I remember hearing of how a few young couples got divorced that year, and feeling sore and sorry that such brokenness would come from love relationships. Consequently, it was on my radar of common occurrences in the world and so it worked its way to the forefront of my mind as something we could never let happen. Strange isn’t it, having a goal stated in the negative: not to get divorced. The more I thought about it, the more it worried me.

And then it occurred to me that so many people view marriage like this, “staying together equals success, divorce equals failure!” Unfortunately though, there are so many other worse ways of failing in marriage, and the only way we will notice them is if we change our goal of marriage to something far more positive and infinitely more important – glorifying God!

We don’t stay together so that we don’t get divorced but rather we are together to glorify God. Divorce is not the ultimate failure but rather withholding God’s glory in the way we live out our marriage is failure. It means that our marriage becomes so much bigger and so much more than just Sean and I; our entire lives, the way we interact with one another, share life with others, model marriage and love, teach forgiveness in how we forgive, display love in the way we act, and acknowledge God in all we do – all of it contributes to the success of our marriage because it is in how we love and treat one another in community that we can give God glory.

Practically it means that we need to help one another be the best God-followers we can be, encouraging good practices, helping in love to iron out bad character flaws, and growing in a deep understanding and love for our Lord Jesus. For me it has meant being more supportive of Sean’s out-the-box ideas and hobbies and trusting him to make decisions I might not agree with. For Sean it has meant giving up his time and weekends without complaining to support me in the time-consuming ministries I am involved in. I have had to work on my willingness to be intimate; Sean has had to work on the way he communicates love to me. There are many character flaws we face every day, but it is the goal of glorifying God and not ourselves or each other that helps us to change and be better.

And so for us, we are not working toward a long term future goal of 50 years together (as wonderful as that would be), but rather we are working toward a very imminent reality that we can glorify God today in our marriage and make year 4 a success every day!


Sean is an engineer concurrently working and studying towards his PHD in renewable wind energies at NMMU. His interests also include surfing, kite-surfing, RC planes and designing interesting things with his best friend Greg.

Jade is the associate youth pastor at Trinity Baptist Church and spends most of her time teaching the Bible to teenagers and young adults. Her interests also include music, media and coffee

[To read the next story of Marriage Year 4 with Emma and Willie Cocklin, click here]

Let’s be honest – this is a passage i would rather skip over, and most people do. I can’t remember ever hearing someone preach on this. I don’t particularly want any of my friends who have been divorced to read or watch this.

But at the same time, can we afford to avoid it. And what makes this one really difficult is that it doesn’t seem like a lost-in-translation or easy-to-misinterpret passage. It is Jesus talking. And what He is saying seems pretty clear to me.

Let’s take a nervous look at Mark 10 from 1-12:

[For the next passage on becoming like a little child, click here]

what next? leaving the old people outside for the coyotes to finish them off…?

sounds far fetched maybe, but i have just been thoroughly revolted by what i have just read [and i know in this day and age we can get mildly upset and tut tutty and each-to-their-own-device but maybe it’s time for people to stand up and SHOUT WILDLY AGAINST THIS KIND OF FILTH…] and we need to draw a line…

it started with me reading my good buddy Bruce’s rant [totally justified and i agree wholeheartedly with the sentiments expressed] or question [but i know the rant is simmering beneath] about the question of whether there should be a filter on what we tweet, which you can take a look at here:


well actually, to be honest, it began a little earlier with this blog i wrote after my encounter with two horrible t-shirts and then the recent one i wrote about young people using the word “rape” to describe a bad sporting or examination encounter

but then i went on to yahoo and happened to catch site of the heading of this article where firstly a guy passes out and everyone is too busy tweeting and facebook statusing to go and help him, and later ends with people taking phone pics of a guy as he dies on the street…


as a society we are becoming sicker and sicker and what is the worst part is that it is becoming the norm, it is becoming acceptable – we have legalised abortion (baby-killing) and made divorce easier than getting a visa to fly overseas and our government seems to have an anything goes policy when it comes to government officials being involved in corruption/mismanagement of funds and so on…

where does it all end?

i’ll tell you where it ends. with the church!

will the real Christ followers please stand up? because this is where the call to be holy, to be set apart, to be different is at its most vital…

Engage the young guys who are wearing those shirts. Refuse to let someone get away with a statement of how they were “raped by that exam” without being challenged to never again use that word (and sentence) lightly. Leave your flippin phone in your pocket and go and get up on that stage and see if that man is okay. Shout, scream, make a noise – IT IS NOT OKAY – THIS IS NOT ACCEPTIBLE – I WILL NOT STAND FOR THAT.

Cos there HAS to be a line. And we need to speak and act and react in absolute love and compassion and know when and where and how to speak and act. [and the Holy Spirit will guide us in this area, if we pay attention] But we cannot stay silent any longer!


so i have been thinking about this quite a lot lately, especially after i received a mail immediately after my last you-got-to-be-kidding-malema post from my friend mel lovingly rebuking me or at the very least challenging me on my bash-the-leader stance [if the Bible says respect and pray for your leaders who God has putten over you…] which was really great and a whole thort in itself

[the confrontation from Mel i mean, which was completely done in love and although not necessarily what i wanted to hear – who likes to hear ‘you are the man!’ statements about being out of line – very definitely largely, if not completely, correct. Imagine if the whole church took her role of rebuke-in-love seriously, how much chaos – and some included in the role players of this note – would be avoided]

I don’t really know the answer. There are definitely some principles. And some verses from the Bible that confuse me. And so i am trying to make sense of it all. Hoping my theologically minded original-greek-of-the-word ‘flatulatolos’ friends will throw in some light (cough Sean du Toit cough!)

So here are the situations – president of the country Jacob Zuma who i believe has made some outlandish and potentially dangerous statements (both in word and action) especially with regards to Aids (as previous head of some Aids forum he stated during one scandal that he had a shower after having sex to prevent himself from getting Aids) in terms of the man-in-the-street seeing that and thinking it is truth (so potentially life threatening)

Julius Malema, head of the ANC Youth League who is in the newspapers almost daily for some or other next scandal (the latest which was allegedly – i say ‘allegedly’ because the ANC denied he sang the song after explaining why it was okay that he sang the song and despite a reporter having it on tape – singing a song containing the phrase “kill the boers, they are rapists” followed by a few unrelated incidents in the news of Afrikaans farmers – boers – being killed on their farms)

Then there are two Christian leaders – Ray Macauley and Bennie Hinn who are both very public figures with huge public ministries who apparently are both getting divorced (Ray for the second time and Bennie Hinn after apparently stating in an interview that nothing gets in the way of his ministry, not his family etc.)


And here are some verses i could find (in the original English translation of the original Greek):

‘Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake, to every authority instituted among men: whether to the king, as the supreme authority, or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right. For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish men.’ 1 Peter 2.13-15

‘Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith… Obey your leaders and submit to their authority. They keep watch over you as men who must give an account. Obey them so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no advantage for you.’ Hebrews 13.7, 17

‘Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good, to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and to show true humility toward all men.’ Titus 3.1-2

‘Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so bring judgement on themselves. For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and he will commend you. … therefore it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not because of possible punishment but also because of conscience. This is why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing. Give everyone what you owe him: if you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect, if honour, then honour.’ Romans 13.1-7

‘Do not entertain an accusation against an elder unless it is brought by two of three witnesses. Those who sin are to be rebuked publicly, so that the others may take warning.’ 1 Timothy 5.19-20


I’m pretty sure there is another verse somewhere saying we should pray for our leaders and i know i don’t do that enough or maybe at all, often cos i’m too busy shaking my head at them or rolling my eyes. And that is not good in itself. Maybe it’s true that you get the leaders you pray for. Cos i would imagine there are probably more Christians poking fun at JZ and Malema than praying for them… or i could just be the only one. So definitely a place i need to start.

My biggest dilemma is not thinking they are worthy of respect, but then i’m not sure the Bible gives us freedom to make that call and so maybe obedience to God is a sense of being respectful and honouring despite it not being earned?

The Hebrews passage at least i would assume is speaking about spiritual leaders and it does speak about considering the outcome of their way of life and as men who must give account. Both Ray and Bennie are definitely going to be held accountable to God one day (as am I, and you!) but i do think there is a certain need for accountability to take place while here and occupying positions of authority in leadership – and there are some pretty strict guidelines for how elders and deacons ought to be and also on the topic of marriage and divorce – and so i’m not sure there is not the space to stand before them like Nathan the prophet to David and proclaim ‘you are the man’ (um and go read 2 Samuel 12 cos i’m not talking about modern day usage of the phrase ‘you’re da man!’ but the time when Nathan rebukes the king.)

I think in terms of Zuma and Malema there has to be some kind of holding to account as well – as both of them have made statements that i think could cause serious injury to people either by example or by insinuation or role-modelling and there has to be a place for us to speak into that and cast the question (and whereas i may never get a forum to publically challenge either of them on their stuff that doesn’t necessarily mean that us gossiping about it in cell is the best way either – so it can be addressed and even preached upon perhaps, but we have to be so careful of bringing it to light from a place of arrogance or pride or selfrighteousness)

There is a lot more stuff here but this is getting long and i just wanted to provoke your thorts and mine so let’s try wrap it up a little:


‘Woe to you, teachers of the law, you hypocrites!… Woe to you, blind guides… Blind Pharisee… You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside, but on the inside are full of dead men’s bones and everything unclean… You snakes! You brood of vipers! How will you escape being condemned to hell?…’ [Jesus to the Pharisees and teachers of the law, Matthew 23]

So Mathew 23 has this passage where Jesus just lets rip at the spiritual leaders of His day and it must be okay for Jesus was without sin. So one of the principles in this dilemma is possibly that respect/honour your leaders does not mean that there is never a time to call them on stuff (and this was a public exchange i imagine!) when led by God. And that is some pretty strong language Jesus uses. John the Baptist was put into prison for (publically?) accusing Herod (political leader) of outlandish sin.

And so my point is there may be a time or a place with political and spiritual leaders for us to call them on stuff but it has to be very much led by the Holy Spirit and we have to be completely in touch with God’s heart in the matter. But I think a good place is to look at what is written directly after the Romans passage i quoted earlier:

‘Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law.’ Romans 13.8

Greatest commandment? Love God, love people (Matthew 22) and when i was chatting to tbV about this last nite that is one of the things that came out strongly. What is the fruit of our conversation when we are discussing these things – with each other? Publically on blogs and wall notes? Is it being motivated by love for the person or even the audience/followers of the person or is it simply us trying to get a laugh or working from our place of pride/self-righteousness/smugness/gossip/slander?

The bottom line for me is i definitely need to be praying more for my leaders, both politically and in terms of those who lead spiritually. How can i expect them to have a hope of leading effectively if i haven’t at least got their back. They will all stand before God one day and they will be accountable to Him for every single thing they have done or failed to do. I will stand before God and explain to Him why mocking/pointing/laughing/sharing-for-prayering etc was more important than getting behind, uplifting, praying for, encouraging…

another excerpt from Erwin McManus ‘an unSTOPPABLE force’ – just buy it already!

‘And though i’m advocating our need to become a movement, I would like to encourage you to give up on keeping up.’

then a little later:

‘The first-century church didn’t keep up with its time, didn’t spend its energy keeping up with its time. The first-century church changed time. It rewrote history. It radically impacted culture. The church was the forerunner, not the runner up. And out of the church’s influence came the greatest art, the greatest music, and the greatest thinkers. Out of the church’s influence were born the cultures from which came Voltaire, Nietzsche, Einstein, Newton and Hawking, not to mention Jefferson, Franklin and Edison. The Michaelangelos and the da Vinci’s came right out of a context that Christ had radically shaped. I am not saying that they were all followers of Jesus Christ, but I am saying that they were all indebted to Him.”

and i just think this is solidly the key – the church should be setting the pace – one area where this is blatantly true to me and where God is calling me to be a voice is that of relationships – for too long the church has done relationships pretty much like the world has done relationships and hence we sit with the situation where the rate of divorce within the church is pretty much the same as the rate of divorce outside of the church. This is an absolute tragedy and the solution lies some part in us saying ‘waitasec, if we continue to do the things we’ve always done we will continue to see the results we’ve been seeing’ and start setting the trends and role modelling patterns of successful relationships [which are not easy – they require work and commitment and time and energy, but when you are married to the right person as i am then all of that is more than worth it and i deeply desire to serve my wife and love her and help her to be all she can be and to absolutely dominate in life] and becoming the benchmark, rather than sitting on the bench.

there must be more than this…

judge not lest.

so i have decided to try and be less judging of people this year – i think a couple of times this last year it hit me how judgemental i have become – i don’t think i used to be that way but definitely an area i want to work on – i guess this last week nailed it home as i attended a funeral (my best mates mom in law) and a wedding (our wedding photographeress and friends of ours) and heard two people described as humble, non judgemental people… there is just something so attractive about being described that way… and more NBly, being that way and it’s definitely something i want to aim at in 2010 – not so much a resolution as a new years revolution one hopes (and i am that one!)

the preach at the wedding was by a dude who in the past preached one of the dodgiest sermons i ever heard – well maybe bad as opposed to dodgy – not the worst sermon ever which goes to guy-who-preached-on-divorce-at-a-wedding and went on and on about it and how it’s bad for the kids and blah blah blah tragic tragic downer of a sermon – a whole sermon on greet each other with a brotherly kiss – actually just incredibly random and i will never get those minutes of my life back – but yesterday at the wedding he preached one of the best wedding sermons i have heard – just full of life and truth and real and relevant and obviously well prepared as he had little gifts they had to open as he messaged (tbV’s favourite being the red and yellow cards to use in an argument) and so i went to him afterwards and told him and then chatted more to him and his wife at the after party.

there is a tendency to write people off and i think judging people really helps feed that tendency and i don’t think it’s ever (hardly) valid to write people off – i think i know that cos i have seen people write me off along the way and don’t want to feel i am worth writing off – and also i don’t think anyone wakes up in life and decides to be a chop altho some people do seem to graduate to that position along the way

so something about trying to see the absolute good in people and judging less and being a generally nicer person – and also gossiping less (wow, busy year ahead for me) – cos that is something else i have slipped into and i hate it and am not sure where it has come from. freak! there is a lot of horrible in me come to think of it. God, You and i have our work cut out this year. So empowered by being loved by a God who accepts me as i am in terms of loving me, but refuses to allow me to remain in that condition cos He constantly challenges me to be and do better and jump higher – may those all be categorisations of 2010.

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