Wendy Francisco has been involved in youth,
pastoral, and music ministry for over three decades. She is a songwriter and
recording artist who travels internationally with her husband, Don
Francisco, and daughter, recording artist Annie Brooks. In addition to
music and ministry, Wendy is a published illustrator and artist. She
oversees an independent record company, designs and publishes several
websites, raises Andalusian horses, loves to cook, and can't stand
housekeeping. Wendy is currently co-writing a book with Bonnie Duell on
women in the Body of Christ.
"God has given us all many desires and talents. Mine were bottled up
until I realized that God's call to women is the same as His call to
men. The pressure I felt to stifle myself was not from God, but from
religious culture. God gave us all wings so that we could fly." - Wendy
Below are four short articles on divorce by Wendy Francisco. We recommend that you read them
all. The fifth article is by Don Francisco. You can go directly to
each article by clicking on the titles. They are:
By Wendy Francisco
Pam sat at home and thumbed through the marriage workbook that she had been
given during a pre-marriage counseling session at church. She was horrified. Shaken and in tears, she called her fiancÚ and cried, "Mike, I cannot do this! Maybe we shouldn't get married! There are exact roles for me in here--but it's
not me at all!"
Statistically, Christians have the highest divorce rates in the United States. We are at 27 percent according to George Barna. This is a statistic
accounts even for people who live together unmarried outside Christianity. We
have higher divorce rates than all other religions, including atheists, with the
next highest stat being 24%.
Most Christian leaders blame people within the Christian Body for this
embarrassing gap. Well, there is a saying, "The proof is in the pudding." Our
pudding is burnt. Atheists have better pudding. It's time to take a second look
at our recipe and stop trying to blame the poor people who are trying to eat the
In recent decades, there has been a proliferation of "family ministries." These
ministries have exact teachings for everything from family roles to how to put
on your socks in the morning. Churches have become bent on forming cookie cutter
families that fit the mold. There are multitudes of heavy teachings on "Biblical
order," and submission, and blood covenant, and duty, and death to self, and
being the perfect wife and husband . . . etc., etc., ad nauseam.
The church has become very legalistic concerning roles in marriage, and divorce issues. The attempt to control families and keep marriages
together by legalism is cultish and is backfiring terribly. This is the reason
that we have the highest divorce rate.
It is unacceptable to place the blame on individual Christians by calling them
"lukewarm." Leaders need to grasp the Biblical truth that the law kills, but the
Spirit brings life. Leaders have been heaping dump trucks of man-made doctrines
on the Body, which violate the core relationships of couples and families. We have placed
laws over love. Marriages should be based on and grounded in love. We know love
is the greatest, yet the church does not take love seriously. We have called
love wishy-washy and undependable even though the Bible says that love never
The Bible says that the Law failed. Yet, the basis of most Christian marriages is
law rather than love. Even those movements which base their doctrines on God's
grace are still largely just changing the word "law" to "roles." Functionally,
there is no difference. Dishing out prefab roles in the name of Christianity is
destructive to marriages because every marriage relationship is unique.
The church unintentionally flattens marriages. Our divorce stats are high
enough, but we also have other high stats. Christians have very high
incidences of domestic abuse. As many as one quarter of people who sit in pews on Sunday are
giving or receiving physical, spiritual, or emotional abuse. The percentage of
"intact" Christian marriages in which the actual relationship is dead or going
through huge struggles is sky high. Yet, sermons on these subjects are extremely
Many Christian leaders have changed the original enlightened Biblical message of equality in
marriage to one of hierarchy and false submission. Thus, we have separated two
who God intended to be one. God's idea of oneness does not mean the front end
and the back end of a jackass. But, that's exactly what our recipe calls for. The world is laughing at us, and they ought to be. American laws protect women
better than "Christian" marriage doctrines do. Why would married non-Christians
want to become born again, assume an unnatural hierarchy, and increase their
chances for divorce??
In order for our divorce statistics to go down, the first step is
to begin to change our focus from laws to love. We need to talk more about what
it takes to nurture and encourage people to grow to be unique individuals,
rather than religious slaves. We need to talk about the fact that abuse in any
form is not acceptable. We need to make people realize that marriages are
breakable ! A bowl made of plastic is unbreakable, and therefore, may be
kicked around. A fine porcelain bowl is breakable. Therefore, it is treated with care
Sadly, as divorce rates continue to rise, the church gets more condemning. The
language of legalism intensifies. Perhaps, we just need to realize that we have
concocted an impossible recipe for marriage. Perhaps, the weight of our doctrines is causing the increase of Christian
divorces. The Bible says we should need no humans to teach us because of
the powerful presence of God within each of us. Jesus said to consider no human
your teacher except the Teacher Himself.
If you find that certain doctrines are creating tensions in your marriage, then
how good can those doctrines be? God's Word tells us to love each other, and to
express that love by gentle service and encouragement. That one simple
precept is enough to revolutionize every relationship you have. However, we keep picking it
apart and examining it so that we never actually have to DO it. At the center of
today's teacher-based Christianity is a monumental avoidance of God's most basic
and important precepts. By leveling heavy marriage doctrines, the church has
robbed many people of the life, uniqueness, creativity, joy, abundance,
fulfillment, and love that marriage was intended to bring.
By Wendy Francisco
The widely-used verse in Malachi, where God states that He "hates divorce"
has been grossly mistranslated. What God hates is literally "the putting out" of
"Putting out" is altogether different than divorce in Jewish culture. A man would
dismiss a wife, denying her the Jewish divorce certificate. This woman would
still be legally married but with no home. The husband would retain her
dowry and children. She would have already surrendered her virginity to
him. She would be ineligible to remarry, since technically, she was still
legally bound to her husband. Further, her culture would label her as an
adulteress since she did not have a valid divorce certificate. And, this lady
couldn't just rent an apartment and get a job teaching kindergarten--there was
no place for a put out woman in Jewish culture of that day except prostitution. Since the marriages were most often arranged, this whole horrible chain of
events would have been completely out of her control.
The husband, however, was free to marry again and to do this as much as he
liked. That is why Moses required a divorce certificate to be given . . . so that
the marriage was legally, fairly, and religiously terminated, and the woman
would be free to remarry and go on with life.
For more info about this topic, do a search on the word "agunah." That means
"chained women." The act of putting a woman out is still happening and today
there are thousands of "chained women" in Israel! A Jewish divorce certificate is
now so valuable that often after a man puts out a woman, he will legally obtain
the certificate and then sell it to the highest bidder. "Agunah" is one of the
greatest problems faced by Orthodox Judaism today.
All over the Bible we have ignorantly and clumsily translated "put out" as
"divorce." This has caused many errant doctrines to be formed and made a
terrible mess out of millions of people's lives. The toll in human
suffering because of our ignorance is overwhelming. The Bible simply does not say that God
hates divorce. It says that God hates the putting away. When a Christian leader
says, "God hates divorce" in a bold and forbidding tone, he is revealing that
he has not done his homework!
In the New Testament, Jesus continues to address this cruel breach of human
rights. Nearly all of the verses translated "divorce" in the Gospels actually
say "put away." It is a completely different situation for which we have no
equivalent. Of COURSE, a man will commit adultery if he marries a "put out"
woman-- she is technically still married!
The worst result of this mistake is that when a marriage does break down, people
will often believe that God rejects them, and they will lose their faith just
when they need it the most. They face the exact agony that God was trying to
AVOID in Malachi, enforced singlehood after a broken marriage.
There are myriads of reasons why marriage relationships break down. God hates it
when a heavy, inflexible grid of legalism is imposed on people and they are
broken and turn away from Him as a result. It is obvious that marriages are
intended to be lifelong. However, in this imperfect world, God's provision of divorce
is vital, and can be lifesaving.
By Wendy Francisco
God has been through divorce. That's right. Check it out in Jeremiah
3:8, "Lo I had put her out and given her a certificate of divorce . .". He is speaking of
Whether you consider this scripture as referring to a literal divorce or not, if ALL divorces were a sin,
you can bet those words would never have escaped Him. There is no place in the
Bible where God Himself states, "Lo, I committed adultery with her," or "Lo, I
lied to her," or "Lo I cheated her." That's because those things are sin - all
Both marriage and divorce can be sinful, depending on the circumstances. In an
absolutely perfect world, the union between a man and a woman would be perfectly
initiated by God without any destructive forces tearing at the
bond. Marriages would never break down.
But, this isn't a perfect world and some marriages become so emotionally,
spiritually, and/or physically destructive that divorce can be lifesaving. That
is why it is dangerous to slap a grid of legalism onto yourself or others.
We do not believe that the Bible forbids divorce, but we do believe that God
calls us to examine our hearts and to follow His specific leading. God wants us
to live abundantly in His blessings. He will not entrap or force us to stay
in our own traps to uphold an institution. The institutions of our loving God
are never more important than the people within them. If He directs you to
restore your marriage, then He has in mind a complete restoration of your
relationship so that you can grow together and even exceed the love you had when
you first met. Most marriages that fail do so for silly reasons when an attempt
to reconcile would bring overwhelming healing, health, joy, and strength.
God's idea of restoration is not just that you stay in the same house miserable
so that things look good on the outside! God's idea of a marriage is an active
thing where both people support, build, cherish, and nourish each other in Him.
Galatians states that we are no longer under law, but under grace. It is
monumentally unhealthy to contend for a marriage on the basis that it is the
legalistic and religiously correct thing to do. The greatest reason to contend
for a marriage is that it is a love relationship. What we want is not so much to
keep a marriage intact to outside appearances but to genuinely heal the love. Then, we want to guard against that love being attacked and torn down again.
Churches should not be controlling people's decisions about marriage and
divorce. Leaders should not be enforcing heavy loads of false doctrine they
have no part in carrying. As a Body, we should support our close friends and
help each other make honest decisions. In troubled times, it's a good idea to
get feedback from those who know us best and to seek God's leading. Ultimately,
the decisions are up to the individuals involved because they are the ones who
will have to live out what they set up for themselves in the future.
By Wendy Francisco
In the book of Matthew, Jesus makes the comment that divorce is only acceptable when
adultery was committed by a spouse.
The problem is that isn't what He said. What He said was that "putting out",
i.e., dismissing a wife without giving her a divorce certificate, was only
acceptable in cases of adultery. This is because a woman who had committed
adultery and was brought before the courts for a divorce proceeding, could
be stoned to death. That is why Joseph, being a righteous man, "put out" Mary
secretly. His action was considered ethical and appropriate. Please refer to the
article "Does God Really Hate Divorce?" for a more detailed explanation of what
it means to "put out."
Infidelity may indeed make a marriage relationship impossible . . . but
many great marriages have weathered this storm and come out stronger on
the other side.
Every marriage situation is vastly different. The main message of Scripture is
that we can each have a personal relationship with God and hear His voice
and follow it. No matter how bad the situation appears, if we can follow His
specific leading, we will be blessed. God speaks to ALL of His own. It takes a
bit of time to become accustomed to hearing His voice. But, when you spend time
with God, you become confident in His leading. He always leads with wisdom and
compassion for everyone involved.
This may be surprising to some, but God just isn't legalistic. He loves people,
and He wants them to live abundantly. God isn't interested in marriages which
stay together for legalistic reasons. He is interested in people who have
cultivated their love for each other. God isn't asking us to live a terrible
life so that we can uphold an institution. He is asking us to be wildly in love
with Him and to follow Him.
The question, "can I get a divorce if my spouse commits adultery?" is based on a
misunderstanding of Scripture and a legalistic orientation to Christianity. Every situation is different. That is why it isn't appropriate to seek a
legalistic out, but instead to pray and follow God's leading, remembering that
He loves everyone involved very much.