Part 1: FROM PETITION TO DECREE
In one of the “collar counties” of the Chicagoland area, there sits the massive new 3rd floor north wing of the county courthouse. The spacious hallway is lined with eight or so family law courtrooms, each with a hanging electronic agenda (docket) where dozens of sets of names per day scroll by, hundreds per day altogether. Against everything in my deepest biblical convictions, this profound disgrace had not escaped us, of having our family name scrolling across that docket for a dozen or more days over the past 18 months. My born-again husband decided 10 years ago that God had someone “better” for him, and when I found the evidence, I chose what I believe is the only biblical course of action. I chose to stand, pray and fast for our covenant marriage, staring down Satan who was devouring the once-strong husband of my youth in order to bring spiritual death to him. For seven years it was a back and forth spiritual battle as my husband went to work overseas and installed the other woman in his firm with the consent of his employers. He came home often and stayed long, clearly not committed to that other relationship. We tangled over the issue only once or twice, on occasions when he asked me to initiate divorce and I told him it wouldn’t change anything except to make me disobedient to God, too. I’d still have a husband for life who was running from God, whether or not we were divorced in men’s eyes (only).
You see, I disagree with my Pentecostal denomination’s position on divorce and remarriage, and I do not agree with the oft-heard doctrine of “biblical grounds” for divorce based on the 2 or 3 scriptures that most Protestant denominations have long taken out of context in order to give betrayed Christian spouses two “exceptions” that allow them to remarry with the Churches’ blessing (these misapplied scriptures are Matthew 5:32, Matthew 19:8-9 and 1 Cor. 7:15). My denomination’s official position paper on this topic was revised in 1973, in the wake of many states passing the “no-fault” law that created unilateral divorce, because that legislation meant there was no longer any effective way to legally defend the marriage covenant about which the Most High commanded, “Let no man separate”. Based on my understanding of all the New and Old Testament scriptures as a whole, I can only conclude that God created permanent lifelong marriage and stopped there – done. Man sinfully created divorce at Satan’s behest, the first ancient attempt to redefine marriage to humanly, rather than divinely, cope with adultery and abandonment.
Jesus stated God’s position in this matter very succinctly: “from the beginning it was NOT SO [i.e. Moses unilaterally allowing divorces due to necessity created by evil circumstances]….I tell you, whoever divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery, and the man who marries a divorced woman commits adultery.”
In November, 2012 my unrepentant husband broke the stalemate and filed a petition citing “irreconcilable differences”. About 6 months later, I found out the woman who was trying to supplant me had suddenly been barred in April, 2012 from my husband’s work country because she had been living there illegally and she got caught after 5 or 6 years. (I had prayed persistently that, as in the book of Hosea, God would put thorn bushes in their path and wall them off so they could not find each other, and it seems He had granted my prayer.) Since the only existing “irreconcilable difference” was the adultery under my husband’s control, but not mine, my husband’s “evidence” involved a certain amount of perjury and slander which I bore up under as the papers piled up. I hired a Christian attorney after obtaining a list of referrals from the Christian Law Association and doing some probing interviews. There are plenty of Christian attorneys out there who are biblically illiterate and don’t see any biblical conflict with divorce in general or unilateral divorce (“no fault”) in particular. My husband, in fact, hired just such a person to represent him. Since the Lord had supernaturally given us a large sudden cash blessing years ago as the affair was starting, and this cash had remained idle in our bank account for several years, I was afforded the rare privilege of being able to challenge and contest the truth of the grounds in a court trial. Most other families have little financial choice other than to allow their God-sealed covenant marriages to be bulldozed by the amoral legal system and voluntarily split up the assets that God gave, for Kingdom purposes, to a one-flesh entity.
I didn’t realistically expect to win against the grounds charges in that trial because the law precludes that. However, I did expect to have equal protection in court to bring the testimony and facts in my case to the same degree as my husband, and to state God’s point of view from the witness stand. To God’s glory, I was able to do the latter, but to my utter shock, I found all of my constitutional protections tossed to the side by court rules designed to assure only one outcome in every case. Still, God showed up with many miracles getting around some of those court rules, and to everyone’s surprise, we walked out still married on numerous occasions. That phase of the trial cost me just over $18,000 in legal fees, and it gave me space I would not have had otherwise, to make the truly shocking discovery that my husband had been spending $50,000-60,000 per year on this affair from business and foreign bank accounts and charge cards I had no visibility of.
Soon after the judge ruled that we had undergone “irreconcilable differences” and gave us a deadline to “agree” on the division of our property to avoid a second, even more expensive trial, another piece of bad news showed up in my attorney’s office. My husband’s retirement assets were only about 40% of what mine were, due to the extent of his financial misconduct, therefore he was going after my retirement assets in his settlement request, as the amoral law of our state egregiously permits. I am now 58-1/2 years old. I do not believe in remarriage while my covenant husband remains alive, and would have insufficient time to make up the $200,000 this provision would confiscate from my account before I would need to retire. Outrageously, our state divorce law specifically states that marital misconduct cannot be considered by the court in dividing assets.
I was reluctantly forced to gather bank and credit card statement evidence, along with my husband’s expense reports to prove the extent of the financial dissipation, and would be forced to bring scandalous public testimony about my husband and the smarmy details of his adultery into the courtroom, in order to protect my retirement funds from the unilateral divorce law. It literally made me sick to my stomach.
In other words, the law in all but a dozen states allows guilty petitioners to financially profit from their own gross misconduct by bringing a divorce petition, if their spouse does not do so first, which may be against the non-offending spouse’s conscience biblically. Not only that, but the courts go out of their way to protect those guilty petitioners against any fault-based consequences, regardless of the economic harm that it does to the innocent spouse. Bow to the Baal of disposable marriage covenants, or suffer the consequences! I will defer the long, tedious details of how that played out in our case to a future post, because I want to close by getting back to the Jericho Wall….
On several of my occasions to sit in court awaiting the start of our proceedings, I watched heartbroken as several horrible post-divorce disputes over children burst into the courtroom on an emergency basis. Each violent and abusive, heart-rending occasion gave me an opportunity to pray in the spirit for each of these families, for the salvation of each husband and wife, for the protection of the children, for the salvation of adulterous and abusive boyfriends or girlfriends with whom one or the other of the parents had taken up cohabitation. I don’t think I observed a single case where remarriage and stability had risen from the ashes of those dissolved marriages. I sat in tears of intense gratitude to the Lord for shielding our children from all this, and giving my husband and me 31 years of happy marriage before He permitted Satan to attack, time enough for them to be on their own and in solid marriages of their own. I wondered if anyone would be praying for these families, had I not happened to be in the courtroom, sitting in my own pool of tears. I observed one embattled young father in whom I saw the obvious marks of seeking to be a good father, but beyond exasperated in his response to the court barring him his God-ordained role, and barely containing his seething rage. I believe God is going to hold judges and governments accountable for this some day! I prayed outside with one young mother and encouraged her about what she could accomplish on her knees to help her estranged husband become a better man, and become the dad her kids deserved. I was growing to hate this destructive law more with every case I witnessed, crying out to God each day.
After one hearing which my husband did not attend, my attorney and my husband’s attorney stood in the broad hall outside the courtrooms and argued for some 30 minutes over whether or not my husband obtained and used a certain credit card (hard evidence literally in my attorney’s hand that he did have this card; opposing counsel’s insistence that he did not). The spirit of the Lord came over me and inspired me to circle the hall seven times, praying in the spirit for the heaven-initiated demise of this immoral unilateral (“no-fault”) divorce law, passing under each of those scrolling electronic dockets with the names of hundreds of local families Satan was attacking through this evil system. It was a big hall, and I wondered if I’d really make the full seven circuits before the attorneys finished arguing with each other. I trusted God that since the Holy Spirit was telling me to do it, He would stop time until it could be completed, and indeed He did! I asked the Lord for this to be the start in the heavenly realms of the restoration of our nation and the turning back of His wrath on our nation since the mid-1970’s when our government decided it was OK to desecrate God-owned marriage, and to legalize the murder of unborn babies. A generation later, the latter abomination is clearly changing from coast to coast as God is bringing mercy and grace through technology as well as through favorable court rulings. I built the faith that day in the hall of the county courthouse to believe He intends to do the same with the lifelong marriage covenant which He ordained and with which governments destructively interfere.
Our individual story is still unfolding. Closing arguments in the property division trial have been submitted in writing after a series of bench rulings punishing me for my Christian stand taken in the courtroom. I will publish more details as they unfold and as further decisions or rulings occur. I am writing this account after later reading in a reliable publication that 80% of the divorces under U.S. “no-fault” proceedings or petitions occur over the moral objection of one of the spouses. That immediately tells me that only 20% of our outrageously high incidences of family destruction at the hands of local government is even potentially necessary. I’d say that the bulk of this mutually consenting 20% likely entails mostly adulterous, non-covenant second, third, and fourth marriages in which God was never a part.
In the Old Testament book of Joshua, chapter 6 gives the detailed account of how the Lord gave His seemingly nonsensical instructions for bringing this formidable wall around the city down so that the rest of the Promised Land could be taken and the nation of Israel could be born. These walls were reputedly 45 feet wide at the base and up to 40 feet tall, counting the 12-15 foot base. http://www.biblearchaeology.org/post/2008/06/the-walls-of-jericho.aspx#Article Jericho was the oldest fortified city in the world, where these walls had been established and stood for at least 3,000 years before God ordained that they come down. Clearly, only an act of God could ever bring them down. Clearly those walls stood in the way of what God wanted to do to build a nation, and it had to come down for that reason. The seven-circuit march, the trumpet blast and the shout were symbolic of what God was going to do by His supernatural power through ordinary, obedient human vessels. We learn from the Bible that the reputation of God’s people preceded them from earlier victories and caused the Jericho inhabitants’ hearts to “melt like wax”. Similarly, judges are afraid of what would happen if they ruled fairly in contested unilateral divorce cases, so they are seeking legislation to make existing laws even more unfair to the party morally opposed to the divorce or victimized by it, and they are seeking to unlawfully apply recent changes in the law retroactively to cases filed before the statutory effective date of the law, hoping to deter future contesters, especially religious objectors, and hoping there won’t be an appeal.
In our case, we are already preparing for the likelihood there will be an appeal, and most likely, a constitutional appeal. In a handful of states long ago there have been prior constitutional appeals, but it doesn’t appear there’s been one attempted in Illinois so far. Two or three came in the early 1970’s and a couple more came approximately 15 years ago in distant states. My attorney and I were told by constitutional attorneys that we will need to lose on all of our many non-constitutional points before the constitutional challenges will even be addressed by an appellate court…pretty disheartening in terms of overturning the law! The state appellate and supreme court opinions in the early cases are illogically dismissive of all the constitutional arguments made, while the dissenting opinions appear to be far more developed and thoughtful. Because the state has always won so far, none have advanced to the U.S. Supreme Court, which typically declines to hear heterosexual marriage cases that lack a civil rights issue or a multi-state conflict. The states have built through case law and court operating procedures a fortified wall around unilateral divorce that insulates and exempts it from the requirement to observe constitutional protections for divorce defendants / respondents…a fortified wall of 40 years’ standing that only God can sovereignly bring down, but I firmly believe He wants to bring down. The good news is that He typically uses the powerless to do such things for His glory!