A buddy of mine, Oswald, married a terrible woman many years ago. Oswald was young and dumb and probably lacked chest hair, so he wasn’t the greatest find, either. Over the last 20 years, Oswald has tired of her antics, her verbal abuse of the children, her affairs. He walked out about 18 months ago and other than periodic visits to the child, he’s been out of her life.
In the last 8 months, Oswald has found a God-sized hole in his heart and has successfully filled that void. He drops by the house once or twice a week for coffee and sugar-free pastries (he’s diabetic). Recently, he decided to whine to me.
“Had another meeting with the wife and her lawyer. I don’t understand – she won’t give me the divorce. Demands that I pay off her debts so that she can afford to raise our 14-year old. What more does she want? I let that adulteress have the house and the land. I gave her my dog for security, though she promptly starved it to death and dumped his body in the street. I did not dispute custody, or money, or lay out her dalliances with her boy toys. I pay for the kids’ schooling and clothes and medical care. I just want to be done with her.”
See, the problem is that Oswald did his spiritual homework. He knows he is free to divorce her due to her sexual sins. As well, he knows that since he is divorcing her for proper cause, he’ll eventually have the right to pursue another woman to keep him company. The only hang-up is his wife’s refusal to sign the papers.
He went on….
“Here in Ecuador, if she won’t give me an uncontested divorce, then I have to wait three years for the judge to order the divorce despite her refusal to sign. That means that because she couldn’t avoid playing the field, romantically speaking, I don’t have the right to be free. I have to wait three years, right? Didn’t the Bible say all I needed was some certificate of divorce? Somewhere in Matthew? Well, here in Ecuador we don’t have that. We have angry wives holding their departing spouses hostage over money and jealousy.”
So….what do I tell Oswald? Do I tell him that the Bible leaves it up to culture to define the process for divorce and he just gets to suck it up? Can I justify telling him to date who he wants since the papers have been filed and they are proof of his intent to divorce her? Do I tell him to create a certificate of the divorce like the earliest believers would likely have done?
Anyone with a great answer?