The short answer to the question: nothing. That they are divorced is tragic, as divorce is a reflection of human fallenness. (Jesus even said so himself: that it was allowed in the OT was a concession to the hardness of human hearts.) In a perfect world, there would be no divorce. Christians would only marry Christians, and would work their problems out without dissolving a covenant relationship.
That divorce exists is a human tragedy for more than the adults involved.
The real question: what about remarriage? Can I–a single man–marry a woman who is divorced?
The answer to that question has nothing to do with my sentiments toward those who are divorced. As a child, I saw two divorces. Both sucked. Trust me: I have no axe to grind with those whose marriages failed. In many cases, they had no control over that outcome.
That said, the issue is how do we reconcile very hard teachings by Jesus–and they are very hard teachings–with the reality that we do not always have control over the occurrence of divorce.
We usually have control over matters of sin. And we typically think of punishment in terms of matters over which we have control. We can choose whether to lie, whether to kill, whether to get drunk, and so forth. But divorce is not something over which we often have control. If you are a husband (or wife), you can do everything right and still find yourself served with divorce papers. If your spouse is abusive to you or the kids, or unrepentantly commits adultery, divorce may be the only viable alternative.
Must such a one be punished due to a condition over which they were either not at fault or had no control?
Jesus even suggested that women–who, in those days, were always the recipients of divorces–who were divorced were forced to commit adultery (Matthew 5). This is because a divorced woman could not just go out and get a nice job to support herself; the best income potential for a woman was prostitution. Next to that, remarriage was the lesser evil.
And make no mistake: evil is what Jesus called it: the man who marries the divorced woman commits adultery. Period.
That was a very sobering assessment, as a man who marries such a woman was saving her from a life of prostitution. Jesus called such men adulterers.
That means I–Amir Larijani–would be an adulterer if I married a divorced woman. Even if I was doing so to provide a better life for her kids. Even if I was doing a C.S. Lewis–saving her life. Even if marrying me was the difference between her having a good home and embracing an immoral lifestyle. Even if it kept me from the same.
Keep in mind that this has nothing to do with my feelings for those who are divorced, especially the ladies. It has everything to do with what Jesus said.
In the interests of fair disclosure: I have dated a woman who was divorced. We’ll call her Echo Kilo. I came pretty darn close to getting hitched with her. She shot me down, then got back together with me. When I broached the subject of marriage, she shot me down again, insisting that she could not Biblically remarry.
Not long after that, Echo self-destructed: became sexually involved with her ex-husband (who had remarried), got pregnant, had an abortion, attempted suicide, started to recover, abandoned church and family, shacked up with a man, and had an “atonement baby” for whom she was unfit to care. Other family members adopted that child. Echo has been a zombie ever since: in and out of care for bipolar disorder. No one ever suspected she was bipolar.
Back then, my views were more to the left on this issue. Largely because I had accepted conventional teachings–that divorce and remarriage were allowed for the case of adultery, abuse, unbelievers leaving unequal yokes. It made so much sense to me.But what did Scripture say? Echo Kilo’s refusal to remarry had Biblical basis, even if her self-destruction did not.
On the other hand, while remarriage would have been short of the glory for her–the fundamentalist does have a point here–it would have been better for Echo Kilo to marry than to burn. (On the other hand, I am grateful that I did not end up married to a manic depressive!)
The crux for me is this: has God called me to something better than the lesser evil? Can an older bachelor like myself–for whom available single women are scarce–have a chance of marrying someone compatible without controversy?
Keep in mind that I am quite the jubilant, happy bachelor in most respects; I hardly fall into the woe-is-me camp. The single life has its shortcomings, but there are far worse things than singleness.
When I look at the near-marriages that did not pan out–and there have been many–I am grateful that they did not. In almost every case, the prospective mate has embraced unhealthy and/or destructive paths after shooting me down. (One is dead; one went back to a reckless lifestyle; one flaked out; two went on to marry non-believers.)
This may sound cruel–although not intended that way–but while I hurt for them, I am not sorry that they didn’t marry me.
On the other hand, the Debbie Makens of the world tend to deride bachelors like myself, with the Ted Slaters of the world enabling her nonsense.