Naomi Zacharias has been Divorced. But why do you care?

139. (UPDATE: since writing this blog, literally hundreds of people per day have been here. Naomi has been doing some interviews lately, which has upped the public curiosity)

139 times people have come to my blog (specifically my book review of The Scent of Water)  this week seeking a certain tidbit of information that, if you found this post via a search engine, you most likely are after. And thanks to Word Press for the nifty statistics tool that tells me these things.

Naomi Zacharias Divorce. Divorce Naomi Zacharias. “Naomi Zacharias” Divorce. Is Naomi Zacharias Divorced? Naomi Zacharias Wedding. Ravi Zacharias Divorce (Huh?).

139 times this week  human beings ended up on my blog by searching these terms through Google, Yahoo, etc. I have no idea whether or not these are 139 individual people or if someone particularly obsessed with Naomi’s personal life spends his days Googling  her. While this would make my heart sad for that one individual, my heart is made sad with the thought that there were 139 people wondering about the personal life of Naomi. And that is only the 139 people who ended up on my blog! How many more people saw my name and said, “I’m not reading what that guy says.” Well, maybe not many. But my point is that there are most likely many more out there who want to know IS NAOMI ZACHARIAS DIVORCED?

Surely some out there who are looking to encourage Naomi, or who have heard of her story of redemption through her divorce and you want to read about what she has already written. But some of you out there have TMZ-itis, and you care about things that do not concern you because you want to know The Skinny, The Scoop. The Dirt.

In the chapter “Flawed Pearls” Naomi recalls a story from Paulo Coelho’s book “The Witch of Portobello.” In it she tells the story of a woman named Athena who was married at age 19 and shortly thereafter became pregnant. And when her child was young, her husband abandoned her. Naomi recounts how this poor girl, abandoned and left alone, went up to receive the Eucharist at Mass one Sunday and was rejected by the priest. She could not receive the sacrament. The priest said, “Athena, the Church forbids divorce people from receiving the sacrament. You signed your divorce papers this week.”Naomi recounts the tale (forgive me for the long quote, but it is worth reading),

She was crushed, speechless, numb. People began to step around her in line to receive the bread that was theirs. In an awful combination of seeing her as invisible and visible, they stepped around her, so she knew they knew she was there. But they bypassed her, for she was an obstacle in the way of their path to greater spirituality…I imagine her to be devastated. She lost something that mattered to her, something she thought would always be hers–something she had given herself to. And it was gone, it claimed her dreams, her respect, her ability to hope, and her very sense of self. She was alone, very alone…

…I imagine many of Athena’s friends turned against her. Some saw her as tainted, regardless of the details. Perhaps others behaved as if she carried a contagious disease, warning her married friends to keep their distance lest they catch the bug of divorce. The most painful thing in her life, or the limited version they knew of it, was fodder for insensitive gossip and irreverent dinner-table conversation. Did they feel the severity of her pain? Did they ahve to watch when her body was racked with sobs, and tears burned her eyes and stained them red?

I imagine that her marital status became a part of her name, as in “Athena, the girl who is divorced. I wonder if they told her there was no place for her in ministry, if they sat in comfortable chairs, dressed in their suits, and held meetings behind closed doors to decide, while their own stories remained tucked away with their coordinated handkerchiefs. Did someone say, “Do you know that God hates divorce?” And did she answer, “I know. So do I. Possibly more than you?” I wonder if it hurt when they pinned the Scarlet D on her, or if she was so wounded and fragile she invited and fully accepted the pain and guilt to add to the punishment and shame she had inflicted on herself.

I have been in those closed door meetings. More so they were classroom meetings at Bible College and Seminary where we were discussing what God has given to us regarding divorce: When is divorce allowable? Can someone get remarried? Can a divorced person be an elder? Can they serve on staff as a “director” of a certain ministry? Does a divorce completely disqualify you from ministry?

In essence, we were asking “Does divorce break you beyond repair? Is divorce truly the only irreconcilable offense in God’s economy?”

Truly we were searching out whether or not a Scarlet D existed.

And in all fairness to us Bible and Theology nerds, these are important questions to wrestle with because they are issues that God cares deeply about. He would not have written about divorce if He did not care about it. And if He cares about this then His people (and especially the shepherds of His flock) must care about it.

But in most of these conversations, and most likely the reason why you are reading this blog, is because you (we) have missed the point completely. Naomi goes on,

Did they know how hard it was for her to come to church that day? And now, in a final act of driving the knife into her gaping wound and out the other side, she was told she was no longer worthy to come to Christ, the one who could give refuge in her anguish. For unlike them, he did know all that lay within her heart. And it was to Him that she actually answered, not the masses who tried to occupy His place.

As the priest finished administering the sacrament, he slowly stepped back to to the altar. Athena stood in the same place where he left her and cried out what many have only cried on the inside:

I ask you, why do you care about Naomi’s divorce? Do you have some planks to clear out of your own eye before you go speck-spotting? As a published author and the daughter of a prolific Christian leader, her life by default is out there for all to see, and to judge. Maybe you are a fellow divorcee and you are looking for someone’s story to give you hope. And to that I say Amen! But I ask you, reader, why do you care whether or not she has been divorce? Have you once thought about the pain associated with this divorce? Do you want to sit in the seat of judgment over her, and consequently gossip about her and slander her? Have you once considered the courage that it takes to admit a divorce, risking credibility and integrity in the eyes of many following this admission?

I hope you are not a TMZ Christian, looking for the gossip and the scoop on this high-profile believer. And if this is you, take a moment and repent. And pray for Naomi, her ministry and her family. Thankfully God can use broken and damaged judges like you and I in His redemptive work.

23 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by jill pendley on May 15, 2011 at 5:15 pm

    Thank you, Brandon, for setting me straight. I am divorced and remarried. Guess I was only interested in order to hear her story. However, just listening to her on the radio just now and hearing pain in her voice should be enough without more details. I would like to know how to write to her. I can’t wait to read her book. Does she live in Oxford or California? Again, thank you for having this blog.

    Reply

  2. Posted by Sarah on May 15, 2011 at 6:57 pm

    Hi Brandon, I came to your link exactly for the reason you said (googled) and you are completely right about the need to know. (The reason I googled is I heard her interviewed on the christian radio today, and I wanted to find her book as I didn’t hear the start or end of the interview. While expressing herself candidly, Naomi also spoke meaningfully and certainly in a way that resonated with my own experience, so that’s why I followed up – first by searching “Naomi Zacharias” and then “Naomi Zacharias divorce” because I wanted to see if she’d written anything about her own experience.) Thank you again.

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  3. Posted by Liz Edie on May 15, 2011 at 8:05 pm

    I came looking for more about her book. Her life and pain and choices to use that pain to minister to others was what drew me. I don’t know about the other 139 and counting. Before I went throught it myself I did not understand divorce, i barely do now but it has completely humbled me, no humiliated and distroyed me. Only Jesus could and is rebuilding my life. I was more like the church people she was trying to honestly talk about back then. May God use our lives to reach out the way only those who have been there can.

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  4. Posted by Sophia Churchill on May 16, 2011 at 10:09 am

    I looked up the term “divorce” with her name because I saw on her book bio at Amazon that she was married — but I had just recently heard her in a radio interview say that she was divorced. That’s either a remarriage or a very quick first marriage.

    But to set the record completely straight — getting divorced is not a sin in the eyes of the Catholic Church and one is still allowed to receive the Eucharist. Getting remarried after a “divorce” is adultery. And *adultery* is a mortal sin — thereby precluding reception of the most Holy Sacrament. If someone’s marriage is annulled (something “Athena” most likely could have procured — she was abandoned by someone who clearly did not understand and was not ready for the mature responsibility of marriage) then one may remarry licitly.

    I hope the priest in question has been informed of this. Because if this story is true he has committed a cardinal sin. If this story is not true then it is slander against the law of the Church.

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  5. Posted by Daniel on May 20, 2011 at 2:19 am

    Thanks Brandon for your thoughts on this. I was hear her on the radio yesterday and immediately downloaded her book. I just finished it. It is packed with emotions and incredibly thought provoking. Her own reading of the book allows the reader to hear the pain she is desperately wanting to describe. The pain is obvious and knowing the details is not necessary.

    My reason for searching was to hear how she had been hurt so I don’t make the same mistakes like those ‘well meaning’ persons did to hurt her.

    She talks about how the church has done a very poor job addressing issues like divorce and I agree. I have not experienced it personally but I want to be someone who extends grace to those who have been hurt- in fact, that is everyone of us.

    I will have to listen to her book again because there is so much in there that I can’t absorb all of it at once.

    Thanks again for the reminder to love and pray for one another.

    Reply

  6. Posted by Tom on May 22, 2011 at 12:19 pm

    I can see by the replies above that you may be mistaken on your position of why people would want to know Naomi’s story. Indeed there are evil people out there who want only to gossip. But many people (Christians) are looking for answers; answers to their own hurts and problems. Knowing others have made it through is knowledge that God can use to bring peace to others. I myself heard a 30 minute interview with Naomi and wanted to hear her story because I was moved by her struggle and her incredible service to Christ. I have not been divorced, never will be divorced but have my own struggles. I thoroughly enjoyed hearing the interview and want to use Naomi’s story to improve my own service to Christ. Be careful of your own judgement.

    Reply

    • Hey Tom. I hear you, brother. And it seems that many have found that encouragement. One of the things that I said in my post was how, in reading about her divorce, my own thinking on divorce was greatly challenged. As I said, “Surely some out there who are looking to encourage Naomi, or who have heard of her story of redemption through her divorce and you want to read about what she has already written. But some of you out there have TMZ-itis, and you care about things that do not concern you because you want to know The Skinny, The Scoop. The Dirt.” And later I said, “Maybe you are a fellow divorcee and you are looking for someone’s story to give you hope. And to that I say Amen!” My beef is not with those who are seeking what Naomi is doing by so courageously putting herself out there to encourage those of us who have and have not been divorce. God bless, and thanks for the comment!

      Reply

  7. Posted by sarah on May 27, 2011 at 7:47 pm

    i am a christian woman, separated after a very short period of abusive marriage. the pain i had to endure during marriage was not so much as the pain of rejection by the “righteous” flock of church goers. The cold looks and walking past you as though they did not see you, opened my eyes to the emptiness and shallowness of routine church goers. Many nights i have spent crying out to God to plead for restoration of my husband from his paranoid schizophrenic behaviour, feeding on His word each day for strength, and being strengthened. Only to reach the church to experience the coldness, the rejection and the disapproving looks and stares of those who have it all together. That was the second hit I had to take. The second rejection. I even wondered what religion are these people practicing in this building? I don’t see the love, forgiveness, mercy and kindness of Jesus here. Who are they following? I happened to stumble upon Naomi’s link after having been listening to Ravi’s powerful messages. I feel deeply and share the pain of Naomi. In it I find strength that God is not limited within the four walls of the church building and controlled by the church-goers. God is bigger than that. His forgiveness and mercy are mightier. Our mess can be a message when surrendered to Him. God Bless Naomi and the work she is doing for others. Her pain and restoration is in itself a testimony to many others in a similar situation.

    Reply

  8. Posted by David Orehotsky on June 29, 2011 at 7:02 am

    The Ravi Zacharias Podcasts have long been a staple in my everyday devotional experience. Today was different. Throughout the night I listened and relistened to the two episodes of “Divided Heart: Divided Home.” As I could no longer bear the agony I felt for King David and his family, I switched to “The Scent of Water,” but I made it only halfway through. I spent my life in church; I passionately wanted to serve God in all elements of my life; I prayed fervently for who I was to marry and prayed fervently over getting married once I met the woman God seemed to have for me. In the twenty-five years since, I have served in Christian schools, spoken widely around the world, served many years as a missionary, and today teach in public school. Many years ago I also fell into a period of infidelity; Psalms 51 burns my soul to the core. My sins are ever before me, but God does NOT delight in sacrifice or take pleasure in burnt offerings. The sacrifices are a broken and contrite heart. Many years ago, God brought me to my knees, and I have since worked with every fiber of my being to return to the calling of my youthful commitment to God and family. It is not enough. I am alone and going through the searing agony of the divorce process. How could a marriage stept in such prayer, an engagement celebrated in a remote park with communion end in such disappointment and agony? In her interview, Ms. Zacharias speaks about her trepidation about ever trusting men again, yet she asks that question of her father. From her interview and reading excerpts from her book, much of her work deals with the brutal conditions of women living as slaves – sexual and marital – around the globe. If Ms. Zacharias is divorced, know that, sadly, tens of thousands share your agony. If she is divorced, I also don’t know the source of the conflict. If it is infidelity, know that for all those I have known that have fallen into this sin, the issues are far more then sex. As a teacher, I worked almost exclusively with women, and most of those to whom I reported were women. Over eighteen years I was routinely subjected to sexual advances and sexual discrimination from all but one of my supervisors. For eighteen years I avoided and rejected every advance while desperately trying to keep my job and the flow of income to support my family. Courts were no recourse because I was a male, and only women are the subject of such henous advances. I was the bread winner so quitting was not an option. Throw into the mixture a wife and daughters deeply unhappy with a return to America and where I sought employment. As a man you find yourself battling ceaselessly on all fronts. The powers arrayed against you and closing in on all sides become overwhelming. Know the spiritual battles men face transcend pulpit aphorisms. The battle against bizarre gender defined roles put me working up to four jobs at a time with no time for children or spouse, destroyed me financially, have shattered my home, my heart, and my spirit. I do not believe in divorce, but it is now part of my spiritual journey. If Ms. Zacharias is anything like me, my prayers go out to her, her family, my wife and children and all those who contemplate this horrific process. It need not be, but that takes two willing partners searching their hearts for the truth of God and an understanding of how He defines love and relationships. In the end, he desires “truth in the inner parts.” May we put aside our entitlement mentalities and as all true sinners saved by grace seek to find peace and true joy in the prescence of each other before a holy, just, and compassionate Lord and Savior.

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  9. Posted by CSL on June 29, 2011 at 4:45 pm

    In reviewing your CV, etc and coming across this page, I find it apparent that you have no understanding of God Amazing Grace…. though you boast of the later…. Tell me…. any high profile figure, will be in the spot light and thus people will want to know about them naturally…. not in a mean way, but to understand that even high profile people struggle…. that the rest of us are not alone in our valleys…. for the grass is never greener on the other side as long as you are found in Christ…. I think you need to read the book “Grace Walk” and go through the series “Experience God”; it will surely help your hypocritical declarations…. for surely whom ever as not sinned, through the first stone…. shalom….

    Reply

  10. Posted by Baroebbas on July 29, 2011 at 11:53 am

    Any one care what the bible says? Matt 19? 1 Cor 7? Two bible believing, Christ professing Christians should be able to work out there relational issues, not with therapy or lawyers (1 Cor 6) but the Holy Spirit… If she is divorced it speaks of her ability to lead, if she is unwilling to follow the dictates of scripture, it would be hypocritical of her in her ministry to tell me to obey (directly or indirectly) the word she is unwilling to follow herself?

    Reply

  11. Posted by Samuel Y on August 14, 2011 at 11:42 am

    “Righteous” Christians really need to take note of Matt 25:31 to 46; are we like goats or sheep by the way we treat those most in need of God’s grace? And to the scripture experts, John 5:39,40 “You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life.” If only Christians would stop prescribing bible verses but instead minister life the way Jesus did!

    To Naomi, as you continue to ” build yourself up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourself in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life. And continue to be merciful to those who doubt; save others by snatching them from the fire; to others show mercy, mixed with fear—hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh.” I pray for you and commit you & your family “To him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy, to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen.” Jude 17-25.

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  12. Posted by Special K on September 9, 2011 at 1:42 pm

    I came here after listening to Naomi on the RZIM podcast talking about the Scent of Water. I was moved by her articulation of the hurtful experiences in her life leaving her deeply hurt and how grace can cover over the pain and purpose can bring healing. She spoke of my same pain and illustrated God’s healing by way of grace and purpose. My hope was to learn more to heal more, thankful for her vulnerableness and a way to understanding/living through the pain.

    Reply

  13. Christianity is a man made religion and it shows

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  14. Posted by Monte Reamer on November 4, 2011 at 5:18 pm

    Love all the Drama about Naomi; actually the whole thing makess me sick. I saw her on Ravi’s Iphone App, I love her story, and she is spot on about the church. All I was trying to find out was who she is in relation to Ravi! Her divorce is a pity, but sinners like myself get divorced. Is it TMZ-ed to wonder about her relationship to Ravi? If so, I guess I am guilty. Naomi has a long way to go to catch up to my sinful life, but that is what Redemption does; it redeems sinners. If someone can explain the same last name I would appreciate it. I love her work, I am not out to trash her, I simply wanted to know. Too much to ask?

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  15. Does she have a website? Facebook page? Something? Does she run an organisation? Basically, want to read a bio about her.

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  16. Posted by Freddie on February 24, 2012 at 9:38 pm

    Wow, I honestly never knew Ravi had a daughter or children for that matter. Naomi is so beautiful. Thanks to google anytime I type in Zacharias her name along w/ a Nathan Zacharias (not sure if that’s Ravi’s son?) pops up. Then after seeing how beautiful she is, I typed in Naomi Zacharias and “divorce” pops up next to her name everytime. I don’t care too much to gossip, I was just curious to know more about who she was and why “divorce” kept popping up next to her name. If you’re a public figure, kiss your private life goodbye. I guess what I’m trying to say is you shouldn’t assume that all folks are out to gossip when searching for Naomi Zacharias divorce. I was curious about her divorce because guess what keeps popping up next to her name in search engines? In your title you ask But Why Do You Care? I’m telling you, I don’t care about her divorce, these things happen in life. My curiosity is more of the “what happen?”…what caused the divorce?

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  17. Posted by Connie on March 18, 2012 at 5:50 pm

    I only knew Naomi has suffered some deeply painly experience and I never heard or read the details about what it was about. Without knowing anything my imaginagion thought that maybe she was mourning the death of a child. I just started reading her book so I googled “Naomi Zachrias bio” and found this site. Now I know. I am a Christian and have been divorced. The Word that came to me finally in my own struggle with getting a divorce as a Christian was “God’s grace is sufficient”. He freed me from the guilt.

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  18. Posted by Thomas George on June 6, 2012 at 10:19 pm

    Brandon,

    It is human nature to be curious about misfortune. Haha, don’t tell me you’ve never witnessed the aftermath of an accident on the side of the road and not slow down to get a closer look. A misfortune has occurred. People are hurt. But why do you care? It’s the same concept. That’s why the media puts so much attention on these things. You may have seen “Jennifer Anniston Divorces Brad” headlined across every magazine several years ago. It’s simply in our nature to be curious of such things. We rather read about “Man loses 4 limbs in explosion” than “10-year-old wins National Spelling Bee”. Why? Because that is how we are. We are sinful by nature. However, we’ve heard the phrase, “Love the sinner, but hate the sin.” When we write blogs such as this, should we criticize the people who simply searched for “Naomi Zacharias divorce” (analogous to our “curious” sinful nature) or should we criticize them for, say, acting on this curiosity and gossiping about it (analogous to hating the sin). You see my point? This also becomes difficult because when you criticize the reader of this blog without knowing their heart, think about it; are you not making an unwarranted judgement yourself?

    I realize there’s an unpopular stigma for Christians getting divorced — especially in the Indian culture, as I myself am a part of. In these circles, it’s a significantly bigger issue than a divorce in the west; I understand that. Aside from the cultural aspect, it is a stigma also because she is the daughter of a Christian celebrity, and divorce in these circles are certainly, as society sees it, unpopular. This too I understand.

    Anyways, just wanted to shed some light on this topic.

    Peace

    Reply

  19. Posted by Tamsin on July 14, 2012 at 2:58 pm

    I actually came to this by clicking all naomi Zacharius names on face book trying to find more about the women who’s heart has reached mine through her amazing honesty and compassion, a kindred spirit in a world or should i say “church” where love is really lacking… thank you for letting me believe in love again through letting us in Naomi xxxx

    Reply

  20. It’s interesting to hear of the various reasons that people visited your blog – I wonder if that surprised you? I had never heard of Naomi until today. I am a regular listener to her father’s ministry and have grown and benefitted enormously from the gift that the Lord has given him. I came here today because my child has gone to University and walked away from God in quite an aggressive and angry manner. His father and I are deeply sorrowful over this but are simply trying to love him and trust God for his return. I heard Ravi mention his daughter’s in one of his messages and I just wondered if he had ever been through anything like this with any of his children. I didn’t even know his daughter had been divorced or that this was what her book is about. If you are someone who loves the LORD and are reading this please pray for my son – just say you are praying for the persistent mother’s son…the Lord will know who I am :-)

    Reply

  21. Posted by dee on August 16, 2012 at 8:49 am

    You seem to be a self righteous person.

    Reply

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