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Sunday, June 14, 2015
The Secret About Marriage, Divorce and Christianity
THE DIRTY LITTLE SECRET
Churches all around the world of a variety of sorts have made clear in their teaching that marriage is for life, as the vows say “till death do you part,” and often end marriage services with the old phrase, “what God has joined together, let not man put asunder.”
Jesus words about marriage from Matthew 19 are some of the most loved about marriage, as Jesus responds to a question from the Pharisees about divorce: "from the beginning it was not so, the two become one flesh.” When they question him further about why Moses allowed divorce, Jesus responded that it is because of their hardness of heart.
Correction, OUR hardness of heart.
What is the secret? The secret is that, even though Christians teach and stand for the sanctity of marriage for life, as we should, and even though we believe that a marriage with a spiritual connection in God makes for a stronger marriage, even among the best of Christians there are times divorce comes into our lives.
The “dirty” part of the secret is that from the time of Moses forward, God in his wisdom, recognizing the fallen state of man, made provision in the scripture for the possibility of divorce. We may not like that it is there, or think it speaks of failure and falls short of the ideal, the provision is still there.
In other words, though we hold a wonderful ideal and seek to maintain the highest standard for marriage, divorce still occurs because hardness of heart still exists in our world. Even the best of us, with the best effort, fall far short of God’s perfection.
While I would never advocate divorce as a quick solution or the first choice for marital tensions, neither would I pretend like there is no need for it in our world. God can accomplish great things, but my observation has been that often marriages can come to a point in which one partner is willing to submit to God while another has grown tired of trying and is ready to quit. When one partner or the other reaches that point of no return, until or unless they soften their heart, divorce continues to be the end result.
In His wisdom, God knew the realities of our lives here on earth, and he made provision for our weaknesses for the sake of those whose hearts have been broken by one - whose heart has grown hard.
One of the wisest statements I ever heard came from the mouth of a pastor’s wife I met only once or twice in my life. I was present as she was visiting with a mutual friend, and she shared the heartbreaking story of the chairman of the deacons in the church her husband served. She indicated that after 25 years of marriage,tha chairman was facing divorce. The wise statement that she uttered came after she described her sorrow over that divorce, and then said, “But for the grace of God, there go I”. Instead of judging those she knew who were divorced, or quoting scriptures to suggest they were wrong to pursue that course, she recognized the fallenness of our world and that it is only through God’s help that her marriage vows had been preserved.
Now that God has granted me a second chance, I pray that the same God will provide the same help and grace for my wife and I as we seek to live out our wedding vows for the rest of our lives. For those readers who are married, I pray that God will enable you to do the same.