Talked to our case worker this morning and the referral list that was supposed to come out this week, actually may be coming out next week. Evidently the agency in China that handles the list had a week off last week so that may have delayed it a little. So, you guessed it…more waiting.
Tremendously heavy hearted for marriages lately. In fact, so burdened that this has got to come out of me even though it is always a risky subject. I know of so many marriages that are struggling right now, so many people tempted to walk away, others walking. The enemy would like nothing more then to divide husbands and wives. He is fighting with all he has right now against the very institution that God uses to create life.
I would like to start out by saying that sometimes a relationship cannot be saved. The Bible gives a exception for divorce in Matthew 19:4-9 when Jesus says that Moses permitted the Isrealites to divorce and remarry in cases of adultery. Our God knows that the issue of trust is HUGE in a relationship. There are also many instances in our culture where physical and mental abuse are taking place and the best thing for all parties is a seperation or divorce. The Bible doesn’t directly speak to this, but the tone of the Bible is nontolerance of abuse of this kind…especially in the case of children. We are the protectors of our children and sometimes we must remove them from situations. So I just wanted to importantly note those exceptions before I make my case for marriage :).
That being said, I would like to point out something specific that Jesus also says in this passage (Matthew 19: 4-9), because we like to skip over it. We like to skip over it, because it makes us very uncomfortable and quite frankly, it convicts.
“‘Haven’t you read’, he replied, ‘that He who created them in the beginning made them male and female,’ and He also said: ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two will become one flesh?’ ‘Why then,’ they asked Him, ‘did Moses command us to give divorce papers and to send her away?’ He answered them ‘Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because of the hardness of your hearts. But it was not like that from the beginning. And I tell you, whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery.'”
Yes, Jesus just said that if someone gets divorced, except in cases of adultery, and marries another, they are actually committing the sin of adultery. Why would He say such a thing? If you look at the two intro verses, you will see why. The weight He gives marriage is incredible. Two people become one person. This isn’t just a physical reference. It is a spiritual one. Our hearts join and to seperate them leaves each person with half a heart. We like to call it “baggage” in society today. He goes a step further in Mark 10:11
“‘Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her. Also, if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.”
What if every Christian really believed the Bible and lived by it? What if when we were choosing our life partner we felt the gravity of “Til death do us part”? What if we didn’t give ourselves an “out”? What if we never thought “I could do so much better than this” without our next thought being “but I would be sinning just as much as if I were cheating on my spouse right now”? If remarrying while a faithful ex-spouse is still living is adultery (Jesus said it, not me), then getting divorced means being alone for the rest of your life, or sinning against God. If the choice were to be married to your spouse or to be alone, wouldn’t that put a whole different perspective on things than what we all think the choice is today…to be married or to be “single and looking”? I think that is exactly what Jesus was trying to do. Note to remarried people: I am definitely not trying to bring condemnation here. Adultery (which comes in all kinds of forms) is an exception to all of this and ultimately this is between you and God. I am very sensitive to this Scripture as David and I both have remarried parents who we love very much. I am simply making a point about how strongly God feels about the institute of marriage and how much our culture has watered it down. If you are remarried, this applies to your current marriage, just as much as the first one.
When David and I got married, we agreed that divorce was NOT an option. We were either going to be really miserable together or we were going to work on our marriage and make it the best that we could. We felt strongly about this as we both believe in the blessings of faithfulness to God and we both had seen firsthand the havoc divorce can wreak. Honestly, for the first 8 years, I was mostly miserable. David and I are complete opposites. I am not making that up… we have the personality tests to prove it. Not only did we have that working against us, but we both come from broken homes. To make matters worse, I have always been a little bit…okay, a lot oversensitive, and David has, ummm….let’s just say…. lacked communication skills when it comes to sensitivity. So I was one huge ball of hurt feelings for many years. There are two times that I can think of that things got so bad that the “D” word crossed my mind. Both times, I spent hours wrestling with God about the unfairness of what He had chosen for me. Both times, I wanted out so bad I could taste it. Both times, I tried to rationalize it as being the best thing for everybody. Both times, freedom seemed to be escape. And both times, God reached down in His faithfulness, clarified that true freedom is found in obedience, and gave me the strength to move forward in my marriage. He knows your heart. He will put up the roadblocks when He knows you need them. You might roll right over those roadblocks, but they are there…his loving Hand saying “Wait it out. Keep praying. Don’t give up on your spouse. Hope!” Personally I have seen God not only transform David through the toughest times in my marriage, but transform me the most. It wasn’t overnight, but He always gave the strength and hope to continue the journey. We still fight it out sometimes, but we have grown leaps and bounds, and our marriage is strong today. David is my absolute best friend and I will fight for this precious relationship.
You may not want that strength and hope. You may be purposely not praying because you are afraid that God might speak and tell you to stay and work and fight for your marriage. Ultimately you may believe a good bit more in your happiness than your holiness… but friend, happiness is fleeting and temporary…holiness is eternal. Your God loves you enough to want what is best for you, not what is easiest. His grace is enough, for His strength is made perfect in weakness.
My biggest hope for my marriage is the stability it brings to a family. As a product of divorce, I can speak to its long term effects on a child, as I’m sure could a good many of you. God’s grace is always present in the aftermath, but the pain can be overwhelming at times. I still, to this day, wish my parents would have stayed together. I don’t know that I will ever stop wondering what life would be like if they had. Maybe it would be really bad, but not if they both had agreed to work on it. I know many people who have gotten past the high school graduation of their kids and felt that they have “made it” to the end of their marriage and now their kids will be “okay” with parents that live in two different locations. I graduated about a year after my parents divorced, but I still have a longing to have had a childhood and adulthood filled with my parents together. I still long to have stalwart examples for David and myself. Yes, I have moved on…but I still have a void that comes out at 50th wedding anniversaries or commercials about happy families or fights with David that I know are outworkings of divorce damage.
So if you are struggling with this at all, I ask you to bring the matter before the throne. Struggle with God about it. You don’t have to agree with Him, but I ask you to at least have the fight with Him. He can put it into perspective. He can give courses of action. He can help you courageously pray and wait. And I can tell you that in the end, there is NOTHING more fulfilling than knowing that you did the right thing and God was pleased with it and honored it. Don’t rush to make yourself happy…Wait, and let God make you holy.
PS. Our pastor begins a new series about marriage at The Orchard (off of Hwy 81) on Sunday, October 30th. You should come :).