As crazy as it sounds, divorce is almost seen as a rite of passage in today’s culture. It’s certainly seen as a viable option when our marriages hit rough times. The problem with this thinking is that ALL marriages hit rough times. So based on our culture’s standard, all marriages have times where divorce could be on the table as an option.
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Let’s play a game of myth vs truth…
- Myth: My spouse and I are both Christians, and therefore divorce will never be an issue we have to deal with.
- Truth: 33% of all American adults who have been married have also been divorced.*
- Truth: 32% of all American born-again Christians who have been married have also been divorced as well.*
- Myth: If things do not work out with my spouse, divorce is always an option.
- Truth: God hates divorce. (Malachi 2:14-16)
- Truth: Jesus only discussed divorce in the context of adultery. (Matthew 5:31-32)
Jesus permitted divorce only in the case of adultery. But we do need to put His teaching into cultural perspective. Divorce was allowed in the Law of Moses, and its allowance was certainly abused. A man was allowed to divorce his wife for any reason he saw fit. In Moses’ day, women were often treated as second-class citizens. If a man wanted to take a new wife, he would deny his current wife, make her one of his servants, and she would be denied any sort of normal life not to mention the possibility of children.
Moses permitted divorce as a way to protect women from this type of abuse. Jesus changed the game, however. He identified marriage as something sacred between two equals. He demonstrated God’s original design for marriage – two becoming one – a perfect picture of what it means to be the bride of Christ.
Divorce is also mentioned in 1 Corinthians 7:12-16 when Paul gives instructions regarding marriage and divorce. In this passage, he is specifically speaking to believers who are married to an unbelieving spouse. Paul states here that believers are called to stay in their marriage unless the unbelieving spouse insists on leaving. In this particular case, it is okay to let them go their own way. You cannot force someone to stay who is determined to leave. I truly believe that God is sympathetic to this fact. After all, He doesn’t force us into a relationship with Him. He is always by our side and remains faithful (even when we’re not), but He will never force us to love Him if we choose to go our own way.
If you are in a situation where the marriage relationship has become toxic, either physically or emotionally, know that God hasn’t forgotten you. God does permit us to leave (and remain single) when staying is no longer an option. (1 Corinthians 7:10-11) The Bible is pretty silent regarding the issue of abuse; but knowing the nature of God, I can say with confidence that He takes it very seriously. He is our protector and would never expect us to keep ourselves in a damaging situation. In instances such as this, divorce and remarriage is a controversial subject. I cannot stress enough the importance of relying on the Holy Spirit in these matters. Seek out the Scriptures as well as wise, godly counsel. Please know that you are not alone.
I need to make one more significant point. Divorce is not unforgivable. If you’ve been told that God cannot forgive you because of your divorce, you were lied to. If you’ve been divorced, even for all the wrong reasons, God has not closed the door on you! His message of grace and forgiveness covers ALL sin – divorce included. Do not let the enemy tell you otherwise. The devil would love to keep you from your God-given purpose by continually reminding you of your past sin. Don’t let him. Surrender your heart to God, and let Him restore your life. He can and will use you and has a beautiful plan for your future!
Some of us have dealt with a divorce that was beyond our control. Know that God loves you! He understands more than anyone what you went through, and will heal you of any open wounds or scars you now carry. (Psalm 34:18-19)
- Myth: There are certain things within a relationship that can never be resolved.
- Truth: We serve a God of reconciliation, and all things are possible through Him. (Mark 10:27)
- Myth: If my spouse is “the one,” our feelings of love will never fade.
- Truth: Love is not something we feel, rather it is something we choose to do. (1 Corinthians 13:4-7)
- Truth: True unconditional love comes only from God. (1 John 4:7-8)
- Truth: You have to choose to put your spouse’s needs above your own. (Romans 13:8-9)
In marriage, love is a choice – not a feeling.
Every day we must choose our spouse all over again. When things get rough, don’t let negativity take hold. Remember why God brought the two of you together in the first place. Remember your covenant vow that you made before God, family members, and friends to love one another no matter how difficult the situation. Marriages go through hills and valleys. Learn to love in the midst of the valleys, so that God can reward your faithfulness with glorious mountaintops! Communicate and pray with one another. Make allowances for each other faults.
Know that you are in this together… til death do you part.
*Information from The Barna Group of Ventura, California, www.barna.org. (Study conducted in 2008)
*Unless otherwise indicated, Scripture quotations taken from the NASB.