Matthew 5:31 – 32 It has been said, “Anyone who divorces his wife must give her a certificate of divorce.” But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, causes her to become an adulteress, and anyone who marries the divorced woman commits adultery.
Divorce. It is one of the ugliest words I know. It destroys lives, though many people don’t realize just how destructive a divorce can be until they’ve been through one.
When a man and a woman pledge to be faithful to one another only, for as long as they both shall live, God takes that seriously. He takes it so seriously, as a matter of fact, that he paralleled Christ’s relationship with the church with the relationship between a husband and wife. Christ loved the church, laid down His life for her, and would never, ever leave her – though the church is imperfect. He has committed Himself to her, no matter what.
In the same way, a man and a woman commit themselves to each other, no matter what. Why is it that when we say, “for better or for worse,” we really only mean “for better?” When a man and a woman marry, they become as one person. When they divorce, it is like taking a knife and cutting that person in half. If both parties survive the process, they will most certainly carry scars and handicaps with them for the rest of their lives.
And when children are involved, the injuries that are inflicted on those innocent souls cannot be measured. As I said before, divorce is just plain ugly. There is no other way to describe it.
Sometimes, when one person has been unfaithful in a marriage, it causes there to be such a lack of trust, and the pain goes so deep that the other person simply cannot move past it. And though this passage speaks of sexual unfaithfulness, a true and deep study of Christ’s words on the subject imply that He spoke of the breaking of trust, rather than the act of adultery. Sometimes, that can be caused by severe physical or emotional abuse, as well as adultery.
But regardless of the reasons one may have for seeking a divorce, it should never be the first choice. If the wayward or abusive spouse is repentant, if he or she is sorry and wants to change and wants to make the relationship work, then by all means, it is better to stay in the marriage. For divorce is simply the decision to trade one set of familiar problems for another, unfamiliar set. And it rarely brings peace and fulfillment to either party.
In some cases, God permits divorce. But this doesn’t mean He likes it, or He thinks it is the best thing. It’s just that, when two people have reached such a point of misery, and the trust is gone, and they are unwilling or unable to make things better, God allows them to separate. Hardly the way to lasting joy and peace . . .
There is healing after divorce. God can heal anything. But the road to healing is a long and difficult one. If there is anyone reading this who is considering divorce, I hope you will reconsider. Yes, God can heal you, after divorce has torn you apart. But He can also heal your marriage. He is the miracle worker. Ask God to work miracles in your marriage, and then humbly ask your spouse to forgive you for your part in tearing down the trust in your relationship. Regardless of the outcome, you will never be sorry for fighting to save something that is sacred, in God’s eyes. And you never know. You just might get that miracle you prayed for!
Dear Father, Please help me to honor the commitment of marriage, and to love my spouse as You love the church.
Renae, thanks for addressing this tough issue. Marriages are definitely under attack today. I have several Christian friends headed towards divorce right now, but like you said, God is in the miracle business. Nothing is impossible with Him. As friends, we need to be faithful and persistent in our prayers for those we know who are going through divorce.
What a very difficult and complicated topic this is… and it is such a terrible thought for me to even contemplate divorce. I just don’t think I could survive it. I know for some people it is necessary for physical and mental safety… but most of the time that is not the issue. Lord, help me to live unselfishly.
Hi Cheryl and Jeanette! Yes, it is a tough topic, especially since divorce seems to be a quick solution these days. But it rarely brings the happiness that people hope to find . . . as hard as it is, it is better to stay and work through the problems in a marriage. Cheryl, you’re right. We need to pray for people who are going through difficulty. And Jeanette, your prayer is perfect – help us all to live unselfishly.
Renae, what a wonderful and timely post. I am widowed but such a believer in marriage. I truly believe that the family is the foundation which is why it has come under such intense attack. Society has made such a mockery of marriage and it saddens me that people are missing the incredible blessing of a man and woman loving and committing to one another standing on a foundation of truth. Thank you so much for this post and your honest, compassionate thoughts.
Thanks so much, Karen! Yes, many people forfeit the blessing of a life-long commitment, simply because they give up too soon. Marriage is not easy, but few things worth having come easily . . .
Hey Renae! This is such a great post! 🙂 It is so sad to see how quickly people opt for divorce when things start to get too tough. I know how much it can hurt, both the people involved and others as well. I’ve seen my brother go through it before, and it hurt me just to watch him go through it. I sometimes think it can be prevented to some extent, at least in some cases, if people would think through things before getting married. With my brother, who is a Christian, it was a case of being unequally yoked with someone who wasn’t a Christian, and in cases like that you generally are asking for trouble. Unless God uses you to bring the other person to salvation. It’s a whole lot easier though to work through things if both parties have the same beliefs.
Anyway…that’s my thoughts on the matter. 🙂
Good thoughts, Tori. Yes, a lot of problems could be avoided if we were more careful about the choices we make in the beginning – such as the choice of whom to marry. Even when people have the same beliefs, marriage is hard work. Add to that a different set of beliefs and values, and as you said, you are just asking for trouble.
I’m sorry to hear about your brother’s divorce. I know that must have been difficult for him, and for your entire family. Thanks for your wise thoughts!