Divorce is something that is extremely common. One cannot go anywhere without meeting someone who is divorced, in the process of divorce, or thinking about getting a divorce.
Statistics of America state that about 41-50% of all marriages will end in divorce. The average length of a marriage in the United States is seven years.
In the church, the statistics may be slightly lower. Their average can be found at about 38% get divorced or are divorced already.
These statistics are just with first time divorce rates. There are many people who have been divorced more than one time.
The reason for divorce are numerous, but usually stem around the following: infidelity, lack of commitment, conflict or arguing. Many finish with reasons of infidelity, domestic violence, or substance abuse.
With these types of statistics, divorce is a reality in this world. It is something that is found outside and inside the church. Very few people are not touched by divorce in some way or another, either they have been through a divorce or they know someone who has.
Knowing this, I want us to take a look at what the Bible says about divorce.
In the previous posts I looked at what marriage is. It is one man and one woman put together to become one (Genesis 2:22-24). Many will say that this is just the Old Testament and does not apply to us today.
The Pharisees came to Jesus asking about divorce and if it was lawful or not to do. Jesus repeats what was said in Genesis in both Matthew 19 and Mark 10. With those words that the man and woman are to become one, He also adds:
So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate. (Matthew 19:6)
The leaders wanted to know what Jesus had to say about divorce and He tells them that it should not happen at all.
“For I hate divorce,” says the Lord, the God of Israel, “and him who covers his garment with wrong,” says the Lord of hosts. “So take heed to your spirit, that you do not deal treacherously.” Malachi 2:16 NASB
God hates divorce! It should not happen.
Why does God hate divorce? It is because He is a God of LOVE. He is Love. He wants His people to be people of love.
Divorce is not love. There is no love in divorce. There is no forgiveness. It is only hatred and selfishness. It only brings about pain and suffering for selfish reasons.
Love has absolutely no room for selfishness or hatred.
Some will say that divorce happened in the Bible and that Moses made provision for divorce. Jesus had something to say about this:
Jesus replied, “Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way form the beginning.” Matthew 19:8
It was only out of the hardness of heart that divorce was ever allowed. This, again, does not show love. Love is soft and kind.
Now I know that there are some out there saying right now that I just don’t know or understand their situation. There are some that are being verbally, emotionally or physically abused, or some combination of all three. They will say that divorce is their only way out of the situation.
I do know that abuse does occur. I agree that it is horrible and can be life-threatening. However bad a situation is does not in any way allow for divorce. The only situation that Jesus says that allows for divorce was for sexual immorality–a spouse cheating on the other spouse sexually with another person.
Even then, divorce does not have to be the answer.
Think about life as a believer. Jesus promised that there would be persecution of every believer. He never promised that following Him would be easy or fun. He only promised that it would be worth it in the end.
Think about this situation: As a believer you are persecuted and abused–physically, sexually and emotionally. Does this give you the right to strike back in anger and hate? No.
Think about Jesus. He was perfect, never did anything wrong ever. Yet, He was abused, persecuted and killed upon a cross. Jesus endured whippings and beatings and a crown of thorns put on His head. Then as He was put upon the cross, He had to endure the pain of nails being driven through His hands and feet. And He had to endure the punishment of all sins of every person for all time. Then to top it off, His Father, whom He had been with for all eternity, turned His back on Him and struck Him.
How horrible! How wrong!
Yet, as Jesus was upon the cross He prayed that the Father would forgive them because they did not really know what they were doing. He forgave them of what they had done wrong.
And the whole reason for going through all that suffering was so that you may have life and be forgiven of your sins. This is real love.
You, as a believer, are to be just like Jesus–full of love and forgiveness. If you are going through persecution as a believer, does that give you the right to deny Jesus to get out of that persecution? NO! You are expected to endure the persecution, love your enemies and forgive them, just like Jesus did with you.
No where in the Bible does it give a believer the right to sin for any reason at all. Yet, many want to divorce, just because ‘we are incompatible’ or ‘he/she is abusive’ or for some other reason. None of these hold up under the command that no one should separate what God has put together.
Marriage may or may not be easy. Guaranteed there will be times that it will be difficult. There will be times that will seem like the most horrible thing on the face of the earth. Yet, marriage is supposed to be about love. One is love the other, no matter what.
Going back to the vows. Many said that they accept the other ‘for better or for worse’. This is often forgotten or ignored. You promised to live together for better or for worse, now wanting to get out of that promise because something is worse. You are to keep your vows before God. He will hold you accountable for every vow you made.
The other thing to remember is that with God all things are possible (Philippians 4:13). God can redeem your marriage. He can also give you the strength to endure all of the abuse that you may be going through. He can give you the love you need to love your spouse, even when that love is not returned and hate is given.
Just as your walk with God as a believer is not always easy, you walk in marriage may not always be easy, but it is worth it to love and fulfill your vow. Who knows? God may change the heart of your spouse and bring the spouse around to change his/her ways to a way of true love.
Divorce does not allow for change. It does not allow for love. It does not allow God to be the center of one’s life. It only brings about death and separation.
Do not allow death and separation to destroy your marriage. Hang in there and trust God to turn things around. Pray daily for strength and love to keep moving forward. Trust God to make the needed changes in your life and in the life of your spouse.
Now with this being said, I will say that there may be times when a spouse may have to move out to be safe from harm. Moving out is not getting a divorce, but staying safe. It still holds on to the hope that God will turn the marriage around.
Also if your spouse is an unbeliever and wants to get the divorce, than you are free to allow the spouse to get the divorce and you are released from your vow. However, you must not be the one to initiate or choose to get the divorce. Fight for your marriage.
I will be praying for your marriage. Praying that God will be the center of both of your lives and the center of your marriage. I will be praying that God will give you strength to love your spouse no matter what happens.
Your statutes, Lord stand firm; holiness adorns your house for endless days. Psalm 93:5
Every nation, every city and village has a set of rules to help govern their people. The set of rules are guided by how they want the people to live and act within their boundaries.
Throughout time many of the rules that a nation, or some other place has, change. They change because people change and want something different. Rules change because people change. No one is able to stay exactly the same all the time.
It is very common today to see groups of people fighting over what rule should be in place, removed or changed. Rules are often made by the majority or those who are in power, so are subject to feelings, rather than eternal truth.
In this psalm it is written that God’s statutes, rules are firm. These statutes are done with holiness for all eternity, never ending.
God is a never changing God. He is the same today, yesterday and forever. Since He never changes He is able to lay down the perfect law or commands for men to follow.
Every command that God gives is given out of perfect love. They are given with the best interest of man in mind. Since they are given this way they are solid and stand firm forever. There is no changing of the laws of God as there are with the laws of man.
Many people despise laws and the commands of God. They see them as limiting and punishing. Yet, God’s laws are in place to build a person up and make him more like Jesus, not to destroy, kill and punish.
When one follows God’s laws, he is able to walk in peace and harmony. He is able to know a true life of joy and love.
Take time to look into the laws and commands of God. Notice that each one is set there to build you up and help you live your life for God. They are set to make you ore like Jesus every day.
You do not have to fear that God will suddenly change His commands. They will remain the same forever.
As you take time to follow the commands of God, you will begin to walk in His holiness and build His kingdom as He desires. You will know His great love for you and others more and more.
Hold on to God’s commands each day.
I pray today that you will know the love of God; that you will know God’s commands are holy; that you will know the value of God’s commands; and that you will obey God with your whole life.
Thank you for continuing this look at marriage from a biblical perspective. In the past few articles we looked at what marriage is and is not, and we looked at the husband’s role in a marriage. Now I will look at the wife’s role.
In the beginning God had created the heavens and the earth. Once He had made all of the land, plants, and animals, God created man. Everything was perfect, except for one thing–man was alone. God said “It is not good for man to be alone. I will make him a helper suitable for him.” ( Genesis 2:18)
After Adam had named all of the animals, God noticed that there was no suitable helper for him. So:
So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs and then closed up the place with flesh. Then the Lord God made a woman out of the man, and he brought her to the man. The man said, “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called ‘woman’ for she was taken out of a man.” That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh. Genesis 2:21-24
The woman was taken from man and was made his wife. She is a part of the man and he is a part of her. Once together as husband and wife, they are back together as one.
This here shows the beginning of what was later termed as ‘marriage’. At this point there is no regulation as to what a wife is to do other than be a helpmate for her husband, however, that is a large job in itself.
A helpmate is one who stands beside and helps out in any way that one can help.
When Jesus left the earth, He knew it was not good for man to be left alone, so He sent His Holy Spirit. His Holy Spirit was to come and be the helper for all men and women. He would help them become more like Jesus. He would help them have the strength to do what needed to be done. He would give them guidance as to how to accomplish God’s mission for them. He would provide the needed comfort. He was the ultimate Helper for every person.
Not being the Ultimate Helper, the wife is a helper for the husband. She is to help her husband out to be the best that he can be. She is to help her husband out to do the job God has called him to do.
The exact help provided will change from time to time and with different circumstances. Sometimes she will help by being an encourager, other times it will be to rebuke. Other times it may be to provide direction or instruction, while other times to be comfort. All of this is done out of love.
When there is love for someone, you will want to help that person be the best he can be for God. This is not be the best he can be for the world, but for God. It is not about self, it is not about him or her, but about God.
Several thousand years later Paul wrote to the husbands and wives. To the wives he said:
Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands. (Ephesians 5:22-24 )
Many women hate this verse or try to ignore it. Many others will try to excuse this verse away. However, it does not get rid of this verse.
Every person, man or woman, is supposed to be sold out, 100% to Jesus. They are to submit to Him in every area of their lives. He is to have the ultimate say in their lives, because He is the head.
But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. (Romans 6:22 )
The term ‘slave’ is a politically incorrect term to use according to people today. Yet, this is what God calls it. As a believer, you have chosen to become a slave to God. This means that you have to submit to Him in every thing, in every area of your life. God has the ultimate say in everything.
This submission, however, is done out of love, not force. This is where the slavery of this world and slavery to God is different. You must bind yourself to God out of love.
As a wife, you are to submit to your husband in the same way. The only way a husband does not get the ultimate say is if it goes against God’s word. Then and only then, does a wife have a way to refuse to submit to him. This should be the exception, not the norm.
Love is the motivator in all of this submission. You are to love your husband and then you will be able to submit to him, follow him, and support him. This is being the helpmeet that he needs.
When you try to do your own thing and go your own way, you are creating division and are not one. This will not allow him to follow God’s commands to be one with his wife.
There will be times when this will be easy to do and there will be times when this is extremely difficult to do. It is no different then your walk with God–easy some times, difficult other times. Don’t give up or give in, but trust in God’s strength and leading. Remember His love for you and pass that on to your husband.
As you focus your life on God and trust Him with your marriage and your life, He will give you the strength to submit to your husband. He will guide you in how to be the best for your husband. Together then, both of you can grow together in the Lord.
Next week I will look at the controversial topic of divorce and what the bible says about it.
Please feel free to share this with any one you know who may be able to use this. Thank you for reading and see you next week.