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.
Make vows to the Lord your God and fulfill them; let all the neighboring lands bring gifts to the One to be feared. Psalm 76:11
Making a promise is something easy to do. Promises are made all the time by people of all ages and all nations. Keeping the promise is something different.
Promises are broken every day by people all over the world of all ages. People feel that it is acceptable to break a vow because of some unexpected circumstance in their life.
Since people are so quick to break a promise, contracts have to be drawn up with extreme details to cover every possible situation if the promise is broken. When someone breaks the contract, there is a negative consequence.
Asaph tells the people to make vows to God, but not only make the vows, but to keep those vows also. The other nations are watching and will bring gifts to God because of the vows being kept by His people.
Just becoming a believer begins with a vow. It is a vow to believe in the death and resurrection of Jesus and to follow Him for the rest of the days of one’s life.
However, there are also many other vows a person can make before God. Vows to turn from sin. Vows to do some work that He has called one to do. Promises to spend more time with God and in His word.
People are quick to make vows to God when in a difficult situation. They promise that they will do something, if God gets them out of the bad situation. Whether these are good or bad promises, God expects one to fulfill those promises. Every idle word is taken into account.
As believers keep their promises, the world will see and be amazed. They will give God honor for what they see.
Be careful in making a vow or promise to God or to anyone else. If you make a vow, be sure to keep that vow. Trust that God will give you the strength to fulfill it.
God has made many promises to you and He will fulfill every one of them faithfully. You are to be just like Jesus and the Father, faithful to your word.
Do not allow circumstances or struggles to cause you to break a promise. God does not allow anything to change His promise.
The world is watching to see how you keep your vows. Are you representing God?
I pray today that you will know the promises God has given you; that God will help you keep your vows; that you will trust God to help you in keeping your promises; and that you will a witness of God’s promises being fulfilled.
One of the things that people look forward to in going to a wedding ceremony is waiting for the marriage vows to be said. When the vows are said, it completes the marriage ceremony and the couple are then married. It becomes official.
Although there is nothing in the bible about having to say a marriage vow when one gets married, there is nothing against the bible in saying a vow. All a vow is, is making a promise. It is promising that you will do or not do something. It is committing oneself to something or someone.
In a wedding ceremony the common traditional marriage vow goes somewhat like this:
“I, ___, take thee, ___, to be my wedded husband/wife, to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death do us part, according to God’s holy ordinance; and thereto I pledge thee my faith [or] pledge myself to you.”
Some have changed the wording some, but this is the basic standard of a traditional wedding vow or promise.
When you look at this vow, you will see that it covers everything possible in a marriage–better/worse, richer/poorer, sickness/health. Every marriage will go through every one of these at some point or another. It is human nature to do better or worse, be richer or poorer, and have times of sickness or good health.
Every person who goes into a marriage must realize that these things will occur. There will be times of great joy and happiness, when everything is going perfectly. There will also be times of struggle and pain. Neither one should stop a marriage.
All of these things are done because of love. The next part of the vow is to love and cherish the spouse.
Love comes from God. Remember God is love. God loves you with a perfect, undying love. That love is a love that loves you no matter what, better/worse, richer/poorer, sickness/health. There will be times of better, worse, richer, poorer, sickness and health as you walk this life on this earth. God’s love for you remains the same. He keeps His promise to love you for all eternity.
The same love God has for you is to be brought into a marriage. There will be times that will be better and there will be times that will be worse. There will be times that will be richer and times that will be poorer. There will be health as well as sickness. None of these things should change a marriage and the vows to each other.
As you are going through life married and begin to face some tough times, the worse times, look back to your vow at the beginning. Think about why you were willing to say ‘I do’ to those vows. Hold on to that reason. Keep loving and cherishing your spouse, regardless of what your spouse says or does.
It will not always be easy, but then life is not easy either. Walking with God is not always easy. There are always tough choices to make. There are always difficult times to walk through when walking with God. It is a walk of faith.
Your marriage is a walk of faith with God. You are trusting that your spouse will be faithful and continue to love you, just as God has faith that you will be faithful and love Him as He loves you.
When you said ‘I do’ you made a promise. Now work at keeping that promise and don’t give up.
Thank you for continuing with me on this journey at looking at marriage. Next week I will look at the husband and his responsibility in a marriage. Have a blessed marriage in our Lord Jesus Christ! See you next week as we continue this journey.