May 10, 2007

One more sign of who we are

“Life is short; get a divorce” so says a sign put up by a legal firm this week. Business was booming, but they forgot to get a permit and the sign came down. It likely won’t stay down for long.

I am a divorced/remarried person. The divorce happened before I became a Christian and the remarriage just after. Both were done in ignorance of what God says about it, but since then I’ve read and studied every Scripture and many books on this topic.

Most people know what the Bible says: “He who made them at the beginning made them male and female, and For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.” (Matthew 19:4-6)

Jesus reminded the Pharisees of this when they argued among themselves about marriage. One group thought the only allowed reason for divorce was sexually immorality (and only the man could divorce his wife for it, not the other way around), and the other group thought a man could divorce his wife for burning the toast. They wanted to trap Jesus with their argument because both of them thought they had rightly interpreted a command made by Moses.

Jesus took them back farther than Moses. God instituted marriage “in the beginning” when He gave Eve to Adam. Not only that, God said that this union should last for life.

Further, what Moses gave was not a command, but a limitation on remarriage should a divorce occur. Jesus explained that Moses did permit divorce. He said, “Moses, because of the hardness of your hearts, permitted you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so.”

Jesus went on to say that sexual immorality was a legitimate reason for divorce, but any who married another was committing adultery. This applied to both man and wife.

Notice what He said. Divorce was permitted because of “the hardness of your hearts.” I know that hardness. My first husband stubbornly refused to quit his drinking and messing around with other women. I stubbornly set myself against forgiving him even if he had of stopped. We both had hard, selfish hearts. One book I read pointed out that it is the hard heart that leads to divorce, not the other stuff. I tend to agree.

The other stuff was painful but forgivable. If I had of been a Christian at the time, I could have done it. In fact, I did forgive him later, but the ‘one flesh’ had already been severed. That severing was far more painful than I expected. I didn’t feel the loss of him so much as the loss of the marriage, if that makes sense. I now understand what God meant when He said two become one flesh; it is more than writing on a certificate.

Today people divorce over things almost as silly as burnt toast. Two often they go into marriage filled with passion and not realizing that passion comes and goes. Relationships are based on commitment, not on emotion and desire. They also do not realize that two people stop getting to know one another if they jump into bed before they are married. One day they will wake up and be horrified, wondering who that stranger is sleeping beside them.

God’s plan is always best. Human plans are always opposite His, and as God is left out of the picture more and more, the plans of man become the norm. For some, staying married for life is hopelessly out of fashion.

That sign put up by the lawyers says a great deal about the way people think apart from knowing and following God. Life is short, but it doesn’t have to be all there is. I have eternal life, and that is not only long, but it is rich and fulfilling while I’m here.

The implication in the lawyer’s sign is that marriage is no fun, and if this short life is going to be enjoyable, don’t be married. It is all about ‘me.’ According to God, that selfish perspective is what keeps us from knowing Him. We insist on doing things our own way, and with that insistence comes a hardening of the heart, making a lasting marriage an impossibility.


darien said...

hmmmmm. This was an interesting post. I completely understand the grieving a marriage more than the person, as that matches my experience as well. However, I'm not entirely sure that I agree with all of your other points. I have to think about it some more.

The decision to leave, the decision to divorce, the decision to remarry--all of those were so difficult. My lawyer, a Christian, said that in his experience,God can say yes OR no at any of those decision points.

Oh, this is SUCH a hard topic!

LC said...

Oh yes, it is tough. Maybe you don't have as big a problem with a hard heart as I do, nor as your ex does. In my current marriage, God showed me that it could go either way, depending on my willingness to soften up. Yikes, these are hard lessons!

luv and prayers!

darien said...

Yes, they are hard lessons indeed. I feel incredibly blessed with the man that I have been given now--and I would be interested in discussing this issue more with you. Of on the blog is not the place.

You make me think!

LC said...

Maybe next time you are in town? or by email?

Valerie Dykstra said...

lc, I've had to wrestle through this too. Gordon and I both came to a place of believing just what you wrote. We believed it enough that Gordon got out of pastoral ministry because of it. But we've met precious few who believe the same way. Nice to see someone who sees it similarly.