By Don Bradford
Perhaps the first error we should address is the first one we usually ignore. It would seem that far more thought and time is given to planning the wedding ceremony than is given to the marriage itself. This must be reversed.
Marriage is looked forward to by almost all of us from an early age. Most of us become anxious to be in the relationship far before we are ready for it. If parents are like mine were, too little introduction and instruction is given concerning marriage and its responsibilities. It would seem that they assumed that when the time came, I would know all I needed to know about marriage by the rules of human instinct. This assumption was not correct then, it is not correct today!
So many people enter into marriage only to soon break the relationship. The last time I heard anything on this, it was said about half of those married soon looked to divorce. Many of our youngsters (and some not so young) tend to lose that which they thought they had in common before marriage and begin to feel regret that they are so bound. With so many people being divorced, it is easy for them to assume that divorce is the way out and they begin to look for a new beginning. Whether or not God is considered is debatable. Most of the time he is not! We concentrate on our problem and forget that we are in subjection to the Higher Power who could help us with our problem if we would seek his help (1 Cor.10:13; Phil. 4:13). We want relief from our problem.
The solution to the problem is for parents, preachers, teachers, and church members in general to come to a recognition of what God has ordained and enforce that understanding. Selfishness is at the root of almost every hasty marriage and most divorces. We want things our way, or else! Discipline of self along the lines of God’s instructions regarding marriage, its purpose, and its goal are absolutely essential. One of the big problems is that too many people (including church members) have little, or no knowledge of what God has ordained on these matters and depend upon what others tell them. This is fatal!
We, individually, bear responsibility. Gone are the dayswhen society accepts the fact of parents making the marriage arrangements. We must learn and be prepared to act on our own responsibility and be ready to accept the consequences of our mistakes, if they be there. We must know that God in the beginning ordained that, when we come to that time in life, we should leave our parents and must cling to the one we choose as our mate. That is the rule for today! There is a permanency to this action that we must accept. Too, we have to learn and accept the fact that when we do what we, individually, can do, God does something we can-not do God joins the two and they become one flesh. This must be recognized! What we hear Jesus teaching in Matthew 19:1-12 is exactly what God ordained in Genesis 2:24. Jesus tells us that the foolishness of man caused God to allow Moses to relent on his former determination, but that is not the way it was from the beginning! Then Jesus voices what his dictate is on the matter.
Too few of us recognize that when we came into this world we did so by the grace and benevolence of our God (Gen. 48:9; Eccl. 12:7). We had absolutely nothing to do with the matter. So it is when we give ourselves into a marriage relationship. We only join ourselves to our mate. God makes us “one flesh. ” There is nothing we can do about it. God’s action comes with the territory!
We must teach these things to our children! We must observe these God-given rules!
Every relationship has its own risks marriage, child birth, etc. We need to learn that everything is not going to be the “rose garden” that we would like it to be. The best planned marriage can go wrong. That child we so anxiously looked forward to can turn out to be a complete disappointment (Deut. 21:18-21).When these things happen there is no way we can throw up our hands and quit. We have to make up our minds that we are going to make the best of things. It is said that when we are given lemons we should make lemonade. Even after some fifty-four years of marriage, I get angry with my wife. But, I remember that Paul covers that problem in Ephesians 4:26-27. Should I obey God, or give in to what I would like to do run away from the problem? To those wives whose husbands ran out on them as suggested in 1 Corinthians 7, instructions given to them said that even though things did not work out as planned, they were responsible to “keep the home fires burning” and not give up.
Frequently it would seem that to many changing mates is little different from changing coats. Perhaps a husband has been guilty of sexual sin with another woman. Some years later is the wife justified by God to use that historical event as grounds for divorcing him? How has she been able to put up with him and his sin for all the ensuing years? Could it be that the wife suddenly sees another man she thinks she would like to have and uses the historical event as an excuse to put the old husband away? Are we aware that God tells us that only the innocent party may put away his/her mate and remarry? It would seem that this area is not often considered.
Too often we find church members who should know better giving sympathy to and attempting to justify a second marriage after the first marriage has gone awry. Was the divorce predicated on a God-accepted reason? Many times it is not. When it is suggested that the second marriage is not accepted by God, defense is established to justify the new, and sinful, relationship. Where is our love for God, his instructions and the former relationship? What are our feelings regarding the woman God still considers the wife of the “newly married man”? What about the children of that relationship? Without a God-approved reason for divorce, the divorced woman is still the man’s wife. The “joining” made by God continues regardless of what civil courts and/or the participants think they have done.
See Mark 6:17. As John, the Baptizer, spoke the mind of God, he instructed Herod that he was married to a woman who was not really his wife she still belonged to the man she thought she had divorced. How often does this happen today among church members and/or in our society?
Advocates of the liberalization of divorce among members of the church are now making new definition to words. Jesus tells us that except for the reason of fornication (or adultery) one who is married cannot put away his/her mate. So, to some unlearned and gullible people, adultery now means something other than sexual relations with one not his/her mate. To some, adultery now means the action of divorcing the first mate and marrying the second mate. This definition cannot be found in any recognized Greek Lexicon, but it is being advocated and the claim is made that Jesus gave us the definition in Matthew 19:9.
Others make claim that adultery is a “one-time” thing and the continued living together with the associated sexual relationship is not a continuation of the adulterous relationship.
We would find it interesting to use the definition of the word instead of the word itself when reading Bible pas-sages having to do with the subject. Such should remind us of Peter’s statement, 2 Peter 3:16 “. . . His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction” (NIV).
Sixty years ago divorce and remarriage was scorned by almost everyone. Today the inroads made by Satan are so great that not only insult is come upon the church of our Lord, but the injury is beyond our ability to comprehend because of divorce and remarriage among members. A few years ago a preacher from an institutional congregation asked me why there were more divorces and remarriages among “my” group than “his.” I could not answer, but what he believed does seem to be true from what I have heard, and this is a shame if it be fact! Until people in the church are willing to “take their heads out of the sand” and study the subject together there will be division among us unto our condemnation per 1 Corinthians 1:10, and other pas-sages. Until church members come to the point in their conversion where they determine to live according to the dictates of Scriptures, we are going to experience difficulties and heartbreak because of divorce and remarriage among our spiritual family.
Unless we in the church do away with the A.C.L.U. attitude that seems to be developing in the church we will never be able to overcome the problems of marriage, divorce and remarriage, or any other which has an impact sufficient to separate the brethren. May the God of heaven be merciful to his people.
Guardian of Truth XL: No. 13, p. 26-27
July 4, 1996