By Luther Bolenbarker
Whatever we or others choose to call it, divorce is failure, and we here in America are not conditioned to failure. This condition of failure applies in all areas of endeavors it seems except marriage, and the American people it seems are being conditioned to accept divorce as a part of life in the 20th century. Many marriages are ending in divorce, while numerous other marriages are solidified by very “thin ice” “for the sake of the children,” or for business/social reasons, or economics, or by the fear of upsetting the status quo, or the fear of change.
The Word “divorce” is being replaced in some states by euphemisms like the title words of this article. More and more the wording in newspapers and legal documents contain these words instead of divorce.
Yearly over a quarter of million children are affected by husbands and wives who choose to go their separate ways. Thus, the courts of our land divide possessions, lives and children, too. Houses stand mute which once rang with laughter and warmth. Homes become houses.
Divorce (as I see it) is a startling testimony to the spiritual danger that threatens our nation as much or more than nuclear bombs, air pollution, crime, over taxation, or what ever happens to be the topic of the day being espoused by our “doomsday” prophets.
But, we as Americans are incurable optimists. While the divorce rates soar, so do marriages. At the turn of the century, more than 20% of our population never married. Now about 701o or less of those of marriageable age have never been married.
The divorce (dissolutionment) of more and more marriages has resulted in the breakdown of a Christian structure on which our society was supposedly built and is based on, love. In the words of the apostle Paul and now abideth faith, hope, love, these three: but the greatest of these is love” (1 Cor. 13:13). If only people today would possess and display these three great qualities, “divorce” would be unheard of among Christians.
While Jesus was on earth, the Pharisees, while attempting to test and trick in order to discredit Him asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for just any reason?” (Mt. 19:3). Jesus knew their hearts and sensed their motive, so He countered with a question of His own: “Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning made them male and female, and said, 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 divide” (Mt. 19:4-6).
So we can see that the divorce question isn’t unique to our day and time. However, not to be out done by any past civilization, our generation has developed its own set of problems and standards, which includes our growing divorce rate (50%), plus men and women living together, having children (and proud of it too!) all without the formality of even being married.
In the New Testament book of Ephesians Paul uses a striking comparison between the relationship between Christ and the church and the relationship between a husband and his wife (Eph. 1:23; 5:23-32). If these admonitions and exhortations are heeded, then marriages would be as God designed them: without divorce, and filled with love for Him and one another.
All of the essential ingredients to a happy marriage must be founded on love. One way to describe what love is can best be described by what love is not:
Love is not jealous. Jealously is the highest form of distrust and the first stage of hatred. It drives its possessor to thoughts and deeds completely foreign to love. Some become obsessed with it to the point of near insanity. If only the jealous would enjoy the wisdom of Solomon: “. . . rejoice in the wife of thy youth . . . and be ravished always with her love” (Prov. 5:18, 19). Read now what love is according to Paul, the Holy Spirit and God (1 Cor. 13:4-8).
Love is not fear. Fear is the complex of negative emotion. To live in a state of constant fear is to suffer a terminal illness. John says, “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear . . .” (1 John 4:18).
Love is not anger. Anger between mates, unchecked often develops into a monster which grows and grows eventually explodes into hatred, harsh words, and even a punch in the nose, if we allow “the sun to go down on our anger.”
Love is not revengeful. When revenge is taken, somehow it always seems to find its way back to us. Revenge is like a “boomerang” or “chickens coming home to roost.” Heed the advice of Paul if revenge has a part in your heart. “Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, Vengenance is mine, I will repay sayeth the Lord, Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Rom. 12:19, 21).
Let me share with you some advice that seems to work for me and has resulted in a happier marriage for me:
Control your tongue I Say less than you think or want to say. “Let every man be swift to hear and slow to speak . . ” (James 1:19, 20).
Guardian of Truth XXVIII: 3, p. 75
February 2, 1984