By Bobby Witherington
With regard to the husband-wife relationship, Jesus said, “So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate” (Matt. 19:6). In Romans 7:2 the apostle Paul said “the woman who has a husband is bound by the law to her husband as long as she lives.” Many are the Scriptures which speak of the divine origin of the marriage relationship, the sanctity of the home, and the God-intended permanence of the marriage bond.
There was a time in our nation when God’s law regarding the permanence of marriage was generally respected and obeyed – so much so that there was a stigma attached to divorce. But time that has passed. Divorce now is often treated as a joke. It is a common occurrence, and the expected end of many marriages. In fact, a single, young and famous movie star recently said that some day she plans to get married, and she expects that marriage to end in divorce! If that does indeed happen, she will find the divorce easy to obtain, for divorce laws have been liberalized, restrictions have been removed and, legally speaking, it has become common. Domestically speaking, society has sown to the wind and is now reaping the whirlwind. There are some grave problems modern society now faces because of the spiraling divorce rate. What are they?
One problem is the increase of promiscuousness. Among many married people, fidelity is considered unnecessary, “old fashioned,” and out-dated. Hebrews 13:4 says that “marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge.” However, that verse, as well as the book from which it was taken, is regarded as a relic from an unenlightened, puritanical age. Legion are the husbands and wives who are untrue to each other, and some even practice such promiscuousness with their spouse’s knowledge and permission!
A second problem generated by our high divorce rate is an increased disrespect for marriage itself. Some consider marriage out-dated, so they seek to satisfy their fleshly passion in a live together arrangement that has little more permanency than that which characterizes animals of the field and forests. Of course, this is in character for those who ignore and reject the Bible and reduce themselves to living on an animal level.
A third problem that stems from our modern divorce rate affects children. They are often treated like pawns of a chess board, and are made the unwilling objects of parental barter and trade. They are denied a secure family life that is so vital to emotional maturity. Instead they are victimized by fear and frustration, being treated like cattle in a feed lot, in which they are given shelter and food – provided they help themselves to it. Not all children are so victimized when their parents get a divorce, but who would deny that such is the case a large percentage of the time?
When the family circle is broken there is no circle left. Divorce ought to be avoided at all cost. And at the same time let it be remembered that many parents live under the same roof, but are poles apart in their goals, purposes, and aspirations – all of which leave the inside of the circle torn and splintered. Hence, the goal of husbands and wives is not merely to avoid a divorce, but to make their marriage all that God intends for it to be.
Guardian of Truth XXXV: 15, p. 486
August 15, 1991