I am sorry for getting this nugget out so late. My ex-wife got in a car accident and broke her neck. So I have been taking care of her and have not had easy Internet access. At the end of these nuggets I will be sharing about our relationship and showing that I "practice what I preach".
Divorce and Remarriage-Part Four
Importance of Marriage
After our last nugget on this topic, it is obvious that Jesus and the teachings of the New Testament are very limiting in regards to allowing reasons for divorce; much stricter than the Old Testament. Many Rabbis interpreted the Old Testament to teach that a man could divorce his wife for incompatibility, not liking her cooking, her denying him sex, or for any other reason. So the question to ask is "Why was Jesus so restrictive in allowing divorce?" Is He a hard taskmaster? Is He not understanding, merciful, or caring? A more important question would be "Why is marriage so important to Jesus?"
Importance of Marriage
Jesus was not so much against divorce, as He was supportive of marriage. It is clear in scripture that marriage is seen as a covenant between the husband and wife, and between the married couple and God. Marriage was to not be taken lightly. This is the reason why vows are made during the marriage ceremony. God intended marriage to be a lifelong commitment as seen in the marriage of Adam and Eve. Jesus makes it clear that divorce was allowed because of the hardness of manís heart, not because it was Godís will. As shown in Matthew 5: 27-48, Jesus always called His followers to Ďtake the higher groundí. And whenever God calls us to Ďtake the higher groundí, He gives us the grace to do it.
Symbolism of Marriage
In Ephesians 5:22-33, marriage is to be symbolic of our relationship with Jesus. As the church is subject to Christ, a wife is to be subject to her husband. As Christ loves the church, husbands are to love their wives and to give themselves up to her. Christ nourishes and cherishes the church and a husband should do the same to his wife. The husband is to love his wife as himself; and the wife is to respect her husband. Just as Christ loves the church, and the church is to respect Christ.
Those who are in a terrible marriage relationship may say the above is all true, but my husband does not love me. Or, my wife does not respect me. So, I should be able to get divorced. We have some questions for you.
Do you ever feel like God does not love you? You encounter rough circumstances in your life and you wonder where is God? You think, "He must be against me. He is not on my side". Or, have you ever been disrespectful to God? Have you backslid? Have you intentionally sinned? Have, by your actions or words shown disrespect to God? If you have answered yes to any of these questions does that mean you should divorce God or He should divorce you? Do you not take your relationship with Christ serious? Have you not made a lifelong commitment to Jesus no matter the circumstances? Has He not said He will be with you always?
I can tell you with confidence that we have hurt Godís heart many more times than our spouse has hurt our heart. Each of us has shown disrespect to God many more times than our spouse has shown disrespect to us. By worshipping our idols (TV, money, drugs, sex, materialism, individualism, pride, gossip, food) we have committed spiritual adultery, yet God does not abandon us. He does not divorce us. Instead He waits for us to come back to Him. We should mention that God does require us to repent before coming back to Him. If we do not repent, He still loves us, but He is not able to have the intimate relationship with us that He desires. There is only one way we can be divorced from God. That occurs when we chose to walk away from Him and never come back to him-abandonment. In 1 Corinthians 7:15 it states that if an unbelieving spouse abandons you, that you can get remarried. However, it does not state that you can abandon your spouse-just as Christ will not abandon us.
Commitment of Marriage
If individuals understood the commitment of marriage and that the Bible gives very little reasons for divorce, there would be less people getting married and then getting divorced. Because divorce is so common, people do not take marriage serious. Nowadays individuals are quick to get married or Ďlive togetherí. If things Ďdonít work outí, you can just Ďdumpí the other person and start over again. Overall the church goes along with this concept. Marriage has become cheapened in the Body of Christ. And what is sad is that this concept has taken place in regards to being married to Christ. The call to holiness, commitment to the Word of God, and commitment to Jesus has been cheapened within the church. Christians have missed the concept to be Ďsold out for Jesusí, and to be sold out for their marriage. People have the impression, you just need to accept Jesus and then live however you want. And when you are confronted about your ongoing sin, just go to another church. And if they donít "love you enough", just go to another church. The same thing is happening in marriages. Just get married so you wonít lust, and then get divorced when there are struggles or your spouse does not love you enough.
Here is a hard word for singles-if you are going to get married then do it for life (regardless of the circumstances), or donít get married at all. God does not say you have to get married, but He does say donít get divorced if you get married. If this was taught and practiced in churches, Christian women would not be getting married to men who knowingly are unsaved, abusers, cheats, alcoholics, or drug addicts. And Christian men would not marry a woman just because she is beautiful.
So what about the hard cases? Adultery, abusive marriages, addicted spouses, unequally yoked marriages? What about those who have gotten divorced and remarried? In the next nugget we will cover these issues.
Copyright @ 2001 Richard D. Dover. All rights reserved.
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Unless otherwise noted, Scripture quotations used are from the New American Standard Version (NAS)