Family: Marriage

Pharisees came to him, testing him, and saying, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any reason?”

He answered, “Haven’t you read that he who made them from the beginning made them male and female and said, ‘For this cause a man shall leave his father and mother, and shall join to his wife; and the two shall become one flesh? So that they are no more two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, don’t let man tear apart.”

They asked him, “Why then did Moses command us to give her a bill of divorce, and divorce her?”

He said to them, “Moses, because of the hardness of your hearts, allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it has not been so.      Matthew 19:3-8 (WEB)

For me, marriage is a covenant between a man and woman and God. Once God makes a commitment to a covenant, He doesn’t change His mind. It’s the other two parties who have to work at it.

I have been through a divorce. I was married almost 20 years. Our marriage failed because we did not make our covenant with God. We did not understand that we could not make a marriage work by ourselves. We took God for granted; relegating Him to the ‘library’ of our life. We could take Him out when we thought we needed Him. We were good people and went to church. That was enough. Not. When communication became difficult and outside forces added pressure and we found ourselves on different paths, we had no knowledge of Who to call and how to allow His love to heal us. And we were in the church.

Very often it seems that marriages fail inside the Church because both the husband and wife are not committed to their own relationship to God and they are not committed to their marriage. Both are essential. How often I have heard one of the covenant parties explain what the other person has done to bring about the demise of the marriage. It wasn’t until I owned up to what I had and had not done that I could live with the divorce the rest of my life. No matter what has happened and what the circumstances there is a sense of failure that never leaves you when you have gone through divorce. It is in personal repentance that I found peace that does pass my understanding.

In the last 11 years, I have found what it is like to live in a covenant marriage. On the one hand there is that assurance that all three parties are committed to the promises they have made. That does not mean that there has not been problems in communication or that outside forces have not launched attacks on Henry and me but we know Who to call! We have prayed even when we did not feel like praying and God is faithful to clear the way for His truth and His love to cover what we are unable to do for ourselves.

Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, and Christ also is the head of the assembly, being himself the savior of the body. But as the assembly is subject to Christ, so let the wives also be to their own husbands in everything.

Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the assembly, and gave himself up for it; that he might sanctify it, having cleansed it by the washing of water with the word, that he might present the assembly to himself gloriously, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. Even so husbands also ought to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself. For no man ever hated his own flesh; but nourishes and cherishes it, even as the Lord also does the assembly; because we are members of his body, of his flesh and bones. “For this cause a man will leave his father and mother, and will be joined to his wife. The two will become one flesh.” This mystery is great, but I speak concerning Christ and of the assembly. Nevertheless each of you must also love his own wife even as himself; and let the wife see that she respects her husband.     Ephesians 5:22-33 (WEB)

Oh, how often this passage is quoted in pieces and parts to suit the one quoting! It cannot be said unless there is commitment from both parties. That commitment grows trust that joins to produce the fruit of respect and love. It can never be a one way gift and be a growing relationship. Just as my relationship with Jesus grows when I put into it (because I know Jesus will!) so my relationship with Henry grows when I put into it because I know that Henry will. We both give without keeping a ledger. We also both forgive without keeping a ledger!

Marriage is work. It must be tended with care and commitment every day. It is a covenant relationship in which I am #2 in my husband’s life and he is #2 in my life. We encourage each other’s relationship with Jesus. We walk out that relationship most importantly with each other.

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