[Jesus said,]â€œYou have been taught that a man who divorces his wife must write out divorce papers for her. But I tell you not to divorce your wife unless she has committed some terrible sexual sin. If you divorce her, you will cause her to be unfaithful, just as any man who marries her is guilty of taking another man’s wife.
You know that our ancestors were told, “Don’t use the Lord’s name to make a promise unless you are going to keep it.” But I tell you not to swear by anything when you make a promise! Heaven is God’s throne, so don’t swear by heaven. The earth is God’s footstool, so don’t swear by the earth. Jerusalem is the city of the great king, so don’t swear by it. Don’t swear by your own head. You cannot make one hair white or black. When you make a promise, say only “Yes” or “No.” Anything else comes from the devil.â€Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Matthew 5:31-37 (CEV)
Jesus replied, “You are so heartless! That’s why Moses allowed you to divorce your wife. But from the beginning God did not intend it to be that way. I say that if your wife has not committed some terrible sexual sin, you must not divorce her to marry someone else. If you do, you are unfaithful.”Â Â Â Â Â Â Matthew 19:8-9 (CEV)
We are all aware that 50% of marriages end in divorce. That statistic is no better for church-going Christians, so let us not think that Jesus’ words aren’t for us. It isn’t divorce that I believe we should be looking at when discussing how we could improve the statistic. By the time you are thinking divorce or filing papers or entering court, I think we could say that the dye has been cast. I know because I have been through it. After almost 20 years of marriage, I was divorced.
It is marriage that we do not understand. Marriage is a covenant. It is a serious commitment. I’ve gotten it right this time. Here is what I finally learned when I did it God’s way:
- I do not need to go looking for a spouse. God knows my address. He will ‘hook me up’ on His timing and in His way if that is what He has for my life. Am I willing to be content with His decision as to whether I will be married or not? Big question.
- Courtship may be an old-fashioned word but it is a God way of doing things. It means getting to know someone at His pace. It is going places and doing things that keep you as a couple away from situations that promote sexual intimacy and promiscuity. The love that God has planned for us is so much more than sex. God’s intimacy is the kind that lasts 60 years and is described as â€œbetter today than it was when we were datingâ€. It gets you through the great times, the crises, and, most importantly, the every day irritations and annoyances.
- God teaches me how to become better and disciplines me when I take my eyes off myself and start trying to change my spouse. Changing my spouse is God’s job and He does it perfectly if my part in it is centered on me.
- Jesus, the Son of God, washed His disciples feet. He washed Judas’ feet right along with Peter and John’s. He wants me to wash the feet of my spouse on the days he brings me flowers and on the days he forgets.
- And when (not if) the marriage hits bumpy, difficult times in the journey, you don’t cancel the ‘vacation’. You dig in and work together to make it through.
A wise person once illustrated marriage to me as a triangle. God is at the top point with my spouse and me at the two bottom angles. As we individually move closer (upward) in our relationship to God, the distance between the two of us decreases. And that is the final key piece, supporting and encouraging each other in our relationship with God. Not that our relationships will be the same. In fact, my husband, Henry, and I have very different ways of growing in our relationship with God. We recognize that and we encourage each other by respecting each other’s ways and time with God.
Marriage is a promise between three parties who have loving, compassionate hearts â€“ not hard hearts. Hard hearts can be changed. Paul’s heart was. The sinful woman’s was. David’s was. Mine was. God does it. Jesus came to fulfill marriages that are more than we can imagine!