This is another difficult one to write. Divorce is a sad reality in our world today. What is even sadder is that the number of Christian marriages ending in divorce is not that different from the number of non-Christian marriages ending in divorce. There are families I have seen growing up where I was friends with their sons and for some reason, they decide they can’t do it anymore and the parents divorce.
Lately, The Reclaiming the Mind ministry website has had on its blog, Parchment and Pen, blogs on the topic of divorce. I have a link to the latest one at this time here:
I read that one and the one before and looked at a number of the comments. They are questions that make one think and it makes me realize that situations aren’t always as cut and dry as we think. I will also add that I am not unfamiliar with this one on a more personal level.
No. My parents did not divorce. However, when my parents met, they had both been divorced. Both of them left behind incredibly bad marriages. My mother’s husband was quite abusive and she had great fear for the safety of her daughter, my sister. My father’s wife left him and although I don’t know all the details, it wasn’t anything pretty. I am the only child from the two of them and the only child of my father.
I do pay attention when divorce is brought up.
Matthew 19 is the main passage people turn to. Christ here says that marriage was made to be a lifelong institution by God. I don’t think there are many Christians committed to the Scriptures who will disagree with that. However, he then says that it is not to be undone except by marital unfaithfulness. The word is “Porneia.”
I’m not a Greek scholar. I will leave it to them. However, after some reading, I did find that this can include adultery, but I don’t think it is limited to adultery. When Jesus in Mark 7 lists various sins, he includes porneia and then includes adultery. Why say adultery twice unless the word refers to something different? Even in the Matthew 19 passage, there is another word for adultery other than porneia.
At this point, my thoughts are that Jesus was speaking about marital unfaithfulness, but I do not believe that relates only to the bedroom. I could justifiably understand a case where a lady was being abused by her husband. He is certainly not being faithful to the covenant and I see no justification for having the lady stay with him in such a case, especially if children are in danger.
Now you might say “Fine, but she shouldn’t remarry.” That’s a whole other topic and I choose to not discuss that now. The point I want to make is simply that I see no biblical justification in such a case. I believe too many women have stayed in dangerous marriages thinking they’re following Scripture right when they’re not.
Is it entirely wrong of me to make such a claim? I don’t think so. In 1 Cor. 7, Paul says that if a believing spouse has an unbeliever leave, they are free to remarry. Apparently, Paul did see that this was such a case and we can be sure he was familiar with Christ’s words on the issue as he kept differentiating in the chapter between his words and the words of the Lord, being Christ.
However, divorce is a sad reality. Even in cases where I think it is the lesser of two evils, it is still sad. Could it be so many young people are abandoning traditional marriage because so many marrieds are not holding up to what marriage should be? While we can condemn cohabitation, maybe we ought to look and ask how much of it is being sparked by disillusionment with marriage today? If marriage was seen as exciting and vibrant, maybe we’d see more of it and more of it lasting.
We all know also that this is especially hard on children. It never occurred to me for awhile that my sister never called my Dad, “Dad.” One day she did. It was even when I was in High School. I had no idea until then what had happened until either my Mom or my Dad said something. Divorce changes the way the family unit looks.
Now her story is minor compared to several others. How many children come from broken homes and as a result lead broken lives? It is not just a mother and a father that are affected by divorce. In fact, children are usually the worst casualties and these children that do not know what a marriage is supposed to be like are going to grow up and pass the laws on marriage for the rest of us.
I urge all couples to seek counseling first before any divorce takes place. I also urge married couples to please remember the joy of your marriage. Demonstrate it to the rest of us. Show it to an unbelieving world who sees marriage as an old institute that needs to be abandoned. Show it to those of us who are Christian singles and need to see the joy and wonder of marriage as something to shoot for.
Marriage is important. It is the foundation of family. For the sake of the family, and for the children, and the future of America and the rest of our world, we can do better.