Marriage and Divorce: Restoring the Sacredness of a Perverted Sacrament
We have become a culture of divorce, free sex, and relationships resting on pleasure. Something has got to change. Should marriage be abandoned? Or should it be restored and rebuilt? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below on marriage, divorce, and sex.
America has become a divorce culture. While numerous and divergent statistics can be cited, the most common number is 50%. Those are some pretty crazy numbers. But we aren’t talking about numbers. We are talking about people—men, women, and children. The reality is, statistically speaking, half of all my friends and family will get a divorce. A great many of my friends grew up in divorced homes and many still will have children in broken homes. And we can see what this is doing to people in American culture. We are training young men to stay boys rather than become men. We are training young girls to have free sex with whomever. We are training our children, through example, that what is most important is me, my happiness, my pleasure, my satisfaction, and my way.
These are the self-centered principles that I and my daughter’s mother have taught our little girl.
That’s right, I am divorced.
I grew up in a home and in a church in which divorce was (properly, I might add) discouraged. And when I got my girlfriend pregnant at age 20, I stepped up to face my mistakes. I made public confession and asked for forgiveness of the entire church (a crazy fearful thing to be sure—but incredibly liberating!) and married my then girlfriend. Several months went by—my daughter grew, she was born, and her mother and I grew apart. Eventually, I heard the cliché words—”I love you, but I am not in love with you.”
We split and eventually divorced.
Was I a saint and innocent victim? By no means. I was a selfish jerk. I never fought for our marriage. I never fought to keep things right. I never fought to read the scripture or pray together. I was just a lost selfish kid.
And while I thought the social shunning and outcasting was bad before for being a “sexual deviant”, I was now divorced! The looks, scoffs, and condemnation only got worse. Most people, in my position, would have left the church, and perhaps even Christianity, and never look back. This was going to far. Where was the grace? Yes, divorce is horrible—but even after confession, I was despised by many.
Churches fail at this all the time. When Christians start thinking that their sin is less grievous than others and that their sin doesn’t stink, all other’s mistakes become an object to which the “righteous” can contrast themselves rather than love and forgive as Christ had.
The reality is, we are all terrible sinners and we all need the incredible grace of Jesus Christ.
But does this grace dissuade us from charging others to not sin? Does this grace that we ought to show to the broken prevent us from telling people they should not divorce?
The reality is, God hates divorce. He says so quite clearly.
“‘I hate divorce,’ says the LORD, the God of Israel, ‘because the man who divorces his wife covers his garment with violence.’” Or as the NIV states, “‘The man who hates and divorces his wife,’ says the LORD, the God of Israel, ‘does violence to the one he should protect’ says the LORD Almighty.” Malachi 2:16
Here God blames the husband for harming his wife when he ought to protect and love her. This sort of divorce was not over adultery, which was a sin punishable by death according to the Law. This sort of divorce was for any other selfish reason—what we like to call “irreconcilable differences.”
God hates divorce. And if He hates it, so should we.
It tears apart the image which God created in us, both male and female, to reflect His character. Marriage, perfectly designed by God, was fashioned to reflect His nature—diversity in perfect unity. This divine mystery is revealed in us. And through marriage, we are to practice the very basic teachings of Christ, “love your neighbor (in this case your wife or husband) as yourself.” Paul pushes this further, writing “each one of you is to love his wife as himself, and the wife is to respect her husband.” Ephesians 5:33
But divorce does more than just break the image of God in us, it also breaks our children. My daughter is broken-hearted and there is nothing I can do about it. Just this last weekend, she cried to me in deep, painful sobs, how hard it is to have two homes. When she is with me, she misses her mother deeply. When she is with her mother, she misses me deeply. And while I am happily married again and love my wife so deeply, I wish—for her sake—that either I never met my ex-wife or that we had worked things out. Divorce is painful, no matter what, and is far more detrimental than living a life in an unhappy marriage.
And that is the core of it. We have bought into this lie that marriage is about us. It is about being happy. It is about making my life more enjoyable. It isn’t. Marriage makes us more holy—or breaks us in the process.
Marriage is not, nor will it ever be, eternal bubbles, wagging puppy tails, room service, and endless excitement, newness, and wild sex.
Marriage is raw, difficult, compromise in which two people learn to live, not for themselves—which is the natural inclination—but for each other.
But too few people count the cost of marriage. Many, especially out here is Southern California, jump in and out of marriages like they are different pairs of pants. I, like Paul, would much rather see people not marry than see marriages without life-long commitments.
Marriage is sacred, and we should treat it as such.
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