Sticky Wickets #2

By Pastor Regier
 
What Does God Say About Marriage?
 
What we feel or think about this topic needs to be subjected to the Word of God. The real issue here isn’t whether we sense that things might work out better in a new marital relationship; the real issue is what does God say about this? Our opinion is not the issue. Culture is not our standard. God’s Word is the final Word on all matters of faith and godliness. Here are some guiding principles:
  • Marriage is good and instituted by God (Gen 2:24). He is the Author/Designer of it.
  • Marriage is a covenant purposed by God to be life-long. (Matt 19:6)
  • Stay Married! Marriage broken by any reason other than death is hated by God. (Mal 2:16)
  • He takes the vows seriously because it is a covenant “until death”. It is a picture of God’s unconditional and sacrificial love for his bride. (Eph. 5). Problems in marriage must be traversed together without the option of escape.
  • Because of the hardness of sinful hearts, God allows only 2 exceptions to break the marriages vows. I say allows because even in our differences and frailties, God’s ideal is to stay married and reconcile if at all possible. Here are the two biblical exceptions:
    • Matt 19:9 – sexual immoralityThe first reason or allowance for divorce is because of moral treason and rebellious defiance of the exclusive sexual relationship that marriage demands. The Greek word includes adultery but also encompasses a wide range of sexual sins. Adultery in the Old Testament was punishable by death which illustrates God’s opinion on a matter that today we treat rather casually. For a good idea of whether the Old Testament God and the New Testament God “differ” in their view of adultery, look up Matt 5:27-28. God never changes his opinion about sin. His prohibition about adultery reaches into the heart where this sin originates.
    • The second reason or allowance for divorce is desertion by an unsaved spouse (1 Cor. 7:15), but remember, even then, Paul reminds us, if the unsaved spouse is content to stay married to the believer, the believer must remain married. The Gospel may penetrate the heart of the lost by the godly example of the believer. The Bible does allow, however, a marriage covenant to be severed by the unsaved one who wants to leave or abandon the marriage due to the fact that they reject the believing spouse’s faith in God and holy practice. Such abandonment is not precipitated by unholy deeds but rather by the holy lifestyle of the believing spouse. This situation is rare but does occur.
  • In both of the cases listed above, when the marriage covenant is severed there is also then a freedom to remarry. Whenever a divorce occurs on grounds that God has declared valid, that divorce carries the right of remarriage. “No longer under bondage in such cases” means exactly that (I Cor. 7:15). I do realize good men differ on what no longer bound means but I believe it means unbound, or by implication, a freedom to remarry. I believe this to be the most honest to the scriptural sense. What God “unbinds” is free.
  • What about abusive situations? In cases of abuse (mainly, severe physical abuse) there may come a time where a wise pastor may recommend, for the sake of the safety of the wife or children, that the abused party seek separation and protective orders to protect life but that cause is not considered biblical grounds for remarriage. Prudence seeks, in serious cases of abuse, a protective escape. Discernment is needed as to when to say “enough is enough”. These are difficult decisions and bring great anguish of heart. To those still dating, take heed to be aware of signs of anger. These only accelerate in marriage! Proverbs 22:24 says “Make no friendship with an angry man (or woman)”.  Don’t date hate!
  • In both of the cases (adultery and abandonment) where there may be valid biblical grounds for divorce and remarriage, personal questions must be asked by the counselor. “Did the marriage truly end because one, without being incited to sin by the other, leave the marriage and begin an affair?” “If the party who left has not been remarried, have all attempts at reconciliation been sincerely followed?”  “Was the marriage breakup truly about your spouse leaving because he/she was unsaved and wanted to get away from your holy faith and practice?” Often, upon honest investigation, these charges are not upheld.  Marriages mainly breakup when sinful responses by both spouses derail the relationship. The best thing in these cases is to seek reconciliation by means of learning how to solve sin problems biblically.  A new partner will not end old problems.
  • Now then, in all other cases, where there are not grounds for remarriage and divorce occurs, if the divorcee seeks to be remarried and does, the Bible equates that to the act of adultery – Matt 19:9. Why? Simply because God heard it when you vowed to your original partner to be faithful “as long as you both shall live”. He took that vow seriously. It is far better to stay single the rest of your life than to remarry out of the will of God by saying, “Well, God will forgive me!” These actions are both unwise and presumptuous. Yes, God can forgive and does but two things are against the person that sidesteps the clear commands of God . . . the consequences of disobedience and simple statistics. Second marriages fail at a greater rate than the first (2/3rds of second marriages fail).
  • But what if we have repented of all the “junk” in the former marriage? Doesn’t God just forgive and forget? Fresh Start? Grace? Wouldn’t God just want me to be happy? Again, God does forgive. Even marriages started or restarted on illicit grounds can find grace and hope in Christ. Happiness, indeed, is the theme of the Sermon on the Mount. Blessed, Blessed, Blessed (happy, happy, happy) are the pure in heart and so on. Happiness is the result – not of singleness, marriage or remarriage but of full obedience and a devoted heart-relationship to God. Only when we do things God’s way can we find peace with God and know true happiness.

Blessings on your heart and home today!