“From the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female. Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate” (Mark 10:6-9).
It’s plain to see from this passage, that when God created man in his own image and gave him a help meet (suitable) for him, he had a design for marriage, male and female, leaving and cleaving. This union is to be permanent and intimate on all levels. Sadly, many marriages are falling short of God’s ideal design.
Divorce is not just common in our society. It also has become common-place in the church. Divorce is occurring not only after a few short years together, but lately I’ve heard of several couples who’ve spent decades together, severing the commitment they made. It gives me pause to wonder how people can spend twenty, thirty or even forty years together and call it quits.
But then I realize my naive thinking. Just because they’ve lived together all those years doesn’t mean they’ve loved one another all those years. In reality something broke within those marriages—in some cases many, many years before, and was never fixed. Time continued to pass. Unhappiness within the marriage grew. Lives began to be lived separately until one, or both, found that all the reasons to stay together no longer outweighed the reasons to live apart. Marriages are not reaching their God intended potential. Homes are being broken. Souls are being lost.
People I know and love are settling to live in broken marriages because divorce is not a scriptural option, and fixing their problems in many cases requires things of them they aren’t willing to do. The home of such individuals frequently lacks hope, peace, and focus on living like Christ. In turn it becomes a place of inner turmoil, discontentment, and selfishness under the guise of self-preservation.
Sheryl Crow paints a vivid picture of such a home in her song Home.
I woke up this morning
Now I understand
What is means to give your life
To just one man
Afraid of feeling nothing
No bees or butterflies
My head is full of voices
And my house is full of lies
This is home, home
And this is home, home
This is home
I found you standing there
When I was seventeen
Now I’m thirty-two
And I can’t remember what I’d seen in you
I made a promise
Said it everyday
Now I’m reading romance novels
And I’m dreaming of yesterday
I’d like to see the Riviera
And slow dance underneath the stars
I’d like to watch the sun come up
In a stranger’s arms
I’m going crazy
A little everyday
Everything I wanted
Is now driving me away
I woke this morning
To the sound of breaking hearts
Mine is full of questions
And it’s tearing yours apart . . .
Now, I’m not advocating the lyrics of this song, or any other Sheryl Crow song. I’m not advocating Sheryl Crow, or her lifestyle in any way, shape or form. I’m merely using these lyrics to illustrate the point that generally speaking, marriages that end in divorce often spend a period of time in a fractured state. The response of the couple to the fractures that threaten to sever their marriage will determine the outcome of their union.
Marriage is the foundation of the Christian home—a vital aspect of the Lord’s church (Titus 1:6). In an article titled, The Devastating Effects of Divorce, Wayne Jackson said, “When the family structure disintegrates, a significant factor in the growth of Christian faith is missing, and the gospel is hindered.”
At what point does the measure of health in a marriage hinder the gospel? At the point of divorce, or when a couple began to walk the path toward divorce? The disintegration of the family is no small thing. It’s draining, preoccupying, emotional, and there’s no way one experiencing that roller coaster of emotions can do for Christ what they would be able to do under emotionally healthy circumstances.
For many the new year brings an opportunity for introspection—a time to review the past and look toward the future. We take time to consider our strengths and weaknesses and strive to challenge ourselves to do better in the coming year. As you are doing that, I encourage you to consider the current state of your marriage. Are you living happily ever after? Have you reached a point for reasons you may or may not recognize, you’re merely coexisting? Are you living the life you hoped for when you said your wedding vows? Are there things broken within your marriage? Are you striving to fix them? Are you allowing time to pass while aware of fractures, feeling hopeless, settling for less than God’s design for marriage?
When things are going well it’s easy to love. The flip side of the coin is when things are going well, it’s also easy to hit cruise control and slack off. We get caught up in more pressing needs (ie. work, children, etc.). Though it may appear to be a harmless act at the time, these can be the beginning of fractures within marriages.
I don’t claim to have all the life experiences to answer every marital problem, but I’m convicted that God’s word is where we find the solutions to any and all relationship issues. Whether you feel your marriage is the Christ-centered, intimate relationship God intended, or if you feel somewhere along the way you ran off the road and into a ditch, I invite you to join me this month for Marriage Matters from Matthew. We’ll study principles found in Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount and consider how we can apply his teachings to our marriages, to bring them closer to the design God created.
Image copyright: Lane Erickson, 25256186, 123RF.com
Jackson, Wayne. The Devastating Effects of Divorce. https://www.christiancourier.com/articles/81-devastating-effects-of-divorce-the