Thursday, August 25, 2016

Making A Christian Marriage #6

What About Divorce?

by Betty Jackson

Statistics do not fully reveal all there is about the divorce rate. Some religious sources suggest that one out of two marriages will end in divorce. Others say that is not a correct way of working out the statistics. Another source says 31% of people ages 35-54 who are married, engaged, or illicitly living with someone have been married before. Whatever the correct numbers are, from our own evaluations we can logically conclude that divorce is common place in our society.

There are some who claim the percentages of divorces is declining. We would love to know that is true for the right reasons. But there are more people living together without marriage than ever before. Some even question the need for marriage. They have accepted the sad idea that it is unrealistic for two people to expect to stay together throughout life. 

Divorce is a problem among Christians. The pain that brings people to the point of divorce is real. In the world, and the church, the scriptural regulations for divorce are often ignored. If one even thinks about divorce, there is work to be done! Granted some marriages cannot be saved because of a mate’s adultery and refusal to repent. (cf. Matthew 19:1-9.)

What is God’s design for marriage? Human beings are created social creatures. Marriage provides intimate companionship and the only God-approved sexual relationship. It is the best environment for the rearing of children. But there is another purpose: to promote the spreading of the gospel of Christ. 

One of the problems for most of us is we are a bit self-centered. Unfortunately, many are adept at manipulation, which is damaging to any relationship. We generally see things through “our” eyes, and not those of God. If we kept our hearts and minds focused on marriage as an institution for serving God and his cause of redemption, many issues would simply dissolve. Marriage is truly an opportunity to grow up, to mature spiritually, and help another person get to heaven.

This six article series has not been able to address the whole of making marriage work. Perhaps there have been some tidbits of advice that can help each of us work harder at the goal of making our spousal relationships special.Those of us who seek to serve the Lord know that we can grow and mature as long as we live. So with this final article, I would like to focus upon some words found in Philippians 4:8. The inspired apostle Paul instructs us to dwell upon things that are “worthy of praise” (NASV).

It is sad to witness couples who are in a verbal war. They are the antithesis of the old western song originally written by Brewster M. Higley, Home on the Range, with the chorus wherein are these words, “...where seldom is heard a discouraging word...” How life would be made pleasant if instead of the many discouraging, demanding put-downs and criticisms, words of praise were given.

Our times are so void of social graces. Saying “thank you” is foreign vocabulary, as well as asking “please.” Some treat strangers with more courtesy than their spouses! Children will run over elderly people, and brush by without a care if they knock them down, stuff their pockets with food, eat with poor manners, etc. Pardon me, I stray! My point is, we need to return to a time of some etiquette. not only with people we do not know, but in the home.

We can find something in our mates, and they in us, that is displeasing or thoughtless. We are all sinners. We don’t always do the right thing. If we want to be treated with tolerance and respect, we must give it. Peter encourages wives to live such godly and pure lives that husbands will take notice. Even Christian men can grow because of their chaste wives. (1 Peter 3:1-4)

If we dwell on the negative, we will behave in a negative way. If we do our best to meditate upon the virtuous and praiseworthy, our hearts will be encouraged and more peaceful. Solomon said, “As a man thinks in his heart, so is he...” (Proverbs 23:7). In context, it has to do with a person who is stingy in his thoughts, then begrudges the hospitality that he has given. The principle is we are what we think! If we think virtuous, peaceful, loving and praising thoughts, our actions will come to match the thoughts. Does that mean we always feel like acting sweet? No. Yet, Paul said to “think about these things.” We can choose to bring our thoughts under control, then, and only then, will we be able to act the way we should.

Paul considered giving up all that prestige and honor he had with the Jews before his conversion as loss, as waste. (cf. Philippians 3:7-11). Why not consider letting go of the negatives as giving up holding on to bitterness because we don’t get all we want from a spouse as loss for Christ, and positively live to influence our mates for his spiritual good. It is difficult to give up our “feelings” but feelings are fleeting in eternal terms. Live for the eternal.

How wonderful it is to have the Lord’s description of the woman he wants us to be. Let us strive to become the “rare” woman, with the help of God. 

“An excellent wife who can find?
She is far more precious than jewels.
The heart of her husband trusts in her,
and he will have no lack of gain.
She does him good, and not harm,
all the days of her life.” (Proverbs 31:10-12, ESV).

“Strength and dignity are her clothing,
and she laughs at the time to come.
She opens her mouth with wisdom,
and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue” (vss. 25-26).

Try This:

Read Philippians 4:7-9 twice a week for one month. Read 1 Peter 3:1-4 once a week for one month.

Make a mental note of the things your mate does that are praiseworthy. Do this with a good attitude. There must be something, unless he is an abusive man. In that case, you need some professional help. Remember thoughtlessness is not necessarily equal to abusiveness!

Do This:

Use good manners!  If you have not been taught, find a book or article on line. Set your table at least part of the time with something nice, a flower from your yard, or a candle. Set the mood for good manners. Teach your children how to act at the table, greeting older people, and how to sit still during worship, according to their age. Be an example.

Thank your husband, sincerely, not in order to manipulate him into doing things you want him to do. Many times we may fail to thank our mates for things they do for us. How often do we fail to use good manners when we make requests? It is easy to become too comfortable and take our spouses for granted. It is easier to grumble about his failing to take out the garbage, than to pleasantly ask with a “please.” Is it easier to complain than to praise?

Read this article:

Memorize this:

Philippians 4:8 “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honorable, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”


1. Ask self: Am I really willing to do the hard work to make my     marriage better?
2.  Ask self: Am I a negative thinker?
3. Do I pray for the Lord’s providence to help me have wisdom?
4. Have I thought about how to improve manners in our home. Teach children by example. Good manners and courtesy is consideration.

Recommended Reading

Jackson, Wayne. Christian Courier:
Examine Yourselves.

Some Questions About Divorce and Remarriage.

Jackson, Wayne. Divorce & Remarriage, as Study Discussion. Stockton, CA. Christian Courier Publications. 1983.

Ladd, Karol. Power of A Positive Wife. West Monroe, LA. Howard Publishing Co. 2003. 
(Note: Some of the contents of this book are not biblical. Yet Bible principles about marriage are true regardless of who says them.)

Loden, Patsy. Loving Your Husband —How to Transform Your Marriage and Honor Your Covenant. Huntsville, AL. Publishing Designs, Inc. 2010. (Mrs. Loden is a member of the church of Christ.)

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