In what seems to have become almost a weekly occurrence, I learned this week of yet another divorce in our congregation. Once again, it was a seemingly healthy and happy marriage. Why is it that so many Christians consider marriage to be disposable? Our God certainly does not. Our marriages are designed to image the relationship that Christ has with his Church. Our reverence for marriage ought to be one of the primary ways in which we distinguish ourselves from the world. It ought to be the sweet aroma of Christ to those around us.
Instead, Christians have, by and large, bought into the idea that marriage is a contract, rather than a covenant. We treat marriage as if it exists for our convenience, rather than for Christ. Any number of reasons will suffice for discarding what God has commanded should not be torn asunder.
The thing that baffles me most, though, is how so many divorced or separated couples will sit together on Sunday mornings, as if nothing is wrong. How many more still-married husbands and wives sit side-by-side in the pews with smiles on their faces that belie the tension and unhappiness in their marriages? Why is it that we feel we must hide our troubles from the very community which exists for our support, accountability, love, and friendship?
One of the most common reasons I hear from divorced men for the separation of their marriages sounds something like this: “We just grew apart.” Well, I call “baloney” on this ironic choice of words. Ironic, because the very name by which married men are called — “husbands” — is the same word we use for someone who tends to growing things (think “husbandry”). This word tells us of our role to keep our families together. We are a “house-band”. If we “grow apart” it is because we have failed to cultivate our marriages with the care that they require.
One might object that I am placing too much responsibility on the men, but I believe this is the responsibility placed on us by God as the head of the family. Even in cases in which it is the bride’s unfaithfulness that breaks the fidelity of a marriage, it is still the responsibility of the Christian husband to reconcile this marriage. We are to pursue our wives no matter what their sin, just as Hosea pursued Gomer. Just as Christ pursues us, his unfaithful bride.
When it is the husband himself who is unfaithful, this is even worse. What kind of image do we project of our Lord, who has said that he will NEVER leave or forsake his bride? Nothing sickens me more than the infidelity of Christian husbands.
Brothers, we MUST hold one another accountable for our marriages. I hope and pray that I will always have Godly men in my life who will ask me how I am loving my wife, just as I pray that I will love others enough to do this for them as well.
Christians, our marriages will not be perfect while we live in this world of sin. One day, we will have a perfect marriage, when the real Husband returns for his Bride. Until that day, let us not feel the need to put up false pretenses, but to seek encouragement and counsel from those with whom we are united in Christian fellowship. We must foster an environment in our churches in which married couples can confess their struggles without fear of judgment, mockery, gossip, or condemnation.
God HATES divorce, and so we must. May we rely completely on God’s grace to love our spouses as Christ loves them. On our own, we are incapable of this kind of love, but in Christ, all things are possible.