Divorce


 

DIVORCE

Matthew 5:31-32, John 4:4-26, John 8:3-11, 2 Samuel 12:24-25

I usually start these articles out with some small humor…not so these past couple weeks and for the next couple as well.  I simply don’t see Jesus grinning when He gets to this point of the ‘Sermon on the Mount.’  He is laying out what will be the basis for His ministry.  The principles behind the standards.  He’s laying out, for everyone to see, the reasons God handed down the 10 House Rules.  Oh, and He’s going to also live them perfectly for all of us to learn from.  This week we’re talking about divorce, and I feel that I need to lay some Scriptural foundation before talking about it directly.  My mind works in pathways.  I need to see starting points before I fully understand why we do something now.  So I’ll start with Adam and Eve.  Seems logical if we’re going to talk about couples/family/marriage.

Adam and Eve were created for each other (Genesis 2:22-24).  They were created from the same dust…literally, because Adam’s rib connected these two creations.  One was formed out of another.  We were made for God and for each other and literally out of each other.  We were created to…together…be caretakers for God’s creation.  God’s given purpose.   Adam and Eve also were called to bring more people into the world.  God’s given purpose.  Then sin came in.

Another point of principle.  Jesus tells us there are two priority commands.  Love God with everything you have.  Love your neighbor as yourself.  These two commands give us a picture of the first couple and their God.  But sin came in.

Jesus teaches that we are to lift other’s needs over and above our own (Matthew 23:11).  This fits very nicely into the basic principles we already see.  Other people’s needs are to be our priority.  We become less.   Those we serve become our focus.  Fits into marriage very well too, wouldn’t you agree?  But sin came in.

Paul writes that marriage is a picture of the church (Ephesians 5).  When we are in submission to each other as Ephesians 5:21-22 states we should be, it gives the picture of a couple in submission to Christ, to God the Father….a picture of how it was at the beginning…before sin came in.

But we know what happens.  Sin comes in.  We slack in our commitment to our fellow man and our spouse.  We think more about ourselves than our neighbor or our partner in life.  We do stupid things to jeopardize the commitment/covenant between us.  Sin comes in.

Now, let’s look at divorce.  Divorce is a picture of when things (sin, unintended consequences, and selfishness) come in and scrub out the picture God created for mankind.  Divorce has been the word used when a covenant is broken inside of marriage, or when two people simply don’t want the covenant to stand any longer.  Both are called sin.  Please remember, this isn’t Ed speaking.  This is Jesus in Matthew chapter 5.

Anything in life that pulls us away from God and our neighbor, from the intended purpose posed by God Himself, is sin.  That’s why Jesus has to call divorce sin.  It can be nothing else.  There is the one rule, that He stands firm on when divorce is ok.  It’s when the specific sin of adultery has been committed.  And, oh…remember what Jesus said was real adultery?  Lust.  Crud.  Most marriages are now open for legal divorce!  But remember what we’re talking about.  Jesus is laying down the basics…which are super hard teachings.  This stuff shows us how Holy God is and how imperfect we are…and why Jesus COULD be the perfect sacrifice for our sins.

Ah!  Forgiveness.  One of my favorite songs is called Second Chances and it’s from the Veggie Tales movie of Jonah.  Jonah has ran away from God…divorced himself from God.  God follows…and never gives up the chase.  While in the belly of the great fish…a classic song moment…Jonah hears that God is the God of second chances.

The woman at the well found that after 5 husbands and one live-in relationship, Jesus was willing to change her life and forgive her (John 4).  After hearing the accusations of the religious leaders against one woman, Jesus spoke just a few words to give us a picture of who is judge.  She was caught in adultery.  And even without specific witnesses, it seems it was true from what Jesus said.  The leaders wanted to stone her…and for Jesus to approve.  It didn’t happen.  They couldn’t take away her sin…they could just kill her in her sin.  Jesus can both take the sin away and destroy the consequence of death for us as well…and He did.  She walked away forgiven and with the encouragement to leave her life of sin.  King David committed adultery.  He laid his heart bare before God under the weight of guilt for forgiveness.  He knew he had ruined the perfect picture of a husband and wife before their creator God.  After an unintended consequence and forgiveness, God blessed him and his wife and their second child.

God is in the business of saying the past is in the past.  But He also says, “Don’t go back there and pick it up or repeat it again.”  I also believe that He, through the words of Jesus His son, intends for us to make amends with what we have done in the past.  We need to forgive and ask for forgiveness.  It’s only fair.  He offers it to us…and we don’t even deserve it.

Basics:  Is divorce wrong?  Yes…except in only one circumstance…and Jesus even made that circumstance broader to where we all have committed adultery.  Is it a sin that can be forgiven?  Yes.  Can we use forgiveness as an excuse for divorce?  Ummm, probably not.  Jesus is perfect and knows our reasons.   Can people forgive each other for wrongs done within a past marriage?  Yes…Jesus died for us.  We can change our heart as well.  Believe it or not, many divorced couples may be standing near each other in Heaven forever…and ever…forgive and ask forgiveness now on this side of eternity.

For everyone…divorced or not…plan for a relationship with God as He intended and plan for a marriage/family as He intended.  Lift the other person up higher than yourself as He intended.  And through it all, seek forgiveness and God’s strength to carry on through the hard things.

Side note.  Many have said that God will not give us more than we can handle.  I’ve heard this from many people who have contemplated leaving a relationship, a job, a church family etc.  That’s a lie from Satan.  God always gives us more than we can handle because it’s not just us anymore.  If we’re a Christian, the Holy Spirit lives with us.  So…anything that God allows us to walk through…we’re not ever walking alone.  The misconception comes from a verse that says that He will never tempt us with more than we can handle.  I take that to mean that He will always provides us with a way out before we step into sin.

Live by the standards.  And when you mess up, turn around and call your sin what it is.  Ask for forgiveness to carry on.  Our relationships with God and with each other are to be examples for other people.  Is there a chance others will see our “dirty laundry?”  Yes, but when they see us living in peace, that only comes through forgiveness and grace, they will see Jesus.  And that the highest purpose of all that we do.

Love-Serve-Spread the Word,

ed

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  1. kay weisen
    March 12, 2011 at 6:08 pm

    WOW That is a strong teaching. I am so glad I am a forgiven sinner.

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