Luke 16:18 “Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery, and the man who marries a divorced woman commits adultery.”
There is an epidemic that is prevalent in the world’s system, but has invaded the church and it is the issue of divorce. In America and rapidly spreading around the world, people are making it easier and easier to get divorced. We claim irreconcilable differences, we declare marital unfaithfulness and we even shout abuse, as some of the many reasons, why we have given ourselves permission to get divorced. Today’s culture has created a movement of divorce, not seeing the after effects that are in its wake. Children are left hurting, lost and confused; husbands and wives are living with incredible pain, anger and disillusionment; and society is eroding because our families are breaking down.
As Christians we are notorious for saying, well that was the Old Testament, so that does not apply to us, we are New Testament people, but this passage about divorce is not noted just once but many times in the New Testament. Jesus was very clear on His stance as it pertained to divorce, yet we are being swept up in a cultural revolution that has made divorce common place.
Culture is a powerful force in people’s lives, it affects the way we think, the way we process information and the way we read our bibles. Living in Malaysia for 9 years, I realized that their attitude about divorce is very different than it is in America. They do not broadcast divorce as something they want others to know about. It is a shameful thing to be divorced in Malaysia and other countries around the world. So, people stay married, because they made a covenant agreement before God and others to do it. No, it is not always romance and fun, it is not always easy, nor is it without pain. However, whoever told you being married was going to be easy.
Many people are choosing not to get married nowadays, because they are children of divorce and they do not want to go through what they saw their parents go through. And this is true in other countries as well. As American media of romance and glee fill the airwaves in other countries, young adults are wanting a love that is very hard to find. So, many are deciding to stay single rather than live unhappy all the days of their lives.
So with the negative effects of divorce as one of the many reasons why Jesus would command us not to get divorced, there are many other reasons why He was against divorce. One being, how marriage is a picture of Christ and the church. The Lord has made a covenant with us as His church to never leave us or forsake us and marriage is the earthly picture of the biblical understanding of covenant, commitment and perseverance. The Lord will never leave us or forsake us and we are to have the same attitude toward each other.
Divorce was and is to be a shameful thing, not to shame the people who are getting divorced, but to detour others from doing the same thing. When divorce is acceptable, many people do it because they see no consequences from society for their actions. But as the church, divorce is to be a shameful thing, so we make it our last resort, not one of many options. As the church we should have the healthiest, happiest, most loving relationships the world has ever seen. As husbands we are called to lay down our lives for our wives; as wives we are called to submit to our husbands, if we as men and women would be who God has commanded us to be as husbands and wives, we would show the world why Christianity the only way, the only truth and the only life. When we look just like the world, there is really nothing for them to look up to.
If you have been divorced or come from a divorced family, I know this is a painful topic. However, it is not about where you have been, but about where you are going and I want to see marriages going in the direction of biblical standards and mandates. It is time we as the church grow up and obey the word of God. Divorce is not something Jesus would endorse, and I do not think we should either. We throw this word around very flippantly, when we are mad, hurt, or tired. It is time for the church to take back what a biblical marriage is, one that does what it says it will do. Through sickness and health, riches and poverty, good times and bad times. We need a little less talk and lot more action. Come on church, God’s grace empowers us to succeed in this area. Let us arise and shine, so God gets the glory.
Matthew 6:33 “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you”.
Everyone has a culture they were raised in and that culture speaks to you, whether you realize it or not. Your culture taught you what to value, how to deal with conflict and what you see as normal. Take someone from another culture and put them in America for 6 months to a year. Once the honeymoon of being in America wears off, they will see how their culture conflicts with American culture, because they bring their culture with them everywhere they go and so do you. Your culture cannot be separated from who you are. I lived in Malaysia for 9 years and even though there are a lot of things about Malaysia I love and will cherish the rest of my life, it is not my culture and I could not live there for the rest of my life. They do things so differently then I do and it caused me conflict every time I parked the car or drove down the road, it was a culture war I was fighting and did not realize it until many years into it. The one thing I learned, is you cannot change anyone else’s culture, only they can change their culture inside of them and only I can change the culture inside of me.
In the natural this can be easy to see if you have lived in a cross cultural marriage; had cross cultural employees or bosses; or have lived for more than a vacations stay in another culture. But everyone of us that calls ourselves Christians is in a cultural battle as well. When we accept Jesus as our personal Lord and Savior, we agree to switch cultures. We declare in our profession of faith, that I am going to leave my culture and take on your culture, Jesus. The challenge is, we still have our culture inside of us, so for Americans, our culture says, divorce is an acceptable form of conflict resolution, but if you are a Christian, the Kingdom culture says, there are specific reasons to get divorced and “falling out of love” or “I can’t do this anymore” are not options given. So, what do you do, your marriage is in an intense battle, stalemate if you will, it seems as if nothing is going to change, and you feel like the only option is to get divorced. As an American this is an acceptable option, because our culture promotes this idea, but for an African from Africa, this is not an option. Their culture says, that divorce is never an option, it is actually a shameful thing. So, to an African, marriage can get hard, feel like they are at a stalemate in their communication or whatever, but the idea of divorce never crosses their mind, because their culture teaches this.
Therefore, when in a culture conflict what do you do? Christians run into culture conflicts all the time and many default to their culture of birth, meaning, if they are American they act like an American, if they are Chinese, they act like a Chinese, but the Bible says, when you are in a culture conflict, you choose the Kingdom culture. So, if you are an American and you are contemplating divorce, but you have no Biblical grounds for that decision, you can either be an American Christian or a Kingdom American. The difference is amazing. If you choose Kingdom culture over your culture of origin, you are choosing life, and the battle of your flesh begins. If you choose American culture, you take the easy way out and though it seems right in the short run, in the long run, it will be a decision that affects the rest of your life. It is time that Christians start putting Kingdom before their culture. We are to live the abundant life, and the way to do that is by being Kingdom first. If we can be Kingdom first people, we will see so many of our issues begin to fade away, yet, this will be a battle and unless you quit, you will win. We can do this, we have a King that is the head of this Kingdom and He has given us everything we need to win this war. Your sword is prayer; your attitude is humility; your shield is worship; and your goal is the advancing of the Kingdom of God in your marriage on earth. You did not marry the wrong person, your enemy is invisible, it is not your spouse, you got this, fight my friend and remember this is a battle over the Kingdom and your culture.
Genesis 18:1 “Now the Lord God said, It is not good (sufficient, satisfactory) that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper meet (suitable, adapted, complementary) for him.”
When God created man, it was just man and God in the beginning. They were hanging out in the garden together, talking about what to name the animals together, they did everything together, just the two of them. It was for many men a dream come true, me and Jesus out on the lake fishing; in a tree stand hunting; or on the open road driving. Yet, in that place of just Adam and God, the Lord said to the man, it is not good for you to be alone. Have you ever really stopped to think about this statement? Adam was with God, no sin, no separation, unadulterated communion just him and God, yet God said, it is not good for man to be alone. Pause for a minute and let that sink in, why, if you are a man, is not good for you to be alone, even just you and God, alone, why would God say it is not good for you to be alone? I am not a man, so I am not completely sure of this answer, but one thing I do know is that men tend to go deep into their heads when they are alone. From what I have learned, the head, the thoughts, is a safe place for men to reside. So, when they are alone, they are thinking, deep or shallow, depends on the situation, but men are thinking, they are in their heads. So, why is it not good for men to be alone? (Ladies, this might be a good question to ask your husband, guy friend, or Pastor, but give them sometime to answer, this is not something we ponder everyday).
God and man were one in that garden, when God came to him and said it is not good for you to be alone, I am going to bring you a help meet, someone that compliments you, someone that will help you be the best you can be in this life. And we know how the story goes, God creates woman out of the rib of the man and brings her to Adam. Adam then says in Genesis 2:23 “this (creature) is now bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of a man”. At first Adam was surprised by what God brought to him, so much so, he was like, wow she is flesh and blood like me, but she is built different than me, in modern language, I can picture him saying, this is cool God, thanks. Now, the Bible does not record time between verses, so we are unclear how long Adam and the Woman were together, but the very next verse in Genesis 3:1 says, “now the serpent was more subtle and crafty than any living creature of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said to the Woman, can it really be that God has said, You shall not eat from every tree of the garden?” This verse gives us a clue into some of the talks Adam and the Woman had before the serpent arrived. I picture Adam giving the Woman a garden tour, talking about the animals, rivers, mountains and trees. And during their talk about the trees, Adam told the Woman what God said about not eating of this one particular tree.
The whole story is so full of imagery, one can allow their imagination to run away with them as they consider what it would have been like for Adam and the Woman before the serpent came on the scene.
With all that said, here is my thought today, God said it is not good for man to be alone, women love to be together, (stereotypically speaking) we love hanging out, holding hands, talking, walking, sharing our hearts together and honestly, God made us that way and I wonder if it is because we are the perfect compliment for our man whom God says, it is not good for him to be alone. You see, what I have learned over the years is that men like to withdrawal, they like to be alone, but God says it is not good for them to be alone. So, the enemy gets in the middle of marriages, he interferes in conversations between men and women and pain enters our lives. Men go back to being alone and women suffer in silence because they can’t make him commune with her. So, both are destroyed because they have what the other needs but the enemy has divided them. Pride comes in and the man says, I don’t need any help, and his helpmate is right there fully equipped to do her job by nature, but he would rather be alone. Satan is subtle, he is cunning, he is deceptive, but he is very good at what he does. He knows it is not good for man to be alone, so he isolates men. He knows women love to help, so he removes the one she is to help.
When a man isolates himself, he is less productive, studies have proven that single men are not nearly as successful as married men, why, because it is not good for man to be alone. Then the woman, who longs to helps, loves to be close, has to hide those feelings in order to respect his “man cave” time and she suffers in silence, then turns to being controlling, nagging and manipulative, which pushes him more into a state of wanting to be alone. No matter how to cut it, men and women, especially in marriage are not meant to be alone. Men need a help meet and women need to be help meets. We need each other, we were created to compliment each other, neither party is doing well apart, yet our pride won’t allow us to humble ourselves, confess our sins to one another and move on, so we live alone and God says this is not good.
I am not sure who you are and where you are in your relationship today with the opposite sex, but one thing I do know is that the devil hates marriage. He seeks to separate men and women all the time, whether you still live in the same house together or not, you can be separated in your hearts. Choosing to stay close, no matter what the other person does is just that your choice. You can’t make anyone else do something, but you can choose to do something that will keep you together, for covenant keeping takes courage. You have to be strong to stay in a covenant with someone, you have be bold to stay married when everything around you says it is okay to get divorced. It takes courage to realize that the battles you and your spouse are fighting were intended to strengthen your bond, not separate you. And the truth is, unless you quit, you can win, together as a couple as husband and wife. A covenant relationship is the most powerful relationship on the face of the earth, and the picture of marriage is like Christ and the church, no wonder the enemy is out to destroy it. But, if we use humility and remember what Jesus said in Matthew 5, the meek (the teachable) shall inherit the earth, we can win this war, together. It is time to take back our covenant partner and never forget that TWO ARE ALWAYS BETTER THAN ONE!