Tuesday 19 Sep 2017
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Psalm 1: 2-3

Blessed is the man Who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, Nor stands in the path of sinners, Nor sits in the seat of the scornful; But his delight is in the law of the LORD, And in His law he meditates day and night. He shall be like a tree Planted by the rivers of water, That brings forth its fruit in its season, Whose leaf also shall not wither; And whatever he does shall prosper.

The marriage that God ordained - The reality of separation and divorce

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The marriage that God ordained
Divorce was never an option in the eyes of God
It is better not to marry - Mathew 19:10?
Man/Husband/Father/Head
Woman/Wife/Mother and Helper
It is a holy union that requires the daily presence of God
The reality of separation and divorce
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The reality of separation - divorce

He said to them, “Moses, because of the hardness of your hearts, permitted you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. – Mathew 19:8.

I have taken the time to explore the position of God on marriage as well as his stance on divorce, but this exposition would not be complete without acknowledging the reality of break up in marriages. As a matter of fact there is such a upward swing in this trend especially among believers and of such proportion, that to ignore this fact would be like the proverbial ostrich who buries it’s head in the sand. The scripture at no time ignores the fact or realities of our existence as many often claim, rather the scripture first and foremost reminds us of the positional truth, like a compass it provides us with the truth and what God intended for our lives. The scripture does recognise the facts on the ground, but it would never sacrifice the position of truth which it represents for any of these facts no matter how compelling they might be. Instead it is up to us to accept the positional truth that the scripture presents to us and we are to strive to replace these facts with them. We are to use the truth that is the word of God, to correct the erroneous beliefs, ideologies or distorted views and opinions that we have been relying upon to shape our lives, opinions which in turn rob us of the glory and the blessings of God.

Let us look at what Jesus said to the Pharisees who tried to justify the position of divorce by ascribing this to Moses. You see in doing so they were trying to shift this position as being the position of God, they were trying to replace God’s truth with the facts on the ground. They were trying to be clever; they used the name of Moses knowing that the laws of Moses represents the position of God on many issues. Jesus saw through their treachery and rightly pointed it out to them that the issue of divorce has nothing to do with God, it’s origin can be traced to the hardness of their hearts or the sinful nature of man at work. In other words divorce is a man’s concept, it is one of man’s act of rebellion against God, it was another sinful expression of rebellion, a rebellious shift from the position of God. Divorce is nothing but one of the many shortcomings of man that God in his mercies accommodated, as described here by Paul:

For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. – Romans 1:20 – 21.

Every true believer need to recognise this truth, that this sad event seems to be occurring in their midst does not mean that it represents the position of God nor is he pleased by it. Jesus pointed out that the origin of divorce lies in the sinful and rebellious nature of man, how does this play itself out?

The truth is when we ignore the issues that I have discussed so far, when we blatantly refuse to acknowledge the position of God on marriage, then this rebellious heart is already at work. The truth must be told, that any marriage or home that is built on this shaky grounds would be easily threatened even by the mildest storms of life.

The truth must be told that a number of people have found themselves being confronted by this sad event either through sheer ignorance, negligence or carelessness. It is sad to say that some have found themselves in this situation not by design but either by what they have refused to acknowledge or been careless about.

I can go ahead and list a number of common mistakes that believers do make such as put their marriage on a shaky footing, mistakes that subsequently lead to divorce. But one of the ways that we can avoid this mistake is to pay heed to the advice of Paul:

Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? – 2 Corinthians 6:14.

Believers have walked as though they are blindfolded into unequally yoked unions, only to discover that everything which their Christian beliefs instructs them to do in order to make their marriage work, appears to be of no effect. They should not be surprised, the instructions given by God to make marriages work is not given to only one partner, rather it is given to both, and it is when they both adhere to it that it begins to work. It is in scenario like this that the instruction for a woman to submit to her husband begins to look unrealistic and unfeasible if not insane, especially when the husband is not a godly person and has a long track record of abusing the wife.

I have seen believers who fell into deception because they applied their flesh in making decisions about their marriage choice, only to now find themselves in situations where divorce now appear to be the only way out, this is where the help of God when making the right choices has to take a priority over the flesh

The truth must also be said, it is not everyone that is cut out for marriage, a number of people do not have that grace to work it out, but peer pressure puts them in a position where they enter into it and they struggle miserably to make it work. Jesus cited the instance of eunuchs who were born that way.

For I wish that all men were even as I myself. But each one has his own gift from God, one in this manner and another in that. - 1 Corinthians 7:7.

But He said to them, “All cannot accept this saying, but only those to whom it has been given: For there are eunuchs who were born thus from their mother’s womb, and there are eunuchs who were made eunuchs by men, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’s sake. He who is able to accept it, let him accept it.” – Mathew 19:11-12.

They feel trapped because now they want to please God, when they did not find out his position from the beginning.

There are even grounds where divorce appears to be a valid case, and there are two examples that Paul used here:

  1. He cited the example of a woman who leaves her husband; the question would be under what circumstance? We do not know, but let us say that the husband could be an abusive one with records of abuse that even threatens the life of the woman and her children. Even though the wife may walk from such a relationship as a precaution, the condition here is that such a woman cannot be married to another.

Now to the married I command, yet not I but the Lord: A wife is not to depart from her husband. But even if she does depart, let her remain unmarried or be reconciled to her husband. And a husband is not to divorce his wife. – 1 Corinthians 7:10 -11.

What if this woman wants to marry again? Well the instruction clearly states that she cannot, rather she can be reconciled with her husband. There is a message here, the message of forgiveness and restoration. For that to happen, such a woman I believe would need to devote herself to prayers while interceding for such a man, this is what godly wives do, that the Lord may touch him and bring him to repentance, verse 16 of this chapter captures for us the reward of such venture. Same applies to the man. I would not pretend that this is a difficult position to be, but then divorce is already a difficult position, is it already a painful position, but the position of God is clear on this, the godly woman or man owes it a responsibility to save his/her spouse from damnation.

  1. The other example is when an unbelieving partner walks out on a marriage, in this scenario, the spouse is freed from the vows of that union, it is no longer binding;

But if the unbeliever departs, let him depart; a brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases. But God has called us to peace. – 1 Corinthians 7:15.

There is a significant difference in both position advocated by Paul here, for he clearly stated in the second option that he is speaking from a position of one who knows the mind of God with regards to our peace. He would not have that peace taken away by being yoked to an unbelieving spouse, who has no regards for the covenant of the marriage and annuls it by walking away. In the first option, Paul declared boldly that he speaks the instruction of God, on the second he gives a godly counsel.

  1. The third example was highlighted by Jesus and it is in many ways similar to the second option of Paul, in fact one is tempted to say that Paul got his boldness to offer this advice because of this position of Jesus on the issue.

And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality,[and marries another, commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced commits adultery.” – Mathew 19:9.

Once again we see here that one of the partners has dealt in a way and manner of an unbeliever and by carrying out acts that annuls the vows of the marriage. When Paul mentioned an unbelieving spouse walking away, this could be one of those acts that help us to understand what is implied. One thing ministers to me greatly here about what Jesus said when he used the word ‘Sexual immorality’. My wife once mentioned to me about a lady who confided in her that her husband was demanding that she partake in certain sexual activities that every Christian value in her opposes and she was finding it hard to continue because she was feeling condemned about it. Sadly she said the only reason she kept on taking part was because the man threatened he would leave her. What does she do when she is afraid of divorce? I believe this scripture help to answer this question.

As we can see the scripture clearly recognises the reality of divorce, it does not shy away from it and it clearly provides guidelines to follow. I may not have exhausted this, for each circumstance would be different and would pose different challenges of it’s own, but from the point of this exposition it is enough to highlight the fact that the problem of divorce is a man made problem, that does not cover the victims with any glory.

 

...To be continued.

 



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