Sunday, November 15, 2015

The Myths of Marriage Permanence: God Hates Divorced People



There seems to be some confusion surrounding the idea of marriage permanence. The first myth is that many believe that God’s plan for marriage permanence was His “idea”, and not what He “commanded” from the beginning.  It is very clear that scripture supports that marriage is God’s command and was designed to bring Him glory. There is another myth that believes God hates divorce people.  If we understand the answer to the first myth, we can understand how God views the people of divorce.

There is no question that divorce is regulated by the world system. I wrote a post less than a year ago noting that divorce is not sanctioned by the church. In other words, when was the last time a couple mitigated a divorce through the church, through the elders, or through their pastor? The fact is that most all divorces are handled through the court system and that a marriage cannot end until the law says so.

 

However, we know the law of marriage is from the beginning (Gen 2:24; Mt 19:4-6; Mk 10:6-9; Romans 7:2,3)and to believe a divorce can end a marriage is to deny the very definition of marriage. You also must deny that God is the creator of marriage. A divorce is hardheartedness (Mt 19:8; Mk 10:5), and the only reason to accept divorce is to say that you would rather live alone than with your covenant spouse. A divorce never ends a covenant marriage, a divorce “separates” a covenant marriage. It is like taking a piece of paper and ripping it in half. It is now two pieces of the same paper.

The general rule of divorce is that it is bilateral in nature, in that both spouses agree to the terms and conditions of the divorce. Unfortunately, all divorces are not mutually accepted by the spouse. The laws of the land today say that a spouse can unilaterally divorce his or her spouse regardless of the other spouse’s disapproval. If this a problem, what does it say to the children of marriage who just want their parents to love each other? What is their position in divorce litigation?

The problem lies not so much in our understanding the truth of divorce, as it lies in the inability of the church to define and defend marriage. The permanence of marriage makes it clear that a divorce can only lead to two outcomes: Both spouses of divorce remain unmarried in singleness for the duration of the marriage (death of either spouse), or they reconcile the marriage. This is the provisions scripture gives for divorce. If divorce and remarriage was an option, it would not be called adultery.
Therefore, we can see why God hates divorce. Divorce requires a period of hardheartedness even should the marriage reconcile. If the marriage cannot reconcile, and either spouse “remarries”, they have entered into an adulterous union based on the fact that they are living with a person who is not their covenant spouse. If a marriage does reconcile, it can only be due to the love of Christ to make it so. 

The sad truth is that people of divorce are often shunned and misrepresented. There are two sides to those who understand marriage and divorce (I wrote a post on this here Are you a stander, or a shirker?):


There is the spouse who believes the vow he or she made before God is bonded in heaven, and that death can only end what God hath joined together. This spouse believes that no matter the sin, God can restore a prodigal spouse to Him, and thus restore the marriage. This spouse remains obedient to the vow he or she made before God. This spouse will forgive as Christ forgave us. Often the unilateral divorces of this nature is that one spouse believes he or she is entitled to divorce to remarry another. In many of these unilateral divorces, the faithful spouse of covenant is unable to financially fight to keep the marriage. 

 There is the spouse who believes that forgiveness is out of the question, and that a divorce ends the marriage, thus freeing then to marry another. Even should their spouse repent of the hurt they caused, the divorce has already ended the marriage. Often these divorces are selfish in nature and never take into account the action of both spouses during the marriage. Unilateral divorces of this kind are often associated with adultery (an affair) within the marriage, freeing the initiator of divorce to remarry another.  

Both of these divorces come with a stigma that surrounds all divorces. There is a sense of loss and betrayal, and the thought that one or both spouses are at fault. This is not just true in the world, but among the church itself. Very little churches regard the significance of divorce, let alone do they stand in defense of marriage. Regardless, divorce leaves a tremendous amount of collateral damage to either or both spouses of divorce. Not to mention that a divorce often leaves children scarred for life.

What is a very disturbing trend is that many evangelical churches frown upon the idea of remaining in covenant and believing a marriage does not end in divorce. These churches are more comfortable in divorces getting "remarried" as quickly as possible, mainly due to the fact that many congregations are filled with remarried divorced couples. While pastors preach on the sanctity of marriage, they must be careful to tread in the waters of the "remarried". Thus, these pastors define marriage as one man and one woman at a time, and not one man and one woman for life.

Since it is ever so clear that the church has done very little in defending marriage, divorce is generally left to “professional” hands to mitigate and council. There are many, many divorce support groups, but these are under the assumption that a divorce ends the marriage. DivorceCare is the best alternative for churches since it provides a means for many to ignore the truth of marriage.  Unfortunately, these divorce support groups are the cause of even more sin. Ministries such as Focus on the Family, FamilyLife, and Family Talk do not account for the fact they minister to adulterous unions because they believe that the divorce finalizes a one-flesh marriage covenant. Thus, there is no shortage of “blended-family” and “remarriage” counseling in these deluded and diabolical ministries. 

The major Christian denominations all speak for the sanctity of marriage, but they all believe that a divorce ends a marriage. What help do they provide if what they teach on divorce and remarriage is keeping these people in the bondage of sin? The loopholes they have provided through the Westminster Confession of Faith gives them ample room to dodge the idea that they would need to defend marriage in the case of divorce. Instead, it is better to divorced and remarried as soon as possible, because churches cater to the married, and “remarried”; which is way better than “divorced and waiting for a spouse to repent.” 

(KJV)  13:4a Marriage is honorable in all…It is no wonder that many evangelicals love the newer Westminster Confession friendly versions of the bible. (NIV) Heb 13:4a Marriage should be honored by all…Tell me, what is the difference of “is” and “should”? 

The fact is that nearly every church looks with disdain on the divorced person, mainly due to the fact that no one wants to get involved in defending marriage. The laity believe it is the clergy’s responsibility to administer to broken marriages, when it is the responsibility of the body of Christ to defend marriage and remain accountable to couples who struggle in marriage. Often the clergy are ill equipped to get to the root of the problem in marriage when the seminaries that feed them doctrine have twisted them into believing that divorce is a viable option. Instead of addressing the sin that leads to divorce, it is much easier for a pastor to leave the marriage in the hands of secular family court lawyers and the laws of the land that care nothing for the eternal things of God. 

In conclusion, God does not hate divorced people, He hates divorce. Nothing good ever comes from divorce, unless it is understandable that divorce does not end a one-flesh covenant marriage. If divorce was defined to make people remain in covenant, to preserve families, to repent of sin, to bring about forgiveness, to restore the broken, to define the permanence of marriage, and to display the love of Christ for His bride, then no one has the right to get married. Marriage is honorable, marriage is divine, and marriage is for life…to believe otherwise is a lie. 

 Heb 13:4 Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge.

In Christ’s love,
Neil

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