Saturday, October 4, 2014

Permanence of Marriage or Bust

The view for the permanence of marriage makes a lot of sense to Christians. One man and one woman till death do they part. It is a joint effort under God’s providence by a man and a woman to make marriage last until death.  This marriage covenant is a solid representation of Christ’s love for His church. Grace should abound in even the most difficult of marriages because the grace of God is what saves us from our sins. There is even very strong solid biblical arguments for the permanence of marriage. In fact, the Christian majority will say marriage should be permanent as God intended. Emphasis on “should”… 

Yet, the majority will say in one breath that marriage should be permanent as God intended, but in the other breath, this majority will say that God allows certain instances or loopholes where a marriage can and should end before death of either spouse. This premature or permissible end of a marriage is the dreaded “D” word. Many will use the same scriptures to validate divorce that some will use to validate the permanence of marriage, yet no one needs to be reminded or can argue what divorce has done  and continues to do to individuals, families, friends, and societies.  

Divorce is associated with bitterness, unrepentance, malice, and treachery. None of these attributes mark a life in the Holy Spirit.  I personally believe that divorce occurs when an individual decides in the flesh that his or her marriages has come to an end. I believe that no one living in the Spirit of the Lord will divorce or will believe a divorce ends a marriage covenant. I say this because the “majority” of those who divorce or believe that divorce is a permissible option, consists of those who do not call Jesus Christ Lord. 

We can use Hollywood as a prime example. Marriage is a “thing to do” and divorce is not uncommon among the “entertainers” of the world system. Hollywood has done more to mock God’s design and pervert human sexuality than many will admit. In fact, marriage is slowly becoming extinct in a culture full of idolatry. Hollywood has done its wicked best to undermine God’s holy design of marriage. The world follows its own and many have followed reality television and followed actors and actresses’ who marry, divorce and marry again. This is commonly called lusting after the flesh.  

For those who claim to be Christian, this “fleshy” living is just as evident. Instead of following actors and actresses, many follow the blind leaders who fabricated “loopholes” conjured from scripture which allow both divorce and remarriage. These self-ordained theologians and scholars of our day believe that certain passages of scripture permit divorce and remarriage in some instances. Yet, these instances are rarely applicable in the majority of the divorces today.  Besides that, it is all but impossible to determine if a remarried Christian couple divorced and remarried according to these “loopholes”. One would have to question each “remarriage” to ascertain the truth. Even if the “remarried” couple did not divorce and remarry according to these loopholes, who would know? Those who believe that scripture calls for a permanence of marriage can easily discern that ALL remarriages after divorce of a living spouse is adultery.

I and others, have concluded that the majority of those who accept and encourage divorce and remarriage includes those who are not Christians and those who claim to be Christians. One can understand that an unbeliever would not view marriage as a lifetime covenant ordained by God. The pre-supposition is that an unbeliever knows God, but their hearts became darkened because they did not glorify Him as God (Romans 1:18-23).  Thus, an unbeliever will not recognize marriage as God’s design. These unbelievers will say that a marriage is the most desirable solution for the betterment of a society. Of course we can see this acceptable practice of marriage between a man and woman is becoming extinct as well through the push for same-sex marriage.  

The professing Christian majority on the other hand differs slightly. They will say marriage is God’s design, yet they believe marriage is a product for the flesh and not of the spirit. Thus, these flesh-filled Christians believe a marriage comes with “loopholes” should the other spouse break his or her end of a covenant vow. The common reaction of the flesh-filled Christian is that once a spouse commits a sin that is applicable to the loopholes provided, the best and correct course of action is to divorce. 

Since they are flesh-filled Christians relying solely on temporal desires, a subsequent divorce allows for remarriage. Divorce and remarriage provide “relief” or “fulfillment” for the flesh that was “deprived” by a sinful spouse. Instead of remaining in the covenant and relying on the Spirit for a prodigal to come to repentance, or perhaps becoming humble themselves by repenting of their own sin that may have contributed to the divorce, the flesh-filled Christian denies the spirit through a hardened heart. These flesh-filled people not only live in the world, they live “of the world” of which is evident by their actions.   

This professing flesh-filled Christian majority rarely recognizes or admits that even in these permissible “divorce” situations or “loophole” instances, there are cases where the marriage was saved by the actions of one or both spouses who trusted in the Lord when all seemed lost. In fact, most people who divorce and remarried become agitated and irritated when someone says to them that he or she will remain single so that God can restore the prodigal spouse. This person is commonly referred to as a “stander”, defined as a spouse who stands in the covenant of marriage despite the actions of the other spouse. This “stander” will surely be in the minority when he or she remains single, trusting and remaining in the Lord, believing that He requires singleness instead of divorce. 

Remaining single in the Lord is foreign to a flesh-filled individual because his or her hard heart will not and does not want to recognize the fact that an unrepentant “prodigal” spouse is headed for destruction. Instead of relying, trusting, and remaining with the Author and Designer of marriage, the flesh-filled Christian makes the assumption that the marriage is over and that forgiveness, repentance, and reconciliation is not an option and will never be an option. This total selfish view of life and marriage ignores the eternal reality of the life to come. It also creates a false god that has no power to restore a prodigal much less restore a marriage.

I saw this first hand as a man who truly believed that my covenant marriage(see this post for the WHOLE story of my testimony) did not end simply because my wife fell in love with another man. Many brothers and sisters in Christ told me that I had freedom to divorce. Yet, when I quoted scripture about how a man should not divorce his wife and that remarriage is adultery, many of these brothers and sisters backed away. My “stand” offended those who did not stand for their spouse. Many of these people divorced and remarried and my testimony convicted their actions. I began to feel a sense of rejection and a feeling of loneliness around other couples. There is this level of mistrust when it comes to divorce. Many do not know how to respond to divorce, especially if both spouses claim to be Christians. I can say this isolation compounded with the fact that my testimony of remaining single when others remarried after divorce.

When I began to realize that divorce and remarriage in the church was much more popular than remaining in Christ, I began to wonder how this all came to be. Scripture was so clear to me that divorce was not an option. I understood that if divorce was unavoidable because of certain state laws permitted “no-fault” divorce which allowed one hardhearted spouse to initiate a divorce, singleness was the only option for this ‘hardhearted” spouse. I knew that scripture shows that a spouse who initiates divorce can only remain single as well. Yet, as we all know, this is rarely the case.

I have found out that the very same system that “ordains” a marriage, is the same system that provides loopholes for ANYONE who wants to divorce and remarry. We need to be honest and agree that marriage is an entity of the state or government just as much as a child gets registered a social security number at birth. Christian congregations work in conjunction with civil governments.  A marriage license is required at the time of the ceremony. Yet, many Christian denominations will boldly state that marriage is God ordained and He sets the conditions.

It is ether one or the other. Either God is the sole officiate of marriage or He is not. God hates divorce. This does not sit well with many congregations who use the name of Jesus, because in a world that teaches us that divorce is an option for any reason, many professing Christians believe that divorce is an “option’. The reason that this is disturbing is there is a considerable disparity from congregation to congregation on the definitions of when, how, and why divorce is applicable. We must also take into account that divorce and remarriage is so common that very few will consider the factors of a person getting a divorce. Since divorce is such a negative circumstance, very few churches provide adequate support for the divorced person. The only support they do receive from these congregations is to get “remarried” as soon as possible. 

What has happened over the years is astounding, divorce and remarriage became so common that eventually these congregations that approved divorce and remarriage soon began to approve same-sex marriages. Now those congregations that call homosexuality sin will say that God does not recognize same-sex marriage as a valid marriage. There is much disparity among the congregations on the issue of same-sex marriage because the attack on marriage started with the failure to recognize the permanence of marriage.

The proponents for the sanctity of marriage have one thing that they cannot ignore. The proponents for same-sex marriage will cry that Christians treat marriage as expendable with the astounding numbers of divorce and remarriages. They even use Luke 16:18 as their rally cry by saying, “God calls it adultery for all who remarry after divorce, you hypocrites!” However, there are cases now where same-sex marriages ended in divorce as well. As you can see, both the pro-same-sex and pro-divorce and remarriage crowd have glaring issues. 

In a recent post on his blog entitled “Is divorce equivalent to homosexuality?”, Russell D. Moore, president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, said this:

“ The argument is that conservative Protestants already embrace a “third way” because we’ve done so on divorce. Couples divorce, sometimes remarry others, and yet are welcomed within the congregation. We don’t necessarily affirm this as good, but we receive these people with mercy and grace. Why not, the argument goes, do the same with homosexuality.

The charge of hypocrisy is valid in some respects. I’ve argued for years and repeatedly that Southern Baptists and other evangelicals are slow-motion sexual revolutionaries, embracing elements of the sexual revolution twenty or thirty years behind the rest of the culture. This is to our shame, and the divorce culture is the number-one indicator of this capitulation. The preaching on divorce has been muted and hesitating all too often in our midst. Sometimes this is due to what the Bible calls “fear of man,” ministers and leaders afraid of angering divorced people (or their relatives) in power in congregations. Sometimes it’s due to the fact that divorce simply seems all too normal in this culture; it doesn’t shock us anymore.”

Moore also makes it clear that divorce and remarriage are an afterthought today and that the majority of divorces have nothing to do with adultery and abandonment. Moore goes on sheepishly to defend “his” stance by trying to make us believe that Jesus allowed or permitted divorce for these specific reasons. People make excuses to please the flesh rather than live holy and pleasing lives in the spirit. Clergy and biblical scholars popular view of scripture provided the means in with to remain in sin and not call it sin. Clergy like Moore actually believe that a covenant is a contract and that their word supersedes the truth of scripture. 

 This article is sad because it exposes the failure of a system (clergy/laity) that undermines the Gospel and makes a mockery of the marriage covenant. The same covenant that is a direct reflection of the Gospel. (Eph 5:32) This article represents the common defense of “clergy” who know that that they already performed “remarriages” that they had no business performing. Combine this with a congregational church system that is so divided and chaotic on this stance, they cannot tell who divorced and remarried according to scriptures any more than they can read the minds of every member that gives these men tithes. Moore and many others fail to take in to consideration that the Lord Jesus Christ had this to say to the Pharisees; the same Pharisees who like Moore, validate divorce and remarriage for any reason.

 Matthew 19:4-6 And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female. And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh? Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.

What Moore and others need to do is repent of the false teaching on divorce and remarriage. That is what needs to happen. Marriage is not man’s business to define. These “educated” men like Moore who believe that God “ordained” their words and their positions, need to come to a point of humility instead of dodging the real issue. That real issue is they failed to preach that marriage is a permanent covenant ordained by God until death. This is what God's word says, and not what we in the flesh want it to say. Divorce does not end marriage, and remarriage after divorce is not a marriage…it is adultery. There is still time. God is merciful and patient and He will not despise a humble and contrite heart.  

In Christ’s love,


No comments: