New Testament Journey Day 15 – Matthew 5:31-32 – “Jesus Teaches About Divorce”.
Divorce is as hurtful and destructive today as in Jesus’ day. God intends marriage to be a lifetime commitment. When entering into marriage, people should not be so easy to consider divorce as the answer to solving problems or a way out of marriage. I worked with a guy once and so admired the love he obviously had for his wife. Barry loved Jenny like Johnny Cash loved June – and maybe even more so. He told us one day that he pictured marriage like this…. two people make a decision to get in a boat together. They row that boat out to an island so far off shore you can’t swim back. And when you arrive, you burn the boat. The only option is to work things out. I liked that analogy. And that attitude was present in his relationship.
Growing up in the 70’s everyone I went to school with, their parents were married. I can still recall the first “divorce” I heard of – how shocking it was. It was not a common thing. Here were are today, 2021, and knowing people who are still married, after 20, 30, 60 years is the oddity and relationships to be celebrated because they are becoming so rare. I looked up the statistics today – 50% of the marriages in the United States end in divorce. We are the 6th highest country in divorce rate. I believe the evidence of why Jesus spoke against divorce is all around us…
My husband is a mental health counselor and I a am a life coach. Both of us have had clients who are struggling with anger, depression, and suicidal tendencies stemming from a root of rejection that occurred when their parents divorced. When they ended up molested or raped by a step parent or random parental partner. When they were shunned for the parents “new children” with their new spouse and they were now the outsider. We’ve counseled men and women ready to end their lives because their spouse has served them divorce papers. And…. we’ve had the pleasure of watching couples reconcile in marriage counseling. Couples who understand marriage is hard and they somehow got off track with busy schedules and lack of communication. But they know what they once had is worth fighting for.
God tells men to love their wives as Christ loves the church. He tells women to be submissive to their husbands. (Oh women don’t like to hear that one do we?) But there is wisdom and truth in this. My husband and I are both very dominate personalities. And yet we are also very different. He is very focused. I am pretty much all over the place. In all transparency, I can likely be a handful at times, but Tom loves me like Jesus – even when I don’t deserve it. And me… I recall a disagreement about something a few months ago. Honestly, I can’t even tell you now what it was about – not even if I thought hard about it – but what I do remember is I was in disagreement. I saw a situation one way, he saw it another. In that moment, as I started to get frustrated I heard in my heart “Wives, submit to your husbands.” And even though I didn’t agree with him, in that moment, pleasing God, and honoring my marriage, was more important than my being “right” (in my eyes). Obviously it was a good thing that I listened because as I mentioned, today I can’t even tell you what the issue was. How horrible it would have been to let that ruin our day, or potentially damage our relationship. No I don’t feel like I lost my “Woman card” by doing that. I feel like I learned something. I feel like I invested in our marriage instead of being self-focused. It’s easy for me to do this because Tom loves me like Jesus does. It’s a two way street.
Our relationship with Jesus is often referred to as a marriage. Both relationships are to be taken seriously. If you are in a marriage and you’re struggling – seek counseling before you become a statistic. It’s OK to ask for help. You are not alone. Not admitting defeat. It’s so amazing to watch as we have couples in counseling and we say “So what I heard you say is…” and the other spouse looks shocked as we ask “So what did you hear?” And the look on their face when they realize what they heard, was not what was meant. And that’s when the walls start coming down and restoration begins. Calendars are booked with things to keep you busy – ballgames, work, volunteering – it’s so important to make time for one another. Have a “date night” to keep connected.
If you are married, keep Jesus in the center of your marriage and know that it’s not a bed of roses every day. Some day it takes work, and you have to be willing to put in that work. The grass isn’t always greener on the other side of the fence. It still grows, still needs tended to, still needs watered. Beautify and work on the marriage you’ve been given. God takes your vows, your commitment seriously.