Daily Devotional for Sunday April 19, 2009
For Better for Worse - Part Two of Two
(Malachi 2:16; Matthew 19:8)
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Part Two of Two
"For better, for worse." Divorce is not part of God's plan for marriage. As you can imagine, one of the issues I get thousands of prayer requests about every day is divorce. Well over 50% of marriages end in divorce, and sadly that percentage is no different for people who are in the church. There is so much weak and watered down teaching on this issue that involves well over 1/2 of the people in our society that I want to deal with the key points today.
The most important thing to understand about divorce is that it was never, is not now, nor ever will be part of God's plan for marriage. God clearly expresses His feelings on divorce in Malachi 2:16 by simply stating that "He hates divorce." Divorce is a sin, period. The biggest misconception about divorce comes from the poor teaching that there are Biblical reasons for divorce. This is mainly due to a misunderstanding of the passages in Matthew chapters 5 and 19 where it appears like adultery is a legitimate reason to get divorced.
Let me say this as clear and concise as I can. There are NO, ZERO, NADA reasons for divorce. Marriage is a LIFETIME commitment. I have performed dozens of weddings over my years in the ministry and have never yet said "till death do us part... unless." There are no "unlesses" in the marriage vows you make to your spouse and to God. The exception for adultery is NOT from God, it is an exception from man. It comes from the Jewish laws of marriage and divorcement and is a MAN-MADE reason for divorce.
The key verse is Matthew 19:8 when Jesus said it was MOSES, who because of the hardness of your heart, referring to the man made laws of marriage and divorcement. He went on to say that in the begining it was not so, referring to God's plan that did not include ANY reason for divorce.
One of the sad issues many men and women face in marriage is abuse. Physical, verbal, emotional, mental, and sexual are all forms of abuse. Let me be clear on this. God DOES NOT expect a person to stay in a living environment where they are being abused in any way. That is never His plan for people to live their lives under those conditions. I counsel people daily in abusive situations to leave the home and separate. Note that I said separate, NOT divorce. Also, I do not recommend that anyone who has had to separate due to abuse of any kind, goes back until their spouse has received professional help and is living a committed life for Christ. Unless Jesus transforms their life, they will never change.
I have made it so clear in past Devotionals how serious the decision to get married is. It is for LIFE. The vow is "for better or for worse." You are making a lifetime commitment to this other person and to God. That is why I encourage you to take it slow when you are in a relationship that may lead to marriage. Don't rush into anything. First of all, don't ignore God's warning in 2 Corinthians 6:14 by getting involved with a non-Christian. Take the time to build a spiritual foundation to your relationship. Get to know the other person over TIME. So many of the problems I see each day in marriages could have been avoided if people would have only been patient and taken the time to get to know their spouse BEFORE they got married.
I am well aware that this does not insure you will have a perfect marriage. People make choices every day. Sadly, even people who know the Lord make the choice each day to live in rebellion to God. You are NOT responsible for the choices your spouse makes if at some point in your marriage they choose to rebel against God. However, you can be much more assured of who your spouse is if you are patient and build a spiritual foundation to your relationship prior to getting married .
The other issue I want to address is getting married again after you have been divorced. Please understand that if you are divorced, you are single and free to marry anyone else who is single. Again, the passage that talks about a person committing adultery if you get remarried after a divorce is tied into the Jewish laws of marriage and divorcement. The fact is, if you are divorced you have sinned against God since in a divorce BOTH parties have to bear the responsibility regardless of the circumstances. The key is to repent, ask God to forgive you, and stand on His promise in 1 John 1:9 that you ARE forgiven. You are then free to remarry. God is a God of the second chance!
The biggest mistake I see people making every day is getting divorced and before the ink is even dry on the divorce papers, even before in many cases, involved in another relationship. Please listen to me carefully. A divorce is no different than if someone takes a butcher knife and cuts a 12" gash into your chest. It is a SERIOUS wound that needs time, often lots of time, to heal. Getting involved in another relationship is the most foolish thing anyone who has just gone through the pain of a divorce can do. You are NOT ready for it emotionally or spiritually! Please, take time to heal and spend time with the Lord before you even consider getting involved in another relationship.
I love you and care about you so much. My heart breaks today knowing how many people are living each day in a difficult marriage. I will be praying for you. If you are having problems in your marriage, please know that God is your hope and strength. He is still a God that changes lives and can bring healing and restoration to your marriage. I will be praying today for those marriages that are in trouble, believing God to make your marriage whole.
For those who have been through the pain of divorce, I will be praying for you as well. I went through a divorce early in my life when I was away from the Lord so I understand what that pain is. God loves you very much and if you will simply ask His forgiveness, He will forgive you for the sin of divorce. God still has much for you to do with the rest of your life as well as many blessings for you to enjoy. I will pray today that in His perfect timing, He will bring into your life a Godly man or woman to share the rest of your journey with in His Holy Institution of Marriage, for better, for worse!
In His love and service, Your friend and brother in Christ, Bill Keller