God has a plan for the family, and divorce isn't part of it. If we are to have strong people and a strong nation, we must first have strong families.
It hath been said, Whosoever shall put away his wife, let him give her a writing of divorcement: But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery.
Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of Mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock:
There’s an account of a man who purchased the city's garbage dump, covered it with dirt, and built a subdivision on top of it. It looked beautiful when they were first built, but within a very short time, the roads began to buckle, the foundations began to crack, and that entire subdivision had to be abandoned.
You just can't build a strong community on garbage … it doesn't offer a solid foundation. In the same way, God has a plan for our world that requires strong families. Yet our nation, as well as nations across this globe, have largely rejected that plan. We are now seeing the destruction caused by trying to build families on top of such garbage. The families have no foundations, and they are crumbling.
We are living in a time of tragedy, with throw‑away marriages and tossed‑away kids. Often, divorce seems their only option and we find those are doomed to make the same mistakes the second time around. The hurts and heartaches of divorce have shaken the foundation of the family in every part of the world. Marriage is supposed to be a permanent relationship, not a temporary assignment that we can quit if we don't like it.
The American landscape being littered with the victims of the divorce epidemic. It seems every family is touched in some way or another by this heartbreak. We see ex‑wives raise their children alone, ex‑husbands try to be good dads, and children are torn apart between two warring parents.
Now we are seeing many are not even considering marriage after the failures they have witnessed. They prefer to ignore the marriage relationship and move instead to domestic partnership.
We need to return to God's Word to discover how we can break that cycle and create a new foundation for the family ─ the one God had in mind for us.
God Desired Permanence for Marriage
God permitted divorce for only one reason: adultery. Divorce is never God's intent, but He allowed it in the case of sexual immorality. In talking about the subject in Matthew chapter nineteen, Jesus doesn't commend divorce. Instead, He teaches that restoration and forgiveness are better alternatives.
The classic example of that is Hosea, a prophet of God who was married to an immoral woman. Hosea's wife, Gomer, was not only immoral, she ended up as a prostitute. Yet Hosea went back to her, reclaimed her, forgave her, and restored his home. That is God's ideal. Of course, one cannot always make the partner agree to that. Hosea could have been refused by Gomer and been helpless to do anything about it. But thank God for the Hoseas of this world, who are willing to forgive even immorality in order to restore a marriage.
Love isn't something vague and ethereal; it's a commitment and an action that you put into practice. People think we fall in and out of love as helpless victims, but the Bible doesn't teach that.
I heard a woman say that she was going to divorce her husband because she felt it would be "better for the children" if they separated. But any study of broken homes would negate that. Divorce is never a positive factor for children. If you're thinking it might be better for the children, you'd do well to ask your children.
The reasoning that the children shouldn't grow up around constant arguing presupposes that there are only two solutions: more arguing or divorce. There happens to be a third alternative, and that is to get right with God.
Another person planning to divorce once said to me, "I owe it to myself to be happy." I asked him, "Where'd you ever get a silly notion like that?" God has plans for you to be holy, but there is no promise that you'll be completely happy. As a matter of fact, having happiness as the primary goal of your life is the ultimate selfishness. God's plan is for you to obey His Word and be holy. Happiness is a wonderful thing, but it has very little to do with obedience.
God Declared a Pardon for Failed Marriage
Some Christians have already failed at marriage. They've been through a divorce. But we have a God of forgiveness. We have a God of grace. If you've failed and your marriage is broken, you can't go backward. You can't unscramble the eggs. But divorce is not the unpardonable sin. The church is not to treat the divorced like second class citizens in the kingdom of heaven. I'm constantly amazed how a criminal can come to Christ and be praised but a divorced person is vilified.
If you are divorced and have repented of your sin, God forgives you. You are not a second‑class citizen. "There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus," Paul tells us in Romans 8:1. "Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow," the prophet Isaiah says in Isaiah 1:18.
The church is not a showplace for saints but a hospital for sinners. You are not the only person to have made a mistake. Keep in mind that in John 8:1-11, we read an account of the woman taken in the act of adultery, who was forgiven by the Lord Jesus. He encouraged the first stone to be tossed by an innocent man, but there weren't any innocent men in the crowd. Jesus didn't take a weak view of sin. He didn't condone the woman's sin. He simply forgave her and commanded her to sin no more.
In John 4:4-26, we read of the Samaritan woman at the well, who had been married five times. But Jesus spoke to her because He recognized her need for love and acceptance. He gave her the Water of Life, which satisfied her thirsty soul. He didn't condemn a divorced woman; He saved her. I believe He would do the same thing today. Sure, divorce is wrong. But neglecting those in pain is also wrong.
Here are some practical suggestions for those finding themselves in one of these precarious circumstances.
- If you are married and Christ is not the head of your home, turn to the Lord. If you don't, your foundation is faulty. You might be able to survive, but you'll never have the kind of home God intended.
- If you are divorced, ask God to forgive you. Seek to be reconciled if possible. If you or your partner are already remarried, ask God's forgiveness, and share that forgiveness with your ex‑partner. Even if they won't repent, forgive them in spirit.
- If you are thinking about getting a divorce, think again. God can help you put your home back together. The best testimony you'll ever have in our world is a loving home where God is glorified.
1. What are the elements in our society that attack marriage?
What effects of this have you seen in your own family or community?
What does the Lord have to say about divorce in Malachi 2:16?
2. In Matthew 5:31-32, what teaching does Christ offer regarding divorce?
When Jesus was asked about divorce by the Pharisees in Matthew 19:1-9, what was His initial answer to them (verses 4-6)?
What point was the Lord trying to make?
When the Pharisees pressed their point, Christ gave them a more complete answer(in verse 7). Paraphrase Christ’s answer in your own words. What is His teaching on divorce?
3. Why is it important that a man “leave” his father and mother?
What does that verse imply about parenting?
What happens if the bride or groom is not prepared to leave father and mother?
4. What does it mean to “cleave” to your mate?
How would you respond to someone who said, “I’m thinking of getting a divorce. The love has gone out of my marriage.”
What would you say to a Christian who told you, “I prayed about it and I believe the Lord wants me to divorce my spouse?”
Application:There are a few good marriages mentioned in Scripture and several spectacular failures. Take a look at the book of Esther. What did Queen Vashti do to King Xerxes in Esther chapter one? How did Esther act toward the king in contrast to Vashti? List marriages in the Bible that you consider good and then list some you know were bad. What circumstances were mentioned that led to your conclusion?
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