Can Your Family Keep Love Alive?March 1, 2021 Save Article
It’s a sad fact of life today: vast numbers of people have throw-away marriages. When things don’t work out, they just throw it away. Will you go against the trend? In your family, will you remain faithful? Will you be able to keep love alive?
I can remember when the traditional family was traditional: couples got married first, then moved in together, then had children, not the other way around. Joyce and I came from traditional homes. We and our children ate together, played together, fussed together, went to church together. Today, both parents work outside the home. Children are “latch-key” kids. In 1999, six million-plus U.S. households were single-parent homes [by 2020, it was 11 million]. More than a quarter of U.S. households are led by a single parent.
Newsweek magazine offers this description. Church, we need to sit up and listen:
“The landscape is littered with victims of the divorce epidemic. Ex‑wives raising their children alone, former husbands trying to start new lives and still be good fathers to kids they see only on specified days, and the children themselves often torn between two warring parents.”
The article reveals the findings of psychologist Judith Wallerstein, who studied 60 divorced middle-class families in northern California. Only 10% of the ex-spouses said they had succeeded in improving their lives. Ten percent! Wallerstein concluded, “Divorce is seen as a wrenching experience for every family I have seen.”
We know the devastating effect on children: broken homes produce broken lives, and the cycle continues. No wonder God makes it clear that He hates divorce (Malachi 2:16).
Secularists tell us today, “We've advanced far beyond you Christians.” Unmarried sex and unwed motherhood are fine; homosexuality is just an alternate lifestyle; marriage isn’t sacred because nothing is sacred, and the only law is “Don’t be judgmental.”
Read what God thinks about America’s new norms in Matthew 19:3-9. The Pharisees asked Jesus:
“Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any and every reason?”
That is, if she’s not attractive or can’t cook, or mismanages the finances, can I just put her away?
And He answered and said to them, “Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason, a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’?
One of the most damning things the devil has done today is to blur the distinction between male and female and convince the human race divorce is okay. Jesus continued:
"So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore, what God has joined together, let not man separate.” They said to Him, “Why then did Moses command to give a certificate of divorce, and to put her away?” He said to them, “Moses, because of the hardness of your hearts, permitted you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning, it was not so. And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced commits adultery.”
Someone needs to rise up in America today and speak about family faithfulness.
May God write these three truths indelibly on your heart.
Marriage was made by Heaven.
Marriage didn’t come from sociology or evolution; it’s God’s plan. God made the human race male and female.
The best contractor in the world can’t build a house if he doesn’t know what a house is. The best people in the world can’t build a home if they don’t know what, according to God, a home and family are, because they have no guide.
God gives us the guide in Matthew 19, verse 5, and it’s built around three verbs:
For this reason, a man shall leave his father and mother, be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one.
Leave, be joined, become one. That’s what marriage is.
1. Leave—the priority.
No longer under your parents’ authority, you leave to form your own home. A new household is established where the bond between you and your mate is stronger than parent-child. Your commitment to your mate becomes your new priority.
And as a parent, your job is to work your way out of a job—get your children ready to leave the nest. You’re successful as a parent when your children no longer need you. Teach your little eaglets to fly (See Deuteronomy 32:11.) so they can operate on their own.
At a certain age, they become like bars of soap. If you squeeze them too hard, they’ll pop out of your hand. Hold them gently and let them go at the right time, and they will come back as friends—often the best friends you’ll ever have.
2. Be joined—the permanence.
Marriage is a lifetime contract. It should only be signed by people for whom divorce is not an option. These are the people who will hang together and stay together.
Families who stick it out face basically the same problems as those who don’t. No problems are too big to solve, just people too small to solve them. Learn to attack the problem rather than one another, and together you can work it out.
3. Become one flesh—the purpose.
More than sexual union, you marry the whole person: body, soul, and spirit. There are three ways you become one flesh with your spouse:
You’re no longer a single individual; you two become one flesh. God’s arithmetic is one plus one equals one. Marriage is a romance in which both the hero and heroine die in the first chapter, and a new person, one flesh, comes into being. Sex is a wonderful gift God gives to people to know one another in the most intimate of relationships. It’s a way of saying, “I love you” that can’t be put into words.
God put high walls around sex to protect and preserve it:
- “You shall not commit adultery” (Exodus 20:14).
- “Flee sexual immorality…” (1 Corinthians 6:18).
- “Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge” (Hebrews 13:4).
This is not to keep us from sex but to keep sex for us. The devil has taken that which is beautiful and trivialized this gift of God that is so radically, fundamentally, indispensably important.
God wants us to be one emotionally. We ought to be friends. Next to Jesus, my best friend is my wife, Joyce.
We are one flesh spiritually, loving the same Lord, members of the same body—His body—the Church. That wonderful unity is God’s purpose for marriage; thus Jesus said marriage was made in Heaven. (See Matthew 19:4-6.)
Marriage can be marred by Hell.
People offer trivial excuses for divorce today: “The love has gone out of our marriage.” “I don’t love him/her anymore.” But God says, “Husbands, love your wives” (Ephesians 5:25). It’s not a suggestion; it’s a command. Women are to love their husbands. (See Titus 2:4.) Behind every command is God’s omnipotent power to carry it out.
Part of our problem is the world’s definition of love is so different from God’s. The world thinks of love superficially. Someone is physically attractive, cute or funny, and a man whispers in her ear, “I love you.” He really means, “I want you.” The world calls that love, but it’s conditional—lasting only as long as she’s attractive, cute, or funny.
If we love someone because they’re attractive, and that changes, we stop “loving” them. Conditional love (“I don’t love him anymore”) is at the root of so many divorces.
It takes Christ to make a marriage, because we must love as Jesus loved. On our own, none of us can. His love isn’t a human product. When the Bible says, “Husbands, love your wives,” the word for this type of love is agapé, the same love Christ has for His Church. Agapé appears in John 3:16—“God so agapéd the world….” God loves you unconditionally. That’s how you must love your mate.
Romans 5:5 says only by the Holy Spirit can we love with God’s love. The devil’s lie says love is just an emotional experience.
Dr. Gary Smalley said, “Some people treat marriage like a tick treats a dog; they’re only on that dog for what they can get out of it.” The problem in many marriages is, there are two ticks and no dog. We’re trying to make somebody else satisfy and meet our needs. It’s basically selfish. There is nothing wrong with romantic love, but romantic love alone won’t cut it for the long haul. Marriage is a marathon, not a sprint.
If you love someone conditionally, they’ll live in fear: “I’ve got to perform, I’ve got to look a certain way—if I don’t, I may lose him/her.”
- Guilt follows fear: “I wasn’t good enough, didn’t perform enough.”
- Anger results: “Wait—he/she had no right to do this. I was used and discarded.”
- Anger turns to bitterness.
- Bitterness is a living hell.
That’s the poisoned fruit of conditional love.
When you know you’re loved unconditionally,
- Peace replaces fear.
- Security replaces guilt.
- Joy replaces bitterness.
Divorce was never God’s original intent. Marriage was to be a permanent union. Jesus allowed divorce only for adultery, but even then, reconciliation, forgiveness, and restoration, if at all possible, is the goal. By God’s grace, it can be done.
Marriage is always marked by hope.
Whatever your situation, whether your home seems to be a living hell, whether you’ve been deserted, no matter what, hope is always there. You’re not a second‑class citizen. Divorce is not a dead‑end street. If you are the one who wronged your partner, divorce is not the unpardonable sin. Forgiveness is always available. God’s grace is here for you:
- “The blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin” (1 John 1:7).
- “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow” (Isaiah 1:18).
- “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1).
God is full of grace and forgiveness. In Christ, you’re a new creature. Whatever happened in the past, you can be marked by hope.
We want to save our children from the precipice of divorce, so we build a wall here as high as we can. But down in the valley, we also have an ambulance for those who have fallen over. The Body of Christ should be here to help and lift up.
Make these commitments now:
- Make Christ the head of your home.
- If you’re unmarried, marry only in the Lord. Build a Christian home.
- If your marriage is not a Christian marriage, give your hearts to Jesus Christ, because the devil is working against your marriage.
- Feed your love each day. Don’t take it for granted.
- If your divorce was your fault, ask God for forgiveness.
- If your divorce was because of someone else’s wrongdoing, forgive in your heart.
- Don’t let bitterness carry you away.
Your godly home can be the greatest testimony you’ll have in this world. A home is the sweetest place on earth, the nearest place to Heaven. It’s the only part of the Garden of Eden we have left.
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