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God's Law Versus Man's Reality

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The reality of God's purpose for marriage is under attack. Over the years, society's views on love and marriage have changed drastically and I believe this to be a direct impact on the number of divorces we see here in the United States. A survey conducted by Jennifer Baker of the Forest Institute of Professional Psychology in Springfield, Missouri, revealed that a staggering 41% of first-time marriages end in divorce. This percentage is toppled by a 60% divorce rate for second-time marriages. This survey speaks loudly to the demise of marriages. What it doesn't do is speak to the root of the problem. Some of the reasoning given for divorce include: irreconcilable differences, adultery, "because he/she changed," however, in the sight of God, these are all unacceptable motives for divorce. In the Old Testament, Moses allowed the Pharisees to divorce or "send away" their wives. This was addressed in the Book of Mark 10:2-12, when the Pharisees challenged Jesus on the very subject of marriage by asking, "Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?"[2] Jesus replied by asking them what was Moses' command. Moses' commandment in the Old Testament permitted "a man to write a certificate of divorce and send her away." One must understand that during the Old Testament, divorce was an accommodation to human weakness and was used to bring order in a society that had disregarded God's will. As followers of Christ, we should be compelled by Jesus' affirmations of God's intent for marriage.

Divorce was never the standard that God originally intended. Jesus taught the Pharisees by sharing, "It was because your hearts were hard that Moses wrote you this law. But at the beginning of creation God made them male and female. For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh. So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate." [Mark 10:5-9] This was an affirmation by Jesus that showed forth the original intent of marriage by God. In addition, he grounded the sanctity of marriage in the authority of God and safeguarded against human selfishness, which threatens to destroy marriages even today. Are hearts hardened, even now, toward marriage because of poorly portrayed images of Godly marriage? God's word is consistent in its stance on divorce. Although there are not many scriptures that directly address the subject, we see Jesus affirming the continuing authority of God's law in the books of Matthew, Mark and Luke.

A recent study directed by George Barna of the Barna Group, revealed widespread divorce rates among Christians. "Among adults who have been married, 33% have experienced at least one divorce. What this says is that among all Americans 18 years of age or older, whether they have been married or not, 25% have gone through a marital split. There no longer seems to be much of a stigma attached to divorce; it is now seen as an unavoidable rite of passage," the researcher indicated. "Interviews with young adults suggest that they want their initial marriage to last, but are not particularly optimistic about that possibility," states Barna.

Oftentimes I hear married people say, "After we got married my spouse changed." Why would anyone, especially a believer, believe that this statement is valid grounds for a divorce? I believe this trend in divorces stem from the society we live in, however, I am perplexed to understand why society has such a vast effect on us when the Bible teaches us in 2 Corinthians 6:17 we are commanded not only to be not yoked with unbelievers, but also to "Therefore come out from them and be separate, says the Lord." As a survivor of a divorced household, I saw first-hand how my mom and dad, who were married for seven years, ended up divorcing because of my dad's infidelity and domestic abuse. The toll that divorce had on my mom, and me for that matter, was undeniable. Divorce is a painstaking circumstance that impacts not only the divorcees, but their families as well. That being said, my strong opinion of marriage derives from an even stronger desire to please God and be in his will.

I've considered many times that in my own family the probability that my parents were unequally yoked is a daunting reality. Evenstill, I sympathize with those who have experienced or will experience divorce in their lifetime. It is a circumstance that leaves a trail of hurt, mistrust and fear. When I think about divorce, I'm still compelled to believe that God, who is the author and finisher of our faith, has equipped the world with the tools necessary to live successful lives in covenant. It is a duty to due diligence in obeying the Word of God so that not only individual marriages are blessed, but also that the world in which we live can be positively impacted with the message of Christ.

I implore readers to dig deeper than the superficial beauty, fame or fortune. Delving into the heart of a person will provide needed insight into the elements of their character. "Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised." Proverbs 31:30. While I realize this scripture directly references women, I believe the Word of God does not create a double standard in its authority.

I engaged in a study of my own in conducting this essay. In this, I interviewed Judy Parker, a divorced Christian who shared, "when I married my husband, I did so because of his looks and the fact that he had a good job in the automotive industry. After years of marriage and having four children, my husband lost his job when the recession hit. Things had been rough between us for years, but I decided that him not having a job was too much for me and that I needed a new start, so I asked for a divorce." Parker also shared that at no time during her decision to divorce did she ever pray about or consult God or His word about her decision. With no infidelity or abuse in sight, this marriage was terminated without so much as even a second thought about God's law. This is only one of many perplexing stories that show a mounting disregard for God's word and its command for us as followers of Christ. I equate it to flying a plane with a co-pilot, but taking a nap at the wheel without informing or requesting additional support from the very co-pilot sitting next to you. God loved the world so much that He provided written instructions on how to live prosperous, fruitful lives in covenant.

What is it that makes divorce such a quick fix solution? In Malachi 2:16, the Lord God said, "I hate divorce." I believe that God still today, hates divorce. Jesus said



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