he man who finds a wife finds a treasure, and he receives favor from the Lord (Proverbs 18:22-NLT).
The family unit is the glue that holds any human society together. And marriage is the foundation of the family. If marriage loses its value, then that society is in danger of collapse. Marriage and family are God’s plan to pass values and morality from one generation to the next. As goes the family, so goes the nation.
In our nation, we have more couples living together without marriage (yes, the Bible calls this fornication) and having children than ever before. Divorce is rampant. And in recent years, the very idea of marriage being a relationship solely between a man and a woman has been challenged. We are a nation in great danger. Our moral fabric is coming apart!
You and I can make a difference! How? By making an unqualified commitment to remain loyal and faithful in our marriage for life. Too many believers have an “escape clause” in their heads if problems in their marriage arise. Before Susan and I were married 40 years ago, we made a verbal commitment that the word divorce would not come out of our mouths as a threat when dealing with problems that we would have. Looking back now, that was a really great idea. It forced us to deal with our problems when they arose instead of bailing out on the relationship.
Here’s the bottom line. It is the will of God for you remain married for life to your present spouse. Having said that, understand that there are basically two God sanctioned reasons for divorce in the scriptures. Only two. And if the problems a couple have don’t fit those two, then they should seek to work together to solve them. Every marriage will have some problems because we humans are imperfect. We just have to be willing to work on ourselves and change!
The two God sanctioned reasons for divorce are 1) adultery – But I tell you, whoever dismisses and repudiates and divorces his wife, except on the grounds of unfaithfulness (sexual immorality), causes her to commit adultery, and whoever marries a woman who has been divorced commits adultery (Matthew 5:32) and 2) desertion by the unbelieving party – But if the unbeliever departs, let him depart; a brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases. But God has called us to peace (1 Corinthians 7:15). This second God sanctioned reason also covers spousal abuse and neglect.
Other than these two reasons, generally speaking, stay married! Work your problems out. The Holy Spirit and the Word are God’s two problem solvers. If we’re really committed to Jesus, these two friends will help us find answers to the problems life brings. The Holy Spirit knows you, and the Word of God will change you. All it takes is a committed will.
If you’re already divorced, walk in the grace of God! God forgives and cleanses our past. And yes, there are innocent victims of divorce. The Father doesn’t hold guilty a person who has a spouse who chooses to go their own way and forsake God’s plan. If you’re experienced this, and many have, let the mercy and grace of the Father mend your heart. And walk in forgiveness.
If you’re struggling in your marriage, here is a suggestion. First, go to God in prayer and humble yourself. We can never change another person, we can only change ourselves. And marriage problems are people problems. And you are one of the people in that marriage! Ask God to show you what you are doing to hinder your relationship with your spouse. Psalm 139:23-24 encourages us to open ourselves up for God to examine our motives, and then be willing to repent and make changes where we are wrong. Think about it, if you really deal with yourself and the problems you create by what you do or how you respond to your spouse, that’s fifty percent of the problem situations in your marriage being worked on! Half (maybe more!) of the problems Susan and I have had are me!
Don’t try to change your spouse. That not your responsibility. You and how you act and what you do are your responsibility.
Pray for your spouse daily. Here’s a great prayer. Father, help me be the best spouse my husband or wife could possibly have! Help me to be what he or she needs! Don’t pray, Lord, change my spouse. Pray, Lord, change me!
There is so much to say here. Tomorrow I will address how to deal with problems that so often arise in marriage.